Who is the voice behind the words at the Finding Place LV?
Photo credit courtesy of Sarah Bednar, 2021
Hi! I'd like to take a moment to introduce myself. I'm Lindsey and I'm currently the face behind the words, actions, and direction of The Finding Place LV. I haven't really made a proper introduction so I thought it was time to say "hello".
“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, “the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.” ~David Sobel, Professor, Author, Environmental Educator
Finding my Place
When I started this blog and website for the Finding Place LV, I really wanted to use it as a way to keep track of what I was doing in real time, how I was improving, what I was learning, and how I was learning with my children—and other people's children. But mostly, I promised myself I would take some time to refocus my time and energy on a path that aligned to my talents, gifts, and wellness. This has meant reconfiguring our family schedule, creating a flow and daily rhythm, and considering how much time I was investing in myself and others and what that ultimately meant to me.
As I noted in one of my earlier posts, this is a place where I think out loud. This is a place where I reflect, collect, gather, research, share, and hopefully, assist other families who are home with children and looking for ways to break down the monotony of regular life. There is always room for improvement and, of course, there is always more to learn. As I learn I like to share with others, in hopes that I will be able to pass something along that sparks an "a-ha" moment or entices a parent or caregiver to try something new and find a new passion within their child.
Creating Relevant Content
Where do I come up with this stuff? Hey, I understand, hanging out in nature or gardening with children is not something that everyone does but I think it is something that everyone can do even for a few minutes every day. Taking a break from screens, the indoors, the hustle and bustle of things and just step outside your own door barefoot for 5-10 minutes a day to boost your mood, expose you to those necessary Vitamin D rays, and help ground you in the present moment. So many of us are go, go, go! And for me, I started to feel like I was constantly stuck trying to run in mud. I wasn't getting anywhere, I was slinging mud all over, and I was exhausted. So we decided to slow down.
Reggio-Emilia Inspired learning approaches, Waldorf methods, nature-based learning, horticultural and agricultural education can be integrated into daily life almost effortlessly. I know that these learning styles are not for everyone, there is no one-size fits all but I would suggest reading about them and finding one thing you like in one or all of these learning styles. You could surprise yourself. When I was a young child [before 11] I ran wild on my great-grandmother's sprawling farm. I was covered in mud. I dug animal bones from the fields and tried to put them back together like a puzzle. I made mud pies with corn stalks and flowers that I picked and pretended to serve them to the family dog. I told stories under the shade of ancient pine trees, rolled down grassy hills, and meticulously analyzed everything my grandmother did while she was working in her garden. When I was young I didn't know what Waldorf education was, I had never heard of Reggio-Emilia Approach, I had rarely heard whispers of cousins who went to Montessori school or were learning at home. I didn't know what those things were but there I was making puppets, sneaking my mom's sewing kit and making doll outfits, trying my darndest to learn how to crochet, carving little bars of soap into figures, writing stories about fairies and nature treasures, and drawing every day. I was just living it, I would have flourished in an alternative learning setting. I can't fathom how wild and vivid my imagination would be now, if it had not been so tamed. Cut to present day, I now take the time to explore, investigate, question, navigate, expand, and cultivate my own learning because we are always learning even as adults and our children are always learning. In turn, it is my ultimate goal for my children and the children that explore with us to have access to authentic childhood experiences. The kind of experiences we all should have at least once: grass, dirt, mud, climbing trees, kites, dolls, puppets, storytelling, singing, music, dance, spinning, pretend play, running with no end, starry nights, sunrises, natural loose parts, hiking, arts in all forms, freedom, and autonomy.
I, against my parents' wishes, went to school for Graphic Design. At Drexel University in Philadelphia, we were the last class to graduate that had to do most of our major projects by hand. This meant developing and processing our own film, drawing with rapidograph pens and filling in with gauche, hand drawing letters and forms in multiple courses of typography, completing calligraphy, illustrating with Prisma markers and pencils, creating pencil and ink drawings instead of just using Creative Suite. I was frustrated when this was occurring but looking back, I am so grateful. I can conceptualize, sketch, prepare, create on my own, and then also apply within design software, present and receive criticism. My love of process came when I was taking many printmaking courses. Screenprinting and woodblock printing offer opposite creative processes utilizing negative and positive spaces. There is something about carving wood, inking, and printing to tell a story that is so therapeutic.
After working in Canada for a few years at a global communications company and apprenticing at a bindery, I returned to Philadelphia and completed a graduate degree at Temple University for my M.Ed. with a dual-teaching certification in Special Education and Elementary Education. Every project that I completed included a hand-bound book, fully designed professional layout, typographic elements, or personal graphic touches that I felt set me apart from others. I wanted nothing more than to integrate art, science, nature, and education for all children at all levels, especially in urban settings.
