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Susan Earle Discusses the Aaron Douglas Mural Project

Susan Earle - Curator, European & American Art - KU Spencer GallerySusan Earle, curator of European and American art at the Spencer museum chronicled the life and death of a downtown Lawrence mural when she told the story of The Pollinator.

The Pollinator was on a wall of what was then the Aquila building at 9th and New Hampshire from 2007 until March, 2015. It was inspired by the work of Aaron Douglas, a black Topeka artist, who graduated from Topeka High School in 1917 and, against formidable odds, became the first black to get an art degree at Nebraska University. He also earned a masters degree at Columbia. He studied in Paris, taught at Fisk University and, in addition to murals, designed posters, book covers for major authors and journal covers.

Aaron Douglas Mural ProjectAfter the Spencer purchased one of his murals, the idea grew for a mural in Lawrence to commemorate the influence of Douglas and other Kansas blacks including Langston Hughes, Gordon Parks and Gwendolyn Brooks, in pollinating art in America. The mural’s name reflects one of Brooks’ poems: “We are each others’ harvest . . .”

Local artist David Lowenstein led the project, aided by a large committee which included Central Rotarian Carolyn Chinn Lewis. Grants, community support and private donations provided funding. The completed mural faced the Farmers’ Market, creating a downtown site celebrating all aspects of the harvest.

By 2014 the building had been sold and marked for demolition. “We spent months trying to figure out a way to save the mural,” Earle said. “ We thought of moving the wall or taking it apart brick by brick.” But none of these ideas worked and the building was demolished in March.

“The owners have promised us wall space for a mural on the new multi-purpose building they are constructing at the site,” Earle said. “And it will still face the Farmers’ Market.

Doctor Roger L. Boyd Talks About the Baker Wetlands

Roger Boyd Discusses the Baker WetlandsThe Baker Wetlands was the subject of Doctor Roger L. Boyd’s presentation. Doctor Boyd is the Baker Wetlands Education Coordinator and a biology professor emeritus, Baker University. Preservation of wetlands is important where ever they are found as they function as a check on flooding, filter pollutants and serve as a unique habitat for plants and animals. Haskell University acquired the area in 1854 and drained it and used it for agricultural instruction. Baker University acquired the site in 1968 and in 1990 restoration began. Drainage ditches were plugged with good results. A thirty year controversy threatened the project as plans to link up highway 10 with a passage through the wetlands was fought over. The project was finally approved with a promise to reduce the impact of a roadway on the area and there was a significant property exchange that benefited both parties.

An 11,800 square foot Discovery Center will open in July and there are plans for camping areas and trails. Recent rains have speeded up the restoration. The Baker Wetlands will function as a giant outdoor classroom for area students and researchers from Haskell University, Emporia State University and Kansas University.

Prof. Mark Gerges Discusses the Fall of France in World War II

Prof Mark Gerges discusses the 75th anniversary of the fall of France to Nazi GermanyMark Gerges, Assistant Professor from the Department of Military History at Ft. Leavenworth, marked the 75th anniversary of the fall of France to Nazi Germany with his program at Lawrence Central Rotary.  This historic event occurred in June 1940.  Gerges’ explained that the fall was not a result of superior German military skill or resources, as some have claimed.  Rather, France fell as the result of a number of small twists of luck and the initiative of a few German leaders.

Gerges used maps to highlight the planned movement of allied forces and German onslaughts.  The French front was brittle; it had had no depth of resources.  Half as many men were in the French army in 1940 compared to its force in 1914.  But Germany was not as strong as they claimed either.  In particular, the German tanks were not as plentiful along the French front as portrayed in the media.  The photos of hefty German tanks were of tanks actually located in Norway, not on the French border.

Gerges also emphasized the strength and weakness of the two different command and control models that the  Germans and the Allies used.  The Germans encouraged individual initiative and maneuvering;  the French used a “fan” approach where central control managed troop movements.  Gerges believe that the German model is what gave them the victory.

Gerges will speak on “The Fall of France” at KC Library on Tuesday, June 30, at 6:30 p.m.

KU Business School’s Dee Steinle Discusses the New Online MBA Program

KU School of Business' Dee SteinleThe School of Business at KU is launching anew online MBA program. The new facet to the school was presented by Administrative Director of Masters Programs, Dee Steinle, who is the wife of Central Rotarian Michael Steinle.

“It’s an interesting way for a University to do business,” she said of the growing online presence  of university classes.

“Two years ago KU launched an online special education degree,” Steinle said. When market research showed an MBA would find an audience,  the process began.

