Category Archives: Cool causes

On inspiration in art — 2015.2

I started creating with “jewelry and junk” after my Mom moved to an assisted living facility and weren’t sure what to do with her 27 drawers of jewelry — some of it of the costume variety but all of it special for one reason or another — mostly because it was hers.

Both Joan and I were looking for a way to celebrate our memories of which shell earrings she used to wear with which muumuu, the stunning pieces that she purchased on her travels — Mexican silver, a crown-shaped ring from Thailand, a seemingly endless supply of pins from cruiClock by Joanse-ships and state capitals and special events. We sifted through it all and separated out the “good stuff” between the three of us.

It wasn’t long before Joan was making bookmarks with beads (we sold these at Dark Horse Books), and treasures such as this lovely clock — which has been a beloved part of our home for a LONG time.

I started making frames and tins for friends, then tried my hand at more difficult pieces using all kinds of recycled bits. It didn’t matter whether it was a cap off a Bic pen or a spangly rhinestone earring — everything seemed to find a place somewhere (even if it rested a good long while in my collection of  “stuff.”) You can check out a lot of my work here and here, (this latter is one of three FB photo albums of my work).

Soon people were saving things for me; I’d be gone for an afternoon from the bookstore and might come back to find a box or baggie of jewelry, or odd-shaped bits of packaging, that some thoughtful person had brought in for me.

And then I started to hear Game Fish by Larry Fuenteabout “real artists” doing this kind of work. For example, “Game Fish” by Larry Fuente is at the Smithsonian Art Museum!

This giant piece is made of hundreds of pieces of kids stuff — toys, dominos, plastic figurines, even a baby-doll arm. Inspiration indeed.

And suddenly, in February, after years of doing my artwork, I have discovered many others who are working with found materials to create amazing pieces.

Check this out — by a British artist named Jane Perkins — a reproduction of one of my favorite VermeeJane Perkins Girl with a Pearl Earringr paintings but all done in  pieces!

She has created amazing canonical works — including Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,” and portraits of Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe. She calls herself an “artist in found materials” — love that description.

I also recently learned that several of my cousins are making tins and other multi-media pieces, like these two made by my cousins Janie and Laura.

This was afJnJ_Janie_made_for_Margeter I had created “great women doodads” for all my girl cousins, and a tin for my Aunt Marge Rambo, which another cousin says sits on her kitchen. JnJ_Laura_made_for_Ally


I also really like these shoes, which a friend saya on Facebook and tagged for me. They’re of Swarovsky crystals, mostly…

I’m not sure how they get the beads to stay on them but they are certainly inspiring!

Sparkly shoes from FB

Which brings to my latest effort….

Last week, I donated this little book tin to Ollie-Fest, a fundraiser for the Eva Dahlgren/Dan Hundere family. It was given away in the raffle; not knowing the recipient, I found him on Facebook and send him a message, saying that I was hoping to chat with him about this unique piece.

book tin for Ollie FestHe wrote back that his daughters, four- and six-years old, “absolutely loved it. They filled it with all sorts of fun stuff and have carried it around the house the yard and collected shells and leaves from all over the yard.”

I’m so happy to know they are playing with it and enjoying it —  lots of good synergy there. The tin is from the Girl Scouts and the dominant color of green represents all things that are healthy and growing, as well as recycling, long a passion of Eva’s. This tin’s shape,  a “book,” is special because Ollie’s such a good reader — no surprise since Eva’s a librarian and was a long-time employee of ours at the bookstore.

All of this encourages me to work on yet another piece for a fundraiser, and to remember that inspiration comes from others’ joy in your work, from the examples one finds elsewhere, from sharing your ideas with others  — but mostly from within.




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Filed under Around the Valley, Cool causes, Fun art, Matters of the heart, other finds, Scrapbook, Sorting things out

Joining a board?

