Posts Tagged With: Charleston West Virginia

The MLK Public Art Project, Charleston, W.V.

I love to paint, I love murals and I love Dr. Martin Luther King and his message of equality. So, when I found the Facebook post about an open to the public mural painting in our Capital City of Charleston, I knew Christopher and I were going to be there to paint too.


Painting of Dr. Marting Luther King Jr. 

scale image of the MLK mural

Jeff Peirson Scaling the painting to size on the wall. Photo from The Office of Public Art Charleston WV Facebook page. 

This event was so wonderful as an Artist, a Mother, and West Virginian. I am so proud that the work of 60 volunteers will grace the skyline of Charleston for the next couple of decades and will remind people of the ongoing work we have to do in this world to fight for Beauty, Fairness, Love, and Equality.


Christopher and I work on a section of Martin Luther King’s eye and nose. 


Some of the volunteers that came to help with the mural and the man who I got paint all over. 

The mural was painted by volunteers in about 4 or 5 hours at the Martin Luther King  Jr. Community Center in downtown Charleston. The image will represent our diversity. The image uses diverse colors, is painted by diverse age groups, colors, shapes, and sexes of people from our state. It will rest on the roof of the community center and display the faces of 1000 diverse individuals in the background.  Each face is a self-portrait of one volunteer that helped to make it come to life.


Jeff Peirson Director of The Office for Public Art explains how the project will be constructed. 

Under the direction of Jeff Peirson the director of  The Office for Public Art in Charleston, West Virginia. A painting of Dr. King has been blown up and traced onto large sheets of plastic canvas for volunteers to paint on. Using special paint the volunteers filled in numbers sections of the mural, much like a paint by number, but on a huge scale.  Christopher and I painted light purple and some orange over the course of the afternoon. It was amazing to paint an eyeball that was the size of a basketball and a nose that was almost as big as Christopher is tall.

image of MLK mural being put together

pieces of the mural displayed together to dry and adding the final coats of paint. From The Office of Public Art Charleston, WV Facebook page. 


Then when the sections were left to dry we were encouraged to paint a self-portrait in monochrome shades of purple. Each volunteer tried to paint what they thought they looked like. Christopher was quite unhappy with my drawing and said it looked nothing like me. He explained later that my hair was not right in the drawing or painting.  I did have my hair up and the only hair I had was waving wildly aroung my face, So it only showed part of my hair.


My pencil self-portrait with hair up. Christopher says it needs more hair.   

Then that evening the large pieces were assembled and the overall look started to come together. There will be a blending of the colors with more paint next. Then about 800 school children will make a self-portrait on the canvas like material to create the background before the final installation is put up in late Aug. The mural should last about 15 years with no need for repairs.


Christopher with his new friend Mayor of Charleston Amy Shuler Goodwin. 

While Christopher and I  painted we had the pleasure of working on the mural with the Mayor of Charleston, Amy Shuler Goodwin, who spent quite a while talking with Christopher about our state and why we drove 2 hours just to be part of the event. She told me she was so happy to have us come and help make our capital city a more beautiful place.

I loved meeting the people from the community and the Mayor, some were families, some were single men and women, and some were children but most lived nearby.  I even accidentally painted a man’s hand as we crisscrossed the canvas with our brushes and we laughed for several minutes. Christopher made instant friends and played and visited with about 6 other kids his age. It is my hope that sharing these kinds of experiences with him will encourage him to want to be part of a creative community when he grows up.

As the painting time ended we headed back to my car for a picknick near the MLK Jr. Community Center. We talked about how much fun we had and how important it is to share time with new people and how important Dr. King was to all Americans. This day was what Dr. King was teach us all those years ago. A day where all colors and ages come together to share in the joy of being American and creating a better place for us all.

On Aug 21st I am looking forward to the drive down I-64 to finally see our hard work come to life from way above the community center. It was a day I will not forget anytime soon and I hope Christopher has wonderful memories of our painting Dr. King together.


Categories: Charleston West Virginia, Community Art, community service, Creative Place Making, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., family fun, family memories, Martin Luther King Jr., murals, Painting, The Office of Public Art, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Child’s View of the West Virginia State Capitol

Just recently I was asked to make a day trip to our State Capitol Complex for an interview about my work with economic revitalization and community development in rural West Virginia. I felt that it was time for my youngest son to see a  different part of our state and learn a little about our government so I took him along.

Christopher seeing our government at work second floor of the Capital

Christopher looking out on the Senatior and Delegates taking a break on the second floor of the West Virginia State Capitol building.

