MISTER ROGERS: BACK IN BRONZE

The initiative to commission British sculptor Paul Day — whose works include The Meeting Place, a sculpture in London’s St. Pancras International (left) — to create a life-sized bronze statue of Fred Rogers (center) began with Allan Keen (right), owner of Keewin Real Property Company and twice chairman of Rollins College’s board of trustees.

Fred McFeely Rogers — known to the world as children’s television icon Mister Rogers — graduated from Rollins College in 1951. But throughout his life, he continued to visit the campus and Winter Park. 

Now, the beloved former music composition major, who taught generations of youngsters about kindness and tolerance through his PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, will have a permanent presence at the college, where as an undergraduate he was inspired by a plaque that read “Life is for Service.”

British sculptor Paul Day — whose works include The Meeting Place, a 30-foot-tall sculpture in London’s St. Pancras International, a major railway station — has been commissioned to create a life-sized bronze statue of Rogers. The work, slated for completion in the spring of next year, will be placed on campus at a location yet to be determined. 

Of course, the world never entirely lost interest in Rogers, who died in 2003. But during the past several years — perhaps because the values for which he stood seem under daily assault — the soft-spoken native of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, has made a posthumous resurgence.

In 2018, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a documentary about Rogers’ life, became the top-grossing biographical documentary ever produced. And a big-budget theatrical film, It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, was released in late 2019 starring Tom Hanks as Rogers.

Rollins has saluted its most famous alumnus before, displaying his sweater and sneakers in the archives and arranging self-guided tours of Rogers-related locations on campus. 

Most recently, faculty, alumni and students along with a cappella superstars Voctave staged a heart-tugging concert, Mister Rogers: The Musician, at Tiedtke Concert Hall — where a Don Sondag portrait of Rogers hangs in the lobby.

A statue, though, will be a fitting tribute to a man whose comforting presence and emphasis on essential human values has guided (and still guides) millions of people through personal challenges while easing the trauma of social upheaval and national tragedies.

Like much of what happens in Winter Park, the initiative began with Allan Keen, owner of the Keewin Real Property Company and twice chairman of the college’s board of trustees (from 2006 to 2008 and 2016 to 2019).

Keen and his wife, Linda, were enjoying a barge canal cruise through rural France when they noticed some intriguing sculptures in the vessel’s gathering area. The wife of the barge captain told the Keens that Paul Day, who happened to be a family friend, was the artist, and asked if they would like to visit Day’s studio near Dijon in Burgundy, France. 

Well, of course they would! Then Keen had a thought. Because of Day’s international reputation, wouldn’t a Mister Rogers statue created by him be a meaningful addition to what has already been dubbed the most beautiful college campus in the country? 

Day, it turned out, was unfamiliar with Rogers and his cultural significance in the U.S. So, at Keen’s invitation, the sculptor visited Rollins last September to scout locations and interview administrators and staffers who knew the man — including Daniel Crozier, a professor of music theory and composition who is also Rogers’ nephew.

What Day discovered will come as no surprise: Mister Rogers was the real deal. “[Rogers’] many talents, coupled with stupendous discipline and seemingly unlimited kindness, make him a most remarkable man,” Day said in a statement released by the college.

Ironically, as the Keens discovered during their European trip, Day’s work already has a connection to Rollins. Hung above The Meeting Place in St. Pancras International is a neon work of art called I Want My Time With You by artist Tracey Emin. “I thought it looked familiar,” recalls Keen. 

As well it might. Another distinctive Emin piece, Everything For Love, is part of the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at the college’s Alfond Inn and currently hangs behind the check-in desk. 

“This all must have been meant to be,” adds Keen, who along with other private donors is funding the statue’s estimated $150,000 to $200,000 price tag.

The college isn’t yet releasing renderings of the statue and may not, so it’ll be a surprise when it’s unveiled. But whatever form the final work takes, there’s no doubt that it will cause nostalgic smiles, perhaps some wistful tears and at least a neighborhood’s worth of good vibes.

