St. Patrick’s Day takes me back to when I was young.
I am excited for the day to begin and am ready for this average day of third grade. I grab my lunch box and walk down the steps into the kitchen and out the door. As I step outside I feel a pinch on my right arm, I turn around and see my dad looking displeased with me. “Go put on some green, it’s Saint Patrick’s Day,” he says.
In my mind, I associate this holiday with pinching, shamrocks, leprechauns, green beer, and my dad insisting I wear green to school back when I was about the size of a leprechaun. But, what is the history around this holiday?
According to the History Channel: “St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, the saint’s religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years. On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast–on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.”
In America and around the world, many people associate this holiday with drinking. This year, why not try something new and exciting for the luckiest holiday? Take some time to learn more about Irish culture and where the holiday originated.
Here are some ways to celebrate and learn more about St. Patrick’s Day:
A screening of an Irish film at a community center or library
Learn about the Irish culture from your couch. To find some great titles check out this link: https://www.moviefone.com/2015/03/17/best-irish-movies/
Sharing an Irish meal or having an Irish pot luck that's public
Why go out to eat when you can cook a traditional Irish meal at home or with your community? Here are some meals to try: Corned Beef dinner, Irish Brown Bread, and Beef Stew. Check out this recipe for Beef Stew: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=irish+beef+stew&&view=detail&mid=B1F8F95D681440ECA896B1F8F95D681440ECA896&FORM=VRDGAR
Watch a hurling game
Hurling originated in Ireland and it is about 3,000 years old. It involves two teams and 15 players. Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgEMvRrOCRI
These ideas are from mashable.com, to find more fun ideas check out this blog post: http://mashable.com/2016/03/17/st-patricks-day-activities/#zuxMjP_hauq7
If you are anything like me, the words “Town Meeting Day” don’t mean much. Up until this year I had no idea that the state where I live and was raised had such an interesting tradition.
According to James William Sullivan author of Direct Legislation by the Citizen Through the Initiative and Referendum: “Town meeting is a form of local government practiced in the U.S. region of New England since colonial times, and in some western states since at least the late 19th century. Typically conducted by New England towns, town meeting can also refer to meetings of other governmental bodies, such as school districts or water districts. While the uses and laws vary from state to state, the general form is for residents of the town or school district to gather once a year and act as a legislative body, voting on operating budgets, laws, and other matters for the community's operation over the following 12 months.”
You may be thinking, "This sounds kind of interesting but, why would I spend my time going to this?" Here are some reasons:
Participate in and watch democracy at work. Plus, it is your civic duty. Making your opinion count in your local community will make a difference that you can see.
Be part of the solution. We all complain about things in our community but you can’t complain if you haven’t bothered to make your opinion heard. Maybe many people in the community agree with you about an issue but nobody will vocalize their opinion.
Meet your neighbors. There are so many types of people in a community, and it is refreshing to hear different opinions.
Vermont’s Town Meeting Day happens the first Tuesday of March. Go find out if and when your state has a Town Meeting Day. Better yet, join your fellow community members and go make your opinions heard.
To hear more, watch this video from an expert of Town Meeting Day, Frank Bryan, Professor Emeritus, University of Vermont.
It’s that time of year again, Valentine’s Day. This day is filled with flowers, chocolates, and cards from that one special person. Did you ever wonder how this tradition got started? And who is Valentine anyway?
Here’s what the Huffington Post had to say: “The most popular account of its origins date back to a temple priest named, not surprisingly, Valentine, a later-to-be-canonized saint who was executed in 270 A.D. by Emperor Claudius II for performing illegal marriage ceremonies on the Roman battlefield. Back then, as the story goes, the military-minded Claudius believed connubial bliss was bad for war and made it illegal for soldiers to wed. Imprisoned for his battlefield-betrothing ways, Valentine, a man of many talents, supposedly healed the blind daughter of his jailer while incarcerated and, the night before his execution, gave the newly sighted young lass a hand written card signed — you guessed it — ‘From Your Valentine.’”
Saint Valentine clearly touched many lives, so why do we think of this day as a time to celebrate the love of one person? Why not make Valentine’s Day a great excuse to highlight what we love about our communities? Remember-elementary school, when we had to bring in valentines for the entire class. Why not extend our sharing of kindness and appreciation to our entire communities? Showing your community that you love and care can build a stronger sense of pride and respect in your town.
Here are some ideas for bringing bring Valentine’s Day to your community:
1. Think like a kid
2. Host a Red Ball
3. The food we love
4. Guess again
5. Let’s play games
6. A service of love
7. What do you love?
8. Some puppy love
9. Racing with love
10. Wine in the Library
Whatever event you choose to do this Valentine’s Day, have fun and remember to show people in your community that you appreciate them. To see some creative ways towns have celebrated Valentine’s Day, check out this blog post: http://www.orton.org/blog/this_valentines_day_wear_your
Does your community do something fun for Valentine’s Day? Share it with us on social media. And don’t forget to follow The Orton Family Foundation on Twitter and Instagram @Ortonfoundation and Facebook @OrtonFamilyFoundation. Also, use the hashtag #CommunityMatters.
We are always amazed by the creative ways Community Heart & Soul® towns gather input from residents. In the process they not only get quality feedback, they also create opportunities for residents to engage with one another and build community. Here are nine examples we find especially compelling and fun!
1. Block party with a story booth
2. Window graffiti in prominent public places for all to see
3. Capturing ideas on drink coasters
4. Photo contest with community discussions and an award
5. Youth murals
6. Post cards/rack cards
7. Heart Spots phone line with locations throughout the town
8. Candy corn in jars to identify priorities
9. Remote polling using cell phones
The number of ways to engage the community are about as limitless as the imagination. Hopefully you found some helpful hints in this post to try in your community! Follow us on Facebook (The Orton Family Foundation) and Twitter (@OrtonFoundation) for updates on Heart & Soul towns and our organization.
To read more about effective engagement check out this blog post on Top Ten Best Ways for Inclusive Engagement. http://www.orton.org/blog/top-ten-tips-inclusive-engagem Or check out our resource for public engagement methods: http://www.orton.org/sites/default/files/resources/public-engagement-methods.pdf.
Over the past few weeks we have asked our friends on Facebook to send in pictures of their dressed up downtowns. We want to thank everyone who submitted pictures from Millinocket, Maine to San Elizario,Texas and in between. All of your towns looked beautiful all decked out for the holiday season.
From the submissions we randomly drew three lucky winners of a Vermont Country Store gift card.
The three lucky winners of #DowntownDecorations! Please continue following the Orton Family Foundation for more fun contests, interesting stories, and ways to make your communities thrive.
To see all of the submissions go to http://mydowntowndecorations.tumblr.com/