Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall Belly Dance 2012 in Bryan, OH Session 2

Rita Helena, Directress of Parvana Moonfire Belly Dance

Neo-Classical Belly Dance with Rita Helena:

This class features a multi-level format in a synthesis of earthy Egyptian Beledi, Golden Era elegance, and American innovations, with an aura of Gypsy romance. Rita Helena’s expertise and creative techniques will provide a beginner friendly experience but will challenge even the advanced dancer. The class will include basic alignment, posture, isolations, shimmies, layering, personal styling, fluid transitions, graceful arms, fun dance combinations, and much more. Belly dance is a powerful way to strengthen the core and tone the body, as well as enhancing rhythm, flexibility and beauty. This ancient art form is the ultimate in feminine exercise. Come and embrace the dancer in you!

*All classes will be held at the Bryan Community Center on Buffalo Rd., upstairs. The session will run for 5 weeks on Thursdays from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m., beginning November 8, and the cost is $50. There will be no class on Thanksgiving Day. Please call the Parks and Recreation department at 419-633-6030 to register. A minimum of 8 students must be pre-registered, and pre-payment is highly encouraged to reserve your space. (This class replaces the previously scheduled classes for this session.)

*Students should dress in comfortable clothing that is not too loose, so the instructor can see your movements, and wear a belt or scarf around the hips. You can dance barefoot or in socks or ballet slippers. All classes will include a full body warm up and yoga cool down, for a holistic fitness experience.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Everyday Minuets #4

What a difference the sun makes! The shorter days trigger that "SAD" complex for me, Seasonal Affective Disorder. But when the sun shines on a colorful fall landscape, my soul sings! Yesterday I put bird seed in our backyard feeder and this morning had the pleasure of watching our winged friends excitedly having breakfast. They had to take turns, as only about 4 could eat at a time, and there were regular but short-lived squabbles.

Earlier in the fall I had created a breakfast nook in my kitchen so that I could have a view into my backyard. The breakfast nook was a typical feature of the Craftsman Era. But with my kitchen having been remodeled by a previous owner, I don't know if my house ever had one. I moved a butcher block cart on wheels to the middle of the kitchen, so we now have an island. In its previous corner space under two windows, I placed a small, wooden table and two iron chairs. The first thing Beezy did this morning was to work on her cross stitch sampler at this table. Our library has had ongoing Little House on the Prairie programs all year, and on Tuesday they began this needlework project.

Also this fall Beezy asked if I knew where her nature journal was, which we started in the spring but did not work on much. Luckily I knew its exact location, and she has been drawing in it daily. She has always preferred to sprawl out on the kitchen floor to do her artwork, and this is where she has been working on her journal this morning. She drew a penguin (we recently watched "Mr. Popper's Penguins" on DVD) and a bird nest in a tree. Sometimes she draws things from our yard, but most often from her imagination. Occasionally she will draw from a picture. Her friends have been very interested in this nature journal and have wanted to draw in it too, but Beezy is reluctant to give up too many pages! Her drawing skills have developed dramatically since beginning this self-initiated practice. I usually write the nature journal into the natural science category of my plan book, but it also doubles as art.

Even though Beezy is sick today, she has already begun "school" on her own by doing her cross stitching and nature pictures. We will keep it simple today. Perhaps I will have her read quietly to herself, and I will read from a couple of books to her, letting her off the hook for narration this time. We have a movie to watch called "Red Dog", and maybe there will be something of educational value in this as well!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Facebook Group Management

I am an administrator and member of several Facebook (FB) groups, and just as laying down some policies for managing a blog is helpful to both writers and readers, it seems that solid suggestions for the administration and membership of Facebook groups is similarly needed. My intention is simply that my personal experiences and individual philosophy might be of good use to others; take what you like and leave the rest. Anyone who has been on Facebook for enough time knows that it is a double-edged sword. It's great to be able to find old friends as well as keep in contact with those who may be far away. It can be a tool for any type of outreach, from evangelization to promoting a business. One can find useful information and enjoy a forum for self-expression and the exchange of opinions. Then there is the flip side.

Facebook is, by definition, a social network. And as with any social group, the potential exists for drama, chaos, darkness, and confusion. How do we navigate this road? Sometimes the negativity can be enough to drive a person to throw up her hands and just get the bloody hell off the crazy highway. But then you may miss out on the fun and positive opportunities that the social network affords. I think it is first of all important to differentiate between one's personal space, called the "wall", and a group forum.

Your wall is like a bulletin board in your own home. You can post pictures, personal information, website links, and any type of comment you see fit. People often consider FB to be a specifically public forum, when in fact it has a stronger element of privacy. You can friend or unfriend whoever you want, you can restrict what can be seen or posted to your wall using a variety of settings, and you are free to add or delete your wall content exclusively at your own discretion. No one should feel that he has the "right" to post whatever he wants to the wall of another person and expect that it will remain on display.

