"Natural Playscapes: Creating Outdoor Play Environments for the Soul" By Rusty Keeler


A playground should have its focus on the play, not the ground.  Traditionally our parks, schoolyards, child care centers and other places were equipped with a few pieces of simple equipment — what’s the physical or educational value of a see-saw? — scattered around a paved and fenced-in area.  The resemblance to a prison yard might not be coincidental. In recent years, however, there has been a movement away from playgrounds as “hard architecture” in favor of blending children’s play space with the natural environment, or even creating a natural setting that will be as stimulating to the mind and imagination as it would be activating to the muscles. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-829253.mp3

In recent years, however, there has been a movement away from playgrounds as “hard architecture” in favor of blending children’s play space with the natural environment, or even creating a natural setting that will be as stimulating to the mind and imagination as it would be activating to the muscles.  One of the leaders of this trend is Rusty Keeler, an industrial designer who has brought his visions and plans to places from his own town in New York’s Southern Tier to Chuzhou in China.  His new book “Natural Playscapes: Creating Outdoor Play Environments for the Soul” is both a work of personal philosophy, a treatise on natural history and human design, and a do-it-yourself guide to planning and construction.  It is also an inviation to (once again) see the world from a child’s perspective. Bend down on the hands and knees of your mind and imagine how a child might experience the change of seasons.  For the youngest children it is a brand new experience.  This is important.  This is profound.  What hints of seasonal change will your children discover in your outdoor spaces right now?  We adults must create environments that sing and and celebrate the seasons.  We can plant trees that give shade in the summer, burst into color in the fall (and provide loads of leaves to play with), go dormant and woody in winter, then in spring renew the cycle with a sea of green.  Beautiful. And there are so many plants that do that: tall trees, short trees, shrubs, vines and grasses.

"When All the Men Were Gone: World War II and the Home Front, One Boy's Journey Through the War Years" By Ronald G. Capalaces


There are vast libraries filled with documentation of the Second World War, from military records to history books, biographies, novels and plays.  The works still appear — there’s always something more to tell about the pivotal conflict of the 20th century.  Even now we still speak about “post war” facts and experiences.  “When All the Men Were Gone: World War II and the Home Front, One Boy’s Journey Through the War Years” is the latest in a WW2 literary sub-genre: the memories of being a child in wartime.  As author Ronald G. Capalaces writes, his generation was “not the greatest, but the one closest to it.” http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-929029.mp3

Ron Capalaces’s homefront was based in the First Ward of Binghamton, NY., a working class neighborhood anchored by Clinton Street, now the city’s Antique Row. He was raised by a single mother within a strong extended family, attended the Daniel S. Dickinson School and had pals called Dutchie, Tootsie, Jug-Bug and Yonkie.  The kids were taught right from wrong, which didn’t seem to stop them from sneaking into movies at the Ritz Theater or snatching a penny candy from Parrish’s Candy Store on Mygatt Street.  And even though they recognized the dangers of swimming in the Chenango River, it was exciting to play hide and seek around Cutler’s Dam.  “Every summer someone drowned,” Capalaces writes.  “Sometimes you never  knew anyone was missing or in trouble until a pile of clothes lay unclaimed on the dam for a day or two.”  But the war was an inescapable fact of life, even for a child in Binghamton. You could feel things changing on Clinton Street.  Women and girls worked real jobs, the ones the men left behind.  The big crowds of people were gone and you started to get a sad feeling like riding a merry-go-round when the music ends and the horses slow down.  On Clinton Street, kids could remember or forget their troubles, or just waste time waiting for the day when everyone would be home again and the street would look and sound and smell the way it once did.  In the meantime, you had the feeling you were on your own. — from “When All the Men Were Gone”
There were also institutions that gave some direction and protection to young people, especially the Boys’ Club on the corner of East Clinton and Washington.  Young “Cappy” went there for the games and sports, but also found himself involved in civic activities (he was even elected to serve a day as the “Boy Mayor” of Binghamton).  He joined the Victory Volunteers, a uniformed cadre sponsored by the Boys’ Club that carried out such essential wartime support activity as collecting kitchen fats for recycling into ammunition.  His first assignment was pulling a wagon from one splendid mansion to the next along Riverside Drive to ask wealthy residents for their drippings.  The club provided many growing experiences which Ron Capalaces has not forgotten.  A portion of the proceeds from sale of “When All the Men Were Gone” will go to support what is now the Boys and Girls Clubs of Binghamton.

"King Bridge Over Troubled Waters" By Karen Van Etten


Upstate New York is one of those regions where the natural and built environments blend together while the old and new may stand side by side.  History and heritage can be found not only in beloved churches and courthouses but in barns and gristmills, even those that may be collapsing.  Sometimes the landmark or scenic spot will find friends and protectors — Vestal has preserved an old coal house, Norwich still has its DL&W railroad observation tower — but it always takes concentrated effort to keep something whose original use has faded. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-1026560.mp3

Saving the Zenas King Iron Bowstring Bridge that crosses the West Branch of Cayuga Inlet in Newfield, NY was in some ways more difficult than preserving a superannuated City Hall (Binghamton) or even an old county jail (Owego).  For one thing, the bridge itself had become something of an eyesore and thus one of those things that people could stop noticing.  It was old — the ribbon was snipped in 1873 — and not very large — 54 feet long and barely wide enough for a Model-T.  It has been obsolete since the advent of the automobile and closed to all but foot traffic since 1972. What’s more there is an 1853 wooden covered bridge just downstream from the bowstring bridge, serving both quaintness and convenience. But the iron bridge had value in itself, and as Newfield and its bridge entered the 21st century stabilization and preservation found a champion in Karen Van Etten.  She grew up in Maryland, served in the U.S. Air Force as an emergency room technician, married and came to Newfield to raise a family. She took a keen interest in her adopted community, where an uncle was Town Supervisor.  In 2000 Newfield’s covered bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places and Karen’s concern grew for the iron bridge.  She ran for town board as an independent, losing twice but winning election in 2001 (by four votes).  She could now work from inside the system, and it’s from that perspective that she tells the story of saving the Zenas King Bowstring Bridge.

