Support the country’s oldest democratic school (& have some fun, too!)…

Jon Langford & Jean Cook

Dear Readers,

Happy Friday!

Here’s a sweet video of Jon Langford and Jean Cook doing the song “Are You An Entertainer?”  If you have 4 minutes and 54 seconds to watch it, please do (you’ll thank me!).

And if you’re near Yellow Springs, take note: Tickets for the Antioch School Gala are still available. YOU CAN SEE THESE TWO AMAZING HUMANS PERFORM LIVE, ON MARCH 4, IN YELLOW SPRINGS, OHIO!

Life may seem nasty, brutish, and short, but we need to find the bright spots where we can.

This event is a vital fundraiser for the country’s oldest democratic school. The ticket price includes food, an open wine bar, and performance by Jon Langford and Jean Cook. Where are you going to get a deal like that anywhere else? For more information, check out the School’s website here.

Love, Rebecca

L’il ray o’ light, March 4

Jon Langford and Jean Cook

Sometimes things that are beautiful and true endure in the world…coalesce in the midst of  what seems like unrelenting darkness to one crystalline time and place.

Here’s one such moment:

Jon Langford and Jean Cook will provide entertainment at the 21st Annual Antioch School Auction Gala on March 4, 2017.

This convergence makes me giddy. The Antioch School is important to me: I attended the school when I was a kid, and now my daughter is in fourth grade there. It’s the oldest democratic school in the country. (I’ve blogged about the school here.) The annual auction gala is how the school raises the majority of funds to provide scholarships. It’s a really fun evening, with wine, goodies, a silent auction and live auction with the most entertaining auctioneer I’ve ever seen.

And I’m a huge fan of Jon Langford and Jean Cook. Their music often provides the sonic backdrop for my home life, and I can’t believe they are coming to my town. Here’s a video of Langford and Cook playing one of my favorites.

In case you’re nearby and want to attend, you can purchase a ticket by visiting the school’s website.

There will also be an exhibit of Jon Langford’s artwork at the Emporium in Yellow Springs.

To read more on my blog about Jon Langford and his work, go here.

(For more information, read the school’s press release.)

Jon Langford To Headline Antioch School Fundraiser

Jon Langford (Photo courtesy of Bloodshot Records)

From the Antioch School press release:

The Antioch School’s 2017 Auction Gala will feature an intimate concert with internationally-celebrated songwriter and painter Jon Langford on Saturday, March 4, 6pm, at the Foundry Theater, Antioch College campus, 920 Corry St., Yellow Springs. Langford will be performing with long-time collaborator, violinist Jean Cook.

The Antioch School Auction Gala is the school’s largest fundraiser, with proceeds supporting the scholarship fund.

The gala will include both silent and live auctions, gourmet hors d’oeuvres from Current Cuisine, open wine bar, and dessert. Live auction items in the past have included a one-week stay at St. Croix, US Virgin Islands; a “Day in the Life” documentary featuring the winner’s family, created by an Emmy Award-winning Yellow Springs-based filmmaker; and a private wine tasting with the area’s leading sommelier. The silent auction features over a hundred items, such as B&B overnight getaways, fine dining at area restaurants, tickets to theatrical and cultural events, fine art and jewelry from local artisans, and health and wellness sessions.

The Welsh-born Langford has been a resident of Chicago, Illinois since the mid 1990s. He was a founding member of art-collective the Mekons, one of the longest-running and most prolific bands from the first wave of British punk. The band started while Langford and other members were in art school at Leeds University, Leeds, England. The Mekons have released 20 albums since 1979, and the band is featured in a 2014 documentary, Revenge of the Mekons, directed by Joe Angio. The Mekons’ most recent album is a book-and-CD package called Existentialism.

But one band is not enough. Langford records and performs as Jon Langford and Skull Orchard, and is a member of the Waco Brothers and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts (in Chicago) and Jon Langford’s Men of Gwent and The Three Johns (England and Wales). His most recent project is Bad Luck Jonathan.

With the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, a loose confederation of Chicago musicians, Langford organized a tribute album of music by Texas Swing master Bob Wills; backed Australian Aboriginal country singer Roger Knox; and released three various-artists volumes of murder ballads called The Executioner’s Last Songs, to benefit the Illinois anti-death penalty movement.

Charismatic and entertaining, Langford’s work is imbued with themes of social justice and humor. “He also never lets a firm stance or a strong opinion get in the way of a hearty laugh or a ripping good yarn, preferably told in the company of friends with a frothy pint glass within reach,” says Bloodshot Records.

Besides music, Langford is a respected visual artist known for his striking icon-portraits of legendary country music stars and other musicians, including Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash. He also creates song-paintings, which intertwine with and accompany his music. Langford’s punk rock instincts and unparalleled draftsmanship come together in a painting style that is distinctive, engaging, and challenging.

