Kids’ Almanac (March 7-14)

Shandaken Theatrical Society stages The Sunshine Boys

As parents and grandparents, we look for opportunities to connect with our kids and grandkids through shared experiences. Comedic musician Victor Borge suggests, “Laughter is the closest distance between two people.” So how about taking the family to see a very funny performance of Neil Simon’s play The Sunshine Boys at the Shandaken Theatrical Society (STS Playhouse) this weekend?

This family-friendly story describes the stormy relationship between two former vaudevillian comedians, Lewis and Clark, who worked together for 40 years, retired from the business hating each other and are now forced to reunite for a television special, exasperating each other with their Odd Couple banter. The Sunshine Boys opens on Friday, March 8 at 8 p.m. and runs through Sunday, March 24, with shows on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $15 general admission, $10 for members and $12 for seniors.

The STS Playhouse is located at 10 Church Street in Phoenicia. For tickets or more information, call (845) 688-2279 or visit


Wild Earth’s Dawn Song Village in High Falls hosts Open House

Our family appreciates our Wild Earth experience so much. It’s a terrific addition to any kid’s life journey because of the amount of learning, growth and discovery that takes place for each participant. The instructors are super-great, and they relate easily to young people. It’s one of those programs where teens get as much out of the experience as younger children.

They’re literally outside all day, in the woods. The overnights are so well-supported and magical; I relish that experience with my kids in ways that are so different from our typical summer camping trips.

I started Wild Earth as a mom who thought that campfires required marshmallows. But after the first Wild Earth campfire, I “got” it. It’s an entirely new way to connect with each other and to the Earth.

Believe me, I am writing this Kids’ Almanac column gratefully and firmly on the grid. But getting my crew out in the woods for several incredibly fun-filled hours in nature has been a cornerstone of our educational experience. My Minecrafting/ballet dancing/baseball-and softball-playing/Nerf-blasting/Scouting kids absolutely love Wild Earth. As an enthusiastic mom who is astounded at the growth and confidence that my children have cultivated in the woods and meadows and streams through this awesome program, I feel like it’s the one experience that I can give my children before they grow up that is truly transformative and a lifelong gift: this deep connection with the outdoors.

I invite your family to give Wild Earth a try. In addition to its summer and weekend sessions, it offers the Dawn Song Village series on Tuesdays, for homeschoolers and independent-study students. The Wild Earth folks don’t want cost to be prohibitive to anyone, so definitely inquire about their scholarships.

The Dawn Song Village program takes place in High Falls in Ulster County, along the Shawangunk Ridge. Laura Hersh, Dawn Song Village program coordinator, invites your family to give Wild Earth a try during its Open House session this Tuesday, March 12 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.: “Join us for a spring of embodied nature exploration, new adventures, stories, skills, games, shelter and fire-building together, “ she says. “We have been excitedly meeting during the winter months designing curriculum, planning activities, practicing our skills, dreaming and resting, looking for new locations on the land to explore and getting to know one another as the first day of Dawn Song approaches.”

The cost is $65 for the day, with an option to enroll in the program. For more information about Wild Earth, the Dawn Song Village program or to register, call (618) 559-0907 or visit


Two events about women’s lives

When I heard about the Mountain Avenue house fire in Port Jervis several weeks ago, it caught my attention because I used to live in that area. I naïvely assumed that the woman who died was a casualty of an accidental blaze. Later on, I received a message from the Safe Homes Orange County mailing list that 35-year-old TyRochelle Haughton’s death in that tragedy was the result of domestic violence: Her longtime boyfriend was charged with her murder.

Suddenly I understood the entire event differently. This wasn’t just a house fire: It was a targeted example of violence against a specific woman, a mother who leaves behind four children from 6 to 20 years old. I grieved, wondering how many other house fires that I’ve heard about in my lifetime are examples of domestic violence. I appreciate that information that Safe Homes sent out, and I am grateful for the incredible work that it does to raise awareness about domestic violence, as well as to support families who need help transitioning out of a violent home life.

TyRochelle Haughton’s life was cut short, but we can honor her memory by following our own unique call to make a positive change in the world before we pass the leadership and decision-making on to our children and grandchildren. I see part of our task as educating ourselves about what’s really happening in our communities, celebrating what’s working and showing progress and understanding patterns that demonstrate a need for our continued attention. Here are two events this week that accomplish just that.

International Women’s Day 2013 takes place worldwide on Friday, March 8, and this year’s theme is “The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum.” A large celebration will take place at the Walkway over the Hudson from 2:30 to 5 p.m. The festivities begin at 61 Parker Avenue in Poughkeepsie with music, women’s information and advocacy booths and an opportunity to sign the 15-foot peace banner. Speeches follow at 3:45 p.m., and a solidarity march across the Walkway at 4:15 p.m. closes out the event.

This year’s featured speakers include Manuela Roosevelt, CEO of Springwood Media, LLC, and granddaughter of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt; Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at the Omega Institute and co-founder of its Women’s Leadership Center; (Ria) Macallan Durkin, youth presenter and founder of the Goody Goodies charitable organization; and writer, spoken word performer and “artivist” Poet Gold.

This event is free and open to the public, and both women and men of all ages are encouraged to attend the festivities. The first 500 registrants will receive a free pair of fair-trade gloves. Attendees should park on the Highland side and use the free shuttles to access the Poughkeepsie activities.

For more information or to register, call (845) 454-1700, extension 1000, or visit To learn more about parking access for the Walkway, visit For additional background and history about this global celebration, visit

Mao Zedong’s quote, “Women hold up half the sky,” is one way of saying that women not only matter, but are also essential to every aspect of the world. In their book and film titled Half the Sky, journalists and married couple Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn share information and insights from their research about ending oppression for women and girls around the world. This weekend, you can be a part of a salon discussion group to learn more about this movement.

Tamara Natoli created the event and led the planning team: “I had read about Half the Sky, and I even own the book, but still hadn’t read it. I knew it was about the hope that women have, the resiliency: The subtitle is ‘Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.’ So I decided that instead of just getting angry that I live in a world where rape is excused, accepted or blamed on the victim, I would turn that into something positive: a chance to connect with others, raise awareness of a culture which allows its women and children to be powerless and punished for it and to make sure that men know it is insulting to them if people think rape is inevitable. This salon is not about ‘man-bashing.’ It is about women and men coming together to change an attitude in society that is damaging to us all as humans, regardless of gender.”

The event includes a 40-minute video excerpted from the Half the Sky PBS series and a brief talk about local gender violence by the Washbourne House, a domestic violence shelter in Ulster County, followed by a group discussion. This event is intended for adults and older teens at the parents’ discretion, due to the graphic imagery and mature content.

The salon on Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide takes place on Sunday, March 10 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz. A $10 donation is requested per person, which will support the Washbourne House. The Elting Library is located at 93 Main Street in New Paltz. For more information, visit the Hudson Valley Women group at To learn more about this call for change, visit




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