Prairie View

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Did You Grow Up in the Middle Class?

In the most recent Leadership Reno County (LRC) class, we were asked the question in the title.  I couldn't think whether I should raise my hand or not, so I lifted my hand off the table belatedly and half-heartedly.  Afterward, I realized that even a half-hearted hand-raise was probably too much affirmative assent.  By most measures, I grew up in a family too poor to be in the middle class.  Why wasn't that more clear to me?

The question was posed in the middle of an exercise in which we had all read the same news account of a family with two children who were receiving public assistance (welfare).  We noted the facts in the case, and then listed possible interpretations of the facts.  All of the interpretations were measured, polite, and full of understanding--until one of the facilitators urged us to consider some more difficult interpretations.  She pointed out that not all of us raised our hands in response to the "Middle Class" question, implying that some of us might have a perspective on this family's experience that the rest should hear.  Then the visceral reactions began pouring out.

One person said she never knew her father, and had not been cared for by her mother, because she was on drugs.  As a result, she had spent time in foster care, just as the woman in the story had.  The woman in our class was furious at the way the couple in the story was "milking" the public assistance system.

Another person described trying to help his mother-in-law, whose furnace had quit during cold weather.  The family had brought in space heaters and had begun to check into getting assistance for her to pay for a new furnace--so that she wouldn't have to take out a loan to pay for it.  They knew that her limited income would make it difficult to pay back a loan.  As soon as it became clear that the assistance was forthcoming, the woman took out a loan and scheduled the installation of a new furnace.  The son-in-law saw in her actions an unappealing mix of negative attitudes and actions, probably centered on pride.  Pride was probably driving both the reluctance to seek help and the desire to pay for it with borrowed money rather than "gifted" money.

In one of the above stories, the point being made by the storyteller was that some people are far too quick to take money from others, and the other storyteller was saying in effect that some people shouldn't be too proud to accept help from others when they need it.  

Even before the class was over, my mind was churning with questions: How is "middle class" defined?  What if those who define "middle class" have very different values from mine?  Am I still obligated to accept another's definition of middle class?  Is it important to know our socio-economic class?  Are we capable of identifying our own class status?  What is poverty?  Is being  poor and proud a good thing or a bad thing?  Is poverty with shame better than poverty with pride?

When I visited Lincoln school recently, I heard statistics that placed most of the students in the poverty category.  Seventy per cent qualified for free lunches.  So did my family, although we didn't know it until the principal quietly informed my parents and urged them to use the benefit.  Forty per cent at Lincoln qualified for free breakfast and weekend meals too.  If the program had already existed, I suspect that my parental family might have qualified for that too.  True, the food was often simple, with little variety.  Bread and milk soup for supper--hot in the winter--with the bread toasted, and cold in the summer, with sugar and fruit added.  Eggs and hot cereal for breakfast, summer and winter.  Repeat ad infinitum.  Much of our food was produced on our farm, and some of the baked goods we ate came from a big pile on the floor of Nisly Brothers' shed.

In the house, we had water piped to two spigots, one in the bathroom sink and one in the kitchen sink.  We could "skin the cat" (a gymnastics move) on the pipe that drained the kitchen sink and protruded from the side of the house.  The bathroom drain pipe was too low to the ground to hang from by our hands or feet--as required for skinning the cat.  Four bedrooms held beds for twelve people.  The upstairs bedrooms were frigid during the winter and sometimes so hot in the summer that we used a fine water mist from a spray bottle in order to cool off enough to sleep. 

My paternal grandparents (Kansas) had twelve children born to them between 1921 and 1937.  The Great Depression hit smack in the middle of those years, and the Dust Bowl marked the end of that time period.  A "mawt" (maid) who worked in their home described them as being "so poor."  Yet, when I asked the group of siblings in my dad's family (during a memories-sharing time at a reunion) if they felt poor while growing up, they said "not really; we were much like the people around us." I guess their economic status wasn't clear to them either.

I remember that in high school another girl once liked something I was wearing and asked where I got it.  I answered honestly, "Salvation Army," at which point she promptly apologized for asking.  I thought that was strange. 

I also remember the year when our neighbor Johnny Davies showed up at our door during the Christmas season with a big box of wonderful food.  Even before he left, we exclaimed happily over it as we lifted each item out of the box.  When my dad asked "Where did you get this?" Johnny said, "I thought you weren't supposed to ask about things like that." 

