All of us have within ourselves the power to make a positive contribution. Cultivating that good through a sincere respect, caring and appreciation is one of the most important gifts we can give.
In our hectic lives filled with deadlines and so many responsibilities, we sometimes need a little reminder. It is the here and now that counts, and every one and every moment that gives our life meaning.
That was the purpose behind my creating the Good Things Pledge several years ago and hundreds of people have signed up – either through my blog or in person – to be Good Things Pledge Champions.
I recently stopped by the Kennedy Heights Montessori Center where the entire school became Good Things Pledge Champions. Before handing out their certificates, I read a book and led a discussion with them about kindness, appreciation and friendship. Then one of the students read the Pledge aloud. Please see the video below to watch. I was so proud of them all!
What is the Good Things Pledge?
The Good Things Pledge is simply a promise – a personal vow that involves liking yourself and others, appreciating the little things that make life special, being kind, and being aware that every small act has the potential for a huge impact. Those behaviors are collectively called Good Things and many people already are already doing them.
By becoming a Good Things Pledge Champion, you are making a promise to remind yourself every day of what is positive…And you are helping to keep Good Things Going Around.
Every Champion receives a personalized Pledge certificate.
I am so looking forward to the Paw Joggers Rescue Run on October 18, and hope you will join me.
The event is the brainchild of Billie Mendoza, founder and owner of Paw Joggers, a pet fitness and in-home care service, who I have known for years. Since beginning her business, it has grown to serve much of our region including Northern Kentucky. And, as a way of giving back, Billie wanted to raise money for local rescues.
The Paw Joggers Animal Community Fund (Paw Joggers ACF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the local animal welfare community through events, awareness, and monetary donations. The Paw Joggers ACF and its events are powered solely by Paw Joggers Runvolunteers.
The October 18 event will benefit 43 area animal rescue and advocacy groups. It will include a 5K and 2K raise for people participating with or without dogs. Last year more than 750 raced and $10,659 was given to 32 organizations. Billie and her volunteers are expecting many more this year.
I’m excited that this is my second year being a presenter for the event. Through my So Much PETential dog training, I will be leading a contest for children and their dogs, judging with audience participation in categories such as the cutest trick behavior, the best listener (for a dog who listens to and does behaviors asked), and more. If you have a child who will be participating in the race this year, please be sure to enter!
The event will be Sunday, October 18 from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm. The race will begin at 10:00 am. It will be at Sharon Woods Park, 11450 Lebanon Rd; Sharonville, OH 45241.
To register, please visit this link. http://pawjoggersrescuerun.com/
Theirs is a brilliant concept. Hire young, creative, untapped talent and give them the opportunity to work side by side a professional artist. Encourage them to think, problem solve, share ideas, work together as a team, create, and build. Watch communication and life skills, confidence, and creative wisdom soar.
That is the impact of a Cincinnati nonprofit for which I have huge admiration, called ArtWorks Cincinnati. Through installations, sculptures and more than 100 murals, ArtWorks has become the largest employer of visual artists in the region. The organization has provided jobs, training and business development support to thousands since it was founded in 1996.
In ArtWorks own words, it is ‘head over heels in love with Cincinnati and it is their mission to help everyone else experience that love as fully as they do.’
Gosh, what an amazing mission. And the team behind that love continually dreams up new, innovative ways to get our community engaged.
If you drive past (or walk up to) the Freedom Center Lawn in downtown Cincinnati on Freedom Way at Walnut Street (at the foot of the Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati), you will see ArtWorks latest idea that was just dedicated this week.
‘Sing the Queen City’ is the signature piece of a project called #CincyInk supported by Pure Romance and The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation.
The project began with a call for letters, stories, tweets and other written expressions of love for Cincinnati from everyone who calls are vibrant region home. More than 1,000 declarations were submitted that were carefully reviewed, organized and fit together into a beautiful poem called Seven Hills and a Queen to Name Them, commissioned by Chase Public.
Then, Kurt & Kremena divided the poem into 263 words and phrases, and designed each of them as a unique tattoo and One Shot Tattoo permanently inked them on the bodies of more than 250 proud Cincinnatians.