Citing her own middle school aged son’s ease with learning online she said predictions are that by 2020 there will be five million online students in the country.  Currently there are 450 MBA programs on line but only 20 are ranked programs. “It’s getting harder for people to attend classes in person,” she said “so this is the answer.”

KU will provide the “talent,” creating the syllabus and teaching the courses, the first one to be offered in August, the second in October. EverSpring, a private company out of  Chicago will handle the technical details.

“There’s going to be a lot of learning on my part as we ramp this up,” she said.  They are formulating an admissions process and creating an eight-week cycle of class offerings. “We will  try to keep human touches too, providing places for students and graduates of the program to come together.

For more information about the program point your browser to

Lawrence Central Rotary Welcomes New Member Margaret Morris

Morris_DeSalvoLawrence Central Rotary welcomed a new member and learned about a new KU program at its meeting on May 27.

Margaret Weisbrod Morris, chief program officer for the Lawrence Arts Center became an official Rotarian after having visited the club several times. President Carolyn DeSalvo  gave her membership materials and her pin.

Margaret Weisbrod Morris came to the Lawrence Arts Center from the Kansas Arts Commission where she was the program manager for Arts in Education. She managed the funding, partnerships, and initiatives related to arts education for the state arts agency, and served as the program administrator and event producer for the Kansas Governor’s Arts Awards and the Kansas chapter of the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Competition.

Before moving to Kansas, she created studio art and art therapy programs for non-profit organizations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and provided training on the use of art in social service and community settings. Ms. Weisbrod Morris is active in the arts education and non-profit community, presenting in national forums such as the Arts Education Partnership’s National Forum, the National Association for State Arts Agencies National Assembly, National Art Education Association’s National Conference and the Americans for the Arts – Arts Education blog salon. She has served as a panelist for the US Department of Education, National Endowment for the Arts, Mid America Arts Alliance and the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Morris holds a B.F.A. in painting and printmaking from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and studied with Edith Kramer, the founder of the field of art therapy, to get her M.A. degree from New York University.

Local Agencies Work to Help Local Kids “Back 2 School”

Back 2 School Supply DriveEven though the 2014-2015 school year is just coming to a close, plans are already underway for “Back 2 School” for Fall 2015.  The project will provide school supplies, backpacks, and new shoes to children who cannot afford to purchase those supplies themselves.

Every child needs school supplies to begin the school year with confidence.  With “Back 2 School,” families who live at 185% of poverty level may apply for assistance.  In USD 497, there are 1,648 children, ages 5 to 17, who qualify.  That is 13.8% of the Lawrence school system enrollment.

Rotarian Jim Evers, Director of Development for Douglas County Salvation Army, introduced the join initiative to Lawrence Central Rotary members.  Kyle Roggenkamp, Human Services Director at The Ballard Center and Penn House, and Colleen Gregoire, Vice President and Campaign Manager, United Way of Douglas County, shared stories about the project.  East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation (ECKAN) is also part of the alliance.  Other sponsors include First Christian Church, Hallmark, the City of Lawrence, Office Depot, Walmart and Radio 92.9, KLWN AM 1320, and KKSW 105.9.

Local agencies will work with the school district and other groups to develop a list of families who need “Back 2 School” assistance.  In July, volunteers will encourage donations for paper, notebooks, pencils, and other materials listed by the local school district as necessary for a well-prepared student in the fall.  United Way also hopes to include a new book for each child as well.  In August, other volunteers will pack each backpack with the appropriate supplies for each grade level; buy shoes for children; and prepare for distribution day.

It is the second year of collaboration among these agencies.  In 2013, the Penn House alone distributed school supplies to 598 children.  Last year, the first year of collaboration, Penn House, Ballard Center, and the Salvation Army distributed backpacks and pairs of shoes to 833 children K-12.  The goal for this fall is to serve 1120 children in four school districts:  Lawrence, Perry/LeCompton, Baldwin, and Eudora.

USD 497’s Danica Moore Discusses Racial Equity in Lawrence

Danica Moore Danica Moore is a busy lady.  Her title is the Equity TOSA or “Teacher on Special Assignment” but it’s so much more than that.  One of her goals is to be in every classroom in the district at least twice a year to observe and help teachers as she’s the point person for  USD 497’s Beyond Diversity, E-Team, and CARE Team Programs.