A Facebook group, on the other hand, is more like a community bulletin board. An individual may start a group, but the dynamics are entirely different from a singular person's wall. I have found that regardless of one's initial intentions in beginning a group, there will be varying interpretations of what content does or does not belong in the group. Some groups I belong to have been drama free, and I have never felt the need to delete a comment as the administrator. Other groups in which I participate have been filled with everything from minor drama and disagreements to hostility and nearly warlike behavior. Regardless of who started the group, it becomes to an extent community property, and nobody wants to feel compelled to post a "snark alert". Here are some guidelines I have determined which can alleviate much unnecessary confusion:

1. Name your group to reflect your intentions as accurately as possible. You may think that a name such as "Growing Up in Farmtown" is self-explanatory, but believe me, it is not. Using this as an example, we can first of all consider that there may be more than one Farmtown in the USA, so you will want to designate the state (or country) to  which you are referring. And right away there is a problem with the phrase "growing up". Do you mean to point to those who grew up in Farmtown in the past alone, or are you including those currently growing up in Farmtown? The name of your group will not be able to say it all. This leads to the next point.

2. Articulate the description of your group and its purpose as specifically and concisely as possible. A group with a very vague description, or worse, none at all, will open you up to chaos. For example, the "Growing Up in Farmtown" group description might say, "When I was growing up in Farmtown I liked the ice cream parlor." Okay, fine, but that is not a proper delineation of one's purpose. That would more likely be the type of comment a member might leave, and then others would join in with places they fondly recall. A better description would be, "A place to connect with friends from Farmtown, Ohio, both old and new, and to share memories and events of local interest". You might also request the posting of pictures, stories, ads for local businesses, current events, and cultural activities in the area, both past and present. Custom design your description to best reflect the desired personality and content of the group.

3. Understand that there will be varying opinions on what content is appropriate to the group, despite the name and description, so set policies accordingly. For example, you may create a group for Christian Polo Players. You may not, however, anticipate members that are, say, Jehovah's Witnesses, who may consider themselves to be Christian, while you do not. You may want to create a policy of interviewing potential members before adding them to the group, to avoid spam and screen more specifically who you want your members to be.

4. Avoid unnecessary censorship. The nature of your group and its dynamics will depend upon many factors, such as the size of the group and the education, socio-economic background, ethnicity, religion, age, etc... of its members. You should expect conflicting opinions and ideas about what is appropriate to share. As long as comments are generally relevant to the group and are polite and respectful, then allow conversations to flow as they will. It is fine for an administrator to politely interject a concern or to re-establish his intentions for the group. That is where having a solid description reference is vital.

5. As a group member or administrator, respect diversity and organic growth. For example, those who grew up in Farmtown in the 60s most likely had a much different experience than those growing up in the 90s. Reflecting on the past will undoubtedly invite comparisons to the present. Some people will have only rosy memories to share, while others will want to complain. National politics may not be relevant at all, while local politics certainly might. Discretion should definitely be used regarding topic choices. But if a woman just opened a bakery in Farmtown, for example, and she wants to invite the community, it would be rude for another member to insert that they only want to hear about the "good old days". The more the administrators stay neutral and objective, the better for a democratic, welcoming, inclusive group, one where members feel safe to visit and be themselves.

6. Always avoid personal attacks. You may want to vent about your next door neighbor's annoying dog, but doing so by naming names and calling him a no-good-so-and-so would not be appropriate in the Farmtown group or any group. On the other hand, posting the facts about local police corruption might be, as it could affect the community as a whole. Likewise, the Christian Polo Players should not condemn a particular church's teachings or call one of their players a dirty cheater, but lively discussions about theology should be expected to occur. If you do find that a comment must be removed, have the courtesy to notify that member before doing so, and explain your reasons. And better yet, first allow him the opportunity to defend his choice as relevant and appropriate.

7. Update your group's name, policies, and description as needed. Understand that the group will evolve and change over time. If it goes in a direction quite unlike your original intentions, re-evaluate what you want the group to be and and make the pertinent alterations. Any social group is always a work in progress.

Finally, keep in mind always that there are real, living human beings communicating online. There is no reason that peace and goodwill should not be extended to all. Give the commenter the benefit of the doubt. It is impossible to get a completely accurate feeling of the intentions of someone whose voice you cannot hear and whose facial expressions and body language you cannot see. Err on the side of charity. Isn't there enough bloodshed in the world? If you must fight, fight the good fight, and keep it clean!