Dad thanked him for reminding him of that.  We children never suspected what my parents must have known--that we were one of the recipients of the Partridge Church people's efforts to remember the poor during the Christmas season. 

I believe that our family's economic status was not clear to me for several reasons.  Primarily, we simply didn't spend a lot of time comparing ourselves with others.  Also, since we lived in a fairly tightly-knit community among people whose lifestyle was similar to ours,  no huge and obvious differences existed.  Others also wore tennis shoes to school even after they had developed a few holes.  Certainly, most others had an indoor toilet, and we didn't, and some of our friends routinely got money to spend at the concession stand at ball games, and we usually didn't.  If we did, we never failed to choose the items carefully so that we could easily divide some of it among our younger siblings after we got home (shoestring licorice was perfect for this). 

We never saw possessions as a measure of worth.  I'm not sure how this happened, but I wonder if we didn't actually have a slightly negative impression of being wealthy--as though it revealed misplaced priorities or character flaws.  Maybe it was partly because so little of what my parents invested their time in resulted in a prompt economic benefit.  Yet we knew that what they did had value.  My dad never was a salaried minister, but he spent a great deal of time in pastoral work.  My mother extended hospitality to others far beyond the call of duty, with no financial reward.  On the farm, none of the crops brought in money until they could be harvested and sold.  Animals had to be fed a long time before they could be taken to market.  Delayed or intangible as they were, these responsible behaviors did produce rewards--as we came gradually to understand. 

I don't know how this happened either, but somehow we were able to view things that came into our possession with gratitude for God's provision, whether it came through a great find at Salvation Army or a box of food at Christmas.  Too proud to receive these good gifts?  That would have been unthinkably ungrateful to our Great Provider.  The perspective of gratitude made it possible to receive help without shame.

Everything I'm remembering here elevates my parents' roles in our family life another notch.  I marvel at the resourcefulness and wisdom and strength with which they met their challenges. Among the gifts they gave us was leading by example in staying curious and engaged in the world of books, nature, and people.  Consequently we faced the world outside our home with what I think was a healthy measure of confidence and enthusiasm.  If we chased anything, it was knowledge, mastery of skills, and opportunities to serve--not money.  These were priceless habits we learned from our parents. 

Our household was not particularly well-organized and our relationships were not always without friction, but by and large, our home was happy, and dysfunction was held at bay.  What we did have was a bedrock of faith in a loving, merciful, and just God, and we had an Instruction Book and a faith community to help us learn how to live.  This surely carried all of us in ways that we will never understand on this side of heaven.  Measured against the wealth of being part of the kingdom of God, being part of the middle class looks like a diminished and meager status. 


Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Building a Better Case for Being Present in Nature

After my blog post last night, my sister Linda sent me an email with a number of links and a few notes about the contents.  With her permission, I'm sharing some of the content here.  Her notes:

I looked at a bunch of sites. One mentioned that the combination of green 
and blue is especially therapeutic. Another mentioned the benefit of 
sunshine. But mostly it was green--even green plants in the house...

     [Seeing] both green and blue is especially helpful.

     Even five minutes a day outside is very beneficial.

     Being outdoors is therapeutic for those with ADHD, addictions, 
depression, insomnia...

     Nature improves classroom behavior and speeds healing in hospitals.

     As increasing research shows benefits of spending time in nature, 
especially in sunlight, people are spending generally less and less time 

     Some side benefits [of being outdoors] are fresh air, exercise...


I've included the links below, along with minimal comments.

Learn about phytoncides here, and about the beneficial effects of a view of living things and natural beauty, even when confined indoors.  Lots of other good information and tips here.

I especially like Frank Lloyd Wright's quote at the end of this article (except that I would like to add a caveat to the last phrase).  Although he is known for his Prairie Style of architecture, I don't think he's thinking of prairie-style drought, blizzards, floods, high winds and tornadoes when he says "nature never fails you."

Reading this article makes me wonder (again!) why we are prioritizing play space (especially for competitive games) over green space on our school grounds.

This article lists specific medical diagnoses that are often helped by spending time in natural environments.,

Ohhhh, this last paragraph is gold.  I also love this "prescription" for being in nature:  "Go outside, go often, go with friends, or not."  It borrows from the format of Micheal Pollan's sage words on eating well:  "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

This article appears on a site that suggests it's written by a mother concerned about wellness.  You'll find the term ecotherapy introduced here.   This also has the simplest explanation that I've read about how negative ions are beneficial.  It's because our bodies have a tendency to build up a positive charge, and negative ions restore "electrical" balance.


