Volunteers help Passion Works artists flower

Editor’s note: In a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday, reporters for the Shopping section of Court Street Stories have decided to “shop” for a local charity. What better way to say “thanks” than to find an organization worthy of a donation or volunteer work?

The holiday season brings people together.

Thanksgiving, in particular, enables family members across the United States to gather around the same table to enjoy a smorgasbord of fall-inspired delicacies, to celebrate their gratitude for one another. This Thanksgiving, Court Street Stories wants to place the emphasis on showing thanks by giving back to those in the community who appreciate it most. Passion Works Studio is one place where your presence and time is valued.

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Noah Hogan shows off his bird house, a project he has been working on for two weeks.

Passion Works Studio is a nonprofit organization— located at 20 E. State St. in Athens— that employs adults with and without disabilities as artists. And volunteers are always needed.

“We love the student volunteering aspect of this place,” says Alyssa Cardwell, the lead production artist at Passion Works Studio. “Our artists love that they get to meet new people, share their stories, artwork and a few laughs even. It’s a great connection.”

Cardwell says the studio serves three specific purposes:

1. It’s an art therapy program.

“It allows our artists to express their creativity and get their expressions out there for the community to see,” says Cardwell.

2. It gives artists a sense of individualism by offering the opportunity to make money.

“When their artwork sells here, they get 50% of the profit,” Cardwell explains.

The other half goes toward the studio to fund materials and operating expenses. Artwork can range from a painting or drawing on canvas, paper, sculptures— you name it. Another way artists can make a profit is by working on the Passion flowers that are displayed all across campus, most notably in coffee shops like Donkey and Front Room. Cardwell best describes this intricate piece of art as an involved process.

“Each step is done by one of our artists, and they get paid an hourly rate,” Cardwell says.

They work, hands on, from start to finish. All she does is drill the petals into a wooden block and the rest is the artists’ creation.

Artists also can make money earning a designer fee. Their drawing or painting can be mass produced and printed onto products like jewelry, mugs and tiles if they create a stellar image.

“When we see a strong piece like that, we think it would be cool to make multiples of it by putting it on a magnet or mug [for example],” Cardwell says. “We pay those artists a designer fee for that image so we can use it over and over again — they get a pretty decent compensation for that image.”

3. Community integration.

“Here at Passion Works we are very much involved with the community. We have a lot of art installations on Court Street, buildings at the university and the Essence of Athens, [which] pushes for this beautification of Athens through the arts,” says Cardwell.

The studio invites members of the community in to boost awareness about the group of people who are bringing this art to life. Just recently, a group of home-schooled children came in to assist the artists in making holiday cards. Together, they made cards to send to their relatives. They also formed friendships in the process.

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Artist Sarina loves to incorporate the colors pink and purple into her pieces.

At Passion Works, volunteering most times just means sitting down with artists, helping them however they may ask and then walking away having a made new friends. Building genuine relationships is what makes artists’ spirits thrive, even if it’s just for an hour each week.

Madeline Keener, junior in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Ohio University, began volunteering in the middle of September 2015, initially because of a story she pitched to Backdrop magazine.

“I was working on a story for a publication, and it was about a man who is actually one of the artists at Passion Works. [Volunteering] was another way to get to know him and observe him,” explains Keener.

That story was submitted in the beginning of October and Keener still goes to volunteer every Monday she can from 8-10 a.m. She says it’s the feeling she gets after spending some time with the artists that keeps her coming back.

“After I volunteer at Passion Works, I feel happy. I have a sense of accomplishment and gratitude for these people that always welcome me with smiles and high fives,” Keener says. “It just really brightens my day to be able to just hang out and get know these artists.”

Getting started at Passion Works Studio is quite simple. Visit the website and click on the “Get Involved” tab and then select “Volunteer.” Print out the one-page paper, fill it out and then bring it into the studio for a brief orientation. You could start that very day.

“To me it’s [just about] being there for them and providing them a way for their voice to be heard and feel like they are a part of this community,” says Cardwell.

