Letter from the Director, by Renée Tillotson
How far can we stretch… to include each other?
My dear mom, Nancy Auker, has been writing some of her memoirs for us lately. What emerges is a typical, close-knit, middle-America community during WWII. Her vignettes of life in a tiny town in Ohio could well have been captured by a series of Norman Rockwell paintings.
Many of us don’t live in places like that anymore. Her description of community inspires me to especially wonder: How can we create community today – in a non-homogenous, sometimes rancorous, largely virtual world – that can still provide people with that sense of support and nurture?
by Nancy Auker
“Attica, my home town, was quite like other rural Ohio villages in the 1930’s…men worked, mothers stayed home, kids learned and played, hens laid eggs, everyone had a vegetable garden, farmers and their families came into town two nights a week and to church on Sunday. Great place to grow up, a town where no one locked their doors, but also confining, where everyone knew everyone else’s business through the town’s shared telephone lines.
“They say, ‘It Takes a Village to Raise a Child’. We lived that in Attica; people took care of one another. At around five years old, we were allowed to run around the neighborhood, an area about two blocks long between the highway filled with semi trucks and the railroad tracks where trains ran frequently. There were no fences between the neighbors’ yards, and we were free to play on anyone’s property. We had lots of opportunities to find danger in the old barns, tool sheds, and abandoned outhouses, except that women were mostly homebound and they all took responsibility for us.
“One summer day, our elderly neighbor Ira asked Mom to come over to help him take down his kitchen stove pipe which needed yearly cleaning. It let go suddenly; of course, I had my nose in there, so Mom and I were covered with greasy black soot. But Ira’s stovepipe was clean by the time we left.
“ ‘Hobos’ – as they were called when I was a child – always had a camp in the small woods next to the railroad tracks. We kids visited them, talked and watched them warm cans of beans over an open fire. It was during the Big Depression and these men were jobless, homeless, and non-threatening; they rode the rails from town to town seeking work. Mom always cooked extra food expecting a hobo or two to stop by. They sat on the low stone wall outside our back door, would offer to do some work, might ask for cardboard to put inside their shoes or newspaper to put inside their sleeves and pant legs during cold weather.
Renée Tillotson, Director, founded Still & Moving Center to share mindful movement arts from around the globe. Her inspiration comes from the Joy and moving meditation she experiences in the practice of Nia, and from the lifelong learning she’s gained at the Institute of World Culture in Santa Barbara, California. Engaged in a life-long spiritual quest, Renée assembles the Still & Moving Center Almanac each year, filled with inspirational quotes by everyone from the Dalai Lama to Dolly Parton. Still & Moving Center aspires to serve the community, support the Earth and its creatures, and always be filled with laughter and friendship!