Before I spoke yesterday, I read an abstract of a journal article that spoke to a question already present in my mind.  What is the benefit of being outdoors in an environment like the one I usually walk in these days--on a paved road, alongside ditches that have been freshly dug out and are thus devoid of vegetation (let alone, plant diversity), in winter, when "green" is hard to find, and the wind can be hard and cold?  In brief, though exercise and fresh air are beneficial, the answer to this question is still elusive, and more research is needed.  I'll copy parts of the abstract below:

"There is mounting empirical evidence that interacting with nature delivers measurable benefits to people. Reviews of this topic have generally focused on a specific type of benefit, been limited to a single discipline, or covered the benefits delivered from a particular type of interaction. . . . We discover that evidence for the benefits of interacting with nature is geographically biased towards high latitudes and Western societies, potentially contributing to a focus on certain types of settings and benefits. . . .  The evidence for most benefits is correlational, and although there are several experimental studies, little as yet is known about the mechanisms that are important for delivering these benefits. For example, we do not know which characteristics of natural settings (e.g., biodiversity, level of disturbance, proximity, accessibility) are most important for triggering a beneficial interaction, . . . These are key directions for future research if we are to design landscapes that promote high quality interactions between people and nature in a rapidly urbanising world."


While I am as eager as ever to incorporate natural prairie plants into our landscapes, I see more clearly than before that trees should also be incorporated, even though not many grew here prior to settlement by people of European ancestry.  I even find some limited justification for watered and mowed lawns, because that's the most reliable way to ensure that access to green is possible during the growing season, even if severe drought descends.  

I have a growing vision for developing walking or running paths that are lined with a diverse plant community that includes trees.  Since we can't all do this at our homes, we should consider doing this in places that all have easy access to.  On school and church grounds, and in small-town parks would seem like good places to begin.  Maybe some people who have space and the vision to develop their own properties could be generous enough to open it for use by other members of the community.  Or perhaps landowners with adjacent properties could stretch walking paths across boundary lines.  I'm guessing that some people are wondering why we can't just all use our country roads for walking.  There's some validity to that.  Safety, however, is more assured if pedestrian traffic does not mix with motor vehicle traffic, as happens when walking happens on public roadways.  Also, women walking alone would feel less vulnerable--to human predators at least, away from public roads.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Devotions at the Sewing

I spoke today during the devotional time to the ladies from Center and Cedar Crest who had gathered for the monthly sewing day.  It was a typical day in that comforters and quilts were being churned out as fast as such projects can happen.  Anyone who has helped with such projects knows that knotted comforters can be finished much much faster than quilts.  Once a year, usually in February, we have a potluck (or carry-in, as it's usually called), and we did that today.

I agreed afterward to helping with the cleanup after the sewing for the next seven months. 

One of these times, I'm going to have to start saying no again when I'm asked to do things.  No one asked when I was teaching (and I would have said no if they had), but now that I'm retired, I'm apparently "fair game" when volunteers are being solicited.  I guess that's OK, because so far I'm really happy for the switch in activities.  I think I can trust Hiromi to gently intervene if he sees things getting out of hand.  He's done so before. 


I used my students' response to my teaching-the-wrong-Sunday School-lesson story as an example of their choosing an adaptive response to the situation.  After a bit more explanation about the difference between adaptive and technical situations and responses, I observed that most of the women "here" seem to me to face many adaptive challenges. 

I had no illusions about being able to offer anything that would magically make adaptive challenges easier to navigate, but I attempted to point out that God's provision is sufficient for facing these challenges.  I think I probably talked too long, but they were an attentive audience.  They're kind that way.

I'm plopping my notes into the remainder of this post.  They're pretty rough in places, and the content might be too sketchy to be helpful.  In brackets I added some explanations--some of which I included when I spoke, and I crossed out at least one thing that I think I did not say.  Even so, the notes aren't that great.  If the notes need interpretation, just ask.  And please bear with me.


 Sewing Devotions Notes

God’s Provision for Adaptive Work

Story about teaching the wrong lesson.