A major focus of the Lawrence Public Schools’ work this last year toward its Equity Goal – to raise the achievement of all students, while closing achievement gaps – involves school board members, administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and community partners participating in Beyond Diversity training. This two-day seminar serves as the foundation to the Pacific Educational Group’s (PEG) Courageous Conversations about Race programming, which the Lawrence school district began implementing in 2009. Participants describe Beyond Diversity as a powerful, personally transforming experience. The training is designed to equip participants to understand the impact of race on student achievement and the role that racism plays in institutionalized racial disparities. The goal is to have all the employees of USD 497 to have taken this training.

In the spring of 2011, each high school and a small group of elementary schools initiated E-Teams, school equity leadership teams. These teams consist of 8-10 racial equity leaders who have completed the Beyond Diversity seminar. The E-Teams participate in additional professional development activities designed to prepare staff to develop and guide the implementation of their own school’s Equity Transformation Plan. The remaining schools developed E-Teams in 2012.

During the 2013-14 school year, the district formed its first CARE Teams to begin conducting Collaborative Action Research for Equity. The district also began providing opportunities for staff of color to meet and discuss equity leadership. Teams continued to attend the annual National Summit for Courageous Conversations, including presenting information about the district’s work toward its equity goal. In addition, several members of the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence staff participated in the National Summit. The Club offers before- and after-school programs in the Lawrence Public Schools.

For more information about these programs here is the link to the USD 497 Equity and Excellence page.

Lawrence Central Sponsors Donations to The Willow Domestic Violence Center All of May

Becca Burns From The Willow CenterBecca Burns, the Director of Volunteer Services for The Willow Domestic Violence Center, joined Rotarians for lunch to kick off the club’s third annual fund-raising effort on behalf of the agency. Each May, Lawrence Central Rotary collects personal hygiene items and financial contributions for The Willow.

Burns highlighted the range of services available at The Willow as well as the wide-spread need for those services. One in three women will experience some sort of domestic violence in their lives; one in six men are victims. The agency is now providing programs to educate and prevent domestic violence as well as assist those escaping from it. The Willow is also addressing the issue of human trafficking for labor or sexual exploitation. Their programs include efforts in Franklin, Jefferson, as well as Douglas County.

Becca is responsible for training, recruiting and supervising volunteer and intern advocates, many of whom work directly with the survivors The Willow serves. She obtained her Master of Social Work degree from Washington University and her Master of Education from the University of Missouri at St. Louis.

All month Lawrence Central encourages members and guests to come to our meetings and drop off cash donations or items that will go directly to help the work that The Willow does.  Please consider making a cash donation or picking up some items from the list provided by Willow:

1. Ethnic hair care products (wide-tooth combs, Pink brand products, Pantene in the brown bottles) – if your members have any questions about where to go, they can stop by Sally’s in the Kohl’s shopping center or check out the Ethnic hair care sections of Walmart and Target
2. Tampons
3. Over-the-counter stomach remedies, pain medication, and allergy relief
4. Adult body wash
5. Baby wipes
6. Diaper rash cream
7. Diapers, size 0-6
8. Flash drives
9. Planners
10. Watercolors – for the Art Program
11. Bubble machine – for the Children’s Program

Theatre Lawrence’s Mary Doveton Updates Lawrence Central Rotary

Theatre Lawrence ED Mary Doveton Speaks to Lawrence Central RotaryIn the week before she spoke to Lawrence Central Rotary on April 29, Theatre Lawrence executive director Mary Doveton supervised the return of a water buffalo head to the Museum of Natural History and took part in a contest to pick the best bloody Mary recipe for the theatre bar to feature at the upcoming performances of South Pacific.

The water buffalo head was a prop for the recently completed  production of  The Explorers’ Club .  Other parts of the scenery included a life sized stuffed brown bear, also from the museum, pretend poisonous snakes and  a full sized giraffe skin rug created by a theatre volunteer.

At their new Theatre Lawrence facility on Lawrence’s westside, Doveton oversees 835 volunteers.  “It’s been a quantum leap from the smaller, old facility we were in for years to the new 35,000 square foot facility,” she said “and has required more staff and volunteers. Although,” she added “not all of them have to create a giraffe skin rug.”

Theatre Lawrence began in the ‘70s as a community theater, building sets, rehearsing and giving shows in whatever spaces they could find. In 1984 they moved to a remodeled former church, which was damaged by a fire in 2003.

In 2012, after a capital campaign, which is still going on, construction began on the new theater ,that opened in 2013 with a performance of Ragtime on the new mainstage.

Theatre Lawrence also sponsors a concert series, and programs for children and seniors.

The 2015-2016 season will feature six full scale productions, community activities, children’s shows, and activities and opportunities for seniors.

