Thursday, July 31, 2008

How AARP Helped Me Find Heart in Art

OK, young people, I was flipping through the new issue of AARP Magazine yesterday and noticed an article about coming back home. There were some lovely photographs and thoughts on coming back to New Jersey but one thing really caught my attention--these thoughtful, sentimental images reminded me of Vaughn Wascovich's photographs of the Tar Creek Superfund site.

There I sat, trying to read the article, but each lovely photograph of the author's hometown reminded me of a different Wascovich photo of the Superfund site and I could not keep my mind on the article. I just kept thinking about Vaughn's imagery and could not read the article in its entirety.

Since I mentioned the article is in AARP you may question if my mind just tends to wander but I actually think I learned something in the process, so like the ole' folk Christmas Carol, "I wonder as I wander." Seeing the other photographer's work helped me realize Wascovich's images are not only beautiful because he is an artist with much experience and truckloads of technique but also because his heart is with Tar Creek's indigenous people.

Source of image to left: Vaughn Wascovich

Ahhh! The appealing image to the left is one of Vaughn's photographs. You see the azure water and peak surrounding the small water body and think, "where is that small piece of heaven!" And then someone wakes you up by reminding you, "Excuse me, but the mountain is a tailings pile and the water is ever so blue due to metals in the water."

To see more of
what I'm blogging about please visit Wascovich's gallery online. . . and do take a look at his Tar Creek images including his Picher tornado slideshow. Now I have a question--which is your favorite of the images posted in his Tar Creek gallery?

If you would like to see Wascovich's work up close and personal you will not want to miss the 10th National Conference on Tar Creek, September 15-17 in Miami, OK. He is a workshop presenter for the conference.

Well, I guess I will close since I still have an article about New Jersey to read in AARP. . . if I can just keep my mind off of Wascovich's photographs. . .

Monday, July 28, 2008

Keeping Up with other Bloggers by Asking a Question

OK, it has been about a week since I started this blog but I've had zero, count them, zero comments about any of the postings. The EPA is doing so well with their weekly blog question so I thought I'd ask two questions.

These questions are for concerned NE Oklahoma, SE Kansas and SW Missouri residents and the many governmental and scientific researchers from around the country that are working on the Tar Creek Superfund Site, Tri-State Mining District and other environmental issues here in the area.

The good news is you only have to answer one or the other question (the second question is the easy one):

Blog Question 1: In your opinion what are two or three actions every resident of this area can undertake that will help with the environmental crises here in our little corner of the world?

Blog Question 2: How close to the ceiling does a fly get before it flips over and lands? (No fair calculating delays in landings due to being swatted by a swatter or hand-ew, or sprayed by toxic chemicals)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

EPA Greenversations Blog

Did you know the EPA has a blog,
Greenversations? Definitely a clever name, don't you think! The EPA blog features a weekly question with open-ended blog postings so the public can share their thoughts on the question. This week's question of the week is, "What do you use: paper, plastic, or reusable bags?" A nice feature--they post the question in Spanish, too.

One thing I'm realizing is that this is a great way to check the pulse of citizens--at least the pulse of those that locate the blog!
So I must ask you, what do you use?--paper, plastic, or reusable bags?

I rarely receive paper anymore but do reuse the sacks I receive. I reuse plastic sacks I receive when I forget my reusable bags and I bought my reusable ones from Wal-Mart. I heard recently Walgreens sells larger bags than those available at Wal-Mart so I plan to check those out soon. I also use my reusable bags to cart recyclables to the recycling center here. One great use for the "crafty" and energetic individual--if you can crochet, cut bags in different colors into thin strips and use the strips to crochet a purse or other small item. I've seen a completed project and it is really cute! Wish I had the pattern and directions for preparing the strips of plastic--I'd post it on the blog if I had it but sorry, the woman that created the purse doesn't live in our area and I don't know how to reach her.

Back to the EPA Greenversations Blog-you can r
ead about it at the EPA Newsroom, and then take a look at this new EPA feature at Greenversations.

Their Blog logo looks like this but is larger in size:

After taking a look at their blog share your thoughts on this week's question and read
public opinion on the same!

The EPA even has a listserv so that bloggers can receive an email when the new weekly question has been posted--now that is one way of encouraging participation. Happy blogging!

