Mid-Shore Arts: The National Music Festival Finds Its Sea Legs

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When Maestro Richard Rosenberg and his partner and wife, Caitlin Patton, informed Chestertown in late 2011 that the National Music Festival (NMF), with about one hundred musicians and dozens of planned public performances, would move to their town, one could almost hear the whole of Chestertown say collectively, “who, us, really?”

With a population close to 5,000, and at least forty to fifty miles away from urban centers that would traditionally do a better job in hosting such a large undertaking, Chestertown seemed an unlikely candidate for such a honor. Nonetheless, for a community that prides itself for its love of the arts, and particularly music, there was also a feeling that their small town had just won the lottery. 

Now entering its sixth year of operation on the Mid-Shore, Richard and Caitlin sat down with the Spy last month to talk about the remarkable success the NMF has been in Chestertown and how well suited it has become in bringing together some of the best student talent in the country to learn and perform throughout the region. They also talk about NMF’s year-long educational programming with local schools, and their aspirations for the Festival in the years ahead.

This video is approximately five minutes in length and made in cooperation with the Mid-Shore Community Foundation. For more information about the National Music Festival, please go here.  

Senior Nation: An Adult Son and Aging Mother Find a Solution at Dixon House

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Perhaps there is no greater and more difficult decision to make for an adult child of an aging parent than to determine that independent living has come to an end for their mother or father. While “aging in place” has become an increasingly attractive and realistic alternative for many in their senior years, those who enter their 90s, or in some special cases even their 100s, simply are not physically capable of maintaining houses or apartments.

That was certainly the case with Eric Horst and his mother, Natalie Horst. Eric, Natalie’s only living child, had difficulty at first convincing his mother, who was a healthy person overall, that it was time to leave her own home. She had led an active life as a realtor and was a very social person. He comments, “She wasn’t managing the household well anymore, her hygiene habits had changed and she wasn’t cooking meals any longer.”

He adds, “I had heard good things about Dixon House being a well-run facility from community members. It was also an affordable option for us and I was really impressed by the staff here. With its 18 rooms, it felt like a Victorian boutique hotel.”

Eric and Natalie came for a visit and looked at a room adjacent to the second-floor screened porch. He recalls, “The room was unoccupied and stark, so I decided to decorate it for her with blue and white bed linens and valences, in her favorite colors, her artwork from home, and some temporary furniture. I brought her back for the second visit and she stayed the night.”

Eric remembers that the first week of Natalie’s stay at Dixon House, she got her hair done and had a pedicure. With her usual sense of humor, Natalie quips, “I came for a haircut and pedicure and decided to stay!”

Natalie has made friends at Dixon House and Eric feels she is content. Eric’s partner, Mike Thielke, now also serves on the Dixon House Board of Directors. As a special treat on Natalie’s birthday each year, which she shares with one other resident, Eric buys crab cakes for all the residents and staff and hosts a birthday party. He also contributes throughout the year as needs arise, recently donating a flat screen television at Christmas. He comments, “I am a big fan of Dixon House. I have peace of mind that my mother is safe and being cared for here.”

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information on Dixon House, please go here.

What Would Martin Say? Ashley Jones on the Meaning of MLK in 2017

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For Pastor Ashley Jones, her first memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. comes from her mother who was in the eleventh grade was he was killed in Memphis in 1968. In fact, Ashley was born in Kent County some twenty-five years after his murder, and yet a personal connection with him has been a critical part of her life and her ministry.

As she prepares for her role as keynote speaker at Kent County’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast in Rock Hall next Monday, Ashley spent some time with the Spy to talk about this special relationship with the late civil rights leader. She also talks candidly about race relations now, and most importantly, she begins to answer the critical question of the day; What would Martin Luther King say in the face of this extraordinarily challenging time for African-Americans in the year 2017.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length

Mid-Shore Arts: The Looms and Art of Ulrika Leander

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The art world has just a few very special heros who take it upon themselves to work in mediums requiring intense intricacy, precision, and endless patience to complete their work. And nowhere else can one find that special breed stand out more than those who chose the art of tapestry for their artistic expression.

And one can officially include the Mid-Shore’s Ulrika Leander in that select group.

Starting at the age of thirteen in her native Sweden, Ulrika has become one of the great masters of the loom with her intentionally beautiful and large tapestries created in her generous studio a short walk from the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry.

Like clockwork, Ulrika works every day in front of one of her three custom-built looms to produce art that is proudly hung in museums and private homes throughout the world. With a typical project taking well over six months to complete, Leander has found a particular zone to operate in as she plots along a single line of fiber during a day’s work.

In her Spy interview a few weeks ago, she talks about this unique, centuries-old practice, and how she enjoys the special challenges that come with the making one-of-a-kind tapestries.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information on Ulrika Leander work and studio, please go here.

Senior Nation: Homeports Real Helping Hand with Karen Wright

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Of all the challenges facing the aging, isolation and lack of personal support can be one of the most difficult. In rural areas like Kent County, with its lack of efficient transportation systems, the issue is compounded. Seniors lacking family or close friends can be cut off from basic necessities like getting to their doctor’s appointments and errand-running to banks, post office, and pharmacies.

Often, seniors living alone don’t know how to go about finding trusted providers for essential services to maintain a safe and

Homeports, a Kent County membership-based service, provides volunteer assistance to help seniors in Kent County meet the needs of “aging in place”.

