The Sounds of Racism by Fran White

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The sounds of Racism resound in the image above and if we add lyrics to this depiction of rage and racism, the following words from the production, SOUTH PACIFIC, could accompany the horrific concerto that was heard:

You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught as sung by Ensign Cable in his role as the conflicted lover of a young Polynesian girl in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s production; You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. You’ve got to be taught from year to year.”

These very enraged people in the photo, members of the KKK and other supporters of racism have been carefully taught to hate and fear others of different races, facial features, religion and sexual orientation. They are demonstrating a legacy passed onto them from their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and on and on in the family tree.

Racism cannot be eradicated by legislation, nor the destruction of Confederate statues and monuments since these beliefs are so ingrained into the soul and collective unconscious of these racists. Only through their awareness of such destructive beliefs and the motivation, on the part of the racist, can this cancerous, destructive and hateful legacy be finally destroyed. This is a daunting and, perhaps, an unrealistic expectation since racist are so conditioned to believe and follow the expectations of generations of their families who have rewarded their behavior with love and encouragement.

Perhaps, if some of those photographed racists would be aware of the destruction of lives impacted by their irrational behavior and subsequently take ownership of the death of that beautiful young woman in Virginia who was attempting to peacefully change their generational beliefs, their hate, and fears. This quest to eradicate this embedded cancer of racism appears to be almost impossible since this evil has been with us since the beginning of time when human enslavement did accompany racist ideology, and this identical evil was exhibited in the concerto of rage orchestrated in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The cure for this social cancer is for each one of us to attempt to peacefully and cleverly teach, one racist at a time, one despicable deed at a time, not to fear and hate. Yes, this is a monumental task to “unteach” generational ideology and emotionally imbedded beliefs. We must first examine our own beliefs, words, and actions that may reflect unconscious suggestions of racism inherited from our own family of origin. Next, we must target those in our social or professional circles and gently open the channels of awareness within these observed and identified racists.

Change in behavior will never occur unless one is aware of that action or belief and is sincerely motivated to eradicate such offensive and destructive actions. The motivation to change that behavior which deeply offends you is dependent on the value that racist places on your friendship or professional association. Indeed, this is a daunting, overwhelming and highly time-consuming task but street demonstrations and protesting is risky and does not effectively change one racist at a time for a cumulative elimination of racism.

Dr. Fran White is a psychologist and marriage and family therapist who has been in private practice for over three decades. She was a columnist for her regional newspaper and has written about human behavior and problem-solving. Fran resides on the Eastern Shore with her husband, Tom, and is a grandmother of nine grandchildren.

 

A Letter to the Kent School Family

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Editor’s note: Nancy Mugele, Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown, forwarded the following letter she sent to members of the school community,  We offer it to our readers for its relevance to recent events in our country.

Dear Members of the Kent School Community,

In light of the recent events in Charlottesville this past weekend, I have been reflecting upon the Kent School mission and the role of education in our society. I firmly believe that our School mission is more relevant today than it was even last week. In our community of teaching and learning at Kent School moral integrity, kindness and respect for others are values we cherish, nurture, and teach deliberately. I wish all children in our country could receive an education combining excellence in academics, the arts and athletics, with moral excellence.

It is unbelievable to me that in 2017 hate groups and domestic terrorists continue their centuries-old campaigns of racism, discrimination and evil in this country. Sadly, their ideas are not new, even as new misguided members enter their ranks. As an educator, this deeply troubles me on many levels.

Children are not born to hate. In fact, the complete opposite is true. Most children form deep, loving bonds with their parents starting before they can verbally express themselves, according to Lawrence Cohen, PhD, author of Playful Parenting (Ballantine). Even newborns feel attachment from the moment they are born. Thus hate, racism, and discrimination are all taught and learned behaviors.

Education holds the key. Defined as the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life (Dictionary.com), education is the only way forward, but it must be a rich, liberal arts education that includes character education at its heart.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, said: Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.

At Kent School we strive to live our mission each day and our faculty members are steadfast in their efforts to foster the growth of honorable, responsible citizens for our country and our diverse world. I look forward to the day when Kent School students will lead our communities, our regions, our states and our country, for I know they will lead with their minds and their hearts.

With kindest regards,

Nancy Mugele

Head of School

 

 

 

 

A Defining Moment by Craig Fuller

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In life, there are defining moments. At their best, they may be acts of heroism, selflessness or extraordinary kindness. At worst, they are acts or phrases that simply sear the national psyche and are never or not soon forgotten.