NEO Students Battling Western Wildfires

There are many ways one can help our environment and seven students from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College are getting a crash course in helping. Seven NEO students and two NEO alums volunteered to journey to Oregon and on to California for two weeks to fight wildfires, according to Mike Neal, their NEO forestry instructor. They will return next week.

NEO Student volunteers include Tyler Burleson, Wyandotte; Justin Shrum, Claremore; Zach Christie, Little Kansas; Eric Fonseca, Quapaw; Thomas Richardson, Fayetteville, Ark; Eric Eddy and Alicia Bishop, Miami. NEO alums include Jessica Koster, Baxter Springs, KS; and Andrew Kirksey, Miami.

For details go to Miami News Record website at or

Neal said the cause of the fire they are fighting was lightning. To see details about the current status of their fire go to

LEAD Agency wishes this group the best and we look forward to hearing and reading more about their experiences after their safe return.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

NEO A and M College's First Recycling Day a Green Success

Congratulations to Northeastern Oklahoma A and M College for holding their first campus-wide recycling day July 21, 2008. The college partnered with Red Cedar Recycling, Miami, for the recycling project. At this point, the college has a cardboard recycle bin, twelve drink bottle/can recycle bins, and ten ink cartridge/cell phone recycle bins on campus.

Red Cedar Recycling and NEO partnered on the ink cartridge, cell phone and aluminum can project to raise money for scholarships. The scholarships will be for science students that have demonstrated an interest in the environment.

On the monthly recycle day college staff will have newspapers, shredded paper, magazines and old books ready for recycling on each building and Red Cedar and a small group from NEO will pick up the items. When students return for fall classes student clubs and organizations will be encouraged to help with the projects and Sierra Coalition and Phi Theta Kappa have already expressed interest in helping.

Even though there are many less people on campus in the summer, the first recycling effort required two trips to Red Cedar Recycling. A number of books found new owners, too!

Organizers realize with the return of Fall semester students, the event may need to be held more often than monthly. For information regarding ways you may help with NEO and Red Cedar's projects or to obtain more information regarding recycling in your home or business call 918-540-6204 or email

10th National Conference on Tar Creek Scheduled for September 2008

OK, the LEAD Evolution Blogger has a motive for sharing information with you about The 10th National Conference on Tar Creek. Not only will top minds in the country be attending (well, since you have a great one, shouldn't you be there, too!) but also you need to attend so that you can find out what progress has taken place and what the future hopefully holds for northeastern Oklahoma.

And the planning committee for this event came up with the most fun theme for such a serious project--playing on the Operational Unit (OU) theme--well, you can read below. Details of the event follow:

10th National Conference on Tar Creek
OU4 / OU5 We are in Overtime at Tar Creek

Dates: September 15, 16 and 17, 2008
Location: Miami Civic Center, Miami, OK

Ottawa & Delaware County Residents
ATTEND the Conference

Meals / special workshops / evening events & T-shirts WILL require a fee
Register early to ensure your packet will be prepared when you arrive

Attend these Events!

National Conference (Tuesday September 16 and Wednesday September 17)
Includes Opening event Dobson Museum (Monday evening), lunches, all events, Fish Tournament (Film at Coleman), visor & T-Shirt $125

National Conference single day (Tuesday OR Wednesday)
Includes lunch /evening event / T-Shirt $ 50

Complete attached form and indicate events you will be attending:

Monday evening OPENING, Dobson Museum “Culture, History & Chocolate” $ 10

Tuesday lunch Native American Traditional Meal $ 10
Wednesday lunch Fish Fry / Chicken Meal $ 10
Tuesday evening Fish Tournament on Tar Creek @ Coleman Theatre for film
“Shall We Gather at the River”
$ 10

We even have the following items:
T-Shirt (ea) $ 10
Visor (ea) $ 10

Early Bird–Register Before September 1, 2008 receive free visor! $100

Please make checks payable to LEAD Agency, Inc.
LEAD Agency, Inc. is a 501 c 3 organization. (Local Environmental Action Demanded)

Please return registration form to:

LEAD Agency, Inc.
19257 South 4403 Drive
Vinita, OK 74301 Ph: 918-540-6204 NEO Continuing Education Office

Note: Silent Auction proceeds fund scholarships for local graduating seniors.
Items are welcome.