An exhibit of Langford’s paintings is scheduled to coincide with his performance at the Gala. The exhibit will be at Emporium Wines/Underdog Café, 233 Xenia Avenue, Yellow Springs. There will be an opening on March 4 from 3pm to 6pm, including a talk about his art and a short teaser-performance of songs.

Tickets for the Antioch School’s auction gala concert are $55 and can be purchased by using the link on the school’s website,, or by calling the school at (937) 767-7642.

(Read more about why this thrills me!)

Finding the mud puddle

She discovers the world (Seattle, March 2015)

I got an email from my daughter’s teacher last night. My daughter is in first grade at the Antioch School, which, according to the school’s website, “is the oldest democratic school in the country.” Her teacher, Christine Lipari-Althaus, often sends emails with reminders and information about school happenings. In this message, she was reminding parents that today children would cross the field next to the school to go for the weekly swim at Antioch College. Christine reminded us to make sure our children had extra clothing, because,

“Children often find a way of locating the only mud puddle in Yellow Springs on our walk to the pool.”

Beautiful. Later in the message, she described an all-school meeting where the children worked out together the rules for jumping off the front of the tunnel that was built last year.  Christine described the plan:

“We will jump one at a time, making certain that the ground is clear (no children emerging from the tunnel or cycling on the cycle path). It was also agreed that “no stunts” were permitted and that it is safest, and expected that everyone lands on their feet.”

What I love about these particulars: they describe a childhood that’s too rare today. I often think about the importance of protecting childhood. But by this I don’t mean keeping the child away from the mud puddle, or not allowing the child to jump in a place where they might get hurt. Just the opposite. By having extra clothes when they find the one mud puddle in town, and collaborating on how to jump safely in community, children are given resources that will serve them well forever.

More of this would be a good, good thing.

Loving a school

Teacher Bev Price and students (including me) at the Antioch School sometime in the 1970s

Back in the 1970s when I attended the Antioch School, the building itself seemed to be alive and breathing.  (Here’s a piece about the school and the building by alum Tucker Viemiester.)  In the Red Room (now Art & Science) we dipped candles, sewed clothing, fired glass, made pottery, and fixed our own lunch.  My love of making things with fiber and words thrived.  One year, teacher Bev Price made each student a stuffed toy monster, each creation somehow fitting the child’s personality.  The Antioch School is a community nourished by the teachers.  The teachers respected and celebrated our humanity.  Being a child who was taken seriously by adults has resonated through my life.  I try to give this back by really listening to children.

Last autumn, my daughter began in Nursery.  Through the kaleidoscope of time and memory, I see the school anew, see what rare magic happens there.  I see what education should be.  In the midst of what looks like chaos, the teachers’ work seems nearly invisible, but with patient intention, they create a school where children are trusted to follow intuition, indulge natural curiosity, and take real risks.  The teachers provide safety and offer gentle, effective leadership, asking children questions rather than giving them answers.  They know children can–and should–find their own solutions.  It is a place that allows children to grow into creators, innovators, problem-solvers, and sometimes, teachers–a place that allows children to grow into themselves.

I look forward to connecting with alumni at the Alumni Reunion in July.  (For more information about the reunion, go here.)

How can I can gratitude?

Maybe I can can some forsythia instead...

Because I know how life can be (nasty, brutish, and short) I want to can the end of last week and the anticipation of this week.  If I could, during harder times to come, I’d go to the basement shelf, perhaps having forgotten completely the dusty Ball jar is even there, and discover it.  It’s full of yellowness.  Open it.  Inhale it, taste a spoonful.  A few reasons for this urge, in mostly chronological order:

1) Serendipitous pizza lunch last Friday with my daughter and her friend and her friend’s mother, also my friend….the fun the children had, the fun their mothers had…

2) This ridiculous summer in March!…

3) Spontaneous last-minute plans to have dinner with friends Friday, the fun the kids had despite not getting lollipops afterwards…the portrait her friend drew of  most of us as sponge bob characters…

3) A playground work party at the Antioch School, where I did very little work, but being there with others, at one of the few places near here that still has a seesaw, caring about the place tangibly (I picked up a few sticks after all) talking about the importance of that place in the world; seeing the school with my dear old friend, also an alum, and her daughter, hearing from my friend how small the rooms are now…spending time with those friends later in the weekend, how our children play together like puppies…

4) A healthy and joyful daughter, a loving, gorgeous husband…

5) A birthday party of another of my daughter’s friends, where the sun shone like July and the kids ran up and down the beautiful Ohio hill, chasing chickens…

6) Anticipation of the new moon, and being in a circle with women I love…

7) Anticipation of seeing Julia Sweeney on Saturday night for a really great cause…

8) The iPod’s parting song this morning, during which my family danced our daily goodbyes…

9) Forsythia everywhere…

10) The ability to keep adding to this list as it grows…