Welcome to the first edition our OLLI E-News featuring news and updates from our statewide and UVM campus sites. It has been a very exciting year on many fronts. Membership has grown by 5% across the state from Newport to Brattleboro and our new campus OLLI now has 186 new members. In total, our OLLI “nation” claims 724 members and we continue to grow thanks to the excellent work of our steering committees. My central OLLI team continues to work on infrastructure: recruiting and refining our OLLI instructor and membership database; updating our OLLI website; and supporting the development of new programming and events across all of our OLLI sites.
Our annual statewide meeting in September was well attended by our state representatives and very informative for me as a new director. After our presentation update, we broke into groups, of which I met with the OLLI executive committee. During our hour long session, the committee brought me up to speed on the duties and responsibilities of the committee as well as their vision for the future to strengthen our educational reach. We decided to broaden the executive committee to include one member from each site and to include some key members from affinity groups connected to the 50+ audiences. Cathi Cody-Hudson, our statewide administrator, will be working with me to gather nominations for this effort, so please be thinking about possible nomination.
In closing, I want to briefly say that in my year as director, I feel honored and so proud to be a member of this organization. The level of dedication and commitment of our members give me daily inspiration. OLLI headquarters has recently congratulated us on the stunning job our state is doing in bringing a rich array of courses and events to our Vermont audience.
Thank you all and I look forward to hearing from many of you in the coming year.
Director, OLLI at the University of Vermont
FROM OUR INSTITUTES
From OLLI at UVM
Mary Lucia Razza, Planner
This past summer, OLLI at UVM, our campus based OLLI, launched the first summer session with 10 courses and events. Our new members enjoyed a trip to Montreal, Spanish and French language courses, an Opera class and more! As soon as the summer session ended, we quickly transitioned to our fall session with expanded offerings and doubling our membership! This fall, members experienced “Wild Mushrooms in the Field and in the Kitchen”, made their first forays into Facebook, and studied environmental science and stewardship of Lake Champlain with faculty from the UVM Rubenstein School. Our spring classes will be ready for preview in mid-December. And what have our members had to say about OLLI at UVM?
Over the past year, OLLI members and UVM staff have worked together to meet the challenges of bringing a new program to the UVM campus. It has been quite a learning experience! A special thanks to our Advisory Board and our dedicated and committed Program Committee.
We look forward to the coming year as we continue to expand and refine our OLLI offerings by growing our member committees, essential to creating a robust and responsive OLLI at UVM!
Myra Fassler, Chair
One of our fall courses is “Ethics in a More than Human World.” We have been discussing the moral dimension of our relationship to the environment. One participant was inspired by the intense discussions to write the following poem:
Do Unto Others as They Would be Done Unto
We know the reason for life to be present
As one form existing for leader and peasant.
Other creatures seem born to be used
In view of the many who choose to abuse.
But what is the fight for some to use might
Regardless of feelings of those who have right
When reason is sung by those who don’t care
To the tune of profit with pain unaware?
For eons of time has created each creature.
To marvel at action and structure of feature
To think of the charm that one would be
Both here and now for us to see.
Respect all life for you who read
It’s wrong for any to inflict pain by deed
On wild life, game part of life’s treasure.
Stand and protest man’s evil called pleasure.
And strain to awaken love, caring, adore
All living things treat with kindness and more
Please don’t do to others be they man or beast
What they would not choose you to do in the least.
Reprinted by Permission of George Whitney, Author, 91 years young
From Central VT
Bob Rosenberg, Co-Chair
Our site runs smoothly, but we have noticed a drop in our usual membership for a fall semester. Our presenters have all been good, knowledgeable, and well-prepared. We have usually run sets of three programs around a named theme, such as Food, or Music, but for a change we have planned our upcoming spring semester as a potpourri of presentations with no particular grouping around themes. We have already confirmed speakers for all but one meeting.