Painter GC Myers

Gary Myers paints as GC Myers. In 1993 while recovering from a fall from a 16 foot ladder, he began painting with some old brushes from a previous failed attempt. Suddenly it all made sense to him. He was able to see color harmony and form better. Within 3 years he became a full time painter.

Wine Artist Amelia Fais Harnas

Amelia Fais Harnas has been surrounded by art her entire life. She loves working with people and making portrait art. She finds enjoyment in the pioneering aspect of being an artist and making something out of nothing. In July 2010, she began making wine stains. She didn’t show her work to anyone for a year as she was nervous as to what would happen to the paintings.

March on Washington 50th Anniversary

WSKG IS COMMEMORATING THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE HISTORIC MARCH ON WASHINGTON THAT OCCURRED ON AUGUST 28, 1963. Local marchers and organizers have shared their stories with us. A national documentary, The March, will premiere on August 27th at 9:00pm on WSKG TV. And we also want to hear from you. Join in a live chat during the premiere on August 27th, and interact with national and local figures, including SCLC Director of Education and Ithaca resident Dr. Dorothy Cotton, during a day-long Digital March online screening and live chat.

Ithaca College Professor Preserves Civil Rights History and Connects Students to the Past

James Rada had an idea – to record the voices of everyday people who participated in the March on Washington on August 28th, 1963. Rather than focusing on notable figures from the Civil Rights movement, the Ithaca College professor and documentarian interviewed the foot soldiers, people who drove, hitchhiked and walked to the march and for the opportunity to hear Martin Luther King Jr. speak. “We know many of the big names from that day. They’ve been interviewed, they’ve been profiled, they have their own historians. But the strength of the March on Washington, the strength of democracy, is not that one individual… it’s those 250,000 people,” Rada says.

What do Today's Kids Think About the March on Washington?

August 28th, 2013 marks 50 years since the historic March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. WSKG joins the nation in commemorating the anniversary with a series of 50th Anniversary shows, videos, live chats and more. As part of that series, we interviewed local community members who attended and played active roles in the march. Many locals were young when the march happened, but they remember it well. We started to wonder: what do today’s kids think about an event that happened 50 years ago, long before they were born?

"The Laws of Gravity" By Liz Rosenberg


Liz Rosenberg’s literary career has led her through many genres and settled her works onto many bookshelves.  She has a fine reputation as a poet, is noted as the author of more than 20 books for children including “Adelaide and the Night Train”. Her 2011 picture book,”Tyrannosauris Dad” was selected as a Children’s Book of the Month Club bestseller, Her literary presence grew up with her readership with books for young adults, notably “17: A Novel in Prose Poems”.  She has written about women and Judaism in collaboration with Rivka Slonim, in “Total Immersion: A Mikvah Anthology”.  For more than 15 years she has been a book reviewer for the Boston Globe.  And all this time Professor Rosenberg has been teaching creative writing at Binghamton University.  She made a well-received move into adult fiction in 2009 with her novel “Home Repairs”, which is set in the Binghamton region where she has lived for many years. http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/national/local-national-1026278.mp3
Her second novel, “The Laws of Gravity” contuinues to show her concern for and understanding of family dynamics.  In this case, it is a prosperous Jewish family on Long Island’s fashionable North Shore, where Liz was born and raised.  Their happiness is fractured when Nicole Greene is diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma and Nicole must turn to her cousin Ari, with whom she has had a special bond since childhood, to beg him to release umbilical cord blood that was taken after his wife had a child.  But Ari feels that the blood was banked should it be needed by his own children (or, one can easily imagine, Ari himself).  His reluctance isolates him within the family.  His mother, Nicole’s Aunt Patti, a professional actress and the family matriarch, tells her, “The purpose of family is to preserve life…We treat family members the way we’re suposed to treat everyone else on the planet.  Listen, Nikki — if you died Ari would never forgive himself.”  But despite their closeness and the closeness of Ari’s son Julian and Nicole’s daughter Daisy, whose warm relationship replicates that of Nicole and Ari when they were young, Ari demurs. Nicole came down with bronchitis on the autumn day [she and Ari] were to have met.  A freak snowstorm, a letter that gets stuck in a grate, a case of food poisoning, a cough, and history begins marching off in a different direction. The chemotherapy had made Nicole more vulnerable to every bug, and whenever she got sick, the sickness seemed to hold on a lttle longer, a little tighter, like a burr.  She called to reschedule the meeting with Ari, but when her cousin heard Nicole’s scratchy voice on the phone it was with a kind of deep-down relief that he seized the opportunity to refuse.  She didn’t sound like herself, but like a stranger.  You could say no to a stranger.    –from “The Laws of Gravity”
So, with support from her husband as well as Ari’s wife Mimi, Nicole sues to obtain the cord blood.  The case is assigned to the court of New York Supreme Court Justice Solomon Richter, who will hear it as his last case before retirement, literally a Solomonic decision.

Painter Orazio Salati

Orazio Salati and his familyI immigrated to the United States from Arnara, Italy in 1955. His artistic journey began then, at the age of seven, as he was unable to speak the language of the new land and found his means of communication and self expression to be through the arts. His mother and father encouraged and supported his interests from the very beginning, both working long hours at local factories, in difficult jobs, in order to nurture his talents. He is forever indebted to them for their kindness, dedication, and support.