I was recently asked for some impressions about a particular nonprofit because a friend had been queried about joining its board.
While it’s not my right to criticize or assess any group, debating whether or not to join an organization’s leadership team is a big decision. 
To help my friend, I put together a list of general topics that I have taken into consideration (and the questions I have asked myself) when considering taking on a new commitment.  
I thought others in the nonprofit world might find them helpful, too, so here they are, in no particular order:
  • Mission of organization (do I care enough about its goals to commit)
  • Reputation within the community (is this group best known for what it DOES — or for what it DOES NOT do)
  • Board meeting requirements and schedule (what if I can’t be there)
  • Communication practices within the board itself (how much happens outside regular meetings)
  • Committee organization and minimum responsibilities (is there some role I can fill that’s a good fit for my passion and expertise)
  • Financial obligation (am I expected to donate a certain amount of money, and if so — how often, when, and can I afford it)
  • Leadership structure (who are the officers and do I respect them
  • Leadership reality (how are tough issues handled)
  • Other board members (do I like the people I’d be serving with and/or do I want to get to know them better)
  • Staffing (if there is at least one paid employee, what is that person’s skill set and is it sufficient to meet the needs of the organization)
  • Expectations of service (if all volunteer, what’s the demand on each board member to meet the group’s mission, and can I do my part well and in good spirit)
  • Personal ramifications (does this service mean I won’t have time for something else I value in my life)
  • Constituencies (what’s my relationship with those we serve and others involved in the organization in a broader sense)
  • Timing and desire (do I *want* to get involved in this organization and is this WHEN I should)
  • Gaining cultural familiarity (how will I learn enough about this organization to even make this decision)

Volunteering is one of the most important aspects of my life, but I’m careful about doing due diligence to researching what’s a good fit. Sometimes, serving in a non-board-member capacity is the best route to take; I have spent literally hundreds of hours of service volunteering for a score of local nonprofits.

CFTV_Logo_RGBica_logo_colorAt the moment, I start my second term on the CFTV board in January.

At the end of June, I finished serving three four-year terms on the ICA board, a statewide obligation that also required traveling to meetings, usually the five-hour-plus trip to and from Boise (and when we operated Dark Horse, scheduling employees to take care of business so I could be gone.)  That gubernatorial appointment was largely the result of my four years on the Teton Arts Council board around the turn of the century — and connections made through the store and as editor of the Teton Valley News.

Through just these commitments, I have made so many friends and created so many valued memories.  The most important lesson learned (and relearned, over and over): Giving earns you so much.

Just about every good cause needs involvement and leadership!  Here’s hoping that when you are asked, you will consider serving.

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March Madness 25: Red and pink

Human_rights_red_n_pink_logoThis morning I changed my Facebook profile to this photo. It’s a symbol that stands for marriage equality, as promoted by the Human Rights Campaign. You may have seen it popping up all over other people’s FB profiles, too — to draw attention to and coincide with Supreme Court oral arguments yesterday and today.

I pulled this explanation from another friend’s post: “The equality symbol signifies that marriage equality really is all about love, the HRC says, adding that in addition to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender supporters, heterosexuals are especially encouraged to do so as ‘straight allies.'” Well, this last is me.

I have no agenda here and haven’t been particularly politically active around this cause. But I do have friends of all stripes, as one might say…..

The post continues: “‘Together we will show the nation that we believe all Americans deserve to be treated fairly and equally under the law — no matter who they love,’ according to the HRC.”

Hear hear! And I was getting tired of that picture in my cowboy hat, anyway!

Twenty-fifth in a series: stay tuned for more March Madness.

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March Madness 10: Necessary adjustments — the school-levy election

Unabashedly a supporter of education and advocate of lifelong learning, I strongly encourage Teton County, Idaho residents to vote FOR the school levy in the special election on Tuesday. This isn’t a new tax; we’ve been supporting Teton School District with supplemental funds since 2007.


I’ve been asked why I speak out so vociferously (and EVERY time a school issue comes up), when we don’t have children in the system ourselves. HELLO! I’m a taxpayer and have a right to be involved.   Idaho’s at the bottom of national rankings in education spending. Our teachers deserve more support, however it can be generated (and this is one of the most likely-successful ways, as the levy only needs a majority of “yes” votes to pass.)

