CPOA area representatives to host community picnics today

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From 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, the Chautauqua Property Owners Association encourages everyone to join their neighbors by attending the picnic being hosted in their respective area. The 10 areas within the Institution are hosting eight separate picnics that will include food, conversation and entertainment.

“Each picnic is different based on the spirit of the area and what the representative has organized,” said Carrie Zachry, Area 10 representative and events committee chair for the CPOA.

The combined picnic for Areas 5 and 6 will feature a live local band and the combined picnic for Areas 1 and 2 will host Young Artists from the Chautauqua Opera Company.

The CPOA and the area representatives are interested in meeting the residents in their areas and hearing their concerns and interests in the community. The area picnics have been hosted by the CPOA for the last 20 years and the current area representatives are excited to continue the tradition.

“The purpose of these picnics is to build community and provide a time for neighbors to gather, visit and get to know their area representatives,” Zachry said.

Fliers were distributed over the last week to describe what kind of food the visitors should bring based on which picnic will be hosted in their area. The picnics, however, are not just for homeowners or renters — visitors to the grounds are welcome to stop in as well.

Area 6 Representative Suzanne Shull encouraged everyone to become involved in the picnic.

“It’s a great way to connect with your neighbors, begin to recognize each other and foster a sense of community,” she said.

Old First Night Run/ Walk is tradition for the Dawson women

Karen Dawson, Laura Dawson and Jennifer Bradham, a family preparing for the Old First Night Run/Walk, pose in front of Sports Club, Friday, July 6, 2018. BRIAN HAYES/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The Old First Night Run/Walk is not new to Laura Dawson and her two daughters, Karen Dawson and Jennifer Bradham, who have ran in almost every single one.

Three weeks after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, Laura Dawson arrived at the Institution. While receiving radiation treatments in Erie, Pennsylvania, she continued to run every morning and play tennis daily.

“Chautauqua is in my blood,” Laura Dawson said. “I’m just happy to be running after fighting breast cancer.”

Laura Dawson has ran in almost every Old First Night Run/Walk since it started in 1976, only missing one due to an injury.

She was working as an aerobic instructor when she heard about the first Old First Night Run/Walk, and knew immediately that she would run in the events forever. Laura Dawson will be running this year’s race, which begins at 8 a.m. on Aug. 4 at Sports Club.

“I love the generations that are involved in the race,” Laura Dawson said. “To run with other Chautauquans is kind of emotional for me.”

Running is a routine for the family, and they do not see that stopping anytime soon. With Laura Dawson in Pittsburgh and her daughters living in Washington, D.C., running is what keeps them connected.

“She has always run,” Karen Dawson said of her mother. “I remember her waking up early to run the big loop before dropping us off at Club.”

Bradham remembers first running with her mother and trying to keep up at the age of 5, but only being able to get halfway around the grounds.

Laura’s daughters have been running in Old First Night Run/Walk since they were 7 and 10 years old. Now, at 25 and 28, they are missing this year’s race for the first time in awhile.

“We will definitely be wearing our shirts and running the distance at home,” Karen Dawson said. “We will be cheering everyone on from afar.”

When Jennifer Bradham ran her first marathon, Laura Dawson ran the last two miles with her to finish the race.

“I love running with my girls,” Laura Dawson said.

Karen Dawson and Jennifer Bradham have already started training to run in the Oct. 28 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., for the National Pancreas Foundation. This marathon will be the first the sisters have ran together.

“We are really excited for the marathon, and this is our first time running for a cause,” Bradham said. “When you’re on mile 20 and you have to keep going, it’s nice to think, ‘I’m doing this for a good cause.’ ”

Declaration of American Independence story to be told by Williamsburg’s Bill Barker as Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Jefferson is coming to town.

More precisely: the model for the Jefferson statues in the state of Virginia’s capitol building and the library at West Point, and for Jefferson’s image
in videos shown at Monticello and the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., is returning to Chautauqua.

The reincarnation of Jefferson seen in myriad magazines and in television programs is back to perform. During recent seasons, he has come on his own (keeping to himself at the Athenaeum Hotel and elsewhere) because “Chautauqua is a national treasure” and “the last bastion of the Jeffersonian ideal,” where people converse about civil liberties and freedom of expression.

Bill Barker

At 2 p.m. Saturday, July 14, in the Hall of Philosophy, as part of the Chautauqua Women’s Club’s Contemporary Issues Forum, professional interpreter Bill Barker will morph into Colonial Williamsburg’s most important character and one of America’s greatest political philosophers. He will tell “The Story of the Declaration of American Independence” from Jefferson’s point of view.

Year-round in Colonial Williamsburg, where historical authenticity and theater are combined to educate, entertain and expand the minds of present-day visitors, famous and obscure Virginians of the 17th and 18th centuries come to life.

In settings that engage all of one’s senses, Barker and other character-interpreters wear Colonial garb and discuss everyday challenges and weighty events, including the transformative ideas, experiments, processes and documents that shaped American independence and nation-building.

“That the future may learn from the past,” is the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s motto.

Barker not only resembles the third president of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia — he has the same height, weight and general appearance — but he also has the academic background and theatrical experience to credibly assume Jefferson’s persona.

“I was a history major, but I couldn’t stay off the stage,” Barker said.

After graduating from Villanova University, Barker said he became a professional actor, theater director and producer in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. For 11 years, he served as the artistic director of the world’s oldest continually producing Gilbert and Sullivan troupe, Philadelphia’s Savoy Opera Company.

“A friend portrayed — moonlighted — as William Penn in ‘Pennsylvania History,’” Barker said. “He came up to me and said, ‘Did anyone tell you that you look like Thomas Jefferson?’ ”

As it turned out, his Penn friend knew of photo opportunities at Independence Hall. He suggested Barker go there and told him that the set was real, not paper mache, so he needed to learn about Jefferson.

“He was right,” Barker said. “You have to know about Jefferson.”

During the past 37 years — the first 12 at Independence Hall, the next 25 and counting at Colonial Williamsburg — Barker has demonstrated his keen knowledge of Jefferson day in and day out, including Jefferson’s Southern accent, mannerisms, intellect, beliefs and numerous accomplishments.

“So much of what happened in Philadelphia had happened in Williamsburg,” he said.

Barker said that “every single day” he performs Jefferson.

“I’ve been all over the country, including to Alaska, and to England, France and Italy,” he said. “I have walked where he walked.”

Among the many venues in which Barker has performed are the Palace of Versailles, National Museum of the Legion of Honor in France and the White House. He said that while traveling in the United States, he feels “the political whims across the country.”

“I grew up in Philadelphia. It’s a pretty tolerant city,” Barker said. “This has given me an extraordinary sense of what Thomas Jefferson experienced. I find him more and more relevant, particularly over these last years, especially with the election of an African-American president.”