For people in public life, defining moments can literally make them or break them. In a campaign, a candidate and his or her team only hope that if a favorable defining moment comes they will be smart enough and fast enough to take full advantage of it. And, countless hours are spent seeking to avoid the moment that negates much of the good one might otherwise have done.

Consider these brief excerpts and you get the picture:

“Ask not what your country can do for you….”

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall…”

“I am not a crook.”

“Read my lips….”

This August will long be remembered as a time that provided a defining moment for President Trump. Every armchair quarterback can judge just what the moment meant; however, what is clear is that Mr. Trump sought the opportunity to speak his mind on the tragic events in Charlottesville. He found the moment in the lobby of Trump Tower. He spoke and most were outraged with his message and even his usual defenders were silenced.

It was a defining moment that provided instant reaction followed by some strong moral action.

Within a few days, a group as unlikely as the chief executive of Walmart, an individual leading more than 2 million employees who see 100,000,000 customers a week in their stores along with the members of the nation’s Joint Chiefs of Staff who lead America’s military were separating themselves from the views expressed by President Trump. Presidential advisory committees were shut down ahead of all their distinguished members resigning. These were not hastily made political statements. These were carefully considered expressions that took the moral high ground.

Now, we should ask, just how do we move on?

Will this President ever travel without protests?

Will we ever listen to a Presidential speech read from the teleprompter without wanting to wait a few days for the “real views” to emerge?

Can congressional leaders be persuaded by a presidential call for action on important legislation?

Can the American people be moved by Presidential proclamation?

If political leaders ask the nation to move forward to advance an agenda, will anyone really follow?

The defining moment that came days ago has weakened the presidency. About this, I am certain. The critical issues that need to be addressed in Washington in the weeks ahead are the same: health care, national security, the budget, infrastructure, the debt ceiling, tax reform and a serious drug crisis to name a few. Now, only with strong legislative initiative and bipartisanship in our nation’s Capitol will these issues advance. Whether today’s Congress is up to this task is unclear, but even they must know, regardless of party, that in August President Trump managed, at least for a time, to achieve a kind of lame duck status only seven months into his term as president making their obligations all the greater.

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Considering Journeys and Snowflakes in August by Nancy Mugele

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This past weekend our extended family celebrated two very special young adults who are about to embark upon significant journeys. My niece, born and bred in Baltimore, is heading to Boston to begin a new chapter in her life with a new marketing job in a new city. My son, a writer, is heading out West to places as yet unknown to combine his passion for writing and fly fishing. He has already written the prologue for his book, selected a working title and has a great story about the meaning of three recent bear sightings in Vermont for Chapter One – but I will let him tell you.

While the group was talking together in the final moments of our gathering, my husband mentioned that we needed to head home to Chestertown in time for our sunset. After being teased that since he gets to see a sunset every night he should sit back down and stay a while – he proceeded to say (a little tongue in cheek) that sunsets are like snowflakes, no two are alike. Everyone laughed at this suggestion but I could not stop thinking about the truth in those simple words.

In doing some research on snowcrystals.com I learned that when we say snowflake, we really mean snow crystal – “a single crystal of ice, within which the water molecules are all lined up in a precise hexagonal array. A stellar snow crystal begins with the formation of a small hexagonal plate, and branches sprout from the six corners when the crystal grows larger. As it tumbles through the clouds, the crystal experiences ever changing temperatures and humidities, and each change makes the arms grow a bit differently.” Thus, snow crystals are each unique based upon their journey toward the earth, just as sunsets are each unique based upon the sun’s daily journey below the earth’s horizon.

Yet, how do words like snowflake get corrupted and who has the right to alter their meanings? Sadly, today, the term snowflake is often used in a derogatory way to describe people, generally young adults, who take offense to things such as political policy changes or offensive comments. They are characterized as being weak and fragile like a flake of snow. Whomever corrupted the term snowflake has apparently never lived through a Nor’easter blizzard in New England. When those snowflakes join together “weak” and “fragile” are not even close to an accurate description.

Instead of snowflakes, I prefer to think of these young people as being mindful of civility, while perhaps being a bit idealistic. But, after all, isn’t that their job – to envision a better and more civil world in which to pursue their dreams? Why can’t we as a society stop trying to put labels on people, and leave words with clear definitions alone – especially those that are as inherently beautiful as snowflake?

