Looking for a unique holiday gift?                          11/21/2017

Last year in December I was asked if I were available to call a family square dance party on the 27th. My client had asked her daughter-in-law what she wanted for a gift, and the young woman replied, "I don't want to open another present -- I want family time." Mom booked the lobby of a church around the corner from their house, and picked up a couple dozen bandanas from the dollar store. Daughter-in-law opened a box of bandanas, and had to guess what this meant...

They had a great time. Four adult kids and SOs, 'tween grands, and a couple of toddlers meant that we had 16 dancers, and spares to help the tiny ones. An hour of fun for me, and long-lasting family memories for them. Mom set her tablet down; I picked it up and walked around videoing the proceedings for them.
Best part: it wasn't a gift for one person, to be worn or used or eaten, then forgotten. They all shared it.

Here they are! (I created several dance-along-at-home videos for the 2020 Kalamazoo New Years Fest)

Let's hold hands and breathe on each other

If you wanted to create the perfect pandemic super-spreader activity, a contra dance would seem to be the best method: Hold a stranger in your arms and spin around, causing your heart rate and respiration to go up. Set that one down, and swing the next. Miss anyone? Make sure you dance with everyone who's present. Rinse 'n repeat for three hours.

In March 2020 I took on the coordination of a mask-crafting group. West Michigan Sews Hope created some 17,000 pieces of PPE: masks, scrub caps, and ear savers. All distributed free, by request from food banks, community gardens, social service agencies, The Rapid bus service, a children's ICU, municipal departments, and more. Our network of ~400 sewists used their own fabric stash, trading and exchanging with others. We put the word out and received donations of fabric and elastic.
For entertainment during the lock-down, I rode my bike between the homes of our participants. Pick up finished masks from one, drop off fabric and supplies to another.

And in October, masks began to appear at gas stations and store check-outs.
I tried Zoom dances ... the true joy of a public dance event comes from the interactions with others, be they old friends or newcomers.

At this writing (June 2023) the pandemic restrictions have been lifted. Such a relief.