Kids are our cumulative future! I was constantly inspired by young readers who came into the bookstore — as well as the Teton Young Writers and their Novel Ideas (an after-school project I helped with last fall). Most of the youngsters of my employees and friends will attend the public schools; right now they’re  in seventh grade, fifth grade, kindergarten, scattered throughout classrooms from Victor to Tetonia.

Improving the schools is an economic driver, too. A stronger education system gives us a fighting chance in recruiting new businesses to Teton Valley and raises the likelihood that our best students won’t opt to attend private or Jackson schools.

And hands down, schools serve as the best uniter of people with differing viewpoints; it’s the best cultural mixer we have.

Even if the proposal passes, the school district must cut more than another half-million dollars from its current budget; these cuts are expected to come as far from the classrom as possible, meainng great programs like Exhibition Yellowstone and winter sports are at risk.

The net impact is about $36.36 per $100,000 value of property. Read more details on the School District’s website. (If you don’t know where to vote or when you can do so, see the info under the elections link on the website of Teton County.

Lastly, you may notice that the March Madness series had two posts with the #7; must have forgotten my perfect pill those days! I took yesterday off, so now the date and the number of the post match — this is the tenth in the series, it’s numbered #10, and I’m writing it on March 10th. Like the school levy, nothing too major, but a little fix that’s necessary.

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March Madness: Time moves on

We spent the holidays in Canada. Not to begin a travelogue here — though Montreal and Quebec certainly deserve that –but to make note of how quickly the last two months have flown! Haven’t put all my Christmas stuff away (!) nor have IPnJ_brightened_w_art posted any pictures on FaceBook (this is the ONLY one we managed of the two of us, in our room at the beautiful L’Hotel in Montreal). Oh well. Guess those chores are just not quite important enough at the moment to merit attention.

Since Halloween, I’ve been filling in as Interim Administrator at the Community Foundation. That was supposed to be more part-time than it’s turned out to be (no surprise there). That obligation was going to end in December (but that’s also not how things have worked out). That DOES change my perspective, or at least what I expected January and February to look like.

And oh yeah, there’s also the magazine I edit, Teton Home and Living, usually all-absorbing the first two months of the year. I must admit, even with the time crunch, I think the issue that comes out in April will be one of the best EVER, all thanks to the entire team at Powder Mountain Press — plus uber-writers Kirsten Corbett, Rebecca Huntington, Kate Hull, Annie Fenn, Hamish Tear, and Tina Welling, and photographers extraordinaire David J Swift and David Agnello. (In fact, “teamwork” evolved into the theme of the issue, not by planning but by execution and content.) I’m blessed to work with such professionals, especially when my life feels stuffed with busy-ness….

But there’s even more to it than that.

I learned yesterday that a local woman I know, because she volunteered and donated to the Tin Cup Challenge (and even better from one of her appreciative employees) was diagnosed with cancer in mid-December. She passed away this Monday, another blow to our tightly-connected community. Too many of the great women of Teton Valley are no longer with us. It’s been an exceptional few months of loss — Cindy Muraca, Lyn Benjamin, Jill Boggini, and now Carol Hall. That REALLY changes your perspective.

So, I’m back to time: there simply must be enough to enjoy!

Today, as I begin a series of daily posts (which of course, I really have no time to do) it seems constructive to consider that the movement of life doesn’t have to be either a high-speed race or a ten-lift boogie dance.

Perhaps a slow and steady plod and/or the discipline of simply and constantly moving to the music — doing a step-touch vamp (as I learned so many years ago as a cast-member, staffer, and performer in Up With People) can accomplish just as much movement if directed the right way, metaphorically.

Every day has the exact same number of minutes and hours, so when able to pack what feels like more into it, one is tempted to feel “productive.” But often, at least for me, that’s more a cry for approval when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

I know that occasionally being overwhelmed is unavoidable — but I handle it best when it pushes me to being better organized, clearer about priorities, and more inclusive of the people who enrich my life.

So, while it’s always “good to get a hustle on,” as my mother used to say, to the task ahead, I’m determined, at the same time, to say THANK YOU and to share special moments with the wonderful people who make up my world. You know who you are!

Second in another month-long series of blog posts —
stay tuned for more March Madness.

