this week at the FPL

Today at the library we had the first-ever house concert. Three of our wonderful Leon High volunteers, Tiffany, Cole and Michael played guitar solos, duos and trios. Meanwhile, the library contributed a little William Tell as Zion and Kwili shot arrows across the street. At the same time Vivienne was drawing a lovely picture complete with about a thousand butterfly stickers.

We had an unusual gathering with family members of the musicians sitting on chairs usually occupied by kids. It was a nice way to meet more neighbors. And the decor was unusually top-drawer. I lugged over a couple of plaster columns and topped them with flower arrangements from a friend’s wedding yesterday. It would have been perfect but someone invited the mosquitoes and turned the heat up. Luckily I had a stash of cardboard fans from a county commission race and we could all fan ourselves while we listened.

The street guys (all basketball all the time) appreciated Miss Meg’s empanadas more than anyone and, sitting at the picnic table jokingly claimed them–they needed no help cleaning the plate. That was our healthy snack.

In the unhealthy snack department it was “frozen cake day” at the library. We did in all the leftover bits of the cakes of yesteryear, disguised slightly with whipped cream Hope whipped up in the kitchen using an old-style hand crank egg beater. It seemed at first as if it would never hold a peak, but she made it!

A fine and unusually musical day at the FPL!

this week at the FPL

Mother’s Day occupied most of the library kids. We were down to Harper and Danny and Zion. Some would say that we had kids sufficient. Those three are lively, funny, and always engaged. We did a big build with leggos, then constructed The Castle. Since it was acquired at Goodwill The Castle is missing parts. It can be viewed as a disappointment or a challenge. It was taken both ways by the kids and volunteers, depending on who you asked.

In the yard we did a follow-up on the map, writing directions that led people around, ultimately reaching the Shiny Glass Glob (which was a bit disappointing).

Miss Meg brought more healthy snacks. She is a caterer so our healthy snacks are pretty darned classy. We sorted books and planned for next week’s guitar recital–some of our volunteers need an audience. If they can keep the kids in their chairs they will pass the test as far as I’m concerned.

In addition to the kids we had the guys who shoot hoops in the street. We always invite them in for cake, which helps us to become a more cohesive neighborhood. You’ve got to like an enterprise that says, “Hey, you want some cake?” on a weekly basis. We also set out a huge jug of ice water. Today they would have landed on their faces without it. We are a full-service library.

this week at the FPL

Today at the FPL we mapped the neighborhood–well, a good piece of it. The kids went out in teams with volunteers, counting houses, marking down important features of the neighborhood like the tulip tree on Cates and the Airstream trailer in front of Juniper’s house. We covered a big table with paper and translated our notes into a very colorful map with every house drawn. The biggest house was Harper and Danny’s. I forget which of the twins was the artist, but they live in a mansion.

We went out into the street and located the sun, then made our compass rose. And then, inexplicably, Santa Claus appeared in one corner of the map.

While mapping we also we went on collecting insects. When they were brought inside Joe drew each specimen for our neighborhood field guide. CJ, for the first time, came in off the street where he usually shoots hoops through library and took part in the insect collecting. He was really good at it!

Allie and her mother Lisa came to bring books and stayed to take part. Allie trapped a mosquito in one of our tubes. It was interesting to see the mosquito flying around in the collecting tube–we have the only catch and release mosquito program on the planet.

It was such a good day at the library.

this week at the FPL

The Front Porch Library is tidal–and today we were at high tide. So many, many kids. Camden and Brayden came very early in the morning, read on the porch for a while, then came back half an hour before opening time, so I just unlocked. I set up while they built with Leggos and Lincoln Logs.

Our neighbor Meg brought little sandwiches as a healthy snack and over the course of library time kids kept revisiting the kitchen to get another one (this is part of our plan to act less like Marie Antoinette).

Meg also brought clay and the kids made lots of bakeable creatures. Meanwhile, in the yard I led a nature expedition. Each of us had a tray for collecting leaves and tubes for gathering insects. The leaves were more cooperative and we were able to look at the many strategies used by leaves in an effort to look like themselves. Virginia Creeper for instance is Palmately Compound, and contrary to the collective kid wisdom NOT POISON IVY.

We did pretty well in the spider/insect department when we began rolling over rotting logs. The millipede got away, but we caught two pill bugs that paraded up and down the tube, passing each other in the middle like sentries.