Theatre Review: Much Ado About Nothing

Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing recently received the Ohio University Theater Division treatment. Director Dennis Lee Delaney reimagined this classic tale by setting it in 1945 instead of the traditional Elizabethan Age in which it is usually set.

Audiences entered the theatre had the scene set for them right away: the scenery suggested an Italian town that had been touched by World War II, and Don Pedro and his men are among a group of World War II soldiers returning from war. Jazz music is naturally thrown into the mix at various points throughout the play. Overall, this twist lent itself nicely to the tone and plot of the play.

The highlight of the story was the romance between Benedick, a companion to Don Pedro, and Beatrice, the niece of Leonato, the Governor of the seaport where the story is set. Hilarity ensues when Benedick’s companions and Beatrice’s family decide to make the pair realize their feelings for each other. The scenes in which these two groups arrange for Benedick and Beatrice separately to overhear them raving about how madly the other one is in love with them are the highlight of the show; the auditorium was filled with nearly ceaseless laughter for a matter of minutes. This romantic couple starts off butting heads with each other but of course fall in love by the end of the show, and this is portrayed to excellence by Brian Epperson and Ellie Clark. Epperson in particular has an easy comedic presence on stage; his timing and physical comedy were superb.

Another romantic plot is brought into play by Claudio, another companion of Don Pedro, and Hero, Leonato’s daughter, portrayed by Jake Sabinsky and Bri McCabe. These two lovers fall in love at the very beginning of the play but run afoul when Claudio is falsely informed that Hero has been unfaithful to him and he cruelly leaves her at the altar. Then, because this is Shakespeare, Hero’s family helps her to fake her own death. Claudio learns of his mistake and deeply regrets his actions, so he agrees to marry Leonato’s niece to make up for it, who is revealed at the wedding to be the live Hero. Sabinsky and McCabe pulled off this complicated plot with just the right amount of angst and sweetness.

The set, which began in a dilapidated state after the war, was slowly restored throughout the show, and the lighting was arranged to suggest a warm and inviting atmosphere. Overall, the production made for a relatively lighthearted and amusing night at the theatre.

There is a reason Shakespeare’s plays are still told hundreds of years after his death, and this production reminded its audience why.

A musical look back at Ohio University’s history

In 1977, Billy Joel performed in The Convo. In 2015, Waka Flocka Flame turned up the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium stage.

Times have changed.

Here’s a quick look back at who has performed at Ohio University throughout the years:

  1. The Grateful Dead, 1968

The Grateful Dead performed in Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium for a free concert, according to Robert L. Williams II, an OU professor who compiled A Bulleted/Pictorial History of Ohio University. According to Willams, members of the band Jerry Garcia and Pigpen were later seen at the Union Bar.

  1. Simon and Garfunkel, 1968

    Simon and Garfunkel concert Ohio University 10-29-1968
    Simon and Garfunkel concert Ohio University 10-29-1968. Via Steinhoff.

The folk duo played the Convocation Center to a crowd of guys in ties and girls in skirts that were “delightfully short,” at least that’s how photographer Ken Steinhoff described it. Simon and Garfunkel broke up two years later.

  1. Led Zeppelin, 1969

To see an almost unknown Led Zeppelin at OU at The Convo, you would only have needed $2.50, according to Williams. That’s about $16 or $17 in today’s standards.

  1. The Who, 1969

According to Willaims, when the already-famous band performed at The Convo, Keith Moon’s whiskey was confiscated because it was a dry campus at the time.

  1. Bruce Springsteen

The Boss himself played on the same ticket as The Eagles, Blood, Sweat and Tears, and Billy Preston.

  1. Billy Joel, 1977

Billy Joel sang OU a song because he was the piano man in a concert hosted by ACRN, according to a previous Athena yearbook.

  1. Neil Young, 1980

When Neil Young stepped on stage, the drinking age had recently been changed to 21. According to Williams, that greatly affected the future of Convo concerts, because less money could be made off alcohol.

And here’s where we are in 2015:

-Waka Flocka Flame, 2015

Waka Flocka Flame was the Sibs Weekend performer and when asked by a Post reporter what goes through his mind when he’s on stage, he answered: “Turn the f—k up Waka.”

