Our usual Fourth (Estate) Friday coffee-and-conversation, open-to-the-public monthly meeting will be taking a bye this month. We’ll be back — at a local open-for-breakfast dining room near you — on April 25, by which time we hear it will actually be spring.
Piedmont Softball Association’s 2014 Chili Bowl, an annual fundraiser for the softball league, goes off from 3 to 7 Saturday, April 12, at Bill Payne Auction Gallery on U.S. 211 in Amissville.
As always, the public is invited to attend as well as enter pots of chili in the competition, and to donate cakes and pies (for its rollicking cake walks). Chili competes in three categories: Basic, Hottest and Exotic, and there will be an overall winner chosen. Bring the family, or the neighborhood, to taste many fantastic chilis, walk for cakes, enter raffles for a new glove, bat, cleats and more, or bid on handcrafted jewelry.
Admission is $6 ($4 for ages 6 through 10, younger kids free) for all the chili you can eat. Drinks and hot dogs available for purchase, too. All proceeds go directly towards the PSA’s fast-pitch softball programs, from instructional to tournament level, scholarships, equipment and more. To enter your chili, or for more information (or to register to play), call 540-937-4047 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The Rappahannock Association for the Arts and Community (RAAC) screens the modern-day pirate story “Captain Phillips” at 8 p.m. Friday (April 4) at the Theatre in Washington. A best-picture Oscar nominee, “Captain Phillips” is a true story of the cargo ship captain and his ship’s 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates — the first in 200 years. Directed by Paul Greengrass, it stars Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi and Barkhad Abdirahman. Admission is $6; the concession stand will be open for popcorn, candy and water. Visit raac.org for more information.
In 2004, Paul Reisler, the Rappahannock-based leader of Trapezoid and Kid Pan Alley, invited some of his favorite musicians to record an album of his original songs and instrumentals. A mere 15 hours later, they had completed recording 14 songs for the album “At Night the Roses Tango.” The sessions were so joyous and magical that Reisler decided to form a new band, Paul Reisler & A Thousand Questions, featuring Howard Levy of the Flecktones.
The band will be performing two concerts in the area: One at Piedmont Community College in Charlottesville at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (April 5) and the other at RAAC Community Theatre in Little Washington at 4 p.m. Sunday (April 6) in a benefit concert for Kid Pan Alley.
This collaboration features original songs and instrumentals by Reisler, joined by harmonica and piano virtuoso Levy (a founding member of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones), Tom Teasley on percussion and vocalists Heather Mae and Lea Morris.
For tickets to the April 5 Charlottesville concert, visit http://bit.ly/CvlTix. Tickets and information for the April 6 concert in Little Washington are available at http://bit.ly/1kRPK14, or visit the band online at paulreisler.com.
I have been following the unparalleled educational work of The Nature Institute in Ghent, N.Y. for many years, hoping to visit someday and meet its director, Craig Holdrege. What a pleasure to find out that two of the institute’s founders, Craig and Henrike Holdrege, will (for the first time) be visiting Virginia, and offering an evening lecture and an all-day workshop in Rappahannock County April 11-12.
The title of Craig’s new book, “Thinking Like a Plant: A Living Science for Life,” may not sound too exciting or relevant for teachers, artists, healers, farmers and scientists. But I can attest that what it has to say speaks directly to the need for redirection and re-enlivenment of everything that happens in our classrooms and, indeed, how we relate to the world we live in. And he shows us the way — or rather, he allows the plant to show us the way.
The title of the book is an allusion to Aldo Leopold’s well-known essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain,” which asserts that a wolf, for example, is not a distinct, object-like entity but is in fact part of the mountain where it lives. The book’s subtitle, “A Living Science for Life,” may seem obvious — of course a study of life requires a living science.
But in Holdrege’s view, we (teachers and the rest of us) are generally limited and misguided by what he calls “object thinking” — we presume that nature, even a single living organism, consists of physical things that are subject to impersonal physical laws. Things like genes and molecules, of which we have no experience and to which we have no relation, are presumed to be the foundation of the world!
A “living science” is the key to transcending object thinking. Holdrege presents the plant as an appropriate model for our method of observation and study: A being that is rhythmical, earthly, cosmic, receptive, ever changing. A plant is a story, a process — not a finished object and not an assemblage of particles.
How can we learn to view the world in this way? How does this translate into scientific study, or what we do in the classroom and in our daily lives? Consider, for example, how we are continually preparing our students for an abstract future instead of helping them to understand every present event, which is the only effective preparation for future events. In a rather startling statement, Holdrege says, “We need to educate in such a way that the world is not prepared for our students.”
One of Holdrege’s intriguing group activities focuses on an unknown strange object. Participants who don’t know what the object is, much less its name, are invited to share their observations and impressions about it. This activity can help to shift our focus away from preconceived theories (such as natural selection or botanical classification) to the reality of the phenomenon itself. Always and everywhere, we need to seek the truth.
All of this is necessarily an incomplete overview of a workshop that will offer concrete ways to enliven our teaching and the way we interact with a world that is not around us, but a part of us.
“The Plant as a Teacher of Living Thinking: Cultivating the Roots of Sustainability” is a free talk at 7 p.m. April 11 at Hearthstone School. The Saturday (April 12) workshop, “Cultivating Living Thinking: A Way of Knowing as a Way of Healing,” is $60. For more information, contact Kathy Edwards at 540-923-5086 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit natureinstitute.org.
— Lyt Wood
On Sunday, April 13, there’s a Working Woods Walk at James Madison’s Montpelier (11407 Constitution Hwy., Montpelier Station) from 2 to 4 p.m., led by the Virginia Master Naturalists. Explore beyond the mansion and the lawn to the woods of Montpelier, including the Montpelier Demonstration Forest on a two-hour hike. Learn from experts about conservation and cultivation strategies that generate mutual benefits to man and nature, both in Madison’s time and today.
The walk follows a state-of-the-art trail showcasing various forest and habitat tending methods in James Madison’s beloved woodland. Cost is $10 ($5 with admission to the mansion tour, ages 5 and younger free); the tour begins at 2 at the Visitor Center. For more information about this Virginia LEAF (Link to Education About Forests) program, visit montpelier.org.