Randy Noles
CEO/Editor/Publisher
randyn@winterparkpublishing.com

DESIGN

The poem opens with a familiar gesture. Few can resist running a finger over a steamy bathroom mirror or the dusty hood of a car. It’s a primitive act as well, given the speculation that human culture began when someone drew something in the sand with a stick. The poem moves quickly line-by-line through a series of associations involving variations on the circle: cycle, wheel, ring, sun and moon. As this circle-game is being played, a melancholy self-portrait emerges. The speaker is emphatically alone with no one to speak to but ghosts, passing birds and a crack in the wall. He is childless, without siblings, and there is only death in the family. And that is why, as we discover in the final line, the poet coats his table with salt, not flour or sugar.

DESIGN

I pour a coating of salt on the table
and make a circle in it with my finger.
This is the cycle of life
I say to no one.
This is the wheel of fortune,
the Arctic Circle.
This is the ring of Kerry
and the white rose of Tralee
I say to the ghosts of my family,
the dead fathers,
the aunt who drowned,
my unborn brothers and sisters,
my unborn children.
This is the sun with its glittering spokes
and the bitter moon.
This is the absolute circle of geometry
I say to the crack in the wall,
to the birds who cross the window.
This is the wheel I just invented
to roll through the rest of my life
I say
touching my finger to my tongue.


Billy Collins is a Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He served as U.S. Poet Laureate (2001–2003) and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. “Design” originally appeared in Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins, © 2001. Reprinted by permission of Random House.

Photo by Suzannah Gilman

Jack Kerouac was still unknown when he came to Orlando from New York City after finally finding a publisher for On the Road, his autobiographical road-trip novel. The bungalow in which he lived with his mother is now a hub for local bibliophiles and a residence for visiting writers. But the Jack Kerouac House is sinking in the back and funds are needed to shore it up.

THE BEAT GOES ON — FOR NOW

Jack Kerouac was still unknown when he came to Orlando from New York City after finally finding a publisher for On the Road, his autobiographical road-trip novel. The bungalow in which he lived with his mother is now a hub for local bibliophiles and a residence for visiting writers. But the Jack Kerouac House is sinking in the back and funds are needed to shore it up.

For years, a friend and I have enjoyed late-evening walks through the older Orlando neighborhoods near our home, grumbling now and then when we pass yet another modern two-story being built over the tear-down ruins of yet another favorite old-Florida bungalow.

Hope there’s at least one we don’t have to worry about.

It’s in College Park, two blocks west of Edgewater Drive at the corner of Shady Lane and Clouser Avenue, protected on one side by a 250-year-old live oak with the stoic majesty of a palace guard and on the other by a green, gold-lettered historic marker that reads, in part:

JACK KEROUAC HOUSE

Writer Jack Kerouac (1922–1969) lived and wrote in this ’20s tin-roofed house between 1957 and 1958. It was here that Kerouac received instant fame for publication of his bestselling book, On the Road, which brought him acclaim and controversy as the voice of the Beat Generation.

If you’re looking for a literary shrine with gravitas, curb appeal, a fancy gift shop and tours every hour on the hour, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Orlando’s only famous-author milepost is an unpretentious affair, with sturdy hardwood floors and an old-fashioned, howdy-neighbor front porch.  

The house might have disappeared altogether had it not been for Bob Kealing, who was a WESH-TV journalist in the mid-1990s when he discovered its beat-generation heritage and wrote a magazine article and book about its former resident. 

Those efforts inspired The Kerouac Project, a grassroots effort among historic preservationists who purchased the residence and transformed it into a social hub for local bibliophiles and a revolving residence for authors — four of whom are selected from roughly 300 applicants from the U.S. and around the world to spend three months here focusing on works of their own.

“There’s something empowering in this house. You can feel it,” says Austin, Texas, author Chelsey Clammer, who worked on several autobiographical essays — and saw one of them published — during her recent residency.

Kerouac was still unknown when he came to Orlando from New York City after finally finding a publisher for On the Road, his autobiographical road-trip novel that described a 1940s freight-train-jumping expedition punctuated by jazz, poetry, sex, drug use and spiritual ruminations. 