Vivian, who lives two doors down from the library,stayed without her mom for the first time. Redheaded Vivian Is always some kind of princess–today a very active one, swooping around the yard in her dress-up clothes. I don’t think she missed her mother at all, she was too busy having a great time.

Jump rope competition in the street was tense. JR hit 29 times narrowly beating out Zion. We had a great gathering with lots of volunteer help. I know, I know,I’d better go back in the morning and check for any unattended-to havoc, but it was a truly fine afternoon at the FPL.

PRESS RELEASE | April 24, 2015

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The last time the Front Porch Library reached out to the wider community, it was to ask for help finding an insurer to keep their doors open.

Tallahassee came through with suggestions, offers of help, and ultimately an insurance policy.

Now there is good news to share.  The Front Porch Library is a finalist for a 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.  The award – given by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and its partner agencies — recognizes top arts and humanities-based programs which operate afterschool and out-of-school.

The Front Porch Library is one of 50 programs to achieve Certificate of Excellence status from hundreds of nominations from across the country. If chosen in the top ten, the library will receive $10,000 and an invitation to Washington, DC for the award conference in August.

Today the Front Porch Library continues to thrive as a book-and-project gathering spot for the children of Seminole Manor Neighborhood. Co-founded by neighbors Adrian Fogelin and Dr. Kary Kublin, the initial vision was to give ready access to books and educational materials to youth in this low income neighborhood.

“The library began with my father’s house, and kids who needed books,” says Adrian Fogelin. Not wanting to give up his house when her father died, she decided to establish a library on the porch—a library which quickly took over the whole house.

The collection now numbers over 3,000 cataloged books, all donated. But the library is more than just books. Every Sunday, a volunteer staff gathers to run programs that bring the wider world to kids who arrive on foot and by bicycle. Library volunteers come from the neighborhood and the community. Many are students from SAIL High School and Leon High’s Key Club. These high-achieving teen volunteers act as mentors and role models.

As the library gets ready to celebrate its sixth birthday, there are many past programs and shared memories to draw on: building a Rube Goldberg machine, jousting on the lawn with the Society for Creative Anachronism, quilting, cooking, studying Greek mythology, learning about modern China, conducting explosive science experiments and funding summer camp experiences from one generous donation.

“We’ve seen a lot of kids come to the library, growing up right before our eyes Sunday to Sunday,” says Co-Director Kary Kublin.  “If we want kids to read, we’ve got to read with them.  If we want them to ask questions and solve problems, we have to make sure the opportunities are there and that they are accessible.”

The Front Porch Library is proof that it takes a village. With this national recognition, the village continues to grow.

More information about The Front Porch Library as well as weekly updates and photographs can be found at http://thefrontporchlibrary.com.

this week at the FPL

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We sure were busy today at the Front Porch Library–which was a surprise because the weather has been so colossally rainy. Corine an Chloe came first. Chloe, at four, loves to kneel on a chair at the sink and wash…well…anything that needs washing. Today it was carrots from the garden. Her sister mixed up the very chocolate cake (on rainy indoor days we bake the cake together).

Joe came with a dog named Misty–not his, but he had to watch her for a friend. We put her on the porch which made the ins-and-outs a little trickier than usual. The Danny half of the twins came. The reports on the Harper half were mixed. He either had a stomach bug or couldn’t find his shoes.

Klark and Olivia continued the “future” theme from last week. Randomly grabbing folded slips of paper they had to portray things like, the school of the future…the pet of the future. The pet of the future will be quite well-dressed.

Kiwili made a floor puzzle, this one a birds of North America scene that included birds that would never meet in real life, all graciously displaying their field markings.

Jackie roared up on his bike sporting a new modified Mohawk haircut. Meanwhile in the street CJ and Johnny prepared for their careers in the NBA.

The chocolate cake was served warm and you can’t beat that.

the week at the FPL

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I’m not sure why, but today was future day at the FPL. It might have been the blinking-light Dr. Demento glasses Ray found at Goodwill. We began by deciding what these great future glasses would show us. Excellent vision of course–see that mosquito on the wall of the house across the street? But we came around to future glasses being able do divulge the future. We took turns putting them on and seeing each other’s futures. It seemed we had, among us, one entomologist, and a whole bunch of psychologists–I know, I don’t get it either.