Click here for form to accompany your payment (please do not send cash)

Mail completed form and payment to:

L.E.A.D. Agency, Inc.
19257 S. 4403 Drive
Vinita, OK 74301

Directions and Lodging information coming soon

Questions? Call 918-540-6204 or 918-533-0825 or Email

Note: September 12, 13 and 14 are the dates of the Eastern Shawnee Pow-wow

We thought people who are coming in from other regions might want to come early and enjoy this event. It is the last of the outdoor dances of the year, held on the banks of Lost Creek, a beautiful site.

Download Conference Registration form here.

Full Time VISTA Position Available with LEAD Agency August 1.

When I opened my web browser this morning my home page had a headline that caught my attention--Miami ranked lowest for service. I should have opened the article right then because now I can't find it but I am thankful the article was referring to Miami, Florida and not Miami, OK. Our area can benefit from a shot in the arm of enthusiasm for volunteering, however, and with this in mind I'm proud to announce a full time VISTA position is available with the LEAD Agency in Miami, OK beginning August 1, 2008. The position will focus on connecting community with service-learning.

The VISTA will receive a Living Allowance ($833/mo), health coverage, training, child care assistance, if qualified and a choice of $4,725 Education Award or $1,200 Cash Stipend at the end of the 1-year term.

Applicants should send a resume and cover letter to Andrea Hohlier, Oklahoma Learn and Serve.

Questions? Call Rebecca Jim
Ph: 918-520-6720

Andrea Hohlier
Oklahoma State Department of Education
Ph: 405-521-4795

Oklahoma Learn and Serve, a grantee of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is seeking individuals in various areas of the state to serve as AmeriCorps*VISTA, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), members to develop school community partnerships which promote sustainable service-learning programs and other CNCS programs in the schools and communities and support community revitalization across the state.

The VISTA program is a one year full-time commitment of service for individuals 18 years and older. VISTA members are paid a poverty-level living allowance every two weeks and are eligible to earn an educational award or cash stipend at the end of the year of service. Pre-service training is provided by CNCS and additional training opportunities will be provided by Oklahoma Learn and Serve.

Download VISTA Announcement here. Hope to see you volunteering with the projects coordinated by our new VISTA--hopefully our VISTA will be selected soon.

L.E.A.D. 2008 Scholarships Announced

LEAD Agency, Inc. will award two $250 scholarships to 2008 High School graduates. The scholarship application form must be completed and mailed to the following address and received by August 1, 2008 for consideration.
Mail completed application to: LEAD Agency 2205 E. Steve Owens, Miami, OK 74354 Applicants may attach one additional page. Examples: poem or personal essay about the environment, health, or leadership.

Scholarship awardees will be honored during the Tar Creek Conference September 15-17, 2008. Application and announcement letter are available for download here.

L.E.A.D. 2008 Writing and Poster Competition

I wanted to call this first post, "Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Tar Creek Superfund Site" but then I realized nobody would figure out what this posting is about. For the many of you that are working to make our world a better place through your environmental work and to everyone else that would like to learn more about how to do the same, we hope you will write your thoughts, ideas and concerns about the


L.E.A.D. 2008 Writing and Poster Competition

Elementary School -Design a Poster (8 ½” x 11”). Poster can have a slogan on it.
Or Photo with title attached, essay or story.

Middle School - Short essay, poem, photo with title, poster (8 ½” x 1)
Or Power Point presentation on disk or CD 20 slides or less or another art piece.

High School -100 word essay, poem, photo or poster (8 ½” x 11”)
Or multi-media presentation on disk or CD/DVD. Limit to 20 slides or 3 minutes.

Certificates given for best posters, essays, poems and media productions.

SUMMER ENTRIES DUE: July 31, 2008 by 4pm

FALL ENTRIES DUE: September 10, 2008 by 4pm

Mail Entries To: LEAD Agency 2205 E. Steve Owens, Miami, OK. 74354
Or E-mail Entries To: (this applies only to essays and poems.)
If you have any questions or want to obtain an entry form, please contact Rebecca Jim at the
LEAD Agency, Inc. at (918) 542-9399 or e-mail

Download entry form here.

Thoughts on LEAD's progress:

Like the old story comparing God's plan to the top of a beautiful tapestry and our experiences to the reverse side, where threads are interwoven but not as clear or beautiful. . . environmental change seems elusive and frustratingly slow but it is happening. . .I just hope it is happening fast enough to save our planet. Rebecca reminds us we still need time to relax and have fun, too. Speaking of fun, I had better close so that I can do my statistics homework or Rebecca will be scolding me for working too long on the blog!