The bungalow was sectioned off into two units at the time, and the adventuresome yet chronically shy Kerouac holed up in a narrow, $35-a-month apartment in the back with a roommate: his mother. Kealing still marvels at the irony of it: “Here was this hitchhiking avatar of personal discovery, living in the suburbs of Orlando with his mom.”

Bob Kealing (left), Chelsey Clammer (center) and Vanessa Blakeslee (right)

While On the Road was on the road to becoming both celebrated and vilified as a counterculture manifesto, Kerouac lived in relative anonymity while cranking out stream-of-consciousness prose for a sequel, The Dharma Bums. 

A series of black-and-white photos from a mid-1950s magazine article, which shows him hovering over a portable typewriter, now hangs on the wall of the tiny bedroom where he worked, lending an atmosphere of literary industry to the apartment. 

So does a well-worn, padded rocker that Kerouac may have used while ruminating. A hobbit-sized back door opens onto a citrus orchard where he foraged for tangerines and sometimes spent nights sleeping under the stars. 

It’s all very neatly maintained, though over time the bungalow has inevitably settled; there’s a steep enough tilt to the floor to test your sea legs. That’s why some TLC is needed.

“The house is sinking in the back,” says Vanessa Blakeslee, a local fiction writer and Rollins College adjunct instructor who’s a Kerouac Project volunteer. “Our challenge these days is making Central Floridians more aware of its historic import — and finding funds to stabilize the home.” 

Maintenance, utilities and operating expenses of the nonprofit enterprise are covered by application fees for the residency program and rental income from a second house on the property. That’s not enough for larger expenses.

This decade will mark several anniversaries for the Kerouac Project. The residency program has been in operation for 20 years. The bungalow itself will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2025. 

And all you have to do is to take another look at that historic marker to realize that we’re fast approaching an even more significant milestone: the century mark of Jack Kerouac’s birth.

For information about the Kerouac Project and how you can contribute, visit kerouacproject.org. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate these Kerouac-related anniversaries than by helping to shore up the bungalow that served, however briefly, as the author’s refuge.


Michael McLeod, mmcleod@rollins.edu, is a contributing writer for Winter Park Magazine and an adjunct instructor in the English department at Rollins College. 

Michael McLeod

Hamilton Holt was president of Rollins College from 1925 to 1949. The college’s evening program was renamed in his honor in 1987. Photo courtesy of The Rollins College Archives

SOME WORDS OF WISDOM FROM HAMILTON HOLT

Hamilton Holt was president of Rollins College from 1925 to 1949. The college’s evening program was renamed in his honor in 1987. Photo courtesy of The Rollins College Archives

When retiring Rollins College President Hamilton Holt spoke at his final commencement ceremony in June 1949, he shared with faculty, students, trustees and community leaders many nuggets of wisdom that are as applicable today as when he uttered them more than 70 years ago. 

I read many Holt speeches, interviews and articles while researching an upcoming book entitled Rollins After Dark. The book is subtitled The Hamilton Holt School and Continuing Education: A Nontraditional Journey, and it will be available when the Holt School celebrates its 60th anniversary later this year. 

The Holt School, of course, is the college’s venerable evening program, which was renamed for the legendary president in 1987. But adult education at Rollins dates to the winter of 1936, when it could be more accurately described as a high-minded holiday for scholarly snowbirds. 

The entire story of the college’s various evening programs — which is filled with twists and turns and populated by interesting characters – is in Rollins After Dark, about which details are forthcoming. I promise it will be an interesting read.

In the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to share some excerpts from Holt’s farewell address to the small college he loved:

–––

To the trustees: Make the chief aim of your stewardship the maintenance of greater and ever greater security and freedom of the faculty, staff and student body. After all, those are the chief reasons for your existence.

Keep the college small but make it a great small college. Material growth for its own sake is only a confusion of greatness with bigness. Do not curtail the powers you have wisely delegated in bylaws to the faculty. Continue to grant them complete supervision over the curriculum and the students. Never dismiss a faculty member because his views differ from yours, unless you would be willing in turn for a majority of faculty to dismiss one of you for your opinions.”

