Science City At Union Station, KCMO

Through the generosity of a dear friend, my grandson and I spend part of most Fridays enjoying Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri.  Every minute is a new adventure and Sam considers Science City his favorite Friday place.

Volunteers staff much of the public activities, always pleasant and helpful, rarely reacting to the lesser side of human behavior.  There are definitely times when I wish it were my place to publicly applaud the volunteers and berate the adults who should be supervising children.

Because this blog may read like a rant, I want to be clear.  Most of my working life took place in elementary schools, teaching, taking field trips and working with all aspects of educating children.  I understand the rewards, the joys and the challenges.

Science City is a field trip, an educational experience designed to give students hands-on opportunities to test scientific principles.  It is a break from the classroom .  Granted some exhibits are inoperable but that is not the fault of Science City.  It would take thousands of dollars to constantly repair damage caused by careless and intentional  mistreatment.

It amazes me that some student groups wear identifying tee shirts, especially when running, without any visible supervision, causing near and real collisions with others trying to enjoy Science City.  Often adults wearing the same shirts are talking with one another, oblivious to what the students are doing.  Exhibits get mistreated so fellow students can laugh at the antics.  Younger kids are often pushed aside.

There is a room designed for the youngest visitors and the equipment is often misused.   Thomas the Train layout is  popular and kids wait for a turn at that table.  On two occasions, I have asked a child to return train cars being taken out the door.  Both times, the adult tried to wither me with a look while tossing the train piece back into the room.

A defense might be offered by saying that teachers cannot find enough parents to volunteer for field trips, that it is impossible for one or two teachers to adequately supervise a class size group of kids, that keeping the group together would cause long waits to participate in some activities.

All probably true, but treating Science City like a free range play ground is not the educational experience intended.  If adults consider  running, scuffles, and general horse-play as acceptable behavior then a public park might be a better Friday break from the classroom.




What Price Violence?

Before the ramble begins, the disclaimer:  I am not a ‘dove’.  The hot snowball impossibility of that position never made it up the flag pole.  We are a people of sex and violence.   Neither am I a hawk defending the position that power and anger win the toss.

I am taking a position of respect for those who sincerely believe in and work for peaceful means of change.  I am taking a position of gratitude to our military men and women who defend against that power and anger sucking the soul of  the world.

I am not a proponent of stricter gun laws. Cain and David used rocks.  In some countries, rocks are the weapon of choice for certain crimes.

An NPR sports commentator recently  spoke of the glory of violence on the playing field.   He was against any rule changes to diminish the worship of that glory.  I leave that discussion to the fans.

“The themes of democracy, justice and empowerment are being displayed on the streets in several countries.”

“John Covington’s newest recipe for controlling Southwest Early College Campus (violence) calls for a total of 18 security guards and police officers mixed with a dozen additional hallway monitors.”

Both quotes are from the front page of The Kansas City Star, Tuesday, February 15, 2011.

Fires burn in the halls of an early college campus.  Fires burn in the streets of Cairo, Iran, Yemen, Bahrain.  Military personnel and police presence continue to increase in efforts to control the violence, put out the fires of protest.

In an educational setting designed to prepare  for college some students are mirroring the behaviors of Arab demonstrators demanding democracy, justice and empowerment.

Sucking the soul from the world…..

Strawberry Hill Museum

Once upon a time, someone said that I would be happy living in a tree house with leaves for decor.  Maybe, but I totally require a branch with working faucets and a handle marked flush.  The person speaking was decrying my lack of interest in collecting, decorating and arranging stuff.  At that time, the house was a repository of kid projects and  that fit the home  just fine.   Never have I lacked the cleaning gene, probably tended to go overboard on that, but clutter needs dusting and collections took sorting time.  Denim worked  so clothing, too, avoided clutter. ‘Dress-ups’ tended to become dated before they became worn.

Santa recognized our house because the tree rarely varied and big red bows dressed lampshades, windows and doors.  Minimalist decor always meant more…more time to bake, cook, clean, wrap and anticipate.

During the past five years, I have volunteered at Strawberry Hill Museum in Kansas City, Kansas.  My mantra has been that I am a worker, not a decorator so my hours have been assisting those gifted people who transform this already beautiful mansion into a work of art.  Recently,  my assignments have been some kind-of, sort-of, almost token projects…stuff that cannot be messed up without intention and a bit hidden from the main traffic patterns.  The  idea might have been that I could learn through osmosis type absorption.

There is genius in Adrienne N., Elizabeth, Adrienne S., Richard, Christopher, Donna, Bernadette, Emmeline, and others who invest at least 6 weeks transforming this museum into a breathtaking Christmas pageant of beauty.  Other volunteers contribute and I apologize for not knowing all the names.

If you have a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, an investment of a few hours will convince you that Strawberry Hill Museum is perhaps one of the Greater Kansas City Areas best kept secrets.  It is so beautiful and every year surpasses previous years.

You can tell, right?  You can tell that I am so totally impressed with how every corner, chandelier, horizontal surface and ceiling gets  tied together with such artistry.  Beauty flows from room to room.

And now the expectation is that a final paragraph about how my house will glow from all I have observed and learned, right?   How these decorating genius folks have managed to imbue me with a bit of their skill?

Probably not.

Cannot confuse Santa after all these years.  Those reindeer need to see that old house on the ridge offering a  beacon of red.   Guessing that if I varied by a single red bow, my family would swear that long winding drive-way led them to the wrong house.

December 6 opens the museum doors for this 2009 holiday tour season.  Be prepared for some breath-taking moments.

The FUN in Fundraiser

by Pat Antonopoulos

I love Kansas City, Kansas.
Born and raised there with the absolute best of neighbors and friends, circumstances that created a remarkable growing-up space.

Today, Keeler Women’s Center sponsored a chili cook-off and talent show in the lobby of KCK City Hall. Martha, my friend since college, and I went to offer our support for the outstanding work done by KWC. Sister Carol Ann and Sister Barbara were there, gracious and welcoming as always.

The faces of the earth came to the event. We were all there, all colors, sizes, ages, ethnicities, civilians and uniformed police and fire personnel, enjoying the lunch hour in a hometown, down-home, KCK, handclappin’, smile sharing moment.

No professional group could have been more appreciated than the Unified Government employees who stepped up and shared their talents for music and nonsense. There were tears for the beauty of “God Bless American” and tears of laughter for Barbie and her space monster boy friend.

Felt like being home.