Journeys like my niece’s and my son’s are like snow crystals and sunsets – each day will be unique and will bring a new life lesson. And each lesson learned, each experience they hold dear, and each person they meet along their path will help them grow and nurture their minds and hearts. No one is the same person today as they were yesterday, and that is never more true than when one is on a journey to live the life they were meant to lead

Sundown on the Chester is spectacularly unique – day in and day out – cloudy or clear….it is ever changing, yet constant. I take great comfort in that. Bon Voyage Amanda and James. Godspeed.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s. 

 

 

Proggin’ by Nancy Mugele

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There is but one entrance by sea into this country, and that is at the mouth of a very goodly bay, 18 or 20 miles broad. The land, white hilly sands like unto the Downs, and all along the shores rest plenty of pines and firs … Within is a country that may have the prerogative over the most pleasant places known, for large and pleasant navigable rivers, heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation. ~John Smith’s Chesapeake Voyages 1607-1609

I recently returned from one of the most extraordinary professional development opportunities I have ever had. Not only did I experience the majestic Chesapeake Bay in ways I could not have imagined, but I also learned a lot about myself.

In mid-July I had the privilege to attend the Environmental Leadership for Independent School Leaders conference held at the Smith Island Education Center. This conference is a unique partnership between the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), The Gunston School, the Association of Independent Maryland and DC Schools, the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington, and the Virginia Association of Independent Schools. I spent time immersed in bay field study – similar to the experiences of the Kent School 4th Graders who participate in a CBF trip annually – the only elementary grade invited to attend. I also spent time reflecting on environmental literacy and sustainability with 12 other school leaders and was motivated by what other schools are doing to educate students about the environment.

I was a little out of my comfort zone from the moment I arrived at Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield to meet the CBF boat with a sleeping bag and sneakers for the mud – I should have brought clothes for the mud but that is another story! When I originally applied for this cost-free conference generously funded by a foundation who supports CBF, I thought I was going to be on The Gunston School campus for three days and would be able to attend the Kent County Fair in the evenings. When I learned I would be staying in Tylerton on Smith Island the week before the trip (see what happens when you don’t read the entire email), I seriously panicked. The packing list alone intimidated me. Dormitory style rooms with bunk beds, flying and crawling bugs, heat, humidity and spotty wi-fi had the makings of a rough few days for me.

Living and working on the Chesapeake Bay for three days was an experience I will never forget. I spoke with many lifelong Smith Islanders, including our boat captain Jessie Marsh, and learned about the history of the island, the waterman’s way of life, crabbing, erosion and sea level rise. I visited the school on Ewell where Principal/Teacher Jane Evans teaches nine students in PK – Grade 7. I ate Smith Island Cake baked by Mary Ada Marshall. I kissed a fish for luck, twisted and squished it to bait my crab trap, set the trap by boat, hauled it up the next day and caught five crabs. There is photographic proof! And, I went proggin’ on Long Branch.

Progging – “the action or process of foraging, delving; searching or hunting about, especially for timber or food, and specific to the Chesapeake Bay area” (Oxford English Dictionary) – known fondly as proggin’ – was an inspiring early morning activity on our final day. As we walked along the edge of a beautiful and uninhabited island salt marsh searching for treasure, I delighted in finding deep blue bay glass, broken bits of civil war era porcelain, buttons and relatively recent pieces of pottery. Proggin’ stirred memories of combing for sea glass as a young girl in Marshfield, Massachusetts, where my grandparents had a cottage. I grew up spending hours crouched on the sandy beach in search of illusive blue and green sea glass. 

Proggin’ is a great metaphor for life. A reflective, longterm process whereby one searches for information or answers to tough questions, learns a new concept by reading or attending a class, or experiences something for the first time. Proggin’ on the Chesapeake Bay last week changed me in a profound way as I held in my hands forgotten remnants of the past in a land seemingly untouched by time. I will never look at the Bay quite the same again. Living and working on Smith Island, although only for a brief time, not only taught me about the eco-system and economy of the Bay but also taught me the importance of perseverance, tenacity and resilience. And, that is exactly why at Kent School we believe Chesapeake Bay studies with CBF, Sultana Education Foundation and the National Aquarium, and outdoor educational experiences at the Echo Hill School and the Mountain Institute are essential for our students – and for the adults who teach them.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s. 

 

 

 

Op-Ed: The Good and Bad News on Oyster Restoration by CBF’s Tom Zolper

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New scientific information unveiled Monday, July 10 provides yet more encouraging news that the largest man-made oyster restoration project in the Chesapeake Bay is working. The project is in Harris Creek.