Fill vacancies on the board with young, vital and liberal men and women of both achievement and promise. Otherwise your board will grow conservative with the passing years and reactionary. Businessmen are essential to any well-balanced board of trustees but keep them in the minority. Rollins is an educational institution, not a bank or a department store. Imagine a successful business concern filling its board with educators.

When the president and the faculty break new paths, do not become frightened just because some powerful institutions like Harvard or the Rockefeller Foundation or the American Council on Education raise their eyebrows. Welcome advice but think and act for yourselves.

To the faculty: Seek truth wherever truth is found; follow truth wherever truth may lead; teach truth and nothing but the truth. Achieve and hold your mastery of your chosen art or science. Break paths bravely where you may. Follow humbly where you must. You promised all these things when you were installed in the faculty, but you may have forgotten them.”

Teach students rather than subjects. Give students the same courtesy, respect and affection that you crave of them. Minimize marks, grades, recitations, lectures, examinations, certificates, diplomas and degrees. Maximize personal contacts within and without the classroom. Imitate Socrates. You may get a Plato.

Cut our cliques, gripes, gossip, pedantry and highbrowism — the chief of faculty sins. Jesus preached to the multitude, taught his disciples and cast out devils. Follow His example: lecture to the many; teach the few; wrestle with the individual. The three paramount functions of a faculty are teaching, research and public service. But the greatest of these is teaching.”

To the students: I have learned more from you than you have learned from me. Youth is idealistic; age is cynical. You think success is beckoning you; that you will be happily married; that you will be healthy, wealthy and wise. Keep on thinking these things, for faith moves mountains and faith will make them come true.

You have not yet gained the wisdom we have, for wisdom comes from experience. So, I do not blame you for not having much wisdom. But I do blame myself and people my age for losing their idealism. You have helped me keep my idealism.

For those of you who are graduating into the world, where realities pervade, I wish you all happiness and success. But do not expect to be treated as grownups by older people until you are about 30 years of age. And do not expect results without sustained effort. Nothing in life worthwhile has come easily.

No college can educate you. All college is self-education. The college can stimulate, advise and point the way. But the path must be trod by you. Major in courses that you like and therefore come most easily. Minor in the courses you dislike and therefore come the hardest. Choose the professor rather than the course. The professor may be alive!

I shall miss you, my sons and daughters, in the coming days. I shall miss your happy laughter coming through the open windows of my office. I shall miss the waving of your hands as we pass on the campus. I shall miss the quiet talks I have had in my home with you, whether singly or in groups. Write me sometimes and tell me of your trials and triumphs. May the latter far exceed the former.

–––

Holt, a fascinating character in his own right, died two years after stepping down. But his spirit still infuses the Rollins ethos. I hope Rollins After Dark will reintroduce the most consequential educator in the college’s history long to students and the community. Perhaps, like me, you’ll wish you could have spent some one-on-one time with him solving the world’s problems. 

Randy Noles
CEO/Editor/Publisher
randyn@winterparkpublishing.com

Photo by Suzannah Gilman

GOLD

One way to think about form and content — the yoked oxen of literary study — is to see content as the poem’s interest in the world, and form as the poem’s interest in itself. In “Gold,” the content is the sunrise, and the form is the poem’s search for the best simile to convey its special brilliance. The poem sits in a tradition of “dawn poems” called aubades, and the spin here on this tradition is the speaker’s anxiety about being too over-the-top with his hyperboles. We should notice that his fear of losing the reader’s trust does not delay him from tossing off his final (and most ridiculous) exaggeration, in which one of the greatest achievements in Western literature is used to convey what this fellow’s bedroom looks like early in the morning. 

GOLD

I don’t want to make too much of this,
but because our bedroom faces east
across a lake here in Florida,

when the sun begins to rise
and reflect off the water,
the whole room is suffused with the kind

of golden light that could travel
at dawn on a summer solstice
the length of a passageway in a megalithic tomb.