Barker said that six years before he wrote the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson unsuccessfully defended a slave, Sam Howell, pro bono in the 1770 Virginia case, Howell v. Netherland.

“(Jefferson) said that everyone is born free,” Barker said. “He is in nature free. It is the laws of man that have shackled him. … In his summation statement … he said slavery is not legal in the United States because the contract was drawn up in Africa. This was an extraordinary case.”

Seventy-one years later in the case United States v. Schooner Amistad — which the 1997 film “Amistad” made famous — former President John Quincy Adams successfully used Jefferson’s argument before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of a group of West Africans abducted from Sierra Leone by Portuguese slave hunters and shipped to Cuba.

“John Quincy Adams knew Jefferson,” Barker said. “He turned Massachusetts to Jefferson and in 1824 won the presidency. … He was in the House of Representatives in the 1840s when Abraham Lincoln was there. Lincoln’s hero, Henry Clay, read law when Jefferson did. Wonderful germs pass from generation to generation.”

Having reenacted Jefferson in communities that are part of the Chautauqua Trail, Barker said that he first came to Chautauqua Institution in 2008.

“Although other Chautauquas welcomed costumed presenters, that was the thing that the real Chautauqua did not do,” he said.

According to Barker, former Chautauqua Director of Religion Joan Brown Campbell was drawn to the conversations between nation-builders at Colonial Williamsburg and the differences of opinion expressed at the time — especially by women and African-Americans. She and former Colonial Williamsburg Foundation President and CEO Colin Campbell (no relation) “had to convince the powers that be that historical enactment was a viable way of presenting history,” Barker said.

During their first visit, Barker said, he and Colin Campbell were sitting on the front porch of the Hagen-Wensley House, “and he told me, ‘It’s all up to you.’ ”

All went well, and for several years, Chautauqua partnered with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

In August 2011, Barker portrayed Jefferson in the Hall of Philosophy in “Storm on the Horizon” during the afternoon and in the Amphitheater in “A Wolf by the Ear” during the evening. Among many other things, he said then that power should be in the hands of people at all levels of government, and that bills created and passed to keep a particular party in power,such as the four Alien and Sedition Acts, are acts rather than laws.

In July 2013, Barker performed as a young Jefferson in the Amphitheater in the morning and as an older Jefferson in the Hall of Philosophy during the afternoon interfaith lecture, where he talked about the evolution of the “pursuit of happiness” during his lifetime.

There he spoke about liberty and “equal and exact justice,” the main principles for which Jefferson stood. Jefferson believed that only an educated citizen body could practice them together.

“I hope that someday we might see every child in our nation, poor as well as wealthy, female as well as male, have an opportunity to attend school,” said Barker as Jefferson in 2013.

Having hosted a dialogue for Egyptians exploring options for democracy in 2013, members of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, including Barker as Jefferson, opened Chautauqua’s week on “Emerging Citizenship: The Egyptian Experience” in July 2014. The reenactments performed in the Amphi- theater focused on public virtue (the Constitution’s “checks and balances” system of three branches of government), public education (the lifeblood of democratic institutions) and individual liberty.

Barker said that there were four drafts of the Constitution and thinks the story is fascinating.

“Jefferson said that there is nothing new or original in the Declaration of Independence. He was one of five working on it,” Barker said. “He took up the pen.”

In addition, Barker said that he will provide a framework that Chautauquans can use to discuss current events.

Barker will be the special guest of honor at the Women’s Club’s Bastille Dinner Celebration under the tent from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at the House. Jefferson’s favorite wine, Barton & Guestier, will be featured. He was the first person to import French wine to America and was one of the country’s first “foodies.”

Diversity, inclusion plan to begin with Cole’s lecture

Photograph by Franko KhouryNational Museum of African ArtSmith

Johnnetta Betsch Cole can recall one of the earliest pieces of advice she received growing up as an African-American in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I grew up being told by my parents, and I think this was fairly common for my era, that I had to be twice as good to get half as far as individuals who are white,” she said. “So my life began with a confrontation with a system that intuitively I knew was wrong.”

Despite the oppression she faced at a young age, Cole pushed back hard and received early college admission to Fisk University at age 15. From there, she was swept into the world of academia, eventually serving as the president of Spelman College and Bennett College and, most recently, as director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art.

At 12:30 p.m. Saturday, July 14, in the Hall of Philosophy, Cole will speak at Chautauqua as a principal consultant from the Cook Ross consulting firm. Her talk will launch the diversity and inclusion aspect of the Institution’s new strategic plan.

“As someone who absolutely believes that the arts are a necessity in our lives and that we must make sure that the arts are accessible to all of us, I can’t wait to get to Chautauqua,” she said.

Cole has spent much of her life studying diversity and inclusion. She has taught women’s studies, anthropology and African-American studies at several universities, and was the first African- American to serve as chair of the board of United Way of America.

As someone who has fought for both women’s and African-American rights, Cole believes diversity and inclusion alone are not enough to create change.

“I try not to use diversity and inclusion without also talking about equity and accessibility,” she said. “Equity is making sure that everybody gets the same invitation, and accessibility is making sure that everyone who comes to this party has their needs accommodated. We have workplaces that have managed to have people from diverse communities working there, but that doesn’t mean that everyone feels welcomed and, indeed, included.”

Rather than running from issues of exclusion and racism, Cole searched for answers. After studying anthropology, she realized that some gender and racial tensions stem from the inherent desire to “be with people who look like us and who think in the same way that we do.” Familiar traits and tendencies produce a sense of comfort and belonging, she said.

However, she will explain to Chautauquans that there is also a learned behavior that keeps communities divided.

“I am fully aware that while there are some reasons why we want to be with people who look like us, much of this is also learned,” she said. “We learn to not just want to be with folk like us, but to be against other people.”

It is this type of learned discrimination, Cole said, that is toxic and often ignored.

“This divisiveness that is so much a part of our country is tearing us apart,” she said. “It is divisiveness based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and class, but is also based on our political views. We have got to learn how to react, interact and respect across lines of difference.”

Though this behavior is embedded in cultures worldwide, Cole sees a way to begin dismantling the hatred, which she will sharewith Chautauqua. Much ofthis behavior stems from “unchecked bias,” which she said creates systematic oppression.

“Just like this notion of belonging has both an evolutionary and a learned aspect to it, so is the case with our biases,” she said. “Our biases protect us, and some of them are harmless. But when our biases are not mitigated against, they’re not understood, they can then form the basis of systems of inequality.”

Racial and gender intolerance, she said, can be avoided with unconscious bias training; this training then creates a community conducive to diversity and inclusiveness. In her own life, Cole has worked to understand her own bias as well as the biases of those who are intolerant.

