At Christmas, I like to send a yearly recap to all of my friends and relatives who are now scattered in the different places that life has landed them. And with life being what it is (life), some years are filled with more milestones than others. 2016 has been one of those years.
Since I have no idea where to begin this 2016 recap, I’ll start with the passing of my daddy. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last November after becoming ill with a multitude of symptoms (almost all of which he kept to himself). Because of his age and overall health, surgery was not an option. And knowing that the devastating side effects of chemo and radiation would only hasten the inevitable, dad chose to be cared for at home. The man who throughout the years taught me important things like how to connect with people through conversation (he never met a stranger), how to rake and burn a big pile of leaves without catching the neighborhood on fire, and how to back up a 24 foot U-Haul truck with a car hitch attached to the back without running someone over, also taught me about how to listen to and take care of someone I love who I know is dying. Until his last breath in the very early hours of the morning on June 8th, I learned from him how to be a better person. Lordy, but I loved having him in my life…
On the Work Front
We finally developed our GPL Park! We’ve only been dreaming about it since 2008. But after a series of successful grants and increased public interest this past year, we were able to get a sidewalk, security lighting, sod, raised planting beds, benches and a gazebo. I had trees and shrubs delivered this morning…
Our library hosted the annual state library convention in April. This was a noteworthy achievement for the GPL considering Gadsden doesn’t have a convention center. We were only able to pull the whole thing off with the help of every single GPL staff member working their fingers to the bone, and almost every local downtown partner loaning us space for events and breakout sessions. 400+ librarians, vendors and authors converged on Gadsden for three days. We survived. It was marvelous.
We are about to join forces with friend and educator Chip Rowan to bring his Beautiful Rainbow Catering Company & Garden into the library as a permanent partner in our cafe. Chip works with young adults with cognitive disabilities, teaching culinary and business skills for future employment. He is currently working through the Gadsden City School system, but hopes to one day become an independent employer of some of his graduates. We are renovating our existing café to hold an educational kitchen, a dining area for guests, a classroom/boardroom for additional learning, and an office for the day-to-day transactions of running a café/catering company. Because Chip and his guys currently grow much of the food they use in their catering jobs, we have agreed to turn over all eight of our raised planting beds that are located in our GPL Park to the Company. These young chefs-in-training have catered several events for us this year. They are excited about the amazing food that they create, and are just as excited about sharing it with our community. I am looking forward to spending my lunch time in their café come January of 2017!
The final event in our Gadsden Reads is this Tuesday. With the help of attorney Bryan Stevenson and his Equal Justice Initiative of Montgomery, we are dedicating a memorial to Bunk Richardson, a man wrongly lynched here in 1906. This all came about through our choosing of Stevenson’s book Just Mercy for our 2016 reading initiative which set into motion a community-wide discussion of the justice system as it pertains to ethnicity, mental health, socioeconomics, gender, and age. We are now openly talking about our local history of marginalizing certain groups within our community. It has not been an easy series of programs. Some folks are happy to finally be heard. Others question why we’re “stirring things up.” It’s just shameful and wrong to keep sweeping these things under the rug.
On the Home Front
2016 was another DIY year for us. I spent a great deal of time staining and painting the rafters and ceiling of the patio Eric built back in 2015. We ripped out the dropped ceiling of laundry room to expose the old beadboard that was hidden underneath. Eric built a sliding barn door to close off the laundry from the kitchen should we ever need to. We added buried electrical out to the garage for a security system. And after a lifetime of using ice cube trays, I have an icemaker in my fridge. Eric installed it I’m sure because of some deep desire to provide ice cubes for his wife and dog. As much as I am enjoying the ice, it still seems unnatural to have so much at my disposal.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday and much love,