Unfortunately, just as the investment in Harris Creek seems to be paying off, efforts to duplicate that success in two other tributaries of the Choptank River are hitting snags. Political pressure and substrate shortages threaten to bring restoration efforts to a screeching halt if the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does not act quickly.

First the good news. New monitoring data indicate that 30 oyster reefs created in 2013 in Harris Creek have high densities of oysters, reported Stephanie Reynolds Westby, Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Westby reported the findings at the monthly meeting of the Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission (OAC). The NOAA report can be found here.

Scientists have developed specific metrics to determine when an oyster reef can be officially called “restored.” About 97 percent of the 30 reefs planted in 2013 in Harris Creek met the minimum metric for oyster density, and 80 percent met a higher “targeted” density. In fact, only one of the 30 reefs failed to meet the metrics. OAC members speculated someone could have poached oysters off that reef, or that the seabed underneath could have been too muddy for the oysters to thrive.

Despite data to the contrary, some OAC members challenged the conclusion that a restoration project is successful simply because it achieves metrics such as oyster density and biomass. They said putting oysters in the water and having them grow and prosper is not enough. The real success will be if oysters at Harris Creek reproduce, and their larvae help seed oyster bars miles away where oystermen harvest. Some scientific modeling from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science has suggested that could happen.

Scientists at the OAC meeting said a restored reef is successful even if it doesn’t seed far-away oyster reefs. They said a massive network of reefs such as in Harris Creek will attract fish, filter the water and provide other ecological benefits. Harris Creek is a “sanctuary reef,” meaning oysters can’t be harvested there.
Now the bad news. Also at the OAC meeting, officials with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) revealed oyster restoration in the Little Choptank and Tred Avon Rivers have hit political snags. Those two projects were meant to duplicate the success in Harris Creek – building large networks of man-made reefs where oysters had once thrived.

Chris Judy of DNR reported that the plan for Maryland to restore 118 acres in the shallow reaches of Little Choptank is still on hold. For several years DNR has delayed requesting a permit for the work, most recently after complaints from watermen representatives. Restoration work at the mouth of the river has nearly been completed by various partners, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, but DNR has long delayed doing its part.

DNR recently asked NOAA experts to further survey the bottom of the river where restoration was planned to find additional suitable acres for restoration in deeper water. Initial estimates suggest that there may be as few as 20-30 acres of suitable area in deeper water, meaning a permit would still be required to complete the project. Because of these political delays and additional surveys, Judy estimated that construction in the Little Choptank won’t begin for a least a year, bringing restoration in the Little Choptank to a halt.

Also at the OAC meeting, Angie Sowers of USACE said her agency had to stop construction in the Tred Avon because of a shortage of mixed shell substrate. The Corps’ contractor was only able to complete 6 out of 10 planned acres. The use of mixed shell instead of other materials in the Tred Avon was a result of negotiations at the OAC after watermen halted restoration work there in 2016. When questioned at the OAC meeting, Sowers said the work could have proceeded with stone.

Ironically, within the new data on Harris Creek was a finding that oysters were growing to densities four times greater on rock substrate than they were on traditional oyster shell. The very thing that watermen object to in reef construction might be the best substance. A recent article in the Chesapeake Bay Journal reported that watermen in Virginia also have discovered the benefit of rock foundations for reefs. But Maryland watermen remain resistant because they claim rock substrate makes it difficult to catch crabs in the area with trot lines, or causes other problems.

Tom Zolper is Assistant Director of Media Relations at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. For more information about CBF please go here.

Tracking the Journey of the Sun by Nancy Mugele

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Why do sunflowers make us so happy? The entire bloom is a smile and it so hard not to see its joyfulness. We flock to the nearest sunflower fields in late summer and snap smiling selfies amidst the endless bright yellow blooms. There is a small patch of sunflowers on the lane leading to Kent School. I have been away for a week and all of a sudden it seems they are blooming – although perhaps a bit too early. Their surprising appearance and their uplifted faces are so welcoming and fill me with hope.

English actor Dame Helen Mirren said, “I don’t think there’s anything on this planet that more trumpets life than the sunflower. For me that’s because of the reason behind its name. Not because it looks like the sun but because it follows the sun. During the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky. A satellite dish for sunshine. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. And that’s such an admirable thing. And such a lesson in life.”

