Tulsa: July 2011 Archives

events~~element283.jpgToday (Sunday, July 17, 2011) at 2 p.m. is the final performance of Encore! Theatre Company's production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, part of the SummerStage Festival at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Encore! is a 501(c)(3) non-profit

The show stars Encore! artistic director Josh Barker as Willy Wonka, Blake Simpson as Charlie Bucket, Reed Probst as Mike Teevee, Victoria Hannath as Veruca Salt, Abby Casciaro as Violet Beauregarde, Anthony Conroy as Augustus Gloop, and Mark Casciaro as Grandpa Joe. The director is Mindy Barker, who also plays Mrs. Beauregarde. The cast of 39 includes a dozen Oompa-Loompas.

Following the performance, there's a special treat: "Children who attend the show will receive a FREE chocolate bar, five of which will hide a GOLDEN TICKET to win fun prizes! (While supplies last.)"

events~~element356.jpgeventselement322-fix.jpgThis production has been a major part of our family's summer, with our older two kids rehearsing almost every night for their first Encore! production and my wife helping to sew Oompa-Loompa costumes.

Despite (or perhaps because of) all the hard work involved in preparing for this production, our kids have enjoyed the experience, and it's been especially exciting for them to have the opportunity to perform at the PAC. The Barkers put a huge amount of effort, creativity, and skill into the sets, costumes, sound effects, and choreography.

The show begins at 2 p.m. at the John H. Williams Theater downstairs at the PAC. (Use the 2nd Street entrance, just west of Cincinnati. Tickets are $16 for adults $16, $13 for seniors $13, $11 for children under 12. No convenience charge if you buy the tickets at the box office, which opens at noon.

The organization TulsaNow will celebrate its 10th anniversary tonight, July 15, 2011, with a reception at Harwelden, 2210 S. Main. Refreshments and hors d'oeuvres from Lambrusco'z at 5:30, presentation begins at 6. The organization will unveil plans for the future and will hand out a few awards to the winners of a vote by members of the TulsaNow email newsletter list.

I've been involved with the group since before it had a name, although travel and other busy-ness has had me less involved in the last couple of years.

TulsaNow was organized in 2001 following the defeat of the "It's Tulsa's Time" sales tax increase in November 2000. Back in a 2007 UTW column, I detailed the history of the TulsaNow organization to that point:

TulsaNow has its origins in early 2001, with a gathering of friends who were discouraged about the defeat of another flawed civic improvements sales tax package. ("It's Tulsa's Time," November, 2000.) The four founding members were all active in community organizations, but none of them were in positions of power and influence. They began working their networks to find other Tulsans from all parts of the community who shared their sense of urgency to get Tulsa moving again.

I was invited to participate a few months later and have been involved ever since, for the last few years as a board member. (So there's that disclosure out of the way.)

TulsaNow attracted many people who were frustrated that Tulsa's elected officials and Chamber of Commerce leaders suffered from a cargo-cult-like fixation on building a new arena as the solution to all our problems, while places like Kansas City and Salt Lake City were using their long-term community visioning efforts to address neighborhood integrity, historic preservation, land-use policies, suburban sprawl, and revitalization of the urban core--all issues that matter to a city's livability and long-term vitality.

Members of the group were involved in the process that led up to the Vision 2025 vote, helping to facilitate the discussions and tabulate all the responses at Mayor Bill LaFortune's July 2002 vision summit and participating in various task forces. (The complete vision summit report--with the presentations and all of the responses from the participants--is still online at http://www.tulsanow.org/summit/index.htm.)

TulsaNow's October 2002 "Battle of the Plans" brought out big crowds to hear from enthusiastic Tulsans present their dreams for the city.

Although members differed as to whether the final package was worthy of our support, TulsaNow's involvement did at least encourage the inclusion of funds for downtown residential development, a trail of historical markers (the Centennial Walk), neighborhood enhancements, and river improvements. And TulsaNow hosted what was perhaps the most substantive debate during the sales tax campaign.

While many elected officials considered the passage of Vision 2025 to be the end of the discussion about Tulsa's future, TulsaNow's leaders saw much work to be done in shaping a genuine and comprehensive vision for the city, an attitude reflected in its mission statement:

"TulsaNow's mission is to help Tulsa become the most vibrant, diverse, sustainable and prosperous city of our size. We achieve this by focusing on the development of Tulsa's distinctive identity and economic growth around a dynamic, urban core, complemented by a constellation of livable, thriving communities."