“Not only over time did I continue to have this resistance and activism against racial and gender inequality, I began to intellectually try and understand it,” she said. “… I do feel fortunate, that both on a personal level and professionally, I have faced that there is discrimination in our nation and our world.”

Music students to present Saturday NFMC concert


This Saturday, July 14, and Sunday, July 15, Chautauqua will host the National Federation of Music Clubs’ Northeast Region Federation Weekend.

NFMC is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to music education and the promotion of creative and performing arts in the United States, according to Jeannine Morris, NFMC vice president of the Northeast Region.

The 12 states in the Northeast Region will be celebrating their 74th Federation Weekend at Chautauqua with a student recital at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at McKnight Hall. The performers are students in Chautauqua’s School of Music who have received scholarships from four states in NFMC’s Northeast Region, from NFMC and from the Chautauqua Foundation.

Sean Fahy, a voice student who recently graduated from Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, said he wants people to keep attending and keep going to see performances.

“Sometimes that’s the only reason that we still have jobs,” Fahy said, “because there are a handful of people out there that do care for art in general so much, and see how valuable it is to society.”

Luke Wardell, who is going to play the second movement of Béla Bartók’s Viola Concerto for the recital, said “it’s amazing that (Chautauqua has) so much support for the students here.”

“I think a lot of people would be more hesitant or unable come to Chautauqua without these scholarships,” Wardell said, “and I think it’s very important and very appreciated.”

Wyatt Beekman, an oboist in the Music School Festival Orchestra, said that music festivals cost a significant amount of money. Beekman said he thinks the price “diminishes the opportunity” or “the desire to” attend.

Without the support of NFMC, students like Beekman may not have had the opportunity to come to Chautauqua for the summer.

Beekman said he is growing as an artist by being part of the MSFO and working with other competitive musicians.

“It is an intense program,” Beekman said. “You can’t autopilot here. You have to work very hard.”

In the NFMC recital, Beekman will be performing Solo for Oboe and Piano by Émile Paladilhe, a French Romantic composer, while Fahy will be singing the first four songs from the Dichterliebe by Robert Schumann.

“(Chautauqua) is a great place to foster musicality, artistry and also just grow as a person,” Fahy said, “to meet everyone that’s here and to get to know their story, and be able to sympathize with them, and also just talk about what you are passionate about with them.”

Fahy also said “it’s not always that easy” making a career out of singing art songs, but he is hopeful. He said he wants to keep doing what he loves.

“Because honestly, you are going to find people who love it just as much as you do, and you will impact them in the way that you want to impact people,” Fahy said.

Fahy said he is a firm believer that art has a “hand in every pot.”

“No matter what you can do … through art, through music, make an impact. It will affect somebody,” Fahy said, “whether it’s the person in the third row that is just enjoying the performance, or that art gallery owner that sees a piece of art that completely changes their concept of what art is and even what life is.”

Tradition continues with fundraiser Great American Picnic, creating ‘fun for whole family’


The Great American Picnic festivities and fundraiser return this year with the alliterative promise of food, face-painting, fortune-telling and fun.

The annual event will be held from noon to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15, on the front lawn outside the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. Madam Divita will provide fortunes and the Thursday Morning Brass band will bring the tunes.

The event is the Alumni Association of the CLSC’s largest fundraiser. Twenty percent of the proceeds go toward funding scholarships for Chautauqua County high school students. This year, the scholarship program provided for eight students to live with a host family and experience Chautauqua for a week.

“That is the element of the day that makes it so meaningful,” said Richard Karslake, president of the Alumni Association of the CLSC.

There will also be a silent auction filled with “fun and unusual” treasures donated to the cause by Chautauqua community members, according to Caroline Bissell and Janet Wallace, silent auction co-chairs.

Items for the auction include a sandstone Stetson hat, collectible Bird, Tree & Garden Club plates and vintage border paper of Chautauqua buildings. There will also be antique CLSC “Chautauqua Readers” and historic Roundtable magazines dating back to the 19th century.

Out-of-print wooden collectibles of Chautauqua’s prominent buildings from the gallery Cat’s Meow will also be auctioned.

One more piece de resistance is a framed watercolor landscape of the historic ship, The Sea Lion, on Chautauqua Lake.

Local businesses have also made donations, and Bissell said she and Wallace are “grateful to the community for the unique and generous donations.”

Keeping with tradition, the food offered at the picnic will be classic American fare, including hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad and a bake sale. The event will happen rain or shine.

Karslake said the Great American Picnic is one of his favorite days of the season because it is for the “whole family to share” and “a great community atmosphere.”

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns would agree: he included footage from the event in a short film he created for Chautauqua Institution, capturing the vibrant community atmosphere.

“I look forward to it because it is such a fabulous family event and involves people across all ages,” said Cate Whitcomb, Alumni Association of the CLSC executive secretary. “The kids love the games and the face painting, and the grown-ups love the food, the band and just plain relaxing on Sunday afternoon.”

‘Here’s Lucy!’ Olson to discuss Ball’s 1956 Jamestown visit for Heritage Lecture

Jamestown Post-Journal, Feb. 7, 1956.

The photograph on the front page of the Jamestown Post-Journal for Feb. 7, 1956, shows a beautiful girl in a tiara being kissed by Desi Arnaz, the husband of Lucille Ball, possibly the biggest star of the time, under a banner headline reading: “Lucy and Desi take city by storm.”

The girl in the picture is Janice Swanson, then 17.

More than 14,000 people voted her Miss Jamestown to officially welcome the Hollywood couple back to Ball’s hometown.

“I think this about the greatest thing to ever happen to Jamestown,” she told the Post-Journal.

Swanson’s son, Chris Olsen, remembers seeing the image in a scrapbook as he was growing up. Over the last few years, he has gathered hundreds of other photos from the whirlwind 48 hours that Ball and Arnaz spent in Chautauqua County into a coffee table book that was published this spring.

At 3:30 p.m., Friday, July 13, in the Hall of Philosophy, Olsen will talk about the 1956 visit in a presentation called “Lucy Comes Home: The Story of Lucille Ball in Chautauqua,” as part of the Oliver Archives Heritage Lecture Series. He will be joined by Greg Peterson of the Robert H. Jackson Center.

One of the most beloved stars in the history of American show business and the first woman ever to run a major Hollywood studio, Ball was born in Jamestown on Aug. 6, 1911, and grew up in the nearby town of Celoron.

She worked as a model and actress, performing in plays and revues in Jamestown and at Chautauqua Institution. She studied acting in New York and worked as a chorus girl and model before moving to Los Angeles, where she starred in B movies and shorts alongside such popular stars as Eddie Cantor, the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers.

