Sunday, August 18, 2013

Family Reading Initiative, Children's Gardens, Art and Science

 I had heard really good things about Ithaca, NY.

My parents said there were lots of hippies so I would like it.

My friends spoke of intentional communities and eco-villages and that sounded cool.

I had wanted to visit this small city in upstate NY for a while, so when Jason found a yoga festival there and it happened to be on the weekend of our anniversary, we decided it was the perfect time!

Family Reading Initiative
The first thing I noticed when we pulled into town were these signs on many, many the natural foods store, the supermarket, an office building, a restaurant, the post office...and of course, the public library.  Read to Me!  Any Time!  Any Place!  A family reading initiative.  Instantly I felt transported back in time to college, when I believed these kinds of programs were possible...over the years, I have become so jaded...but here it was...the kind of program I had learned about and hung my hopes on!
Ithaca, NY Family Reading Initiative
Children's Garden

As we headed toward the yoga festival, held in a farm field a couple of miles outside of town, we found this...
Ithaca Children's Garden
A Children's Garden!

With free programs every day during the summer!

Children pushing wheelbarrows and working throughout the garden with master gardeners while their parents sat in drum circle or reading or nursing infants.

I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.

I wished fervently that I had known of this place when my girls where small and we had lived here where such amazing programs were offered.

Entrance to Ithaca Children's Garden

The vegetable garden invited guests to come in and nibble and explore!

Jason spoke to a woman about funding, they did get some money from the town and from grants, but also donations.  We happily made a donation.

I love these little houses.  Children were inside playing together.
I grew up during the seventies.

My college professors were probably right around the age to have been hippies and to believe that family reading initiatives and children's gardens were worthy endeavors for towns.  I am convinced of the same.  But we live such busy lives these days and so often people don't make the time for community programs, our budgets are tight and these are the first programs to go.  It was so nice to see them thriving.
I just love this.  It brought back memories of days spent in child development classes learning the importance of places like this.
There were several trees with children reading books.  It was magical.
Art & Science EVERYWHERE!
Let the wild rumpus start!  One of my favorite things in Ithaca was this huge "Where the Wild Things Are" mural on the side of a building

Everywhere we looked there was art.  On the street corners, in the parking lots, in front of homes.  It was awesome and spectacular.  Jason and I just walked around snapping photos and exclaiming to each other.

 So many children in Ithaca looked like they would fit in perfectly with our homeschool group.  I started to wonder if they were all homeschooled.  Ithaca would be such a perfect place to homeschool...if it were not for all of the regulations in NY State. a town with two colleges, a family reading initiative, science and art on the streets and a children's garden...the public school system is probably pretty amazing.