I Regret To Inform You That I Will Never Be Rallying For Sanity Again


My enthusiasm sputtered and died as I stood in line at the concessions stand, about the time the seventh person in a witch costume walked past carrying a sign making fun of Christine O’Donnell. I tried to look at it on the bright side – she did manage to temporarily block out my view of the guy roaming a small patch of open grass while performing a minstrel version of “The Times Are A-Changin’”, pausing often for iPhone photo ops with strangers.

But then along came the guy with a sign announcing The End Is Far, after the guy demanding a Return To The Metric System, then a couple holding a giant banner warning of the dangers of a four-hour Boehner, the woman with a giant fake penis strapped around her waist, the woman wearing a sandwich-board homage to masturbation (accompanied by another dig at O’Donnell) and a thousand others that I don’t feel like describing. All of them wore semi-sheepish, aren’t-I-funny? grins, while their fellow rallygoers fell over each other in their haste to photograph the hilarity. This was my Saturday? This is supposed to be meaningful and memorable? Continue reading “I Regret To Inform You That I Will Never Be Rallying For Sanity Again” »

Celebrating Dr. Joanne Gabbin, Celebrating Lucille Clifton


Flickr image shared by permission of Joanne Gabbin http://www.flickr.com/photos/furiousflower/5039906940/in/set-72157625068129000/

Joanne Gabbin read at Lucille Clifton's Celebration

When I first met Dr. Joanne Gabbin late in 2004, it was clear she heard a different drummer. Here was a woman who dreamed big, kept her feet on the ground, and made things happen in Harrisonburg. She is owner of Franklin Street Gallery, English professor at JMU, and the visionary behind Furious Flower Poetry Center at JMU.

In June 2009, Furious Flower sponsored a seminar with African American poet Lucille Clifton. Eight months later, February 2010, Clifton unexpectedly died. On Sept 21 2010, Furious Flower brought 73 poets and poetry fans together to celebrate the life Lucille Clifton, and the free event was attended over 1,000 people from all over the state and country.   Continue reading “Celebrating Dr. Joanne Gabbin, Celebrating Lucille Clifton” »

This post was submitted by Diana Woodall.

Protesters Rally at DMV in Harrisonburg: “Hey McDonnell Shame on You. Immigrants are People, Too!”

Harrisonburg- On Wednesday, a crowd of forty community members gathered in front of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Harrisonburg to call attention to Governor Bob McDonnell’s anti-immigrant, discriminatory policies including his recent decision to make it difficult for legal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.

Governor McDonnell has angered Virginia residents with his latest call for the DMV to deny federal Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) as a form of identification in obtaining a driver’s license which protesters say is an act of discrimination against all immigrants. The law causes significant risk for Virginians, especially those who are undocumented, and those on Temporary Protection Status from countries such as Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Somalia and Sudan.

The protesters stood on the sidewalk in front of the DMV chanting Continue reading “Protesters Rally at DMV in Harrisonburg: “Hey McDonnell Shame on You. Immigrants are People, Too!”” »

This post was submitted by Julie Blust .

Governor McDonnell: Global Warming Skeptic

Governor Bob McDonnell held a town meeting at JMU last week. I had an opportunity to ask him whether he was prepared to support policies that would reduce greenhouse emissions to avoid the worst impacts of global warming (see video inset).
In the course of his answer, he revealed that he thought it was still debatable as to whether climate change was anthropogenic (caused by man). This and other statements made it clear that none of his policies would be based on the assumption that man’s use of fossil fuels was the cause of climate change.

It is clear that this administration takes its cues from coal and the electric utilities that run largely on coal. McDonnell specifically stated that he is a “supporter of coal.” He more than once stated that no one Continue reading “Governor McDonnell: Global Warming Skeptic” »

This post was submitted by Bishop Dansby.

Fall Semester Looms Ahead at EMU

HARRISONBURG – Warning: dates on the Eastern Mennonite University activities calendar are closer than they appear.

But there they are, hard to ignore – Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 18-19, the annual faculty-staff conference, signaling the start of summer activities winding down and preparations gearing up for the start of the new academic year. Fall semester classes at EMU will begin 8 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31. Continue reading “Fall Semester Looms Ahead at EMU” »

This post was submitted by Jim Bishop.

The Cyclist Invasion: BikeVirginia, the Shenandoah Expedition

More than 900 BikeVirginia participants turned the EMU campus into "Tent City" for two night's lodging. Photo by Lindsey Kolb

It was a welcome invasion of Harrisonburg, Va.

“BikeVirginia, the Shenandoah Expedition” brought some 2,000 bicycling enthusiasts to “The Friendly City” as part of a five-day tour that began Friday evening, June 25, in Staunton, 25 miles to the south.