Then we began building future structures with all tinker-toys. The future Statue of Liberty will be a rickety affair. The future human will have arms growing out of his or her head–above the ears in case you are wondering.

Then Kwili asked if it would be possible to play some future football in the street. So he and our volunteer, Michael, played some future football in the street. It seemed remarkably like the current football played in the street in front of the library from time to time.

The twins drew future pictures in which humanity had to resort to eating poop. This is not an unusual prediction for the twins who just like drawing brown peanut shapes and writing the word poop.

Chloe and I made a floor puzzle in the kitchen, ignoring the future entirely–what is there to look forward to if we will all be eating poop?

Joe showed up about two minutes after the library closed, scouting for a small suitcase, hoping to be included in a college tour this summer. Luckily, we are a full-service library. Luckilier, someone just gave us a book donation in a decent small suitcase. Joe walked down the road trailing his college-bound suitcase.

And the library goes on, in the present, which I think is for the best.

this week at the FPL

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Craig and I played for Echo’s Empty Bowl fundraiser, but the library was in super good hands with Ms. Heather in charge and all the great volunteers who come for no more pay than a piece of cake, or, this week, a little mud pie with a gummy worm in it. Thanks everybody–you even took pictures–I owe you all big-time.

Next week, Easter, the library will be closed for some family time all around. We’ll be back!

Adrian, we missed you this week at Front Porch Library. Hope you had fun singing – here’s a rundown of the afternoon:

It was a busy day at FPL today! Our wonderful Key club volunteers and Hunter showed up to help out as we dyed Easter eggs, used giant cardboard boxes as space ships, and of course, checked out books. Someone donated a tub of Legos which Harper and Danny dived into immediately (see photo). One and a half year old Lexxie showed up with her mom and dad and together they built a megabuck tower. After they left, Klark and Kweli joined Hope in adding a few more feet to bring it up to eye level.

Instead of cake, we tried something new today and made “dirt pies” (chocolate pudding with crumbled oreos on top). Our newest library-goer Kweli helped make the pudding and Harper smashed the oreos. After the kids painted flower pots to put their “dirt pies” into, they added gummy worms and a flower to complete their welcome to spring. Check out the final product!

this week at the FPL

Today was a race to get ready for Library time. Between FPL gatherings our hot water heater died, leaking all over the back room. As of this morning the contents of that room and all Ray’s plumbing supplies were spread throughout the house.

He was working on it, I was trying to clean the house without the help of water when Jackie arrived. It was 10 am, library starts at 4. “My grandmother told me to go to the library and help Miss Adrian get ready.” He messed around building things in the living room. I cleaned around him. Before departing, he showed me a painful trick on his bicycle–the front brake stopped the trick a little suddenly.

At the community garden the collards are suddenly bolting. I filled my wheel barrow with them and brought them to the library where the first order of business was stripping and trimming them. At first it was just me, Talese, Jorge and Cole–all volunteers, but then the kids began to come in. And come in.

We had carrots from the garden too (yup I started the healthy snack thing this week with carrots and celery stuffed with peanut butter). Who knew that the most popular activity of the day would be, not eating the healthy snack, but chopping the carrots up with sharp knives, then wondering if there might be any ranch dressing available…?

Meanwhile, inside the house the carton from the water heater was being converted into a vehicle for intergalactic travel. Markers were put to use decorating the box both outside and in. Harper was stationed inside the box drawing the controls for the space ship. With a couple more weeks work it should be ready for launch.

Meanwhile, bags of collards went home with kids–and I need to clean up again. Still, it was a mighty fine day at the library.

this week at the FPL

Our numbers at the Front Porch Library went zooming up again today, as I would have predicted because the knocks at the door started early and came often. “Is it time for library yet?”

Today’s program was an improv acting exercise. All the chairs were set out on the lawn for the audience along with a table full of props. Two actors would be on the front lawn stage. I’d hand one a prop and an opening line. Our first sketch had our tolerant volunteer Michael under a blanket and a kid saying, “My what a comfortable looking sofa. I think I’ll sit down.” The sofa, of course, engulfed the kid in short order.

One prop, one opening line, and the kids would go from there (although admittedly not very far), but some of the kids, like DeeDee really got into it, lowering his voice as the sheriff in the big black hat. “So, your cattle is missing?”

In the kitchen we broke out a donation of two boxes of big chocolate men (gingerbread men, only not) and icing for decorating.