Tracking the journey of the sun each day, and in each new season, has become a recent fascination of mine after living on the Chester River for exactly one year. I have been enthralled by its gentle voyage up and down the river bank. Last week my family spent the 4th of July on Cape Cod with my brother’s family admiring beautiful sunsets on Cape Cod Bay that mirror ours in Chestertown. While I was on the Cape one of my dearest friends who lives in France posted a sunset photo from her cottage in Normandy. We were both following the same sun, 3700 miles and several hours apart, yet our connectedness was palpable.

Finding the sunlight, no matter how weak it may appear, is truly a great life lesson. I am a glass-half-full person and I look for sunshine in every situation. I believe that is why I am passionate about education. My chosen field is a reflection of the sunflower field, and I stand in awe of the inspiring teachers at Kent School who help students find the sunlight each and every day. All while nourishing their students’ hearts and minds so they grow steadfast with their faces confidently pointing to the sun.

Although sunflowers will bloom only for a finite time, I rejoice in their honest beauty as they follow the daily journey of the rising and setting sun. I think I may need a sun dial.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s. 

Commentary: The Passage of Time by Philip Hoon

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The Passage of Time And so it goes, hour to hour & day to day . . . before long, it is week to week & year to year . . . and then it is gone with the wind.

We live in the now, but at the same time the history of our own lives, as well as the society in which we live. The future is an eternal mystery.

There are those many things that matter . . . friends & foes, cars & kids, things new & old, high tides & full moons, the Pirates & the Steelers.

And yes, family, hopes & disappointments, new experiences & old routines, challenges & successes, goals & failures, the Cardinal Virtues & the Deadly Sins.

The scope and scale of the perspectives of life can thrill & intimidate . . . ancient Greece & Rome, the Renaissance, Shakespeare, The Greatest Generation, the now.

All of those things are reflected in and embraced by the generations of families & friends, a universal truth for all but the unfortunate for whom it is elusive.

As our lives and living history march on, the death of a loved one causes an interruption for consideration on the meaning, perspective and temporary reality of life.

Albeit brief, that moment is one for reflection that the passage of time marches on . . . what was, what is and what might be.

And as our Founding Fathers expressed about the course of human events, some truths are self-evident, timeless and immutable.

Among them are the gifts of a father to a son . . . wisdom, humility, gentility and personal responsibility.

And then the stormy seas at the end of a voyage of life become the calm of eternity.

And so it goes . . . the passage of time and its gentle winds, with the memories of a loved one and the hopes for the future.

Community at the Farmers Market by Nancy Mugele

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I go to the Chestertown Farmers Market religiously on Saturday mornings. I love purchasing fresh produce from Colchester Farms, selecting bunches of wild flowers, stocking up on honey from Lockbriar Farms and, buying my personal guilty pleasure, the molasses cookies from Lapp’s, which I do not share. Truth be told, though, I go each week for a different reason. 

My Saturday morning routine is simple. Coffee on my porch, accompanied by reading or writing. I am an early riser and enjoy the time for reflection. These Saturday mornings are lazy and unscheduled – a final remnant of my childhood when Saturday mornings were sacred, spent in pajamas watching cartoons until lunch time. But, for years I had abandoned my routine and, sadly, got out of the habit of preserving Saturday mornings.

When Jim and I were raising our three children it always seemed we were driving one or more of them to a sports game, or gosh forbid, a weekend tournament on Saturdays. Working full time also meant Saturdays became our day for running errands. Dry cleaner, grocery store, hardware store, wine restock, nails – you know which one’s were mine! Although we became empty nesters (off and on for years depending on who was in college or who was home from college) before we moved to Chestertown, it was not until we moved last July that I reclaimed my old Saturday morning routine. 

I added the Chestertown Farmers Market to my new-old Saturday morning routine as soon as we arrived in town. However, I soon discovered that frequenting the stalls at 11:30am (after hours spent on my porch) meant I missed most of the fresh produce and, sometimes, even my cookies. It took me a few months to realize that the items I was able to buy at the closing part of the event were an added bonus, but they were secondary to the reason I wanted to be in Fountain Park each week even if only for a short time. 

I go to the Farmers Market each week for the strong sense of community that immediately embraces me when I arrive in town. It invigorates me at the end of the work week. I often see Kent School students and their families, and even though I may have seen them on campus the day prior, at the Farmers Market I am greeted like an old friend who they have not seen in a long time. I have to admit, it is really fun! I see my neighbors and my new friends on Saturday mornings as well and we share stories about our children and about the latest town news. The greater Chestertown community truly takes over downtown on Saturdays and I love being a part of the action. My only wish is that the Farmers Market stayed open just a little bit longer! 

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at the Kent School in Chestertown