-Sam Hunt, 2015

Hunt performed at the first Country Night Lights and sang his hits “House Party” and “Take Your Time,” according to a Post article. And a bunch of ladies thought he was hot.

To listen and take a little stroll down memory lane using the Spotify playlist below:

 

Thanksgiving, done the college way

Not able to go home for Thanksgiving, low on cash, or simply wanting to host a quick “friends-giving” before trekking home for the week? No worries, because a delicious, easy and cheap Thanksgiving dinner is well within reach. Between personal experience and the wealth of crafty cooking that is Pinterest, here is a quick guide to a successful college thanksgiving.

  • The potatoes – Arguably the tastiest part of Thanksgiving dinner, mashed potatoes are also going to be the easiest for a college student. Potatoes are extremely cheap and likely something already in the pantry. In addition, mashed potatoes are a very wing-able recipe, as in one is not really needed. For the perfect mashed potatoes c3873468062_5bd39e7b92_ohop the desired amount of potatoes into small cubes (the number will vary depending on how many people need to be served), boil them until they can be pierced with a fork. drain the potatoes, and add them back to the pot. Once they are back in the pot mash them with whatever you have on hand, often a large ladle will do. While mashing add in a few splashes of milk, a tablespoon or two of butter, and a dollop of sour cream for extra creaminess. Mash till their smooth or leave a few chunks in, again, the recipe is completely adaptable to personal tastes.
  • The turkey – Depending on the group and budget, a full sized turkey is probably unmanageable and unrealistic. Instead, try a thick cut turkey sandwich. For a fancier feel, get it cut fresh from the deli, or get something like Oscar Meyer Carving Board turkey. It will give the feel of sliced-from-the-bird meat without the hours of cooking. Buy a nice crusty bread and layer it up with all the fixings.
  • Rolls –  Nobody has time to make homemade rolls. Take a break and pop your preferred store bought brand into the oven.
  •  Gravy – Again, this will be better done store bought, because without a turkey being cooked in the oven, there will not be any drippings for the base. Luckily, gravy can be bought for about $2.50 a jar and local grocery stores.
  • Cranberry Sauce – Let’s be real, canned cranberry sauce is a classic and the way it jiggles on the plate is tons of fun, but if you are feeling adventurous this recipe promises to be quick and easy.
  • Pumpkin pie – The crowning glory of Thanksgiving dinner and also a deceptively easy recipe to make. For a twist on this time honored dessert try making individual pumpkin pies. To make 12 you will need 1 prepared pie crust, 2 eggs, 4 ounces of cream cheese (half a package), 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 can of pumpkin filling, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out10934602786_09a2e29546_o the pie crust and cut into mini circles that will fit into cupcake tins. Separate the white from one of the eggs, whisk it and then brush over the pie crusts. Put the yolk from the first egg in a bowl and beat with the remaining egg. Mix softened cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla extract and the pumpkin pie spice into the eggs and keep mixing until the mixture is smooth. Spoon the filling into the little pies and bake until golden brown and the filling is firm. Finish with a little whip cream or ice cream and voila, little bitty cups of pumpkin goodness.

Feel free to round out the meal with a big green salad, and extra veggie sides, but these basics will get you a delectable dinner and the praise of all of your guests.

Why you should help Keep Noah Rolling this Thanksgiving

Editor’s note: In a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday, reporters for the Shopping section of Court Street Stories have decided to “shop” for a local Athens charity. What better way to say “thanks” than to find an organization worthy of a donation or volunteer work? And full disclosure: Both the author (Dan Shisler) and editor (Bob Benz) of this story are part of Keep Noah Rolling, the organization that’s attempting to secure funds for Noah’s van.

 Thanksgiving, for many Americans, means a time to stuff themselves, watch the Detroit Lions, get their holiday shopping done or purchase a new set of appliances at an insanely low price. Yet the true spirit of Thanksgiving, giving thanks, often sadly takes a back seat to more commercial and materialistic interests.

I would like to gently remind our readers to put the turkey, football and discounts aside for a moment, and take some time to count your blessings. This holiday is a great opportunity to give thanks for all the small things that many people take for granted every day. For example: the basic abilities to walk and talk. Now, imagine your life without them.