Adaptive challenge: No clear path forward.  Various things to consider.  Involves discomfort and uncertainty.  All options involve some risk.  [Adaptive work is what it sounds like--requiring many adaptations.  Technical solutions often involve an authority figure and unquestioned and invariable processes and actions.]

[I read the next two paragraphs aloud.]
Most of life calls for being able to meet adaptive challenges.  Often the thing we would like most to do is to find a technical solution so we won’t have to muddle through a situation like this repeatedly. The problem then often becomes dealing with the situations that don’t fit a tidy system.  In such situations, we have a new adaptive challenge.  If we don’t recognize this, or perhaps if we don’t have the time to invest in finding adaptive solutions, we end up investing too much energy in maintaining the system.  The sweet spot seems to me to be a system that has enough structure to relieve the stress of having to constantly reinvent things, but is flexible enough to incorporate variables as they arise.  There probably are times when the systems themselves need to change.  On the other hand, often what we need to do is to take better notice of the options we do have within an existing system. 

God’s provision for us is adequate for our tasks. I’m thinking especially of women in our setting.  I will be speaking largely out of my own experience, but partly also about my aspirations.  I hope that in listening you might be able to find something that you can apply in your own situation.  Specifically, I hope that you can begin to employ some practices that are simple enough to provide some easy structure, and flexible enough to be workable in varied situations.

God provides for us--

–Through our biology–better connections between the two sides of our brain
–hormonal cycle (more energy at certain points in the cycle–because of different hormone mix) 

–Through rhythms in the created world–
–day and night (earth’s rotation on its axis)–Markers: sunrise and sunset–witness this!  Day and night–day is for work/night is for rest–going to bed at a regular time
–moon phases (moon orbiting around the earth)–Markers: Full moon and new moon–Seedstarting
–solar cycle (earth orbiting around the sun)–Long days and short days–Equinox and solstice–markers [All of the above can serve as prompts for accomplishing certain tasks.  E.g., if we do spring cleaning, use the vernal equinox as the deadline–or the starting time, etc.]

–Through God-ordained rhythms–
[Nothing in the natural world suggests the 1 in 7 rhythm.  It exists only by God’s direct creation and command.] Very basic: (work and rest) 1 in 7, [applicable also to other tasks] traditional tasks on certain days (wash on Monday, ironing, mending, cleaning, baking) menu planning: different meats, different vegetables, different starches

–Through being present in nature–
–a good place to exercise
–a good time to get fresh air
[I meant to list below the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of being in nature.]
–a good time to be exposed to negative ions–not directly related to exercise and fresh air–most studied in relation to going barefoot outside on bare ground or waking in forested areas–here, the open sky and enormous plant diversity in a prairie ecosystem have been less studied [I admitted to some uncertainty about how this works and couldn’t explain it very well.]
--elevated mood
--greater calmness
--improved mental processing and memory
–a good time to notice plants that are valuable nutritionally and medicinally
–a good place to worship–Psalm 8 & 14–Romans 1--God is revealed in creation
–being easily amazed (If this does not come naturally to you, I think the way to acquire it is to cultivate the discipline of gratitude)

--Through God’s Word and Spirit–won’t attempt to say how this should look for you–for me, it [spending time in Scripture reading, meditation, and prayer] looks very different since Hiromi is retired and our children have left home [I’m able to take more time, more regularly.]

Through crying out to God –this is probably the only one that is the right thing to do every time when you face an adaptive challenge–because it’s probably the only way that you’ll be able to know which other approaches are the right ones for right now. 
God, the wonderful Provider, will never fail us. [I can’t imagine how very different my life would be if God had not responded, over and over, when I cried out to Him–often in uneloquent prayers like “O Lord, help!” or “Please show me what to do next.”]


Here's a link to a well-documented article giving "11 scientific reasons you should be spending more time outside."

Several ladies were happy to hear that being barefoot outside has health benefits, and a few affirmed that they feel really well when they do this a lot. 

Sunday, February 03, 2019

SS Class Fail, Tragedy, and School

Have you ever taught an entire Sunday School lesson to adults and learned at the end of the class period that you were holding forth on the wrong lesson?  I did that this morning--after I had taken some pains early in the week to make sure that I was studying the right lesson.  The tittering at the beginning of class should have tipped me off, but a bit of fast thinking on the part of a few class members resulted in the conclusion that it was better to talk about what I had studied than what they had studied--possibly with less time investment.  So they just went with the flow and waited till the end of class to reveal what the merriment was about.