Again, I don’t want to exaggerate,
but it reminds me of the light
that might illuminate the walls
of a secret chamber full of treasure,
pearls and gold coins overflowing the silver platters.

I feel like comparing it to the fire
that Aphrodite lit in the human eye
so as to allow us to perceive
the other three elements,

but the last thing I want to do
is risk losing your confidence
by appearing to lay it on too thick.

Let’s just say that the morning light here
would bring to anyone’s mind
the rings of light that Dante

deploys in the final cantos of the Paradiso
to convey the presence of God,
while bringing the Divine Comedy
to a stunning climax, and leave it at that.


Billy Collins is a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College. He served as U.S. Poet Laureate (2001–03) and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, “Gold” originally appeared in Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins © 2011. Reprinted by permission of Random House.

Photo by Suzannah Gilman

During a 1954 interview on his 92nd birthday, John Martin noted that Winter Park had changed, “but not for the better!” The unconventional John Martin, a socialist lecturer, and his wife, Prestonia Mann Martin, a utopian reformer, were unlikely civic leaders in the 1920s and beyond. Photo courtesy of The Rollins College Archives.

THE FABIAN AND THE HAMMER BOY

During a 1954 interview on his 92nd birthday, John Martin noted that Winter Park had changed, “but not for the better!” The unconventional John Martin, a socialist lecturer, and his wife, Prestonia Mann Martin, a utopian reformer, were unlikely civic leaders in the 1920s and beyond. Photo courtesy of The Rollins College Archives.

Is Winter Park more open-minded today than it was 90 years ago? Consider the case of John and Prestonia Mann Martin. The British-born socialist and his unconventional wife were among the city’s most unlikely power couples from the 1920s through several decades thereafter.

Naturally, the Martins were brought to town by Hamilton Holt, the ninth president of Rollins College, who delighted in collecting out-of-the-ordinary characters and testing the tolerance of conservative locals for exotic freethinkers.

John, whom Holt listed as a conference leader or a visiting lecturer and consultant on foreign affairs, had been active in the London branch of the Fabian Society, an organization whose purpose was to advance the principles of socialism. He offered a lecture series on foreign affairs that became wildly popular in Winter Park.

Prestonia, a writer and social reformer, operated Summer Brook, which was modeled on Brook Farm — a short-lived experiment in communal living started in 1841 by a ragtag band of transcendentalists. 

She had made national headlines with a pamphlet entitled “Prohibiting Poverty,” in which she advocated conscription of everyone between ages 18 and 26 to produce the necessities of life — including food and clothing — which would then be distributed free. 

Eleanor Roosevelt favorably referenced the program in a speech and even passed it along to her husband, who dismissed its premise as simplistic and impractical. 

In 1932, John was the victim of a brutal assault that left him in critical condition. Oliver Johnson Keyes, 23, a former protégé, hitchhiked from Manhattan to Winter Park, where he purchased a hammer and walked through a driving rainstorm to the Martin home. 

Keyes was recognized and welcomed by the Martins. Later, when the couple retired to separate rooms, he followed John upstairs and began beating him with the hammer until Prestonia, hearing the melee, rushed to her husband’s room and screamed.

When the young man momentarily relented, Prestonia called the police, who upon their arrival arrested Keyes on charges of assault with intent to commit premeditated murder. John, barely clinging to life, was transported to the Florida Sanitarium, where he gradually recovered. 

Keyes, meanwhile, calmly admitted to his crime, giving no reason other than that the Martins had “lost interest” in him. “Hammer Boy,” as journalists called him, was adjudicated insane and committed to Bellevue Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Manhattan. 

By the mid-1930s, the John Martin Lecture Series encompassed 10 talks on consecutive Thursday mornings in late January and early March. As audiences grew, the on-campus theater gave way to the larger First Congregational Church of Winter Park. 

In 1944, John decided to retire — more or less. He delivered his final scheduled lecture before a full house at the church sanctuary and received a tearful standing ovation from prominent locals, likely none of whom were socialists or Fabians.

