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Shepherdstown Community garden is organizing again… there are still some plots left this year.


My wife, who directs the Shepherdstown Community Garden, is getting together with those interested on Sunday morning (April 15) at 8:45 AM to do manure spreading on the garden. On Saturday the 21st there will be a seed exchange in the morning (@10 – 12 Noon) and then a group meeting of gardeners from 12 to 1:30 PM. At 3:00 PM, Sustainable Shepherdstown will be hosting a film, “Good Food“, at the Opera House.

If you are interested in getting one of the remaining plots at the Community Garden, here’s the info:

1. The prices will remain the same. $20 for your first 10′ x 10′ plot, $5 for each additional – So 20 x 15 would be $25, 20 x 20 would be $30, etc.

2. We will e-mail a copy of the current plot map upon request. The contract can also be sent in a separate email. E-mail Ellen Smith at . You can mail a check to Ellen Smith at 2873 Engle Molers Road, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425.
We are really hoping to get all the plots sold or under straw/cardboard etc., so we do not have to mow and do not have to have weeds. Then we can work on making the paths unattractive to weeds. If you know someone who would like to join us, now is the time!

Community garden was one of the most successful programs last year, thanks to the cooperation with Morgan’s Grove Market and Peter Corum. It is protected from deer and other creatures by an eight foot high fence built by members and has access to running water.

If you are interested in joining this phenomenal group of gardeners, get with it before all the plots are gone.


Tonite was my first Full Circle Board meeting

I was just put on the Full Circle Theater Company Board of Directors and tonite was my first Board Meeting. Lots of stuff to learn, especially in the area of where they expect to raise money.

One of the things I want to do is evaluate what regional grants are available… plus look into the promotion and advertising of ticket sales and the expansion of program advertising.

It is NOT going to be easy. However…

Onward and Upward.

Toward a Community Garden…

Elly and I just came from an interesting meeting in the “Great Hall” of O’Hurley’s General Store in Shepherdstown (WV), where around twenty or so locals showed up to discuss the idea of a Community Garden. This is something Elly is very interested in, since our bucket gardening area is so small…and now that we are Vegans, we also have a commitment to making sure we eat vegetables grown without chemical additives, etc.

Ruth Raubertas, my Music Director on The Hunting of the Snark, was there with her husband Mike (they own The Four Seasons Book Store), as were people representing Shepherd students, the Sustainable Shepherdstown group, a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, and a bunch of others. Peter Corum, who we met when we first started looking for a place to live in Shepherdstown, since he was promoting an artist’s development, was there… we hadn’t spoken with him in a couple of years. In general, it was a pretty interesting group.

We signed a couple of lists to get on structuring groups… now we’ll see what happens.

Onward and upward.

Some thoughts on the CATF and Theatre in general..

This has been an interesting summer season. Elly and I have seen all the CATF plays, both of the staged readings (presented at Full Circle), had Breakfast with Ed, attended two lectures, and, in general, have done about as much participation in the Festival as an attendee is allowed. I am left with a couple of thoughts.

1. The Age of the Audience. You can’t help but notice that the great majority of audience members at the CATF are “grayhairs.” This, of course, includes me, a 63-year old. While there are some student attendees and some younger associates of mine who ushered in order to see plays, even the ushers were mostly older folks.

There are two reasons for the audience’s age. The first is the cost of tickets. For working or retired adults, this cost isn’t too bad (compare it with theatre costs in D.C. or – shudder – NYC). For students and kids who work locally for $8.00 an hour (or less), this is not an affordable entertainment… certainly not when compared with films.

The second is marketing. The focus on CATF’s marketing seems to be toward its existing market… mail, e-mail, off-season promotional events… and that market gets older every year. The case is not being made to younger audiences on why they should be saving their pennies for tickets next year. Development of a younger audience requires a serious focus on both youth economics and youth subject matter considerations. While we often see plays by younger writers, we rarely see plays on “younger subjects” (a play like “1001” two seasons ago was the kind of play that had a really young message, relating to the mideast crisis effecting younger lives.)

Don’t get me wrong, the plays and subject matter this year were very fulfilling to me as an audience member. But I will state again that I am 63 and am at the “looking back” point of living. While the Festival satisfies this need, it limits its focus on younger issues.

2. The relationship with Shepherdstown. Elly and I often say that the CATF was one of the reasons we moved to Shepherdstown. It’s true. Part of that is our previous lives as New Yorkers or a Provincetonians… we always like living in communities that support the arts that we went to college for and committed large parts of our working lives to.

This year, however, I noticed much less tightness in the Town/Festival relationship. No big signs in the center of town showing each day’s performances, for instance. Now I realize that these are usually on Shepherd U. property, but downtown is downtown… it is the two blocks that tourists and other visitors always come to, to eat or shop or just walk up and down the street looking at our aging architecture.

And take the presentation of the staged readings at Full Circle Theater, a new, but very active Community Theatre now in its third year. While mentioning the Full Circle location, address and phone number in the program for the CATF productions, there was no press release support, no advertising, no posters… no mention of either the readings or location on the regular web site of CATF OR Full Circle Theater. I took it upon myself to send announcements to the Visitor’s Center and other local agencies, but I can’t help think how much better this would have been if promoted in advance by the producing organization… both as a way of getting MORE community involvement and as a way of attracting a younger audience for whom FREE is a magic word.

I don’t know what the attendance stats are for this season, but given the general economy, I won’t be surprised if there was limited growth over previous seasons. This, of course, is outside the control of both the producing organization and Shepherdstown itself. But it is clearly a time for focus and changes in approach.