She honed her comedic chops in these and scores of other movies before landing a starring role as a ditzy housewife on the radio show, “My Favorite Husband.” She and her husband, the Cuban bandleader Arnaz, whom she married in 1940, took a version of the show on the road as a vaudeville act before turning it into a self-produced television show called “I Love Lucy,” which debuted on CBS in 1951. The show was a huge success. It made Ball an international star and led to two hit movies, “The Long, Long Trailer” in 1954 and “Forever, Darling” in 1956.

It was “Forever, Darling,” which premiered at Dipson’s Palace Theatre in Jamestown, that Ball and Arnaz were promoting in early 1956, the height of her stardom. To promote the movie, which their company, Desilu, produced, the duo embarked on a 17-day tour by train that included stops in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Dallas. But it was Jamestown that was the star of the tour.

More than 20,000 fans greeted Ball and Arnaz, who arrived by helicopter from Buffalo in a field behind Jamestown High School. The couple was given flowers and a key to the city, then visited a hospital, Ball’s childhood home and The Little Theatre, where Ball first began acting as a teenager. The visit ended with a gala and the world premiere of the movie.

“My mom went everywhere with them (in Jamestown),” Olsen said, adding that Swanson now lives in Southern California.

Photo by Charlotte Brooks courtesy of Look Magazine and The Library of Congress.

“Lucy Comes Home” began as a feature documentary about three years ago, said Olsen, a lawyer and film producer in Los Angeles who grew up in Jamestown and who vacations with his family each summer at Chautauqua Institution. The documentary is still in production, he said, but rounding up the photos led him to create the book first.

“It was almost like a treasure hunt,” Olsen said. “I found about 12 to 15 photos from the event, then kept finding more at the Post-Journal, the Fenton History Center and the Library of Congress. Each new photo kept propelling me forward. As I looked at them, I thought ‘This story really tells itself,’ so I went ahead with the book.”

Charlotte Brooks, a photographer for Look magazine, was along for the entire tour that February.

“Lucy and Desi loved each very much,” Olsen said. “You can see in the photographs how deeply they cared for each other. At the gala, there were so many people that nobody could dance, and Lucy and Desi were up on tables across the room from each other, mouthing, ‘Are you OK?’ ”

Although they divorced in 1960 and each married other people, Ball and Arnaz remained close for the rest of their lives, with Arnaz famously saying “ ‘I Love Lucy’ was never just a title,” Olsen said.

Brooks’ photo on the book’s cover shows a glowing Ball looking out the car window at her fans in downtown Jamestown.

“She had only been in town about 20 minutes,” Olsen said. “She was the biggest star in the galaxy, but she was so innocent. You can see the anticipation and awe in her face.”

“Later, she’s pictured on stage in a formal gown, but with her shoes off, among her family and friends,” he said. “She’s at home. Relaxed. You can see that the people of Chautauqua County love her, and that she loves them.”

It was the last time Ball was in Jamestown before her death in 1989, Olsen said. She is buried there in Lake View Cemetery.

Hoping to secure Chautauqua for years to come, Cohens join Daugherty Society


People from every corner of the globe visit Chautauqua Institution to enrich their lives through programs that focus on education, recreation, religion and the arts. Some Chautauquans visit the Institution to explore a particular topic while others, like Larry and Luann Cohen, discover interests during their stay.

“Since we’ve been coming here, we’ve fallen in love with ballet,” Luann Cohen said. “We were never exposed to ballet, so when we started coming here and seeing the Charlotte Ballet, we really fell in love with it.”

The Cohens are from San Antonio, Texas, and have been coming to the Institution for 20 years. After hearing about Chautauqua from a friend, they decided to visit for a week, which then turned into two weeks. Over the years, they find themselves dedicating more time to Chautauqua. The couple bought a house seven years ago and have stayed for the whole season ever since, bringing friends and family with them to submerge in the “inquiring” community.

In just two decades, the first-generation Chautauquans have become rooted in the community. The Cohens hope to see the Institution continue into the future, and for that reason they decided to join the Eleanor B. Daugherty Society. Individuals in the society “have included Chautauqua Foundation in their will or other estate plans” to ensure Chautauqua’s future, according to the Daugherty Society website.

Daugherty was a music teacher from Buffalo, New York, who made a significant bequest to the Institution. To honor her legacy, the society was created in her name to honor the many other Chautauquans who have made their own bequests or planned gifts.

“I gave because I thought it was the right thing to do,” Larry Cohen said. “We need to support this place where we spend almost a fourth of our year now so that it will be here for my children and grandchildren.”

Luann Cohen reiterated the desire to continue the Chautauqua experience for generations to come, noting the changing dynamics of the Institution in the 21st century and stressing the importance of community involvement.

“When you’re here just for one week, you’re rushing from lecture to class to evening performance,” she said, reflecting on her initial introduction to Chautauqua and how she and her husband have deepened their involvement in recent years.

The couple recognize the significant role donations play in Chautauqua’s survival. In addition to contributing a percentage of their will to the Chautauqua Foundation through their commitment as members of the Daugherty Society, the couple are both members of the Bestor Society, made up of Chautauquans who donate a minimum of $3,500 a year to the annual Chautauqua Fund.

For the 2018 season, the Cohens are looking forward to delving into all of Chautauqua’s programs that are made possible by donors of all levels.

“I used to tell my kids, ‘You have to go to all the parties because you don’t know which ones are going to be good.’ I think that’s the way Chautauqua is,” Luann Cohen said. “You have to go to all the lectures because you never know when you’re going to be blown away.”

For information on how you can become a member of the Eleanor B. Daugherty Society or help advance Chautauqua’s mission, please contact Dusty Nelson, director of gift planning, at 716-357-6409 or

BTG: Rappole’s continued leadership makes House, Garden Tour special


Residents and visitors of Chautauqua often speak of the impact the community has on their lives. They are left with a desire to return as often as possible, and Rosemary Rappole leading her third consecutive House and Garden Tour today is solid evidence of this.

Born Jan. 12, 1949, to A.W. Rappole and Francesca Goodell Rappole, Rappole, chair of the tour for Bird, Tree & Garden Club, grew up in Jamestown but spent virtually every summer at the Institution after sixth grade, according to her twin brother, Robert Rappole.

“It was terrific being able to be on the grounds as kids, a pretty wonderful thing, needless to say,” he said. “We went to Club, did all those things. The grounds were incredibly different back then, a different climate to be quite honest, pretty awesome.”

Rappole’s father returned from World War II, where he served as a flight surgeon for the Army Air Core in the Pacific. Her parents joined the Sierra Club while living in California before coming to Jamestown, with rumors circulating of “radicals” coming back from the West Coast, her brother remembered with a laugh.

Growing up, Robert Rappole said there were no emergency rooms nearby, but they always waited for their father to come home before eating dinner, sometimes late into the night. Their mother was involved with organizations around the area and Institution.