Noah Trembly
Noah Trembly

For Noah Trembly, an Athens resident, that is his reality. Noah has cerebral palsy. Since birth, Noah has been living with a condition that prevents him from performing the most mundane actions that able-bodied people perform mindlessly every day. Noah uses a motorized wheelchair to move around and a sophisticated communication device to speak. At first glance, many people see a broken man. But I assure you: sitting inside that uncooperative body is a brilliant mind, a deviously witty sense of humor and a genuine and selfless soul.

I first learned about Noah in my strategic communication senior capstone class at Ohio University, when my professor, Bob Benz, announced that we would be working on a special project: helping one of his disabled friends raise money for a new handicap-accessible van. At first, I thought it was a good cause, but the kind of thing you hear about all the time. Just another guy in a wheelchair, just another charity case. Until I met Noah.

When Noah came to speak to the class, I could sense there was something different about him. The way he rolled into the classroom with bright eyes and a devilish grin instantly gave credence to Benz’s many anecdotes of an infectious and amicable personality. Noah, speaking through his device, told us his story. He told us how he has been living with this terrible condition his entire life. He told us about how it was an incredible struggle for him to get through school. He told us how one of his principals told his mother that he would probably never amount to anything, that he would probably never live a fulfilling or meaningful life.

The principal couldn’t have been more wrong.

Noah Trembly has been defying the odds ever since. His story is one of resilience and inspiration. Noah did not let his condition define him; he has overcome expectations and defined himself. Noah lives independently, albeit with the constant assistance of a caregiver. But that hasn’t stopped him from living his own life. Noah is a Grateful Dead fan. Noah is a skier. Noah is a gardener. Noah is a vegetarian (in fact, you may have seen him zipping around the Athens Farmers Market). Noah is an artist. But most importantly, Noah is a worker.

Noah, working through his company, Noah Trembly Enterprises, is an advocate for the disabled and a handicap-accessibility consultant. He is currently heading an initiative to improve the quality and wheelchair accessibility of sidewalks in Athens. Noah has consulted for Ohio University and has even been a lecturer at the institution. For someone with no control over his vocal cords, Noah speaks a lot. In fact, Noah has traveled throughout the state and the country giving talks. For travel, Noah relies on an old and decrepit van that is on its last legs. For Noah’s meaningful work to continue, a new van is essential.

The decked-out van Keep Noah Rolling is raising money for.
The decked-out van Keep Noah Rolling is raising money for.

Our capstone class devised a social media strategy to raise awareness and produce donations for Keep Noah Rolling, the charity whose goal it is to raise the $60,000 required for a new accessible van. With the help of Tony’s Tavern and Jackie O’s Brewpub, we held an event on Nov. 14 that we called Keep Noah Shuffling, our take on the age-old Court Street tradition. But instead of raising our BAC, we raised money for a great cause. A portion of every signature Tony’s Hot Nut sold that night went directly to the new van. Jackie O’s even brewed a very tasty beer especially for the occasion, with $2 from every pint sold going directly to the cause. We also accepted donations from generous patrons. All said and done, we raised over $2,000 that night. Unfortunately, that accounts for only a fraction of our lofty goal. For me though, the reward was the expression on Noah’s face after the event.

While we counted the donations in front of him at the end of the night, Noah’s face lit up and he let out what I’ve come to know as one of his signature bouts of boisterous belly-laughter. His smile was that of a man overwhelmed with gratitude for the tremendous outpouring of support from the community, local businesses, friends and total strangers alike. Our event was but the start of a movement; we still have a long road ahead of us.

Like so many of us, Noah simply wants to live independently, without government assistance, and to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life. Noah doesn’t want a donation; he wants an investment. By investing in Noah, you are investing in his ability to help enable and empower others in similar situations.

So this Thanksgiving, give thanks, give a damn, and give your support to this wonderful cause.

For those interested in donating, you can do so here. If you can’t support Noah financially, please like and share his Facebook page here.

 

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Author Dan Shisler, Bob Benz and the rest of the Keep Noah Rolling capstone team.