Interviewed on his 90th birthday in 1954, he complained to the Orlando Morning Sentinel that “Winter Park has changed almost beyond recognition — and not for the better!” (Perhaps he was more mainstream than anyone realized.)

Prestonia remained active in civic organizations, but fell ill and died at age 83 on Easter Sunday in 1945. She was eulogized in Winter Park Topics, a seasonal weekly, as “one of Winter Park’s best known and most beloved women.” 

This column makes no overarching point except this: There are thousands of stories in the City of Culture and Heritage, and its history is replete with fascinating characters. We’re here to tell as many stories and profile as many characters as we can. Thanks for reading and for letting us know that you enjoy what we do. 

Randy Noles
CEO/Editor/Publisher
randyn@winterparkpublishing.com

 


Correction
Due to an editor’s error, the professional football league in which Don Jonas, the first coach of the UCF Knights, played was misidentified in last issue’s story “First and Goal.” Jonas played for the Orlando Panthers in the Continental Football League.

Junior philosophers paint a river to be used as an intellectual exercise. They make a choice, then line up on either side of the river and explain how and why they made that choice. They take a position, literally and figuratively, which is, of course, what philosophers do.

A PHILOSOPHY DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Junior philosophers paint a river to be used as an intellectual exercise. They make a choice, then line up on either side of the river and explain how and why they made that choice. They take a position, literally and figuratively, which is, of course, what philosophers do.

Plato (above left) and Aristotle (above right) have plenty to say to children, too. At Hume House, staffers have figured out how to channel those messages and make them meaningful to rambunctious 3- and 4-year-olds.

There’s a small, unassuming, black-and-white photograph of the late Fred Rogers on a hallway wall in Hume House, a preschool and child-development research center on the westernmost edge of the Rollins College campus. 

The 1990 photo was taken during a visit to the center by the beloved Rollins grad, whose revolutionary PBS show for young children, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, represented a one-man crusade to nurture their pilgrim hearts and minds — and to buffer both from the cacophony of the modern world. 

In the photograph, Mr. Rogers sits in a chair encircled by children. He wears one of his trademark cardigans and beams with that front-porch glow of attentive delight the presence of children always inspired in him. 

Something akin to that expression would surely cross his face if he could see what the old neighborhood is up to these days.

Guided by a multidisciplinary research team, Rollins students have been introducing preschoolers to the wisdom of the ancients, using traditional early-education activities to examine concepts that great philosophers sought to bring to early civilization: fairness, bravery, self-control, civility. It’s part of a multitasking enterprise meant to plant thoughtful seeds in both the younger and the older students.

Five years ago, as part of an initiative to incorporate elbow grease into the liberal arts, Rollins philosophy professor Erik Kenyon was asked to add a community outreach component to his classes.

Kenyon, a youngish 38-year-old with striking blue eyes and a preppy haircut, is more likely to be taken for a student rather than a philosophy professor as he rides his bike to and from classes. In truth he is an old soul by association, so thoroughly marinated in ancient and medieval philosophy that a student once described him to me as “Aristotle reincarnated.”

Well, it’s one thing to channel Greek philosophers to a captive classroom audience. It’s another to trot your musty Hellenic homeboys around off campus. The notion seemed idealistic to Kenyon. Or as he put it: “I thought, ‘What am I supposed to do? Save the whales?’” 

Then he remembered the work of colleagues elsewhere who developed the so-called “P4C” educational program. P4C stands for “philosophy for children” and consists of a series of lesson plans that can be used to introduce grade-school students to rudimentary philosophical concepts.  

In 2015, Kenyon began incorporating P4C ideas into classes that called for his students to develop child-oriented philosophy lessons as part of their studies — then take them on the road. Things went smoothly when they worked with students at nearby elementary schools. 

With preschoolers, not so much. Nothing in Augustine’s dialogues or Plato’s pedagogy addresses the existential realities of trying to engage a tribe of rambunctious 3- and 4-year-olds with lesson plans designed for elementary school students. 

Hume House director Diane Terorde-Doyle (left), philosophy professor Eric Kenyon (center) and psychologist Sharon Carnahan (right) devised a program for preschoolers based on P4C (philosophy for children) principles.