My column went on to mention several of TulsaNow's public discussions, such as the 2005 "Passing the Popsicle Test" forum on form-based codes as an alternative to traditional use-segregated zoning and another forum on zoning and land use in September 2006. TulsaNow sponsored city candidate forums in 2002, 2004, and 2006, and a public debate on the 2007 county river tax proposal. In 2008, TulsaNow stole a march on the city's official, paid downtown promoters by launching the DowntownLive website, a catalog of downtown merchants and restaurants.

I think it's fair to say that TulsaNow, particularly through the public events the group has sponsored, helped stimulate public discussion about land use and planning, laying the groundwork for the successful PLANiTULSA process. PLANiTULSA's focus on public engagement wouldn't have worked without a large segment of the public that understands the importance of land use and planning to our city's ongoing quality of life and our city government's ability to pay its bills.

While the adoption of a new comprehensive plan represents a milestone toward the goals that drew many of us to TulsaNow, we still need the principles in the comp plan implemented in the zoning code, and we need a planning director, planning commission, and elected officials willing to be guided by our new plan. Perhaps TulsaNow still has a role to play in bringing these ideas to fruition.

An early Happy Independence Day to one and all!

There are fireworks somewhere around Tulsa every night this weekend, and Tasha has the definitive list of Tulsa's 4th of July 2011 fireworks celebrations, with links to parking and traffic information for the bigger displays.

There's more to the weekend than just fireworks, and Tasha's got that list, too. One interesting Saturday item: Gilcrease Museum is screening 1776, the movie version of the musical about the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Full of memorable lyrics and melodies, it's one of our favorite musicals. ("Someone oughta open up a window!")

I hope all of us will take the time this weekend to remember the reason for the season. My wife pointed me to a blog entry about Independence Day as recorded in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little Town on the Prairie:

Consider this passage from the story in which a local politician is chosen to read the entire Declaration of Independence to the crowd:
Laura and Carrie knew the Declaration by heart, of course, but it gave them a solemn, glorious feeling to hear the words. They took hold of hands and stood listening in the solemnly listening crowd. The Stars and Stripes were fluttering bright against the thin, clear blue overhead, and their minds were saying the words before their ears heard them.
As I read this passage to my family, I realized that these pioneers took it for granted that the Declaration of Independence would be read in its entirety every July 4th. More than that, they assumed that everyone in the crowd had it memorized and would be silently reciting the words along with the reader. Having this annual celebration and a shared cultural document makes this a crowd of ardent patriots, and binds them together in a unified community....

For Laura Ingalls Wilder, the combined reading of the Declaration of Independence and the singing of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" sparked new thoughts about freedom as she contemplated words which were old and familiar.

The crowd was scattering away then, but Laura stood stock still. Suddenly she had a completely new thought. The Declaration and the song came together in her mind, and she thought: God is America's king. She thought: Americans won't obey any king on earth. Americans are free. That means they have to obey their own consciences. No king bosses Pa; he has to boss himself. Why (she thought), when I am a little older, Pa and Ma will stop telling me what to do, and there isn't anyone else who has a right to give me orders. I will have to make myself be good. Her whole mind seemed to be lighted up by that thought. This is what it means to be free. It means, you have to be good. 'Our father's God, author of liberty--'The laws of Nature and of Nature's God endow you with a right to life and liberty. Then you have to keep the laws of God, for God's law is the only thing that gives you a right to be free.

Blogger Jennifer Courtney points out that this sort of insight is the product of the traditional emphasis on memorization in the early years of school, the grammar stage of the classical trivium:

This transition for Laura is a perfect illustration of a child moving from the grammar stage (memorizing and reciting the songs and the Declaration) to the logic stage. Her solid foundation in American history gave her a firm basis for later thinking big thoughts about the idea of freedom. She reasons out the source of freedom and rightly draws conclusions about the both the liberties and the restrictions of handling freedom properly.

Rote memorization has been trashed by progressive educators for a century or so, but learning texts like these by heart helped children internalize the ideals contained within and made them resistant to those who would undermine our founding principles. (Maybe that's why progressive educators trash memorization.)

So amidst the heat of the day and the celebrations, remember our founders, and their bold resolve to make our nation free.

And keep safe. Stay away from the blue-green algae.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa category from July 2011.

Tulsa: June 2011 is the previous archive.

Tulsa: August 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]