I have made many trips to our States Capitol City and with Charleston, West Virginia only being a city of about 50,000 (my home town is around 230,000 people) I feel right at home driving and making plans to visit one of our states largest cities. Yet, I forgot that Christopher is just now beginning to understand what the difference is between rural “town” life and city life.

Governs office West Virginia State Capitol

Governor  Jim Justice’s Office inside the WV State Capital building.

As we arrived to the out skirts of the city Christopher kept saying to me “Mom we are lost…. Really, Mom I don’t remember any of this.” Then when we finally got into the downtown portion of  our trip  and he could see the Capital and the large buildings he was so excited. “Ooooo that is sooo cool Mom, Mom did you see that?”  “I am happy that we get to ride the shuttle.” For a boy who has never had the need to ride a public bus or train the shuttle to the Capitol was exciting. It was then that I realized for the first time that my son is a country boy in the big city for the first time and everything is new to him. I spent the rest of the day sharing in his joy of discovery.

We spent the day going through security check points, eating in the Capitol cafeteria, taking a tour of the building and eventually ending up at the Public Broadcasting TV studio for the interview. He drank in every new experience of the trip in like a sponge. We took lots of photos of the interior of the domed building and of the hardworking people who were trying to balance the state’s budget. He met US Army reservist, National Guard soldiers and NASA explorers. We talked with the Sargent of Arms of the House of Delegates and climbed lots and lots of stairs.

Children watching the House of Delegates at work spring 2017

Groups of Children watch as the House of Delegates works on the annual budget process

high contrast photo of Capital Dome

The west Virginia Capitol Dome passing over our heads.

The trip ended with a visit to one of the most educational places in Charleston, The  Culture Center. This is also the location of the TV studio. The lower level of the Culture Center is an immersion museum about the history of the State of West Virginia from prehistoric times to the current times. This museum also houses hundreds of pieces of art produced by West Virginia artist and musicians. The collection would take hours to get through for someone who wanted to really experience life in our state but we were on a deadline.


After a couple of hours in the museum we found the studio where we would film my portion of the interview.  I realized then, that I had made the right choice to take him out of his class room for the day, to make TV with a real director, broadcaster and engineer.   Christopher was allowed to stay in the booth with the engineer and was allowed to play and touch some of the equipment that they use everyday. As I proceeded to the set he remained behind the glass watching us on computer monitors. The shoot took about an hour and after we wrapped up he was allowed to see the cameras and look a the three sets that were in the large production room. His joy was contagious. He beamed with happiness and literally jumped for joy as we finally walked back up to the court-yard.

Later,he asked if we could see our show and I had to remind him that this was a cable access only program and we did not have that channel. He is was disappointed but understood that we were not really making this show for us, but for people who want to know more about what a Main Street does.

Christopher inside Tv production Studio Culture and History museum Charleston Wv

Christopher playing in the TV booth in a PBS studio at The Culture Center, Charleston, WV, Capitol Complex.


We left the studio and took time to walk the grounds of the Capital before heading back to our car. The sun was out, the sky was clear and the roof of dome gleamed as Christopher ran to the top of the dozens of stairs in front of the building. I was amazing to see how small he appeared on the landing at the top of the steps. The building had impressed us both and would leave a lasting impression on both of us. I will forever remember how much he enjoyed himself and how this experience let him learn so much about our government and our state.

Christopher runs the up the steps or the WV state Capitol 3-18

Christopher running up the front steps of the Capital Building.

Categories: AmeriCorps, Army, childhood memories, Christopher, education, historic locations, TV, West Virginia, West Virginia State Capitol | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Problem for West Virginians with contaminated water and being Prepaire


Since  the terrible chemical spill into the Elk River in West Virginia on Thursday I have watched 300,000.00 of my states citizens suffer unheard of problems from just the simple lack of clean water. The chemical that my southern  friends are exposed to are toxic enough to not only made the water undrinkable for humans or animals it made the water unsuitable for even washing your clothes, bathing, or using it for any thing.  This  man-made disaster could have had to potential to have killed thousand of plants, animals and humans. Yet the biggest problem the my family and many others have been discussing is that people are not even close to being prepared to care for their families if this was to happen to their town. FEMA suggest that every person should have at least 3 gallons of water per person for at least a total of three days. This would mean that my family of three should have stored about 9 gallons of water per person stored for an an emergence like this. How many of us have that amount of fresh usable water on hand?