Founded by local residents and modeled on national “village support” groups, Homeports offers their services to eligible seniors over 55. Eligibility is determined by an on-site evaluation of the individual’s needs. After approval, members have access to volunteer help and service providers vetted by the organization. Services range from home repairs and Health Care at Home to home technology assistance and even pet sitting. Homeport members pay for these services directly after negotiating an hourly fee and the services must meet certain criteria like non-duplication of services already provided by a public agency.

Homeports is a facilitator rather than a direct provider of services.

Full-service memberships are $350 per year and include:

  • Initial evaluation of needs
  • Up to 5 rides per month within Kent County, during normal weekday hours, driven by vetted volunteer drivers
  • Referrals to HomePorts list of approved, thoroughly screened vendors, with discounts from those vendors offering discounts
  • Home Safety Education session
  • Receipt of bi-monthly newsletter
  • Personal invitation to all educational and social programs
  • Peace of mind for the member and family, knowing that help to maintain independence is just a phone call away
  • The satisfaction of helping to sustain a grassroots non-profit community service to help friends and neighbors continue to live independently.

In this video, Executive Director Karen Wright talks to the Spy about Homeports, its services and the challenges of aging in place in rural Kent County.

The video is approximately eight minutes long. For more information about Homeports, see their website here. To find out more about volunteering, email Karen Wright at karen.homeports@gmail.com  or call (443) 480-0940

Why the River by Meredith Davies Hadaway

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During the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the special images of Chestertown with festive lights glowing and a seamless supply of music, dance and theatre programs to enrich the yuletide season. And yet, more times than not, it is the Chester River, the glue that holds our community together, that stands far removed from the seasonal celebrations.

The Spy has attempted to remedy that sad omission in our Holiday message with a reading of “Why the River’ by poet Meredith Davies Hadaway. While Hadaway makes it clear that the title is more of a question than a statement, the answer is found in the poem itself, as it has been for those who love this river, with the words,

“because it traps the clouds so we can sail across/ both heaven and earth/ because it carries our tears, swells/ with our salt/ because it is a body/ because it bears our weight.”

This video is approximately one minute in length.

An award-winning poet and teacher of ecopoetry, Meredith Davies Hadaway is the author of three collections of poetry, At The Narrows, (2015) The River is a Reason (2011) and Fishing Secrets of the Dead (2005), all issued from Word Poetry. Hadaway’s work explores the birds, bugs, trees, marshes—and especially the waters—of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, evoking memory and mystery as they shape our braided lives. You can find her work at Bookplate in Chestertown and on Amazon here

Profiles in Spirituality: The Shore’s New Bishop on Christianity and Reconciliation after the Election

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It’s safe to say that Santosh Marray, the newly installed Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton. is the most diverse leader they have had since its founding in 1866. But you could also say he is one of most diverse in the entire Church with his extraordinary life story.

Having started his spiritual journey while growing up in Guyana, South America, Bishop Marray’s life in the Episcopal Church has since taken him to virtually every part of the globe. And it is this unique background that Marray brings to the Diocese at a time of unique challenges for his church and this country.

In his first Spy interview, Bishop Marray talks at great length about his experience in some of the farthest corners of the world as well his role with his church in Eastern North Carolina and Alabama. The net result of this extraordinary depth and range of experience can be found in his vision for the diocese, as well as his confidence that his church will be seen as he says as a wreck and ceiling reconciler. In our post-election America

This video is approximately nine minutes in length. For more information about the Episcopal Diocese of Easton please go here.

Senior Nation Profile: Janet Pfeffer on Using It or Losing It

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Whether it’s her classes at the YMCA in St. Michaels, Easton, or at Londonderry on the Tred Avon, Janet Pfeffer’s name has almost achieved cult status in her efforts to encourage older people to exercise on the Mid-Shore for many years.

Retiring in 2007 from the Talbot County Health Department, she came to the YMCA as a volunteer to help teach strength training, but as class size increased as did demand, Janet now runs a program that can serve up to 300 to 400 individuals year with her message of staying fit at any age.

The secret, she says, is as much to do with strength building and cardiovascular activity as it does with staying mentally fit. She, therefore, combines her classes with current event conversations, a word of the day, and other mental stimulation that not only motivates her students but makes their life more rewarding in a universal way.

The Spy caught up with Janet at the St. Michaels YMCA last week to discuss per observations about senior fitness and the phenomenal upside of remaining healthy as one ages.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Janet’s classes, please go to the YMCA here.

ESLC Plans a New Life for the Phillips Cannery in Cambridge

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When the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy made good on their promise to convert the McCord dry-cleaning plant in Easton into a new center for environmental organizations, it not only gave that town a first-class facility which brought in dozens of well-paid professionals to improve its downtown economic viability, it also created a model and how to take an abandoned building and repurpose it.

It is with these new skills that the organization has now begun work on the long neglected Phillips Cannery building in Cambridge in the hope of turning it 60,000 square feet facility into a hub for creative food production, retail and small business or entrepreneurial initiatives that build off of the Eastern Shore’s famed farming resources and growing local food economy.

Originally constructed in 1920 as a furniture factory, the building later became part of the Phillips Packing Company empire, which employed nearly 10,000 people at its peak in 1937 and purchasing over $1 million in products from Delmarva farmers annually. The plan calls for an open floor plan, soaring ceilings, and the opportunity to retain many historic architectural features in keeping with its authentic Eastern Shore manufacturing past. It will also be the future site of Cannery Park, a new “central park” that will incorporate active and passive spaces for recreation for Cambridge.

The Spy sat down with the Phillips project manager, Katie Parks last week at Bullitt House to talk about the project and its potential for Cambridge and the surrounding area.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about ESLC  or the Phillips project, please contact Katie at 443.695.1349 or kparks@eslc.org