BikeWalk Virginia, a nonprofit organization that promotes bicycle and pedestrian safety, runs the annual tour.

“This was a fun ride, not a race,” said Brenda Black, Continue reading “The Cyclist Invasion: BikeVirginia, the Shenandoah Expedition” »

This post was submitted by Jim Bishop.

Go Skateboarding Culture!

Harrisonburg skateboarders recently celebrated Go Skateboarding Day - and "it was awesome".

Go Skateboarding Day is a national holiday, but unless you ride a skateboard on at least some of the other 364 days of the year, chances are you didn’t know that. Maybe, despite all the fliers posted around downtown, you didn’t know we celebrated it here in Harrisonburg. Well we did celebrate it at The Artful Dodger, and it was awesome.

The day began with the first day of Skate Camp at Westover Skate Park. From 9am til noon the owners of Wonder Skate Shop graciously volunteered their time to teach kids from 6-14 years old how to skate. Then, from 1pm until 5pm, Wonder Skate hosted a cookout in front of their store. They fed a ton of hungry skaters, parents and people just interested in the event. Continue reading “Go Skateboarding Culture!” »

This post was submitted by Paul Somers.

Film: Four Local Profiles of Real Sustainability

Sustainability has been a hot topic in Harrisonburg in recent years. Many groups and causes have developed to raise awareness about issues, ranging in focus from JMU’s Institute for Stewardship of the Natural World to the Voluntary Gas Tax to EMU’s planned solar power project and much more.

Each of these projects are championed by individuals or small groups that provide the vision and drive to create new opportunities to learn about and implement ways to live that decrease environmental impact and, many times, increase quality of life.

Cyndi Gusler is featured in Pathways to Whole.

This Saturday, four such leaders will be profiled in the premiere of the 2010 Documentary Production Class film entitled, “Pathways to Whole – Stories from the Journey.”  Admission to Court Square Theater is free, and donations are accepted.  Paulette Moore, EMU professor, was a lead producer in the film.  From the press release:

This documentary focuses on the lives of 4 main characters and how each one has found a way to address the smaller and larger issues within the systems they live in through biking, gardening, art and peace building, among other things.

Tom Benevento is from Harrisonburg, Virginia and an active member of Our Community Place (OCP) and New Community Project. He loves to garden and bike and is involved in a bike movement project that is starting up. Recently Tom traveled to Davis, California with others from Harrisonburg, including Mayor Kai Degner, to learn about how they’ve made biking a sustainable system in their town. Tom and the others hope to make Harrisonburg more bike-friendly and incorporate a similar system here.

Skip Bracelin, member of Our Community Farm in Harrisonburg, Va, has done and seen a lot of things in his lifetime. Skip spent over half a year traveling the Appalachian Trail with his wife and two dogs. He currently lives and works on Our Community Farm and is an active participant in the daily activities there. He is a talented gardener and loves taking care of plants and animals, as they are all connected to us and each other in some way.

Cyndi Gusler is chair of the Visual and Communication Arts department at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). Cyndi has been studying and creating art since her undergraduate studies at EMU. She considers using found materials her main art form. Cyndi recently went on a trip to Guatemala to learn about and study permaculture and how it relates to art. She currently works and lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with her husband Chad and two kids Aaron and Lily.

Titus Peachey currently works for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) as the director of Peace Education. An EMU alum, Titus has spent time living and serving overseas in Laos with MCC after serving in Vietnam as a conscientious objector during the war there. In Laos he became interested in working at removing cluster bombs that were left in the ground from the silent air war over 40 years ago. He currently lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania but continues to work at peace building and speaking out against the dangers and harm of cluster bombs in Laos and other countries. He is also a member of the board for the group Legacies of War, based in D.C. and works closely with the director, Channapha Khamvongsa.
Date: Saturday April 24, 2010 (tomorrow)
Time: 7:30 pm
Location: Court Square Theater, Downtown Harrisonburg
Duration: 2 hours
Intended audience: general public

Harrisonburg Earth Week 2010 Begins!

Harrisonburg Earth Week 2010, which began Saturday, April 17th, will feature a variety of workshops, talks, movies, and other events addressing the central theme “Celebrating Earth: Building a Sustainable Community”.

Over 35 events will take place at a variety of locations, including downtown Harrisonburg, JMU, EMU, Bridgewater College, Harrisonburg High School, local churches, and city parks.

Workshops will include sessions on growing mushrooms, building a greenhouse, gardening, and making a rain barrel. Outdoor activities include walks in the Arboretum and working to remove invasive plants in the parks. Talks will touch on moutaintop removal mining, sprituality, energy efficiency, and a variety of other topics.

