Sunday, February 14, 2016

This has been one of the busiest weeks of my new year ...

... and one of the most exciting!

Besides my regularly-scheduled programs in our theater, on Wednesday we tucked in an extra presentation for 10 rangers from Santa Monica augmented by a group of 25 rangers from the East Bay Regional Parks District.  The little theater was filled with receptive faces and lively eyes of the young, and  it was a great morning.

On Thursday morning we experienced our first distance learning trial from Richmond with an auditorium full of high school students in Eugene, Oregon.  Being a first, it presented some unexpected problems on their end -- after a week's practice run by our staff and theirs there were unanticipated snafus with the use of the technology.  We diddled away at least 20 minutes trying to get the audio and video synchronized, but it finally worked out.

I've suspected all along that my presentations depend upon being able to see real live faces -- and this time involved peering at a tiny screen on a laptop -- faces that never came "alive," so neither did I.  We need to work out the bugs before trying this again, but it makes possible another way of communicating with groups and reducing the distance between generations.  Failure was not the result of not trying hard enough, it was simply that we were in uncharted territory.  The solution will surely be worked out soon.

Friday brought another memorable experience as I was presented with eleven other honorees to the California State Legislature in their Black History Month observance.  The only disadvantage was that I'd not been able to attend a celebratory banquet the evening before with the others, where our hosts and hostesses read our biographies before the group.  Sacramento is 90 miles from my home, and with a day that held both the Oregon experience as well as one of my regular one-hour theater presentations, trying to take in the dinner would just be more than could be managed comfortably.

This meant that I dropped into the experience as a total stranger -- as in the middle of the movie -- on Friday morning, and I just never quite caught up with the proceedings, and learned little about the other honorees despite the fine descriptive introductions we each received.  'Tis the pity!   Nerves tend to shut down ears at such times, and mine were used up listening for my name to be called, so I missed the details.  These were all such high achievers and I'd loved to have had a chance to know  each of them personally.

After a somewhat lengthy program with short speeches by the twelve African American legislators, we were escorted down the aisle by our hosts to receive beautiful framed Resolutions extolling our virtues and worthiness -- before being marched to the Senate chambers for further recognition.  California has two African American senators.

It was a lovely ceremony.

I was reminded of how important these rituals are and how much we need heroes as a people.  It's difficult to see oneself in such roles, but as I was walked up the aisle on the arm of Assemblyman Tony Thurmond -- I imagined myself for just a few seconds watching the proceedings from the gallery high above -- and being impressed by not only the implausibility, but also by the grandeur of this moving ritual in this historic space created as the People's site of governance and celebration.  To be so honored was humbling... .

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