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Filed under Around the Valley, Cool causes, Journeys..., March Madness, Matters of the heart

March Madness starts on Mary’s

Well, I will likely only be helping at the base of Grand Targhee Resort — but this Saturday, March 2, is the Mary’s Nipple Challenge to raise money for St. John’s Oncology Fund. This pink-strewn event, started just last year by cancer-fighter Pattie Layser of Alta, encourages skiers and snowshoe-ers to do laps at the ‘Ghee to raise money to help those with cancer right here in the Tetons.

A $50 donation gives you a whole-day’s ski pass; Pattie secured tons of wonderful raffle prizes; and you can purchase bright-pink prayer flags to honor those who either suffer or have succumbed to the “Big C.”

Janna_n_Linda_Pink_scrubsMy friend and uber-organizer Janna Rankin (pictured at far left with Linda Borrenpohl last Saturday at Broulim’s)  has recruited the members of WHALES,  (local women’s hiking group) to volunteer. Do so and you have the chance to wear a cool bright pink scrub gown like they are wearing…. and you can help with time, talent (lots of that of the winter variety around here) or treasure.

Janna says registration will start at 8:30 and go until about 11:30, with activities starting at noon and going ’til 3:30; volunteers are needed to sign folks up, count laps, or her “personal favorite — wherever you’re needed.”  If you’re in this last group, join me and just show up on Saturday prepared to have a great day of community service and skiing or snowshoeing at Targhee.

(If you prefer to discuss a specific “assignment,” Janna’s home phone is (307) 353-8569 and her mobile is (208) 351-2100.) Their Saturday fundraising / raffle / prayer flag sales at Broulim’s went well, she reports,  and we believe the buzz is out there for everyone in the Valley. They’ve even asked local nonprofits to sport teams to build camaraderie for a cause that, one way or another, has touched us all.

Read Pattie’s story here and about her here….. and more about the Mary’s Nipple Challenge here. (If you’d like to sponsor someone, let me know and I’ll hook you up with a participant.)

First in another month-long series of blog posts — stay tuned for more March Madness.

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Nonprofits and Targhee team up to reward volunteers; we ALL benefit

Teton Valley’s nonprofits continue to amaze me, especially how they work together with businesses and with other groups to make good things happen for our community.

Like this weekend’s Health and Wellness Festival. Like the new Art Walk in Driggs, sponsored by the Teton Valley Foundation; the next one, BTW, is October 7, and then TVF’s Oktoberfest is Oct. 8 in Victor.

Of course, autumn’s not the only time this happens — it takes place ALL YEAR around here! Serving on the board of the Community Foundation of Teton Valley for the past year, and working as the event coordinator for this summer’s Tin Cup Challenge, has only amped up my familiarity with the generosity of individuals and companies…..

Just received a notice the Teton Regional Land Trust — they’re doing a great “get your hands dirty” project clearing fence from land next to the Teton River on Saturday, October 1st. We’ll be away, but I wanted to share this anyway — it illustrates SO MUCH about this beautiful place we live.

The Land Trust–one of my favorite local causes– is again looking for volunteers. As part of the “Targhee in the Community” program, each TRLT volunteer will receive a free lift ticket for Grand Targhee’s 2011-2012 season for giving six to eight hours to this specific project.

Targhee’s innovative effort has already helped those who helped Friends of the Teton River, Teton Valley Trails and Pathways, the Community School, the Chamber of Commerce, and many other groups this year. Each nonprofit must apply to be part of the program, and have its effort approved. Volunteers can earn up to a maximum of two tickets during the season.

What a great thing! Peter and I were hiking up at the resort a couple weeks ago, and I saw the big sign (by the downstairs bathrooms) that explains this program. Three cheers for Grand Targhee’s continuing efforts to support Teton Valley, in ways that extend to everyone.

See the Land Trust website for more details, and RSVP to the Land Trust so they can plan for lunch and supplies by calling 208-354-8939 or dropping an e-mail to

And if you can’t assist this time, keep your eyes open for other opportunities! I’ll look forward to seeing you at another nonprofit project sometime soon.

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