Joe and Zion were at the center of castle building on the living room rug.

Kids read aloud to volunteers. Chloe cooked plastic food in a wok that was among the props for improv. Jackie had a bike crash on the street that was cured with a freeze pop.

Friends, we know that a lot of you follow our very local effort. Lately we have noticed that an occasional kid comes to the library genuinely hungry and we would like to institute a new tradition of putting out a healthy snack at the beginning of each library gathering.

As always, we are shoe-stringing along. If you’d like to make a small contribution our wonderful Miss Kary has set up the site to take pay pal. So, here is the link to us, along with photos of the library in action:http://thefrontporchlibrary.com/

Another lively and amazing day at the FPL!

this week at the FPL

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Library was all outside today–nobody wanted to build duplo-block forts on the rug when the weather was so beautiful. I taped four Shel Silverstein poems to the big white table in the driveway. We read them aloud and figured out what they were about (they were read both right-side up and upside-down by folks on either side of the table–we have some good upside-down readers). Then everyone made illustrations for the poems.

We did “Falling Up”–in our illustration the character falling up hit a bird and quickly fell to the ground again. And one about the kid who won the ugliest mask contest but wasn’t wearing one, a dragon who blows his birthday candles on, and a bunch of mountain climbers who climb a mountain that moves and breathes. We did an excellent job, then pulled out Shel’s illustrations for comparison. We compared favorably.

We also did several of those three fold hybrid creatures (fold the paper and one person draws the head, another the body, and a third the legs). We had some good laughs. Then our volunteer Michael requested that everyone draw him a tattoo. He went home as The Illustrated Man.

We reinflated all the basketballs and restored their bounce. We cataloged and checked out books. A fine day at the FPL!

Time for a time change

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Spring forward on Sunday!  Library hours are now  Sundays

from 4 to 6 pm!

Snapshots

Highlights this week: baby books, a bicycle obstacle course, and FPL through Harper’s eyes.  Most of the photo credits go to him.

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this week at the FPL

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The neighborhood gave the Front Porch Library an opening boost with an injured raccoon holed up two doors down and every concerned kid gathered to discuss the issue. Meanwhile, the adults had the rescue folks from St. Francis on the way. Library alternated with walks back to check on the raccoon, then watch the netting and removal of the animal.

My program for today featured skulls from lots of local animals–including a raccoon, so we were right on topic–or right on topic kid by kid. It was our first day of warm dry weather in a long time and the kids were shooting hoops and biking up and down the street at full speed. I did the program on the fly, snagging individual kids. “Why do you think this animal has its eyes on the side instead of in the front like we do?

We had a new volunteer named Hope who spent the whole two hours keeping up with four-year-old Chloe. That meant chasing her bike down the street to keep her safe from cars, letting Chloe ride piggyback and playing with plastic food in the living room where every other course was an ice cream cone.

Joe and Makaila worked in the kitchen on a Black History Month project. Mr. John was incredibly helpful naming musicians to add to Louis Armstrong, the sole musician on the poster when they arrived.

Miss Heather was the hub of a mad cataloging effort. We had lots of kids today and lots of volunteers. I know because of the number plates I washed–and the fact the cake had to be cut really thin in order to go around–and most of the volunteers abstained.

this week at the FPL

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The weekly gathering at The Front Porch Library started quietly enough, just Zion and the twins on the kid side of the equation, Mr. John, Michael and Miss Adrian
on the adult side (with the twins in the mix we were a little light on the supervisory side) but we got homemade banana bread in the oven–we could soon smell it all the way out in the driveway.

We then began sewing and taping and generally constructing fairly scary ninja masks–there is no way to explain the directions we go off in on a Sunday–it just happens. The stretchy loops for making pot holders proved to be perfect for binding all the fabric together at the neck. Eye holes were cut with our only decent pair of scissors (the others only look like scissors).

Joe and Kyle came. Joe needed a pad of drawing paper. Then Austin and Jackie. It was a girl-free day at the library. Hoops were shot, the bread came out of the oven. We ate it hot, with butter. Someone asked, where’s the cake? We’re going for variety, I said.

After we closed I saw the twins running down the street, barefoot. Harper was also bare-chested, wearing the cape we’d torn out of an old sheet. When I asked him where his shirt was he said, “Real men don’t wear shirts!”

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