“There was a lot of running away and hiding in corners,” says Kenyon, of his team’s first visit to Hume House. “It was a disaster.” He looked to the center’s director, Diane Terorde-Doyle, and Rollins psychology professor and longtime Hume House crusader Sharon Carnahan for help.

“Children at this age think with their bodies,” offered Terorde-Doyle. Yet, added Carnahan, they’re perfectly capable of grasping abstractions: “They’re stone experts on friendship.”

So, hoping to connect with preschoolers on their own turf, the team began developing lesson plans rooted in physical activities; sharpened them to revolve around ethics, the branch of philosophy that addresses relationships and behavior; and focused on questions that addressed daily life from a preschool perspective — such as, “what makes a family?”

An obvious ingredient volunteered by the children in discussions one day was “love.” Then a little girl added a wise-beyond-her-years distinction.  

“I agree that if there is a family, there is love,” she said. “But I disagree that if there is love, it has to be in a family.”

The moment convinced Kenyon the project was on track. “That’s the kind of thing that a college logic course wouldn’t get to around to until week four,” he says. 

Overall, the effort prompted such a shift of perspective at Hume House that, this year, the three researchers published a book about their efforts, Ethics for the Very Young.

The book includes outlines of lesson plans meant to encourage children to “listen, think, and respond” in order to navigate their way through questions such as: What is bravery? What is a friend? What makes something fair or unfair? How do I agree, or disagree, with dignity?

All it takes is a quick visit to a couple of internet chat rooms to see that the culture at large could use a few lesson plans on that last one. 


Michael McLeod is a contributing writer for Winter Park Magazine and an adjunct instructor in the English department at Rollins College.

DUCK/RABBIT

I usually draw a blank whenever anyone asks me where I get my inspiration. But here, I find myself on safe ground. This poem came directly from the “duck/rabbit” drawing by Wittgenstein, the one he used to illustrate for his philosophy students the nature of puns and conundrums, where only one of two aspects can be apprehended at a time. You can see the duck, or you can see the rabbit, but not both simultaneously. My riff on the drawing turned out to be a sonnet, but not the love kind. Quite the opposite.

Duck/Rabbit

The lamb may lie down with the lion,
But they will never be as close as this pair
Who share the very lines
Of their existence, whose overlapping is their raison d’être.
How strange and symbolic the binds
That make one disappear
Whenever the other is spied.
Throw the duck a stare,
And the rabbit hops down his hole.
Give the rabbit the eye,
And the duck waddles off the folio.
Say, these could be our mascots, you and I —

I could look at you forever
And never see the two of us together.


Billy Collins is a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College. He served as U.S. Poet Laureate (2001–03) and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. “Duck/Rabbit” originally appeared in Picnic, Lightning by Billy Collins © 1998. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Photo by Suzannah Gilman

A VERY AGREEABLE BIG IDEA

The City of Culture and Art, genteel as it may appear, is rife with factions. Much of the rancor plays out over social media and in alarming flyers that appear in mailboxes around election time. In Winter Park, of course, that’s every year.

Disagreements over what should be done — or what should not be done — to keep Winter Park charming, beautiful, unique and family friendly are what prompt everything from heated but informed dialogue (healthy) to propagation of outright conspiracy theories (unhealthy).

Big ideas are usually controversial, especially here. Which is why philanthropist Steve Goldman and his nascent Winter Park Land Trust have already accomplished something improbable but important: They’ve proposed a big idea that virtually everyone seems to support.

In late February, I attended a launch event for the land trust that attracted more than 300 people to the Winter Park Farmers’ Market on New York Avenue. 

There I saw developers and preservationists, politicians and activists, newcomers and old-timers. Some of the people who showed up disagree with one another about almost everything, except this: The Winter Park Land Trust is an idea whose time has come.

The land trust is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is “to plan, finance and manage the acquisition of land and interests in land to be used for the creation, expansion, improvement and connection of parkland and green space within and adjacent to the City of Winter Park.”