Meet New Lawrence Central Rotarian Kris Adair

Kris AdairA self-described serial entrepreneur, Central Rotarian Kris Adair and her husband recently opened the Lawrence Center for Entrepreneurship.  The business grew out of the fledgling Lawrence Free-Net which is now where the local gigabit internet provider Wicked Broadband and their data center is now housed.   The Center, she said, is for anyone who wants to make something, start something or create something.

The Center, at 925 Iowa, has three main components: A co-working space, a maker studio and an on-site data center.  The co-working space is a membership or occasional walk-in space for single entrepreneurs, start ups, and, often,  people who don’t have an office. There is 24-hour access with high speed internet, a mail center and a conference room.

The maker studio is an on-site fabrication area which is a premium work area for members. All of the needed tools are available including CNC milling, 3D printing equipment and power tools.  The center is offering beginner classes on 3-D printing and other topics in the evenings.  Their on-site data center has Gigabit fiber and is peered directly to Wicked Broadband’s fiber backbone. There is carrier class internet and rack space options available to members.

Lawrence Center for EntrepreneurshipThe goal for Adair is to provide a collaborative environment where people can work together to help grow businesses, teach management skills, and show how to fast track key components to get ideas to market quickly. Membership rates vary but include monthly memberships, day passes and extras such as a reserved desk, various sizes of storage and a private office.

“We give tours of the Center during open house Fridays, between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.,” Adair said, and Working Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. each week. She said she could be contacted at or 785-840-7989.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Department Annual Helmet Fair is This Weekend!

LDCFS-Bike-HelmetThe Fire Medical Department will hold their annual Helmet Fair on Saturday, April 25th on the University of Kansas campus alongside the annual Spring Football Scrimmage. The event will be the parking lot just West of Memorial Stadium in Lot 58. The event will run from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and is free to attend.

Immediately following the Helmet Fair, the KU Spring Football Scrimmage will take place at 1:00 p.m. in Memorial Stadium.

At the event, public safety staff will be on hand to provide and custom-fit bike helmets for children age 15 and younger (with an adult, while supplies last). Participants can have their bicycle inspected and take a ride on the Safe Ride Course. Staff will provide information on bicycle safety tips, bike trail etiquette, booster seat safety and swimming safety.

The Hyvee Hawk Zone will be offered from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. featuring family-friendly inflatables, face painting, music and appearances by Big Jay and Baby Jay.

The city’s Police and Fire-Medical Departments and Kansas University Public Safety are joining efforts to provide this event, along with several private and non-profit business partners including Kansas Athletics, Laird Noller, Safe Kids Douglas County, McDonalds, Sunflower Outdoor and Bike Shop, Douglas County Medical Society, Lawrence Mountain Bike Club, Dillons, Ranjbar Orthodontics and Lawrence Pilot Club.

Contact the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Department at (785)
830-7000 for more information.

Janelle Williamson Explains Palliative Care to Lawrence Central

Janelle Williamson Lawrence Memorial HospitalJanelle Williamson’s job description is that she provides pain and palliative care services through Lawrence Memorial Hospital—a simple description for a very complicated service.  And, complex as the job is, Williamson, says she loves what she does because it’s “a wonderful and rewarding experience.”

Williamson has been a nurse for 13 years, receiving her Master’s Degree in Nursing from Washburn University in 200 7.  She has an impressive string of initials after her name (APRN/NP-C)  and has worked in private practice as well as with hospitals.  But palliative care is her passion.

“Palliative care is not hospice, although many people think it is,” she told members of  Lawrence Central Rotary on April 8.  Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. The overall goal is to improve the quality of life for both the patient and family, not just help the dying as does hospice.

“Palliative care is a philosophy of medicine for someone with serious illness,” she said. “For each patient, working with his or her medical team, family, friends and sometimes social workers, we ask the patient ‘What do you want out of life? What’s quality of life for you?’  And then we try to help him or her achieve that.

“Sometimes a patient will say ‘I’ve done what I want to do and I’m tired. I’m done.’  We help the families accept that and we help the patient to make decisions without feeling guilty.”

Palliative care workers communicate patient’s wishes to family and other providers within the hospital and the community to ensure that they are heard. They also provide education and support to direct care staff.  They discuss spiritual concerns with patient and family and provide bereavement follow-up.

“Our motto,” Williamson said “is to help you live each day as well as possible.”

Joanne Renfro Tells Lawrence Central About Hiking The Appalachian Trail

Joanne Renfro Starting the Appalachian Trail Known on the trail as “Johawk,” local artist Joanne Renfro decided to leave her family and small business here in Lawrence last spring to fulfill one of her life’s ambitions—hiking from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. Following the series of white blazes that marked the trail, she made new and lasting friends of all ages and explored all types of terrain.