The week began officially with the kick-off event, “Four Views on Community Sustainability”, which took place Sunday, April 18th, 4:00 PM, at Harrisonburg High School with a panel of community leaders including Loren Swartzendruber, Erik Curren, Kai Degner, and Kathy Holm presenting different perspectives on building a sustainable community.

Earth Week 2010 was organized by a steering committee including representatives from local environmental and community organizations, led by the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV). For more information visit http://hburgearthweek.weebly.com.

FULL SCHEDULE REPRODUCED HERE VIA http://hburgearthweek.weebly.com

April 22, 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. To celebrate this anniversary, the Harrisonburg Earth Week Coalition has planned a wealth of activities throughout Earth Week, April 17th to April 24th. Activities for all ages will take place all over town: movies, workshops, live performances, bird walks, scavenger hunts, and more. The week-long series of programs, entitled Celebrating Earth, Building Sustainable Communities, has been organized by a coalition made up of representatives of local colleges, universities and government entities, as well as citizens’ and environmental groups (visit the Sponsors link for more information).

All plans are subject to change, so be sure to check back here for final information.

Earth Week Events Calendar
Saturday, April 17th

Sunday, April 18th

Monday, April 19th

  • noon: The Shenandoah Mountain Proposal: Land Protection in the GW National Forest, with Carol Lena Miller, Clementine Cafe
  • 7:00 pm: Mountain Top Removal, with Judy Bonds of Coal Mountain River Watch, JMU Miller Hall
Tuesday, April 20th

Wednesday, April 21st

Thursday, April 22nd – HAPPY EARTH DAY!

Friday, April 23rd

Saturday, April 24th

This post was submitted by Ralph Grove.

Hundreds Gather for Tea Party

On Tax Day, Thursday April 15th, hundreds of citizens congregated on the lawn at Court Square in downtown Harrisonburg. Like many other related gatherings across the state and country, their purpose was to draw attention to a general dissatisfaction with the government, especially the federal government, while calling for lower taxes, a limitation to the size and scope of government, and a respect for the United States Constitution.

The Shenandoah Valley Tea Party organized both the event here in Harrisonburg as well as a related one in Staunton. Keynote speakers included: 26th district State Senator Mark Obenshain, former Republican Party of Virginia Chairwoman Kate Obenshain, and former Virginia Senator and Governor George Allen.

During the rally, many of the attendees held signs with slogans such as: “‘Capitalism’ is not a bad thing!”, “Defend the Constitution!”, and “Wealth is Earned, Not Distributed!”. Although there were a few counter-protesters during the early stages of the event, including one who was arrested, the proceedings went quite smoothly overall. Upon the conclusion of the event, the organizers invited each person to tear a blank 1040 Form in order to symbolize freedom from the current tax code and increasing Washington spending.

The real question in my mind is, how many of these folks will stay active in the movement? The next scheduled Tea Party event is a 6th district town hall meeting with Representative Bob Goodlatte in May. I guess we will find out then.

Note: Photos and video available at www.HburgNews.com

This post was submitted by Joshua Huffman.

Art Exhibit: Heart To Heart

Sam Hunter's art exhibit is inspried by a heart attack. See her exhibit at Sawhill Gallery through April 21, 2010.

That art makes manifest an artist’s inner dialog with their personal demons is a well accepted notion. The exhibit by Sam Hunter, now on display at James Madison University’s Sawhill Gallery, is a prime example of just such a revealing dialog, this time between an artist and their body.

Ms. Hunter, a recent transplant to Virginia by way of Southern California and originally England, presents us with an array of thoughtfully arranged and interestingly displayed fiber and mixed-media works that explore her response to a recent heart attack, and more importantly, her subsequent struggle to recover.

How Do You Mend a Broken Heart by Sam Hunter

As Ms. Hunter put it, the “heart attack robbed, but it also gifted me something in return.” What the heart attack gifted appears to have been a new and conceptually powerful outlet for her art. Coping with the sudden shock of dealing with a heart that was no longer trustworthy, and the ongoing medical concerns of how best to move forward in life, Ms. Hunter shares “art has always saved me” and the work on display bears witness to that salvation.

Titles of work such as Apical Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and Median Sternotomy might seem strange and medically remote, but the sensitive handling of the collected two and three-dimensional images and forms invite us to empathize and reflect on our own physical fragility. As the late, great Robert Arneson once shared “all works of art are a self-portrait.”

The self-portrait Ms. Hunter presents us with is a brave and interesting new vista to which we can all relate. Just listen to your heart beat. “Wearing My Heart on My Sleeve” Trough April 21. (Sawhill Gallery, Duke Hall, James Madison University, 800 S. Main St., Harrisonburg, VA., 540-568-6918.)

Written by Cole H. Welter

This post was submitted by Cole Welter.