A photo from 1973 shows Rosemary Rappole, bottom right, then a Children’s School instructor, with six students playing checkers in the schoolyard. Chautauqua Archives photo by Gordon Mahan.

“People would say ‘You’re mother didn’t work,’ ” Robert Rappole said. “ ‘You’re out of your mind,’ I’d tell them. She had committee meetings and such every night. And that definitely influenced Rosemary because she was involved in all that, too, all the time.”

Rappole’s mother is the longest-serving president of BTG to this day. She served as BTG’s chaplain from 1963 to 1970 before being elected BTG president in 1970.

After being elected, she served every year but two until 1991, heading countless projects and pressuring the Institution to take a stronger approach in protecting Chautauqua’s natural environment.

She was honored by BTG in 1998 with the Francesca Rappole Night Garden between Smith Wilkes Hall and the Baptist Home. Her support of the seven-year study of brown bats by the Institution was honored with a large bat sculpture by artist Larry Griffis.

Robert Rappole said his “twin connection” with his sister was always there. He said that Rosemary had almost failed kindergarten because he had always tied her shoes for her. The night before they were tested on shoe-tying in school, Robert Rappole said he had to give his sister a crash course.

“We do all the things you hear twins do,” Robert Rappole said. “We won’t have spoken for months, then I’ll be calling her to say hello, and the line’s busy because we’re both calling at the same time.”

After high school, Rappole went to Elmira College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1971 before earning her master’s in journalism at Goddard College in 1975. Rappole would then return to California where she kicked off a 30-year firefighting career, studying at California Fire Academy.

Working in Tiburon, California, Rappole would go on to become California’s first woman career fire chief in 1993, according to the Napa Valley Register. She would leave her position in 2002 to be closer to her family.

“In the last two years, I have been feeling an increasing pull to go home,” she told the Napa Valley Register. “It is the success of my staff that releases me, that makes me feel I can go and am not leaving a sinking ship. Transition time is now.”

Since returning to the area, Rappole has served as resource officer for the Chautauqua Volunteer Fire Department since 2006. She became the BTG chair of the House and Garden Tour in 2014.

“Her family home has been on the house tour at least 15 times,” said BTG President Angela James. “She’s got it in her blood. There’s no escaping it, and I don’t think she’d want to.”

James said Rappole’s career background makes her a perfect fit for such an important position. James said she’s added a different element to the tour each year, inviting the Chautauqua Opera Company in 2016, and bringing the tour back over Thunder Bridge this year with the inclusion of private gardens and the Arboretum.

“She’s motivated over 300 volunteers for this day, with over 1,200 people coming from off the grounds,” James said. “She doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer but never gets into a shouting match. She has a real measured approach, and when you’re dealing with so many people, you need that.”

Susy Warren, communications chair for BTG and the club’s newest board member, said even though she’s just getting to know Rappole, she’s amazed at her expertise of the grounds.

“Her mother was chair of who knows how many house tours,” Warren said. “I’m amazed at how well she knows all the houses. It’s like she’s hung out in every single one.”

Warren said Rappole’s approach makes it tough to let her down because of how much she gives of herself. Warren said Rappole doesn’t do any of her work in a big, public way. She said that Rappole is very much a “servant leader,” making her a great team-builder as well as working with the everyone preparing for House and Garden Tour.

“(The volunteers) do whatever she needs,” Warren said. “I think that’s her legacy, taking it all to the next level.”

Committee aims to preserve Miller Edison Cottage, garden


When Akron native, inventor and co-founder of Chautauqua Institution Lewis Miller set out to build a cottage for himself on the grounds in 1874, he wanted to construct a residence that was stylish and charming; one that would not only be a good fit for him and his family to spend their summers in, but also capable of entertaining prestigious guests who visited the Institution.

Over the next 140 years, the cottage remained in the Miller family, hosting prominent members of American society such as President Ulysses S. Grant, former President Rutherford B. Hayes, political diplomats, musicians, and artists. Miller’s daughter, Mina Miller Edison, and her husband, Thomas Edison, purchased the cottage in 1920 and hired “pioneer landscape architect” Ellen Biddle Shipman to design the gardens at the cottage.

Almost a century and a half later, the cottage was put up for sale on the private market in 2016. Longtime Chautauquan and philanthropist Tom Hagen saw the importance and value of this National Historic Landmark. Hagen decided to donate funds for the Chautauqua Foundation to purchase and ultimately transfer ownership of the cottage to Chautauqua Institution.

Now, foundation board vice chair Karen Goodell and Institution trustee Bob Jeffrey are co-chairing the Miller Edison Cottage and Garden Committee to ensure its preservation for the Chautauqua community.

The committee is hosting a benefit event on July 19 and invites Chautauquans to purchase tickets to attend a special evening in Miller Park, including a guided tour of the cottage and garden, impersonators of historic figures, live music, heavy hors d’oeuvres, an open bar and opportunities to learn more about the projects and efforts to restore the garden and cottage.

“(The cottage) is one of three houses that the Miller-Edison family occupied that are still in original condition,” Jeffrey said. “They look exactly the same as they did, down to the books on the wall, as the day that the Edisons left.”

Jeffrey and Goodell have experience in multiple efforts that aim to restore and preserve pieces of architecture at Chautauqua Institution. Jeffrey is chair of the Architectural Review Board, which reviews “architecture-related issues that affect structures and open spaces throughout the Chautauqua grounds.” Goodell was instrumental in the restoration and repurposing of buildings such as Bratton Theater during her time as chair of the Renewal Campaign.

“I think Miller Edison Cottage is different than (previous projects) because it was a home, and it’s going to remain a home,” Goodell said.

The Institution hopes to utilize the space for staff housing, rather than using the cottage for something different than originally intended in its construction.

In the spirit of maintaining the cottage’s original condition and restoring the garden, Jeffrey, Goodell and members of the committee are fundraising for three different objectives. First, there are necessary capital improvements of the cottage to stabilize it for future use. This is a fragile aspect of the project because the Institution is not seeking to alter its historical value, according to Jeffrey.

“This house, to me, embodies everyone’s presence at Chautauqua,” Jeffrey said. “Everyone should feel ownership of that house to make sure that it stays and is protected for the future.”

The cottage will be restored based on consultation from preservation architect and partner Jeff Kidder from Kidder Wachter Architecture & Design, with the goal of restoring it in a historically correct manner. Some of the needed improvements include refinishing floors, repairing ceilings, restoring windows and other features that will make the space safe and comfortable to stay in. For this aspect of the project, approximately $1,000 of the $97,000 goal has been raised. Thanks to a prior matching gift from Hagen and the generous community response, an endowment for future maintenance has already been raised for the cottage.

In addition, the committee is raising money to restore the garden in a form consistent with a Shipman-designed garden and endow it for future preservation and maintenance.