One favorite presenter this Fall was Mark Greenberg who delivered two programs on the history of American traditional music. Mark illustrates his commentary with audio and video recordings and some live guitar performance. Mark gave us a scholarly presentation about a culturally important segment of popular music. His history includes references to traditional music in Vermont. He stressed how American traditional music has always been a mix of black-African and white-European influences.
Millie Marron, Chair
We have had a terrific Fall Series which started September 15th with two more lectures to go at this writing. Our Series will end November 10th.
To begin with, we have more than doubled our membership from 31 last semester to 63 presently! I attribute this to an interesting, high quality program, better PR and word of mouth, but also to sending a personalized member solicitation letter to all known past members shortly after mailing the Fall brochures.
Moreover, our total attendance has ranged from 51 to 102, which is excellent for us. The extensive positive attendee feedback has been most gratifying to me and my committee.
Because of our larger audiences, voice projection and hearing became issues to our OLLI. The committee felt the time had come to obtain a better audio system. Thus we purchased a fairly reasonable lapel microphone. This has enabled the presenter to move about freely when speaking and be heard by everyone. We have used this microphone now for three lectures very successfully. We feel the overall quality of the presentation and audience experience has much improved.
Our Winter/Early Spring Series will begin January 12. Our program and speakers are all selected, and we are getting all the contracts together presently.
Penny Packard, Chair
The actual site of the Newport/Derby/Stanstead OLLI plays a strong role in our group. We are right on the Canadian U.S. border (making us a unique OLLI site), and a good portion of the members and walk in attendees are Canadian. Though the two countries are very close, Americans and Canadians can have different perspectives and/or knowledge on topics, and listening to each others’ opinions certainly adds to the understanding of a subject.
With Canadian members have come suggestions of Canadian speakers, and the program committee has taken advantage of this larger base from which to find interesting and knowledgeable speakers.
An example of the benefit of the cross border relationship occurred recently when there was a request from a Canadian high school for interested OLLI members to become judges at its science fair. Happily one American OLLI scientist agreed to help out the school.
It is during the question periods and in the discussions around the snack table that it is realized how varied the interests and experiences are of the members of this site. To meet the members’ preferences to hear about a variety of topics, the program committee works hard to provide lectures each semester, that cover a range of subjects from nature, history, politics, science and all the art subjects (literature, music, and art work).
As noted above, the snack table has become a focal point after each lecture and more and more people are staying to enjoy the goodies as they socialize. The hospitality chair coordinates the delicious plates of veggies and dips, fruits, cakes, squares and muffins received each week from members. One person is in charge of bringing the carafes of hot water and the coffee (donated from Green Mountain Coffee).
For the last two semesters the program committee has included one person who sends out all the speaker contracts and documents electronically and it has been found to work very efficiently. The paperwork is returned much more quickly (electronically) and then the relevant information is more easily written up and forwarded to the printer for the brochures.
Some members hope for snow this winter, and others would prefer not to see any. No matter what your desire, you are wished good health for the winter season.
Pat Goetz, Co-Chair
The Rutland OLLI group has had an exciting fall program. We feel it is our mission to the community to be informative and provocative as well as entertaining. To these ends our series has been an eclectic mix. The first 4 lectures were on the written word, proverbs, political speech, censorship and “Vermont speak.” Our second set of lectures was “ripped from the headlines” as they focused on Pakistan, the current status of Afghanistan and India vis a vis our ally, the sometimes-murky situation there and the controversial madrasses education system. A huge change of pace was our third series, “A Brief History of the American Musical Theater” a completely delightful
saunter down memory lane. From the 1920s to the 1980s, each lecture was a music-filled, toe-tapping adventure. A happy continuum at all the OLLI programs has been our wonderful “greeter” at the door, Janet Alexander who has been welcoming our attendees for many years. Her unfailing charm and good humor is an important part of the Rutland OLLI experience.