The project will culminate November 20…more details to come!
What a fun and incredible effort to bring our community together, all around our common admiration for this place where we live, play and work.
Thank you to ArtWorks Cincinnati for all that they do to enrich our region…and enrich lives.
Seven Hills and A Queen to Name Them
Poem commissioned by ArtWorks, underwritten by The Johnson Foundation, and crafted by Chase Public.
Learn more about the making of the poem (click here).
I always say a prayer
when I see you through
the cut in the hill,
my drama Queen City.
You swam in bourbon and blues
and called your song the river.
I doused myself in your laughter.
Now I climb hilltop woods
and stone halos
to find an unabridged view.
You’re an artist until proven innocent.
I reached for your hand in a gallery
with a painting named Springtime.
You stood me in the northern light
of a Court Street window
and made a photograph.
You made away with me.
Cincinnati was first spoken by the mouth
of the Licking, in a bend
of the good river, the Ohio.
A city lifted by the genius of water.
Who can know this place,
its streets laid out with the peculiar vision
of constellation charts? Let’s draw our own maps:
triangulate the bells of every parish,
sketch neighborhoods that overlap zip codes.
Buy a cone at every summertime stand,
blow a horn at every pawn shop,
eat barbecue and slaw at every smoker
while we sift through the small talk:
Which chili parlour? West side or east?
State or commonwealth? What high school?
Can anyone say where our city ends?
The Queen shares her crown
with the northern South
and all who call her home.
Our city’s limits are carved in hearts, not stone.
The Queen dreamed out loud,
Mama’s gonna pull history from the buildings,
roll it out on the street for you to see
original brick, hidden under siding, under asphalt.
Story on story, hoisting us higher into history.
Mama’s gonna open bar doors, stretch the taps out
to the sidewalk, pour drafts for drinkin’.
Light the sacred glass in blooms of stonework
and paint the streets like a beer bottle mosaic.
Mama’s gonna build a boat bigger than Noah’s,
a wheel and tall stacks, to whistle your name.
Plow the lonely barge lanes in winter
and hop-skip the river boat to boat when fireworks fly.
Mama wants to make it happen.
Mama’s doin’ it for you.
Corn-fed pig town.
You taught me three-ways, goetta fests
and pony kegs. Bengal shouts in winter winds.
You taught me to Ezzard Charles,
to jab, weave and strike like a cobra.
To throw myself out of the corner and into the fight.
To cheer into the river night
with the ghosts and golden spirits
of Crosley Field, a palace to the fans.
Throat sore, eyes too full of light.
You taught me to avoid the tag,
to sing the knotted history of the hit king
with a stubborn tongue.
To slide head-first into home.
I came for the magic and stayed
for the music. Heard your trumpet calls,
symphonies and syncopations.
I let a stranger sing to me,
lines that told the truth like graffiti
over sanctioned street art.
She phrased a phrase too charged to hold key.
Music reaches down the one-ways from a public stage,
rebounds off homes from church festivals.
Brick, here, is a canvas for revolution,
a reawakening of sweat and spirit.
The site of the blacksmith off Ridge is now
a record store, hammer clang to cymbal crash.
Time goes by, places change, the rhythm pushes on.
The fog rolls over the night hills—
not every hill, but here.
Rolls in and hides the limits of the night.
I drive Montgomery Road to our centennial house.
From the porch, I hear the baby cry,
a new squall storming old plaster.
Joining the wind, an anthem
to our alma mater. In my arms,
I shush with wordless whispers
and no magic, sounds to settle
an arrival home.
This street, where puddles splash. On this hill,
with no historic name, one among many,
the fog paddles on into memory.
Home. The name of a surprising house,
its numbers bright as jewels.
There’s a title for every square foot
of this city. We call them all again.
Reclaim them. Choosing a name
is a declaration of intent.
But it’s uncertain magic.
Cincinnati, named for the leader who cast aside
his sword when the war was won.