The majority of funds raised will go toward supporting and endowing the garden. For garden support to fund capital construction costs, $77,000 of the $215,000 goal has been raised.

These projects include reinvigorating a diversity of perennials, shrubs and trees, as well as restoring pathways, a stone terrace, small pool and fountain. Chautauqua’s Supervisor of Gardens and Landscaping Betsy Burgeson has detailed plans for reinvigorating the garden, based on site analysis and recommendations from Shipman expert Patricia O’Donnell.

Once the garden is restored, its endowment will ensure future maintenance and preservation for years to come. Currently, $110,000 of the $675,000 goal has been raised.

All the fundraising efforts are part of the same initiative to guarantee the cottage and gardens stand as “architectural testaments” to the Chautauqua community. Goodell sees this as a unique opportunity for all Chautauquans to come together and maintain the Institution’s National Historic Landmark.

Additionally, the committee is hosting a free, public event for Chautauquans of all ages at 4:30 p.m. on July 20 in Miller Park. This educational program will highlight the history of the Miller Cottage.

“It is now our community’s responsibility to fund the remaining dollars needed to make sure that it remains as it once was,” Goodell said.

Visit to learn more about these projects, to make a gift or pledge of support, or to purchase tickets to attend the July 19 benefit event in Miller Park. Must be 21 years of age or older to attend. Tickets are $150 per person, with 50 percent of the cost being a charitable contribution. Tickets will not be sold at the event; please purchase in advance no later than July 18. Contact or 716-357-6243 with questions.

Institution honors Dalai Lama with birthday celebration


  • Tibetan monk Khenpo Monlam visits from Rochester, Ny., to celebrate the Dalai Lama's 83rd birthday with Chautauquans on Sunday, July 8, 2018. ABIGAIL DOLLINS/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

More than 50 people gathered at the Institution to celebrate the birthday of a man they have never met but are inspired by every day: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama is a prominent spiritual master, monk, Nobel laureate and leader of the Tibetan people. The celebration, in honor of his 83rd birthday, began at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, July 8, at the Main Gate with a drummed walk to Smith Wilkes Hall. From there, the program consisted of a traditional Tibetan dance performed by students from Snow Lion Dharma Work, a speech on “Compassion in the 21st Century” by Tibetan Lama Khenpo Monlam, a performance by Tenzin Younden from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, as well as a sampling of Tibetan food and music.

The celebration was created and organized by Mateo Mortellaro, president of Snow Lion Dharma Work, a student-led group comprised of Buddhists and non-Buddhists who work to spread the teachings of the Buddha with the world.

“As a Tibetan Buddhist, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is one of the most important aspects of our religion,” Mortellaro said. “Every year, our family and dharma centers around the world all do some kind of celebration for the Dalai Lama’s birthday, so it was something I always wanted to do.”

Mortellaro’s event was unique as the first-ever birthday commemoration for the Dalai Lama organized entirely by American students. He said the ability to carry out his plan at the Institution made it even more special.

“We are grateful for being allowed this outlet to express authentic Tibetan culture and for allowing this historic event to take place in such a location as special as Chautauqua,” he said.

Although Mortellaro wanted to share Tibetan traditions with Chautauquans who may never experience them otherwise, he said the main goal was to express gratitude to the Dalai Lama for his service to humankind.

“We are here to celebrate the life of an amazing human being who has changed the world for the better,” Mortellaro said. “He claims to be just a simple Buddhist monk, but we know that he is so much more than that. He is, to Buddhists, the Buddha of compassion. He is a promoter of interfaith harmony, a world leader, an inspiration and a continual advocate of nonviolence.”

Mortellaro was impressed with the turnout and engagement of Chautauquans and is already looking at how he can enhance the event in coming seasons.

“I think it turned out really well,” he said. “Whether there are three people or 3,000 people, I think the most important thing is that we have a good motivation, and I think everybody here is very genuine in their appreciation of all the Dalai Lama has done and continues to do for the world.”

July 4th at Chautauqua Institution


When Theodore Roosevelt visited Chautauqua in 1905, he described this place as “a gathering that is typically American, in that it is typical of America at its best.” Each summer, Chautauquans showcase their American spirit with a day filled with celebrations of country and community. The Children’s School parade, Chautauqua Community Band concert, Independence Day Pops Celebration, and fireworks over a flare-lined Chautauqua Lake make for a day that is, indeed, typical of America at its best.

Photos by: Haldan Kirsh, Riley Robinson and Abigail Dollins

  • Students from the Children's School sing "This Land is Your Land" outside of the Colonnade during the Fourth of July Parade on Wednesday, July 4, 2018. HALDAN KIRSCH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Hill charges NOW Generation to participate in strategic planning for shaping Institution’s future

NOW Generation Advisory Council Chair Katie Prechtl Cooke talks with Meghan Pry, left, and Erin Schweers Cornelius during a NOW Generation reception at Girls’ Club Sunday, July 2, 2017. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR

For several years, members of NOW Generation have come together to kick off the season with their annual President’s Reception. Last Sunday at Girls’ Club, Russell Bermel addressed the group as the incoming chair of the NOW Generation advisory council. Burmel recapped NOW Generation’s progress over previous years, spearheaded by his predecessor, Katie Prechtl Cooke. He also expressed his excitement for the 2018 season.

Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill addressed NOW Generation for the second year in a row with his charge for the organization.

“Last year, my charge to you was to share thoughts and suggestions, and wait and see if we acted on it,” Hill said.

NOW Generation was an instrumental part of the discussions about the addition of Dr. Robert R. Hesse Welcome and Business Center to Chautauqua Institution. This year, Hill wants help and support from NOW Generation to continue conversations and preparation for Chautauqua Institution’s future as it heads toward its 150th birthday in 2024.

“My charge to you this year is not a generic ‘get involved (and) talk to us’ because you’ve proven you can do that, and I’m grateful for that,” Hill said. “My charge this year is that there’s three or four ways for you to participate and get your voices heard.”

Hill sees the members of NOW Generation as the “heirs and future of Chautauqua.” For that reason, he asked the group to engage in the dialogue around the strategic planning process, which concludes at the end of 2018.

“We’re asking the question of ‘What do we want Chautauqua to look like in 2024?’ ” Hill said.

The first way he suggested members of NOW Generation can participate in dialogue about Chautauqua’s future is by attending the strategic planning sessions at 3:30 p.m. every Thursday in the Hall of Christ. Those who participate will have the chance to share their ideas about Chautauqua and what their aspirations are for its future.

For those who want to join the discussions but cannot attend, he also pointed out the online survey,, to provide input. Lastly, he shared information about an open community forum at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 14, to contribute in talks about diversity and inclusion on the grounds.

“We’re having a pretty dynamic conversation on the grounds about diversity, equity and inclusion this year,” Hill said. “It’s still the case that when you look out (from) the Amphitheater stage, … (we’re) still talking to a 97 percent white audience.”