It all catapulted after I completed a weeklong course on School Gardening at Longwood Gardens. Then I accepted a hybrid environmental-art position at an EIC charter school in Pittsburgh. At this time I also earned additional teaching certifications in environmental education, art education, and middle school science. We worked with Grow Pittsburgh and installed edible school gardens at both of our schools, elementary and middle school. The opportunities that I gained working at ECS were unparalleled. It was here that I was introduced to the term Reggio-Emilia Approach and everything seemed to fall into place, as if it was the educational experience I was replicating in my own life all along I just didn't know it had a name. Many of my peers and fellow teachers were innovators, creators, science lovers, and outdoor explorers who opened so many doors to new experiences and collaborated to integrate art and nature into most subjects. I was hooked.
After having children and trying to reintroduce myself into the world as a mother, I began searching for learning opportunities workshops, courses, intensives, semester courses, seminars, conferences. I gobbled them up. I'm hungry for more! I'm thirsty for knowledge! Anything I could find [and many were free or very affordable] subjects including art, nature, nature-based learning, environmental learning, bridging art and science, forest and nature school, wonder-based learning, Reggio-Emilia Approach, and alternative learning styles. We took a Tinkergarten class in NJ as we were moving and welcoming our daughter so I had a planned event with my son every week along with Music Together because I wanted to do something with him outside. "I can do this," I told myself. When we moved to PA there were no classes available to attend, I applied and was accepted as a leader. I ran two years of classes [Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall] at two different parks in Emmaus and Allentown. Our lives transitioned as we prepared for kindergarten and preschool and I took a break to focus on our own rhythm. I had been taking courses through ERAFANS and I earned my Level One: Outdoor/Nature-based Early Childhood Educator certification. Even with these advancements, I was still thirsty for more.
After walking through our gardens, my friend, who holds a Masters in Environmental Engineering and teaches at the local high school, suggested that I look into a permaculture and sustainable systems program. How had I not come across the term permaculture? This made so much sense for me. My mind expanded and I fed my brain everything I could find on permaculture, botany, gardening, herbalism, horticulture, agriculture, food systems, organic gardening and farming, regenerative farming, and sustainability. Looking over the books we had collected over the years, you can see the trends. For a second —many years ago— I had considered getting my masters in Art Therapy, I was looking for ways to heal and connect: mind, body, heart, and spirit. Everything we consume adds to us. We can choose to add goodness, kindness, gratitude, love, nourishment, imagination, reflection, growth, creativity, generosity... or we can choose otherwise. We can be sustainable and self-sufficient and feel grateful for the natural gifts and talents we have been given while learning to live with less waste or we can live these regular lives we have been told are normal, expected even.
I don't know what normal means anymore—it looks different today than it did a few years ago. I have recognized that childhood is just running passed us so quickly. Our babies are not babies anymore. With this in mind, we have slowed down, we spend meaningful and mindful time together, and we savor these moments we can share together. We have the ability to take care of nature and assist the nature around us to take care of herself, we all have talents to share, we can play and explore, we can eat local food and learn the name of our local farmers, we can give back and volunteer a few hours for one day a week or one day a month. We can give extra food to neighbors. We can grow gardens for children who don't have enough to eat. The best gift to give someone who is struggling to eat is a garden that will continue to provide food and self-worth.
Over the summer, I doing a little re-organizing, preparing, gathering materials, and focusing on my mission. I will be presenting at the NAAEE/Natural Start Alliance Virtual Conference at the end of July. After much deliberation, I will be working on a 12-week program through Gardenary to gain skills on garden construction, design, layout, sketchup programming, consultation, and how to collaborate and instruct others to create their own edible gardens to provide supplemental food for their families. I will be completing a 6-week School Garden Coordinator certification program through the Oregon State University graduate studies and continuing education department. By the end of August, I should be notified if the grant I wrote will be awarded for an Edible Art-inspired Children's Garden that will be installed in one of our town's public parks. I started an environmental art committee within the Emmaus Arts Commission to rejuvenate, refresh, and re-imagine our outdoor public spaces with art.
It is my intention to create a YouTube channel or provide tangible lessons and outdoor activities for families to view, create an interactive playgroup calendar for families to have a place to go and find parks and activities with similar aged children, and continue to garden with children in our community.
Volunteering is a great way to give back and learn so I will also be working a few hours a week at Rodale Institute or the Experimental Farm and hopefully spending more time at the Seed Farm and other local farms owned by small families.
And one day, we will eventually move to a small farm or homestead with a schoolhouse where we will host gardening courses for all ages, outdoor learning camps, art classes, gallery shows, and community outreach but until then we will continue to make small steps on our 0.3 acre plot of suburban land while we encourage neighbors and friends to garden with children, protect our local watershed, collectively compost all organic materials, and strengthen the biodiversity of our block with native perennials, wildlife, and edible plants. One step at a time we can Learn. Love. Grow. and Repeat.
Photo credits courtesy of Karri Schreppel, 2021
A few photos from a gag reel we took before our Emmaus Arts Commission meeting. These are basically a fraction of the faces I make throughout a day. Untouched, unfiltered, unedited. Just me: flaws and all.
If you have any ideas for collaboration, events, or activities in the Lehigh Valley, PA or virtually, feel free to reach out.
Thank you for stopping by. We will return to our regularly scheduled posts next week.
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