The numbers Joanne cited about at her trek were impressive:

  • 14 states
  • 2,185 miles
  • 15 miles per day, on average
  • Backpack weighing 30 pounds
  • 5 months and 5 days
  • 318th finish for the season

Joanne Renfro Finishing the Appalachian TrailThe hike is sometimes referred to as “walking the spring,” since spring flowers and greenery are emerging as the hikers move from south to north along the trail. There was plenty of snow, fog, and rain, but also days of dazzling sunshine that revealed “the balds,” as the mountain tops above the tree line are called. In the north, views of mountain lakes and the call of loons punctuated the days.

The trails themselves included well-worn dirt paths, boardwalks, river fjords, and rock crevices called a “gap” in the south and a “notch” in the northern states. Wildlife was plentiful—including the bear that made a visit to Joanne’s tent area one night.

The trail is supported and maintained by volunteers all along the way. “Trail angels” leave “trail magic” for hikers—supplies of food, candy, and cool drinks hung from trees or a handwritten invitation to come off the trail for pizza and beer at the end of the day. Joanne told of boxes where you could swap gear with other hikers who had left things they didn’t need. Rides into town always seemed to appear when she needed one.

Appalachian Trail print © Joanne RenfroOnly 25% of the people who begin this hike complete the entire Appalachian Trail. Joanne Renfro is proud to be among them!

If you would like so see some of Joanne’s art check out her Facebook page or at

Susan Tate Discusses the Ninth Street Arts Corridor

Susan Tate from the Lawrence Arts CenterSusan Tate, director of the Lawrence Arts Center, told Rotarians on March 18 that Central Rotary’s bike rack project is a microcosm of the Ninth Street Arts Corridor Project, currently in the planning stages in Lawrence.

“What Rotary has done for biking and walking has a deeper connection than just a practical way to store bicycles,” she said.  “Creative place making is a new term,” Tate said, “that is sometimes criticized but is a way of getting urban design to incorporate art in the community.

“It’s not just a statue on a corner, but design of an area that is art itself and encourages use by those who live there, including walking, biking and using facilities.”

The Lawrence Arts Center team, headed by Margaret Weisbrod Morris, chief program officer, received a $500,000 grant from ArtPlace America that they wish to use to work on the art district on ninth street that stretches from New Hampshire St. to Massachusetts.


The Lawrence Arts Center has already worked on projects that build education and exhibits. Now, beginning with public workshops in April and a citizens’ advisory committee convening in March they want to start plans for a creative place.


9th Street Corridor Project“The city commissioners said if we got the grant, they would commit $3 million to the project,” Tate said. “We got the grant but there are shadows in that picture now. Part of those shadows are the controversy over the Rock Chalk Recreation complex and the voters’ defeat of a new police station. The makeup of the city commission will be changing and we don’t know how new commissioners will feel about the commitment.”


The Art Center has set up a team that includes well-known urban designers and engineers, an artist, conceptual urban landscape designers, an east Lawrence historian and a multi-media art technician.


“However,” Tate said, “nothing will happen until we’ve gotten the city’s commitment and input from the grass roots through our workshops.”

Patrick Kelly Gives An Update on Lawrence’s College & Career Center

Patrick Kelly Lawrence College and Career CenterUSD 497’s Patrick Kelly  is the director of the new Lawrence College & Career Center (located at 2920 Haskell).

The Center will be open for high school juniors and seniors in the Fall of 2015.  It’s mission is to prepare students for their future through hands-on learning experiences in an innovative, engaging environment.  With direct input from business and industry leaders, students will have access to technology and curriculum that is relevant and useful.
Earning college credit now, with an opportunity for free tuition, will give students a head start on their future.

Patrick shared that one of the goals was to provide students with a sequential set of classes to explore careers of interest and develop skills in preparation for college and a career.

All courses are two hours in length and students are provided an additional hour for transportation.

LCCC_clogo_largeIntroductory courses allow students to explore a wide variety of careers within the field.  Technical level courses focus on specific skills that are needed within the career area.  Students who have gained the technical skills within the pathway are eligible to enroll in Application level courses, which provide “real-world” experiences in the classroom with industry mentors or through professional workplace experience. Many courses are eligible for college credit.

USD 497 students also benefit from having The Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center located next door and can take advantage of programs and training offered offered through their consortium of community colleges and industries.

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Eldridge Hotel
701 Massachusetts
Lawrence, KS 66044

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