Celebrate today!


I haven’t joined in Ruth Ayres’ Celebrate Link-up in quite a while, even though I make a mental list of celebrations most weeks. I just usually don’t end up at my computer to write on post on Saturdays. But I love this link-up so I’m joining in late this week and just making it a quick one. Hopefully that will spur more celebration posts in the weeks to come.

My celebrations this week are both work-related.

  • I work with good people. There’s no particular event or anecdote that prompts this one, but it’s true, and it’s important not to take that for granted.
  • I’m still not bored. During the school year I often told people my job was hectic but I was glad I wasn’t bored. Summer is slightly slower in that I’m not actively visiting schools or events, but there were those minor things known as district and state budgets over the last month, so I’ve still been busy. And while I love observing classes and interviewing young people, I’ve also been delighting in a lot of data crunching and spreadsheet exploration in recent weeks. I love that journalism gives me the chance to practice different skills and learn about a range of subjects continuously.

My new blog on social justice & children’s books

Hi friends, I’ve created a new website, KaraNewhouse.com, where I’ll be exploring children’s book about cultures and social change on my way to getting mine own picture books published.

In the first two posts, I review two picture books about little boys that love dresses and a middle-grade novel set in Chile under dictatorship. If you’re a teacher, a parent, or just someone who enjoys kidlit (like me!), I’ll hope you’ll head over there and become a subscriber!


Faces of Mental Health Recovery is back!

A public art project I helped start with the I’m the Evidence campaign is opening a new exhibit this week. Our first photography workshop and exhibit was in Perry County in October. Last month, I led another workshop with a new group of people in recovery from illness (+ their supporters) at Montgomery County Community College. The Faces of Mental Health Recovery exhibit will open with a reception there on Thursday evening.

Here’s a peek at the 2×3-foot wheat paste portraits.

More photos coming soon. I promise!


Photos of the Day: Cherry Blossoms at the Jefferson Memorial

One of the basic photo concepts I love to teach is framing. As a photographer, you choose what gets included and excluded from the frame. Which can make for totally different representations of a scene. For example…

D.C. Cherry Blossoms

The Jefferson Memorial with the cherry blossoms,

D.C. Cherry Blossoms

And without. April 2014

Photos of the Day: Louisiana Loom Works

These photos, taken at Louisiana Loom Works in New Orleans,  are for my mom, who taught me to weave and knows a heck of a lot more about looms than I do.

Cat-lovers will like these shots, too. (I’m looking at you, Molly.)

Louisiana Loom Works

Louisiana Loom Works sells customs rag rugs woven on behemoth looms in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Taken on a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone. Feb. 2014

Louisiana Loom Works

The shop has a few resident cats. Feb. 2014

Louisiana Loom Works

A cat’s dream playground: tons of yarn and massive bolts of fabric. Feb. 2014

Olsen Nash: Street artist in New Orleans

I’m going on a vacation soon, and I’m reluctant to take my camera because it’s full of photos I haven’t sorted and added to Flickr yet. So I’ve vowed to add one new album of my backlogged photos to Flickr each day this week. The first set includes shots from a February visit to New Orleans. I went for an education writers conference and got to do a day of sight-seeing. Walking around the French Quarter, I stopped to talk with (and buy a painting from) this artist.

New Orleans

Olsen Nash paints jazz musicians on 175-year-old roofing slate from the French Quarter in New Orleans. Feb. 2014

New Orleans

Olsen Nash painting. New Orleans. Feb. 2014

I asked Olsen about when he started painting, how he learned and whether he makes a living doing it. He’s been making and selling paintings in Jackson Square for 20 years.

“I’ll really do this for nothing, but if people want to pay for it, I’ll take it,” he told me.

Olsen also shared a story from when he was nine and his teacher hung up a picture he drew of a tree and put stars around it. His best friend, Lonnie, told the teacher he traced it, which wasn’t true. Olsen went home crying, but his uncle said, “Don’t you know what this means? If they thought you traced it, that means they thought you trace it off a professional. And that means you have some ability of a professional.”

“So ever since then, I stuck with it,” Olsen explained.

My chat with Olsen stuck with me more than visiting any tourist destination. He’s living the example of doing what you love.

A life of comfort

There are many ways that my life in Lancaster is comfortable.

I make  more money at my current job than at previous ones, so I’m not stressing and pinching pennies as much.

I grew up in the area, so I know where to go for tooth paste or jeans or vegetables.

My parents and some good friends live nearby, so I get to spend time with people who know me well.

I also have my health and a pleasant apartment with large windows.


But there are things I’m not comfortable about six months after moving here.


I’m not comfortable that in a city that’s 39 percent Latino, 16 percent black and has a significant refugee population, I rarely interact with people of a different race, ethnicity or nationality than me (white, from the U.S.).

I’m not comfortable that I also rarely interact with people who aren’t middle class.

I’m not comfortable that I don’t know any of my neighbors.

I’m not comfortable that I know little about the struggles of people living here — not the latest issue that liberal, white activists are haranguing people about, but the issues that are affecting poor and working people across races.


You could say I don’t have an anthropological view of this place. Or you could say I live in a bubble. So now the question is, what am I going to do about it?



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