Overall, Hill has appreciated NOW Generation’s input and participation in the past, and looks forward to seeing its members develop into future leaders of Chautauqua.

“One thing I’ve appreciated about this group since I’ve been here is they’ve taken that invitation for partnership seriously,” Hill said. “They’ve taken that invitation so seriously and have been talking about it year-round, and they’ve gotten more and more organized and involved (through) setting up ‘CHQ Near You’ and other events and fundraising. They’ve become a pretty great force (at Chautauqua).”

Members of NOW Generation also took the opportunity to reflect on the successes of the previous year and spotlight activities and initiatives in the upcoming season.

Bermel touched on NOW Generation’s initiative to keep members of the organization engaged in the off-season, “CHQ Near You.” Chautauquans throughout the country gathered in their home cities, all on the same date, for community-building activities like picnics, visiting an art museum, organizing a lecture or something else “Chautauqua-like.”

“We had tremendous participation (and) support,” Bermel said. “We’re looking forward to doing (‘CHQ Near You’) again this year, along with a lot of other activities.”

Additional speakers spotlighted upcoming activities and opportunities to look forward to in the 2018 season. First, NOW Generation advisory council member Brian Goehring spoke about a “NOW Gen mixer” Thursday that was hosted in partnership with the Chautauqua Women’s Club. NOW Generation members were invited to mingle with nine different organizations on the grounds to share ideas about volunteer and leadership opportunities.

Advisory council member Carrie Oliver Zachry then shared information about family events NOW Generation hosts throughout the season. She highlighted, among other activities, the annual “Summerfest” held at 10 a.m. on Aug. 4 in the Youth Activities Center, following the Old First Night race. Chautauquans of all ages can join NOW Generation for a morning of food and games to catch up with friends or meet new ones.

NOW Generation volunteers will also host various free activities throughout the season, including weekly playdates or NOW Gen post-lecture pub chats. Many are proud to support the Institution as a whole through gifts of time, talent or treasure.

Vice chair of NOW Generation advisory council Amy Schiller highlighted the importance of fundraising for Chautauqua Institution. Currently, the Edward L. Anderson Jr. Foundation is leveraging an additional $250 for anyone who makes a recurring monthly gift of $25 or more to the Chautauqua Fund. She pointed this opportunity out as a budget-friendly way for Chautauquans to give back to the community.

Aside from monetary donations, Manager of Special Studies and Youth Programs Karen Schiavone discussed the opportunity for young professionals to teach for Special Studies or the Boys’ and Girls’ Club Plus program. Individuals can apply for academic areas in their expertise, or areas they enjoy sharing with others.

Schiller urged her peers to engage in one of the several opportunities presented that evening in an effort to continue support for the community.

“When we fundraise, we fundraise for Chautauqua,” Schiller said. “We are Chautauqua. We are ‘NOW’ at Chautauqua.”

For more information about the ‘NOW’ Generation or to RSVP for upcoming events, visit the Facebook page ( or contact Megan Sorenson, staff liaison, at 716-357-6243 or

Claremont Lincoln’s Aranda, Carter urge ‘musular civil dialogue’ to inspire community change

David Carter

Since its founding in 2011, Claremont Lincoln University has lived out a mission to encourage muscular civil dialogue that inspires change.

“The school was founded with the notion that we simply cannot continue and thrive if the way that we engage with each other is to put each other down,” said CLU President Eileen Aranda. “Put down leads to shut down.”

On Tuesday, July 3 in Smith Wilkes Hall, Aranda and CLU’s Vice President for Creative Learning and Innovation David Carter presented the university’s mission during their “Civil Dialogue Workshop.” The presenters were welcomed by Emily Morris, the Institution’s vice president of marketing and communications and chief brand officer.

“As someone who studied higher education for a good part of my career, I have watched the development of Claremont Lincoln University with great interest,” Morris said. “Not only are they new, … but they are also 100 percent online and 100 percent in the graduate space, and they are a nonprofit organization. I love their entrepreneurship.”

Morris also noted the work of two principal founders of CLU, the late David Lincoln and his wife, Joan, both longtime Chautauquans and advocates for civil dialogue.

For Aranda, Tuesday’s presentation marked her first time on the grounds. Carter, however, came to the Institution last summer to present a similar workshop on civil dialogue. This year’s session is a continuation of that work and the Institution’s goal of creating a “muscular civil dialogue” among Chautauquans.

The pair began the workshop by reiterating the “Claremont Core,” four courses that CLU students are required to take: mindfulness, dialogue, collaboration and change.

“This is all about ensuring a core curriculum so that students can go out and really create change, really do something with their degree,” Carter said, “to not just have a degree to have one, but actually engage with society.”

Carter defined mindfulness as “being present and fully aware,” which then leads to effective dialogue. Once dialogue ensues, the next logical step is collaboration, which Carter explained by drawing from personal experience.

“I learned this in the military, and I learned this as a police officer — you have to work with people to solve problems,” he said. “I have just over 500 arrests in my career, and most of those were solved by civilians who helped us to get to that (number) and create real change in the community. Collaboration is when you come together to solve a problem.”

In turn, collaboration creates change, and the entire group benefits.

But the presentation’s key idea unpacked a different part of the CLU mission: its purpose.

“Maybe you thought in your mind one time, ‘Why do we do this and who actually cares?’ ” Carter said.

Carter and Aranda recognized people’s hesitation to engage in civil dialogue and take the necessary steps laid out by CLU’s core curriculum. It takes patience to listen to different viewpoints and ideas, especially if one disagrees.

Aranda used the example of homelessness in California, which is a multifaceted problem with many conflicting solutions. When faced with an issue that feels unsolvable, she encouraged the audience to practice introspection.

“If I don’t do it, who will?” she said. “As the world gets more and more complex, the problems get more and more complex, which means that we need many different perspectives to resolve them. … Rather than saying there’s only one way to get there, and I have my idea and you have your idea, how do we come together?”

The act of coming together and combining ideas begins with someone’s mindset, Carter said.

“If you don’t have that mindset that it’s helpful to engage in dialogue, then it really is pointless for you,” he said. “An argument is not dialogue, and nothing is going to come out of that because your mind is already closed to it.”

Instead, Carter encouraged Chautauquans to start each conversation with a clean slate, ready to listen and reflect on what others contribute.

“We at CLU, we dwell in possibility, meaning through a conversation with someone who has an opposing view, … we can create change of some sort, something positive can come out of that,” he said. “I’ve seen it happen time again.”

Carter used the example of Daryl Davis, an African-American blues musician who has spent countless hours in conversation with members of the Klu Klux Klan, convincing them to leave the group. Though it has taken years, Davis has found success in his pursuit.