Named for power surrendered, and power is surrendered
in time. Swords not laid down will one day drop.
We who had been torn, stirred, packed down,
formed and baked into the brick of change,
are now referred to as able—
spoken of when pointing to progress.
The mystery unwinds but doesn’t unravel.
Cincinnati is a promise that we make
to our inner selves,
and I promise
there are still stories
to tell and to tell.
Streets to walk, and corners,
like the city , to come around.
Marry me in Eden Park,
Lay with me at Spring Grove.
It would be beautiful.
You’re the heart in my wrist,
the arrow on my chest.
I tried to draw you some mysterious name
but you turned my line
into a circle around us.
Sing the Queen City.
Coast the long cut.
Cross that bridge.
Magno Relojo is one of Cincinnati’s extremely talented fine artists. He also happens to be a beautiful human being all around. I have known him and his wife, Patty for years since the days when I took dance lessons. (Patty’s mother is one of my CINspirational People.)
Magno posted an image to his Facebook page recently of a very personal painting he just finished. It is a portrait of Patty. But more than that, it is a story of courage, determination, strength, and love. Patty is a cancer survivor. Magno wasn’t able to work on his piece during her fight but he has completed it now. Below is the painting, and below that is Magno’s message that he shared on Facebook.
“…I really don’t have to remind myself about the time my wife had to go thru her battle with breast cancer. But I saw a person that is courageous and strong at the same time fighting this ugly disease. I wanted to paint her then but did not have the courage at that time.
In this painting, there is a little sadness in her eyes which is in contrast with the beautiful blooming flowers that surround her. These flowers represent all those beautiful people that supported her and were there by her side fighting for her…it has been three years.”
Sara Bitter is a Cincinnati mother on a mission to change the way people perceive and welcome differences, one person at a time. The mother of a son who has a developmental disability, she is a tireless advocate working to educate young people and adults, bridging gaps where understanding and communication break down, so that everyone is ultimately included and appreciated for who they are as individuals. Sara works for the ReelAbilities Film Festival, dedicated to sharing the human experience of disability through art and film. I met her when I handled the marketing for the Cincinnati Festival.
‘Ethan the Brave’ is a film Sara originally created to use in her education outreach efforts. It is the story of an 8 year old boy, a fictitious character whose perspective and experiences are representative of so many who have one commonality…they have a disability or difference. Throughout the story, Ethan shares his interests, capabilities and strengths as well as his challenges. He shares ways he believes his fellow classmates and teachers can better include him in school.
Earlier this summer, one of my interns, Katie Reinstatler, interviewed Sara. (Please click here to read that interview.) Since then, ‘Ethan the Great’ has been uploaded to Vimeo for free public viewing and I highly encourage you to watch and share it. It’s story is a lesson for all of us.
In Sara’s words, “The inspiration for Ethan came from my own efforts to try to help students and teachers at my son’s school understand his disability. Starting in Kindergarten, and at the beginning of each school year, I go into my son’s class and do a short presentation. (An idea I got from another mom who is also a special education teacher.) It has been so positive and impactful for him, his fellow classmates and his teachers that I wanted to try to create a film for all students with disabilities and differences. I wanted it tell a personal story but not identify any particular disability or label; one that any teacher, parent, etc. could use and share with their students; and that anyone could relate to, whether they have a disability or not.
In 2013, I joined forces with the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival and with the collaboration of many people and organizations, we turned this story into a seven minute film. We also developed an accompanying classroom program which helps students with disabilities and other differences be better understood, supported and welcomed in their classrooms. My ultimate hope: raising expectations in education for people who experience disabilities. We have shown this film program to hundreds of students in the Greater Cincinnati area and had excellent feedback. (Soon this will become available too.)”
After you watch Ethan, and if you like it or find it helpful, please consider making a small donation to LADD, the host of the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival, organized by LADD or to Thunder-Sky (raymondthundersky.org), the artists at Thunder-Sky studios created the amazing artwork in this film. These artists made Ethan come alive!
Side Note: Ethan the Brave was recently also published as a book. You can purchase it on Amazon.com.