Lotus 2019 Be More Award Nominee

How did you first hear about the Lotus organization?
As a graduate student, I worked on the Victorian Studies staff alongside Carol Simmons. At a party in 2005, she suggested me as a potential Board of Directors member to our mutual friend LuAnne Holladay (with whom I was a grad student in English at IU). Wisely, LuAnne suggested I do some other sort of volunteering first, so I helped with that year’s Edible Lotus set-up and joined the BOD that September—just a couple of weeks before the Festival! As for going to the festival: In 1995, my partner Mike received 2 Lotus tickets from The Ryder Magazine, and so we went; we’ve been to every Festival since.

What initially inspired you to volunteer for our organization?
I have long thought that as donors we should all give across the spectrum—social services, education, political causes, the arts. I had just finished a 5-year stint as a volunteer for a social service in Bloomington (Middle Way House), and thought the same about my own time: I should look for volunteer opportunities in a different area. That fact that Carol mentioned Lotus at about the same time was serendipitous.

What volunteer jobs have you performed?
• Edible set-up volunteer (since 2005)
• Board of Directors (3 stints; 2 years as chair) (2005-2014 with 2012 off)
• Festival emcee (2010, 2011)
• Blossoms artist liaison (2006)
• Blossoms Bazaar committee (2012-present)
• House party host (2018)

Which volunteer experiences have you most enjoyed? Why?
Well, the house party with The Mammals in Feb 2018 sure was out of the ordinary, and AMAZING! But overall, I’ve really enjoyed helping put the Bazaar together and being there on that Friday and Saturday to see all the kids enjoy doing new things with each other and their parents. For several years, I was the emcee for the musical performance at Binford. What always strikes me? How much the kids are willing to participate and be in the moment. They volunteer answers to questions from the artists, they clap with the beat, they get up and jump around to the music, all pretty much within the confines of their seats—that is, they are with the program, they
participate, and they don’t take the concert as an opportunity to do things some might call “misbehaving” (like run around or ignore the performers). What also strikes me—and this is probably not fit to print—is that the students who are MOST engaged are from Arlington, Fairview, Templeton, Marlin, Clear Creek—that is, the
generally less privileged kids; those from University and Childs, etc. tend to be much less willing to risk getting involved in the dancing, singing and interaction with the artists. More specifically, I was really pleased to see them engage in the shadow puppetry that Jennifer Goodlander did several years ago. The medium was totally new to most of them, and they didn’t know the stock puppet characters from Bali, but they clearly and quickly picked up on who was foolish, and who dangerous, and saw humor in the right places (and laughed a lot).

How would you describe to a friend why they should attend or volunteer for the Lotus Festival or the Lotus Blossoms Bazaar?

First, the Festival provides the opportunity to hear world class musicians in an intimate setting—many of the performers are the most famous musicians of their kind (on the oud, or the mandolin); they just aren’t on the Billboard 1000, and the Festival as a whole brings a special energy to downtown. It’s exciting to be there and see so many people you know—and so many you don’t!—all having a good time. I also love that it’s so flexible: we can sit in one place all night or wander, or purposefully dash from one performance to another from a tightly designed schedule. Lotus is also one of the few pieces (if not the only piece) of diversity programming in the city. And this is diversity of remarkable proportions—country of origin, religion, ethnicity, musical instrumentation, musical style, even garb—but remarkable subtlety; it isn’t self-announcing at all. Who wouldn’t want to be a part
of such an organization?

What is your favorite Lotus moment (favorite band, street scene, etc)?
I’m part of Team Vasen, and have seen each of their Lotus appearances, including the early one in the Waldron, so that continuity has been wonderful and charmed. Deborah Klein and I purchased signs one year and turned Kirkwood Ave. into Vasen Street for their Kick-off Concert performance; that was pretty cool to see. I felt most accomplished introducing the Acadian women’s group, Bonsoir Catin. It was 2006, the year we launched Women of Lotus as a giving group (that is, bundling small gifts into one big sponsorship earmarked for female artists), and the Festival had the highest number of women artists ever. As part of the celebration, women from the volunteer corps introduced the artists who were supported by the WOL group; I think the band members were impressed to be part of a women-focused thing, since they made fun of their male drummer not really being welcome (of course he was). One of the best moments was in 2010, however, at the Festival Kick-off Concert. It had been a better year for fundraising than we’d feared in the wake of the recession, so it was a moment of relief for the BOD and staff; the weather was beautiful; and the whole BCT was buzzing with excitement and anticipation. As BOD chair, I was emcee for the evening (picture below) and got to introduce Abigail Washburn
(whose music I love—solo, with Uncle Earl, and with Bela Fleck). The audience was huge, and was SO engaged—even through all the donor thank you rolls—and when she came on stage, AW told the crowd I was her new girl-crush. I think that’s my top fan-girl moment ever. But most importantly, her comment reflected how upbeat and
joyous everyone was feeling that evening. We were all crushing on Lotus.

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