Goldman — a committed doer not known for embracing Quixotic or symbolic campaigns — has floated the notion among community members and elected officials for years. Now, he and a diverse volunteer board of trustees have made it a reality.

Such organizations work. There are more than 1,200 similarly structured land trusts across the U.S., and about 20 statewide. The concept, then, isn’t new; it’s just new to Central Florida. 

And its rollout comes on the heels of Winter Park’s 2016 visioning exercise, through which residents indicated that improving, expanding and connecting the city’s urban parks and green space should be a major priority.

But cities — even affluent ones like Winter Park — don’t always have the resources (or the foresight) to acquire and hold land for preservation. That’s why it was significant that Winter Park City Manager Randy Knight spoke at the kickoff event, expressing his enthusiasm for working with the new organization.

Chris Castro, director of sustainability for the City of Orlando and a land trust board member, told the crowd that the organization — if it’s successful — could be the first of many in the region that could collaborate and create a network of parks and protected open space.

Representatives from The Nature Conservancy and Conservation Florida also spoke, as did Winter Park native Hannah Miller, a land trust board member who recalled that the city’s iconic natural places “shaped my childhood and who I am today — and they define the quality of life in our community.”

Goldman says the land trust will make an impact if enough people care and get involved. “It’s our hope that word will spread, and many residents will become members,” he said.

Consider the word spread. It’s well worth your while to visit winterparklandtrust.org and find out how you can help. Certainly, we can agree on that much.

Randy Noles
CEO/Editor/Publisher
randyn@winterparkpublishing.com

 


 

Collins, shown here on the front porch of Osceola Lodge, home to the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College, thinks of his “writing self” as an altogether different person. That self, he notes, is “monastic, detached, doesn’t have a job — he drinks tea and I drink coffee.”

I’m pleased to announce that Billy Collins has joined us as a contributor. Wait, did I just write that sentence? Yes, I did — and it’s true. The bestselling author, former two-term U.S. Poet Laureate, member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College has agreed to mine his catalogue of poetry, share his favorites and discuss their inspiration in a column called “The Poem.” I always thought Winter Park Magazine could say it had truly arrived only when Billy’s byline appeared somewhere in its pages. And now it does.

Speaking of contributors, some of my favorite Winter Park Magazine covers have been painted by the incomparable Henry Peter. This issue’s cover is an image that Henry shared last year. I wanted to use it, but it was vertically shaped and would have required cropping. Most artists, understandably, don’t care for cropping. Recently, I gave Cap’n Dan’s Boat Tour another look and couldn’t resist. I decided to ask for Henry’s permission to tinker. “OK, you can crop it,” Henry said. “But if you do, please run the full image inside the magazine so people can see the original.” Done: Here’s the painting as it looked before being altered to fit the cover. I think you’ll agree that it’s a perfect spring image either way.

Cap’n Dan’s Boat Tour by Henry Peter

Photo by Suzannah Gilman

THE BLUES

When I showed this poem to a friend, he said I should have stopped after the fourth line. I suppose that would have made a point, but I wanted the poem to continue so it could develop the way a blues song does: the repetition, the wait, then the resolution in the last two lines. Many fans have favorites when it comes to blues lines; these days I like, “Nobody loves me but my mother, and she might be jiving too.”

THE BLUES

Much of what is said here
must be said twice,
a reminder that no one
takes an immediate interest in the pain of others.

Nobody will listen, it would seem,
if you simply admit
your baby left you this morning
and didn’t even stop to say good-bye.

But if you sing it again
with the help of the band
which will now lift you to a higher,
more ardent, and beseeching chord,

people will not only listen;
they will shift to the empathetic
edges of their chairs,
moved to such acute anticipation

by that chord and the delay that follows,
they will not be able to sleep
unless you release with one finger
a scream from the throat of your guitar,

turn your head back to the microphone,
and let them know
you’re a hard-hearted man
but that woman’s sure to make you cry.


Billy Collins is a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College. He served as U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-03) and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. “The Blues” originally appeared in The Art of Drowning by Billy Collins, © 1995. Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Photo by Suzannah Gilman

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