Thursday, December 29, 2011

NATIONAL MUSEUM of the AMERICAN INDIAN

Photo by Jeff Kubina
The architectural team who took on the challenge of designing the National Museum of the American Indian had a very difficult task. They were charged by Native American elders to "tell the truth" - esentially translating a whole host of abstract cultural ideas into concrete reality. Their final design for the perfect building paid off. Located on the Capitol Mall, the distinctive 5-story limestone structure is breathtaking. The curvilinear building was built to look like it was formed by wind and rain. It is as striking and remarkable as the Native peoples it represents.

I was happy for the opportunity to participate in a recent event at the National Museum of the American Indian, but what I enjoyed the most was simply being there. It is a house dedicated and filled with a myriad of Native American voices.

The museum itself has been subject to a lot of mixed reviews. People seem to be wanting more history and a larger reflection of Native American communities. My understanding is that the museum was directed by living Natives and carried out in a way that veers away from the traditional approach of western museums. Personally, I believe the task of telling the collective story of all Native American tribes is daunting at best, if not impossible.

A Song for the Horse Nation exhibition is taking place now at the NMAI. It is an inspiring display that shares the compelling story of Native peoples and horses. For many tribes, Horse Nation was the name that was used to describe the equine family that they were so close to. The exhibit will end on the first week of the new year. Directly following the exhibit, a Native Storytelling Festival will take place on January 13-15, 2012. The timing is perfect, particularly because many tribes believe the winter season is the right time for storytelling.

If you are not able to make it to the Capitol, make sure you explore the NMAI website. You can take a virtual walking tour that will show you around the property and give detailed meaning about the chosen architecture and landscape. Also, check out the fascinating story behind American Indian Code talkers - Native peoples who were asked by the U.S. military to develop secret battle communication using their own language during WWI and WWII.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

GEORGIA FAMILY COUNCIL

Photograph courtesy of Georgia Family Council
Tucked in the website for the Georgia Family Council is a little known quote by Stephen Covey that reads, "I am convinced that if we as a society work diligently in every other area of life, and neglect the family, it would be analogous to straightening deck chairs on the Titanic." This is one of several reasons why the Georgia Family Council works tirelessly to build and strengthen families. They understand that strong families make lasting societies. With this premise they strive to promote family ties through policy studies, education and community awareness. They tackle a whole host of issues including Internet safety, anti human trafficking, and even dating seminars like, "Avoid falling for a jerk."

Photograph courtesy of the Georgia Family Council
In order to help fuel their community outreach, the Georgia Family Council recently put on a collaborative fundraiser and dinner that benefited 15 different non-profits. "Taste. Shop. Give." was billed as the ultimate charity experience. The event was held at the historic Georgia Railroad Freight Depot in Atlanta, Georgia. I felt honored that the Georgia Family Council asked me to host the dinner portion of the event.



Photograph by Andy Perkins

The event was well attended and the guests seemed very happy. I enjoyed meeting several fantastic people and I particularly loved the location. The Georgia Railroad Freight Depot is a grand old building that was built four years after the Civil war ended. Originally, it stood as a three-story Italianate; it now only has one story. A fire in 1935 forced the removal of the upper two floors. The building was designed by an architectural team named Corput and Bass who were hired to design buildings for Georgia's reconstruction after the war. Today it sits on the backside of a large parking garage that is painted with an unusual mural of a pod of North Atlantic Right Whales.