I still wish I had learned something though about the vine and the branches (John 15a), although the Shepherd seeking the lost sheep and the woman searching for the lost coin (Luke 15a) proved to be an interesting study as well.  I think my brain did a switch between reading my announcements sheet on the fridge where the lesson was listed (from John) and my devotions chair where I began to read the portion (from Luke).  Silly old brain.

In my own defense, I'll say that the way this lesson was chosen and assigned was highly unusual, so the confusion happened easily.  It was a fill-in lesson between finishing up the NT General Epistles and beginning the study of the three OT minor prophets who proclaimed truth to the nation of Israel.


This morning's service included news and prayers about an unusual number of tragedies involving friends and family of people in our congregation. Julian told about the 41-year-old friend of Bertha's who died of a stroke, the 21-year-old young married woman who died in an accident on winter-hazardous roads (from Floyd and Dorcas' church--but also an inlaw to Bertha's brother), and he mentioned the death of a 61-year-old cousin to Marvin and Judy--both married to one of my siblings.  Norman (the cousin) was an age-mate and dear friend of Marvin's when they lived near each other from birth to age 9.  Marvin also mentioned Sam Swarey who is very ill with cancer in TN.  We heard about the death this morning of Daniel Yutzy and his wife, who were traveling to her grandmother's funeral in OH and died in an accident on the way there.  They lived in Iowa and had five children ages 5-21.  Apparently this Amish couple, presumably traveling in a vehicle with a hired driver, collided with a semi sitting crosswise in the road under very foggy conditions.  Then Lorne K. told us about the young man from IL who died when their home exploded from an apparent gas leak.  His sister is hospitalized in critical condition.  A young man on his way home to IL from working in Hutchinson on Interfaith Housing Projects with CASP aborted his planned trip home (via a wedding in GA) because his parents--who planned to pick him up at an airport en route--needed to return to IL.  The parents of the young people involved in the explosion were passengers in the vehicle originally headed to GA.    Kathy Garrett (local) is in hospice care, with a short life expectancy.  Oh my! Lord, have mercy.


"School" seems to be a recurring theme in my world recently.  It's a very different school world, however, than the one that consumed nearly all my energies during the past several school years. 

Today's local newspaper had three "school" stories.  One was an opinion piece urging caution about charter schools.  Another was a news story about Christian schools.  I'm afraid this article is more accurate than I wish it were in some ways--particularly the ways that indoctrination there can promote political polarization. When they talk, however, about leaving kids "vulnerable on all kinds of levels" because of too-limited exposure, etc. I think they are revealing values that have too little in common with Christian values for their concern to be taken very seriously.  I take some comfort in what I heard several weeks ago from Wendy S., the Hutch News staffer who ended up in my carpool to Hesston for the LRC retreat.  She spoke of the Pilgrim students as their "favorite student group to work with by far" on the student-written section of the newspaper that is published once a month by one of the high schools in the area--with a lot of help offered by News staffers.

The front page had an article about how public schools in Reno County fared in recent testing on math, language arts, and science.  There's not a lot to brag about here, but scores weren't dismal either. 

Several days ago I saw the name and picture of one of my college classmates, Fred Dierksen, who was just appointed as a co-chair of a Governor's Council on Education.  He was the well-loved superintendent of the Sterling school district until recently when he transferred to Dodge City.  Fred is a good level-headed Christian guy (I remember him helping push my little Opel out of a snowy, slippery parking spot on campus one day), and I'm pleased to see him in a state education position. 

In January, I attended the Haven district school board meeting.  Doing so was a requirement for the Leadership  Reno County class.  During the executive session in which the Superintendent's performance was being discussed, I mingled with him and the other excluded attendees and got acquainted with everyone and enjoyed a chat together.  At the beginning of the meeting I had hoped to sneak in quietly, but right after I entered, I was asked if I hoped to address the board.  "No," I said quickly.  Horrors. 

On Thursday of this past week, I showed up at Lincoln School in Hutch at 7:00 AM for a meeting with the principal and several other LRC class members.  Darla Fisher (wife of Ron) is the principal.  I was blown away by what is being attempted and accomplished in this school where 75% of the students qualify for free lunches, and 40% qualify for breakfasts and weekend meals.  Before I left I connected with Angeleise, the sister of my daughter-in-law Clare.  Angeleise is a paraprofessional in the special ed classroom at Lincoln. 