I would not call my family a prepping family.. .. just a county family that knows what being self-reliant is about. We know what it like to not see a snow plow for days on end and some times never. We know what it is like to go with out  electric for weeks in the cold winter and in the heat of summer. We know that every time the electric goes out you have no running water; no electric means no pump, that means no water. So from just our everyday lives we  think ahead and store what we can so that we can live comfortably for about a week with out electric, water or even  leaving our drive way.

Tip # 1   one of the least expensive ways to store water in large qualities is a simple rain barrel. I have had them for years and  at every home that we have lived in. I think I spent about 17 dollars on the barrel  and maybe 10 dollars on Quick dry cement for the level pad it sits on. Then the rest is free.

end of summer rain barrel and container garden

end of summer rain barrel and container garden

Their you go at least 50 gallons of water for almost no money. Our barrel has a spout kit on the other side so that I can use the barrel for watering my flowers and vegetables. The tap did add about 6 dollars and a little time to install to my barrel. We do not try to cover our barrel so we can use a bucket to carry the water into the house or out to bird bath it also allows for the water to expand in the winter when it freezes. But think this water could keep my family safely washing dishes, taking baths, flushing the toilet and giving my pet safe water to drink for days. In a real pinch we could even sanitize this water for drinking.  There are hundreds of rain barrel ideas all over the internet and huge storage systems that people build that enclose the water and run through filtering systems that can make rain water drinking safe if you want to go that far. We just want to know that we can flush the toilet and wash our bodies when the time comes.

Tip # 2 Tom and I also store water in our kitchen and basement in these 4 gallon bottles of water, the one below is the one that I always keep in the kitchen in case we need water for cooking and I am to lazy to go to the basement to get it. We found these at  local Kroger store with a refilling machine outside on the side walk.The cost per bottle may vary and may have gone up since I bought these but I think they were 6$ each with a refund of .99 cents every time you recycle the bottles for a refilled… I have never refilled the 4 that I have so the prices maybe different. So that is 12 gallons of cooking and drinking water in large bottles, used mostly for dishes and making tea.

4 gallons of water in a storage safe bottle

4 gallons of water in a storage safe bottle

Tip # 3  Everyone should try to store at least one case of bottled drinking water per person in their house hold.We keep at least 3 in our basement at all times, in the summer there is always some in the truck for Tom, in the fridge and in the kitchen… usually two more cases in the summer. For our family 3 to 4 bottles of water for drinking a day plus some for teeth brushing and hand washing is about all we really need so a case could last at least two days with three cases we have about a weeks worth for every person who lives in my home.

Tip #4 There are other item that is handy to have around to keep water safe and clean. The most important and least expensive is a simple bottle of bleach. As we all know from being kids at swimming pools chlorine bleach kills lost of nasty bugs in water. If I had to depend on my rain water for cooking, or washing dishes where the water temps were to low to sterilise the water 1/8 of a teaspoon of bleach will kill enough microbes to safely use the water for washing dishes, bathing, and cooking at high temps. It is even recommended  by the CDC for use in drinking water if you are unsure of the water coming out of your tap.

I try to always have a small bottle around for other uses as well. Never know when you are going to need to sanitize an area and this works great in a spray bottle or in a water wash.

Tip #5   Just in case you just cant get enough water to say take a bath or wash you hands. Lysol wipes, Wet Ones, Clorox wipes or any anti bacterial wipes are a God send. We use them for just about any kind of clean up you can think of… no water to wash up you hands … use a wipe… no water to clean a minor cut…use a wipe… need to clean a surface to cook on… use a wipe. They are easy to store, nice and moist, stay wet for years in their own container, cheap and portable. I recommend that every one have several containers stored away for a situation like this. We store around 4 large containers of these in the even that we need to wash up with no water.

Tip #6  Never ever toss out those extra paper plates  or plastic cups after picnicking season is over. It is a wonderful feeling not to have to boil water and use what little drinking water you have to wash the dishes. So when those store brand foam plates go on sale in the summer by extra… and keep them hidden away somewhere. They can save your family a lot of water when the time comes.

I hope this will help remind  some one of how much we need to store water in case of  an emergence. Water is one of the few things that we all MUST HAVE! There is no way to get around it and so many of us never think about not being able to use the water from our taps in any way. That is what my state is facing  as you read this.  How prepared are you and should you think a head just a little farther. It could keep you from standing in long lines waiting for the National Guard to get you the water you need to just make that cup of coffee in the morning.

Sharing this post with my friends at A rural journal and Nancy.

Random 5 Friday

Categories: Elk River, health, Safty, water, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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