Monday, November 8, 2010

According to Plan?

I used to be a fan of the Animaniacs Segment, "Pinky and the Brain," when I was in high school. (Yes, I watched cartoons in high school. And, if there were any good ones on T.V. now, I probably still would.)  Pinky, the tall dim-witted mouse would ask the stouter genius mouse called, The Brain, every episode, "What we gonna do now, Brain?" The Brain would answer, something about eating a sandwich or having a drink and then always end with, "and then Pinky, we're going to TAKE OVER THE WORLD!" (Cue lightning strike.) Inevitably their plans were thwarted. 

I "borrowed" this image from this site, but I'm not sure where they 'borrowed" it from. Forgive me!

In a small way I felt a little like this adorable mouse duo in my efforts last week to carry out my, (far from diabolical), oral history plans.  Last week was a milestone event in the work I've been doing weekly with the 5th graders in the Cherry Hill community of Baltimore city, and it was a serious exercise in flexibility. According to the plan, the students and I were to walk over to the senior manor only a few short blocks from the school, where things would be set up to gather oral histories from a number of the seniors that grew up in the Cherry Hill neighborhood. That did not happen. 

Despite talking with the home weeks in advance, two days before the event I was informed by a voice mail that we could not hold our event at the senior home. I was unaware of the reasons until it was too late to do anything about, but I scrambled, along with the Principal of the elementary school, to find another venue. Luckily, we were welcomed at the Senior Center -a community location run by a Catholic charity- with open arms.  The woman that runs the center was excited about the project and started making phone calls to her seniors. I also tried to round up the seniors at the manor home, where we were originally scheduled to go, to see if they could come down to the center. The initial panic I had from the first phone call subsided and things seemed like they were working out even better than I expected.  The day before the event I got ANOTHER phone call. The event could not be held at the senior center because there were no available volunteers to open the center. Panic ensued, followed by harried phone calls and a wonderful woman that coordinates community events in the area, was able to get us time at the Parish Hall, and the seniors from the center were contacted to go there.

I was pretty sure after all of this hullabaloo that no one would show up. We changed the venue 3 times in 2 days, the times kept changing and there were many people we were trying to get into one place. Despite all of this, it worked out. And, it worked out beautifully!  Five seniors from the area attended and were more than happy to offer information about Cherry Hill along with a great deal of unsolicited advice to the 5th grade class. The whole event was captured on video and the students were able to take pictures with each other and the seniors following the talk.  There were also lollipops that a generous senior brought for the kids. The seniors were delighted to bend the ears of so many kids and the kids were happy to get out of the classroom for an afternoon coated in sugar.

All in all, the event managed to garner a great deal of information and media that will help us do further research on the area and play central roles to the development of our online exhibit. So while I certainly failed to take over the world, I'm kind of hoping that an itty bitty piece of it might be a tad bit better. What a week!

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