Darla knows the language of the LRC class (her husband--Shane's former employee and current consultant--helps facilitate the class), and she acknowledges that her job, where being hit and kicked is a workplace hazard, involves huge adaptive challenges.    For example, the students' issues are often linked to poor home situations, poverty, poor health, and even crime.  But inside the walls of the school, every child is shown love and offered help and taught skills.  Every school day begins with an all-school assembly, which is led by the principal, with students sitting on the gym floor.  This is part routine and part pep talk and part calming activity.  While there I observed on hallway charts, etc. a handful of  ever-so-sensible "school culture language" ways of describing things like voice volume (mouse to lion), apathy/alertness/agitation/violence levels (white? to red--green is good), and ways of defusing conflict by self-management (turn away or walk away before speaking angrily or fighting back).  Darla shines with the love of Jesus and praises her staff and the students highly for the effort they put forth to live well and make things better for others. 

Another recent conversation was with a homeschooling mom that I had met only once before, briefly.  This time we talked for several hours.  I admire so very much about how she approaches homeschooling.  When I asked her about how she got started with homeschooling, she told about having grown up in the home of a Christian school teacher, and having attended Christian schools herself.  This was the kind of school environment she pictured for her children--until something changed after they lost their first child to a miscarriage.  In the grief and searching that followed, she  promised the Lord that she would do anything He asked her to do in mothering any children He gave them.  Then, inexplicably, exposure to homeschooling began to come at her in waves, and the conviction grew that this was one thing the Lord was showing her that He wanted her to do.  All this happened before they had children. 

When the children began to arrive, the family quickly grew to include six children under the age of six.  She was privileged to be able to hire help with domestic chores, and the children's  grandparents were close by and offered help.  Also, at some point, her husband began to work from a home office (in a separate building, however), and one school desk is there for times when being with Dad is called for.  She is very aware that homeschooling can be an incredibly daunting undertaking, and she has been busy trying to offer connection and help to other homeschooling moms in the area.  Lots of warm fuzzies followed this conversation.

Another upcoming LRC project shoved me in a surprising direction while I was trying to formulate in my mind what might be done to meet one of my personal adaptive challenges.  I think I've written before here about desiring to see expanded options in the space between all-homeschooling and all-classroom schooling.  From this desire a one-room-school picture has gradually emerged--a de-consolidation model that stops short of one-family-alone education approaches .  No, not exactly the historical version of one-room schools.  What I envision is a space where all the school-age children of several homeschooling neighborhood families could gather one or more days a week.  Group size would have a predetermined upper limit, roughly coinciding with the size of one large family.  All the children would bring their schoolbooks from home and the teacher for the day would simply offer guidance and supervision for lessons planned by the parents.  The  teacher would presumably be one of the moms (taking turns), or it could be a hired teacher.  On the day that a mom of preschoolers is the teacher, her own preschoolers could come along.  Defending the rationale for this approach will have to wait for another time.

I had always pictured starting very small by providing such a space in a little classroom on our property, in hopes that it might prove duplicatable elsewhere.  However, when I tried to frame that desire in the language of an adaptive challenge that an LRC  group of peer consultants could help with, I soon saw that my vision was too limited.  I still don't remember how it all came together in my mind, but quite suddenly, I saw that many stakeholders in this community could benefit in multiple ways if they had access to the fairly-new, now-vacant Partridge Grade School facility 2 1/2 miles from our home.  One classroom could serve as my one-room school, and so very many other needed services could fit into other areas of the building and in the park/playground adjacent to it. 

Sigh.  Now my vision feels out of control--except that I know it's safe with the Lord, and He can dole out tasks in doable measures.  People around me have helped with astonishing understanding, encouragement, and generosity, and showed willingness to make connections and come together to explore options. Timing of various encounters seems providential. 

I'm OK with being a listener-to-and-recorder-of-ideas, and LRC class tells us that this is always the first step in working through an adaptive challenge, so that's what I'm doing now.  Looming large in everyone's mind, of course, is the challenge of establishing secure funding for ongoing operations.  Utility bills alone are staggering.  Even on that matter though, some surprising options are showing promise. Part of me is awed at the possibilities.  Another part of me wants to scurry into a hidey hole, waiting to emerge till after everything calms down. I'd be very happy to know that others are willing to pray about the future of the PGS building, and I'd be happy as well to hear from anyone who has insights or help to offer.