From St. Albans
John Newton, Chair
St. Albans has just closed its books on five years and one hundred and twenty OLLI presentations. It would therefore be a most appropriate time to thank all the volunteers who have served over the years on our planning committees for all their efforts and congratulate them for scheduling yet another successful year.
This past series was especially notable for the exceptionally large number of walk-in attendees compared to our historic numbers. Our average for the first nine “semesters” was 198 walk-in visits by 118 individuals. Our Fall 2010 “semester” saw 294 walk-ins by 152 individuals. This is an increase of 96 walk-in visits by 34 additional people. And this increase did not come at the expense of subscriber numbers, as we had 78 this past session, which tied for 4th place on the all-time list.
I believe our improved results were, in part, because we had a most interesting mix of topics this session, but also I think our mailing list, which is now reaching nearly 600 addresses, is getting the word out to our target population. The mailing list is comprised of addresses from all past subscribers, walk-ins and even past speakers, so it is getting to the right people. It does represent the bulk of our efforts to market our “product”.
We have our “Spring 2011″ session all booked and the brochures will be out in January. We meet at 11:00 AM on Wednesday mornings (starting February 2, 2011) at the St. Albans Historical Museum (3rd floor). We look forward to seeing you at St. Albans OLLI.
From St. Johnsbury
Joan Tyler Mead, Publicity
We’ve gained a certain measure of Osher Maturity and Wisdom here at the St. Johnsbury site over the past seven years. Here are ten OMW highlights from St J:
- One Board is more efficient for us than having two committees for Steering and Programming.
- We create our own programming from scratch (a unique feature of most Vermont sites).
- For us, thematic programming works.
- How does each semester’s lecture series come into being?–with the three Ds: Development (slow), Difficulty (unexpected), Despair (occasional).
- Repeatedly we’re impressed by the richness of local, regional and statewide program materials.
- We have guidelines for speakers’ descriptions in brochure; for who introduces a speaker; for the introduction itself.
- We’ve developed a format for our brochure that is easily read and refrigerator-postable.
- Our membership will never be very large. It is loyal.
- Each semester we have a free luncheon for members before the first lecture.
- Our “home” is in the beautiful, newly renovated Catamount Arts Building.
Marita Johnson, Chair
Our Springfield Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) continues to love our history programs – especially local history. Members Bunni (Rosanne) and Hugh Putnam, presented a program, ‘Picture the Past’ with archival local photos showing the progression of the changes along Main St. over the last century which brought back memories of those attending. This was an extension of the research they have done over the last year for the local newspaper. In the photo above you can see Bunni (on the left) animatedly discussing some details after the program with our treasurer Joyce Lindamood.
Other history programs included tying in Vermont’s and Springfield’s connection with the Civil War, the story of Calvin Coolidge’s Inauguration in nearby Plymouth Notch in his living room in the middle of the night. The speaker asked members for their own remembrances of hearing of that event in 1923. History was highlighted through the arts of music and artwork when memories were jogged in the program ‘Popular Songs that Won WWII’ and again with the program ‘The WPA: The Depression and Great Art.’
Natural History was covered with a program on Vermont’s Birds of Prey by Michael Clough (in photo below) of the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum. Cathi Cody-Hudson, OLLI Statewide Administrator, was on hand to get up close and personal with the barred owl that he brought
We see new faces joining us with every program. People comment that they were so looking forward to retirement so they could finally come to our OLLI programs! And we draw in young people as home- schooled parents realize what a wonderful learning opportunity our programs provide for their children’s curriculum. The Cedar Hill Retirement Home in Windsor brings a busload of their clients each time as part of their activities offerings.
This newsletter is published monthly by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes of UVM. Since 2003, Adults 50 and better have enjoyed a diverse offering of intellectually stimulating courses and programs from Newport to Brattleboro as part of a national network of Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes (OLLIs). In 2010, the Bernard Osher foundation /granted additional funds to the University of Vermont /to establish a new OLLI on the UVM campus. OLLI at UVM provides members with access to the many resources of the University and new opportunities for lifelong learning in Vermont.