“How does he do it?” Carter said. “Through years of dialogue and sitting down with klansmen and talking to them.”

Carter admitted this is an extreme example, but also a very real and inspirational story that demonstrates the power of patience and civil dialogue. In addition to practicing tolerance, Carter and Aranda also stressed that there needs to be balance. Engaging in dialogue requires both active listening and thoughtful response.

“To be civil does not mean to be passive, it does not mean to just be accommodating,” Aranda said. “Dialogue is a balance of advocacy and inquiry. You ask, and you tell your truth.”

By creating a balance between advocacy and inquiry, progress will transpire, Aranda said. To help Chautauquans further understand this balance, Aranda and Carter encouraged the audience to look for ways to experience diversity.

“We always want to have a diverse group,” Carter said. “We don’t want everyone to think the same way.”

To conclude their workshop, Carter and Aranda provided a comprehensive checklist of steps to take before engaging in civil dialogue: be prepared, know who is in the room, set guidelines, have clear instructions, manage time like a Scrooge, manage conflict like a referee, and have an agenda.

And, of course, they encouraged the community to never stop being curious.

“I think you are Chautauquans for several reasons, but one of those has to include lifelong learning,” Carter said. “There’s no way we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about civil dialogue in 60 minutes. But the point is that you must go and continue your knowledge, from this point forward, to become better at dialogue.”

Griffith discusses how to expand youth program opportunities during Wednesday’s porch meeting

Vice President and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education Dave Griffith speaks about youth programming during a porch discussion Wednesday, July 4, 2018 at Hultquist Center. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR

Dave Griffith, Chautauqua Institution’s vice president and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education, led Wednesday’s, July 4, Chautauqua Institution Leadership Porch Discussion on “Youth and Education Programming” by engaging in a brief explanation of the current youth programs and asking for feedback and comments from the audience.

The youth programs that Griffith oversees include Children’s School, Boys’ and Girls’ Club, Pier Club and a pilot program called Club Plus, which offers an alternative to attending Club all day. Instead, Club Plus holds Club activities in the morning and directs the students to Special Studies classes in the afternoon.

“Club Plus is another way in which we are trying to bring youth programs into conversation with the weekly themes,” Griffith said. “We try to take the weekly themes and present them to the kids in a developmentally appropriate way.”

Club Plus is just one way Griffith and his team are attempting to increase the involvement of children and young adults in the events around the Institution.

“Youth programs offer a sense of belonging to the Institution, which is incredibly important,” he said.

Another addition to the youth programming this summer is the Young Writers Institute, which offers 14- to 18-year-olds the opportunity to hone their writing skills through instruction by professors and writers for a five-day period. There will be two separate programs, for 10 students each, in Week One and Week Three.

Griffith said that during the Week One session, they met their goal of registering 10 students.

“Through the generosity of the Alumni Association of the CLSC, we were able to give eight scholarships to Chautauqua County students to attend this program,” he said.

Additionally, Griffith and his colleagues want to expand the accessibility of classes and activities for teens between ages 14 and 16.

“We noticed that there is an age gap of kids that get shut out of classes,” he said. “We are working to open up classes and remedy that problem.”

Audience feedback at the discussion touched on cell phone usage during lectures and programs, creating a space after lectures for young adults to engage in conversation, and game nights that include Dungeons and Dragons and other popular games.

One of the attendees, Fredrika Cornell Scopp, recognized the age group of teenagers on the grounds who are not yet old enough to get jobs, but are too old to participate in Club.

“Maybe we could begin volunteer programs for this group of kids,” she said. “That way, they can still be engaged in the community.”

Griffith said he recognizes the immense amount of work to be done to provide an inclusive environment for all ages, but he, Institution staff and consultants are working to incorporate all ages into the intellectually stimulating environment for which Chautauqua is known.

The Chautauqua Institution Leadership Porch Discussions are held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays on the Hultquist Center porch, with topics varying weekly. Next week, the Porch Discussion looks at the 2019 program.

By selling custom-made candles, Nelson supports annual Chautauqua Fund


Candles have a variety of uses. They were first made out of beeswax by ancient Egyptians in 3,000 B.C., and for thousands of years were “rulers of the night,” as the sole source of light when the sun went down, according to candle supplier Nature’s Garden. Since their development, this simple commodity has been utilized for occasions like religious services, home decor, odor elimination and gift-giving.

When owner of Chautauqua Wearhouse and Chautauqua Fund volunteer Ruth Nelson decided to start selling a product to support the Chautauqua Fund, she recognized the versatility and general appeal of candles.

“I wanted to develop something as a hostess gift or small item for people to buy when they come in,” Nelson said.

For the 2018 season, she developed Chautauqua Fund candles with custom logos through MADE Custom Goods in Jamestown, New York.

Originally from Jamestown, Nelson has been coming to Chautauqua since 1987 when her mother opened the women’s clothing boutique Pat’s At Chautauqua. Nelson grew up learning about retail, and in 2005, the two opened Chautauqua Wearhouse, a boutique in the ground floor of the Colonnade that sells men’s and women’s clothing items along with shoes, accessories and other commodities.

Like many Chautauquans, Nelson has enjoyed coming to the Institution with her family every summer.

“There’s a lot of memories,” Nelson said. “I think some of my favorite memories are seeing my kids experience what I experienced when I was younger … for them to have the freedom to go to Club (and) play with their friends, hang out on (Bestor) Plaza.”

Nelson’s memories of celebrating Independence Day at the Institution with her loved ones are what inspired her to become involved with philanthropy.

Nelson is currently an 1874 Society member, which recognizes donors who give between $1,874 and $3,499 annually to the Chautauqua Fund. The Chautauqua Foundation operates the annual fund for the Institution.

“I was a $500-level donor for three or four years, and then my goal for myself was to hit the 1874 (level),” Nelson said. “So last year, I joined the 1874 Society, and I like being at that level, but now in years to come (I hope) to build and grow and be able to do more philanthropically for Chautauqua.”

All of the profits from the candles will go to the fund. There are two different scents, lavender and espresso, and each has a 30- to 35-hour burning time. The candles will be available in the Wearhouse throughout the season.

“I like the idea of doing something I can sell here in the shop that would help support the (Chautauqua Fund),” Nelson said. “And this is something that anyone can come in and buy.”

Selling the candles with the fund logo is a new project for Nelson, and she hopes to continue experimenting with different ways to support the Chautauqua Fund through her business.

“It’s a totally new concept, and maybe next year it would be a T-shirt or a bag with the (Chautauqua Fund) logo on it,” Nelson said. “I would like to continue doing some sort of a product I can sell that would raise money for the fund.”

Nelson said it gives her “a sense of pride” to do her part in contributing to the Chautauqua Fund.

“Any way that I can be an ambassador for Chautauqua, I’m happy to do it,” Nelson said.

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