New Leaf News
October 15, 2000

Greetings, Leaf-sters!

EXHIBITION
I had meant to send out a newsletter last month, but things got very hectic with the exhibition at Semantics, combined with the declining health of my dog, Beez (more on him later). David Dillon, Amy and Tony Bogard, Brian Dempsey, Debbie Brod, Kathy Beck , and 2 unwitting passersby assisted with installing all 2,000 Leafs in the gallery. Beez supervised. This was a labor intensive process which involved stapling the Leafs to strips of interfacing (you sewers know what this is - I cut down an entire bolt of this on a mat cutter to make 2” strips. A full day’s use of the mat cutter was kindly loaned to me by Bill Renschler, who also cut the mats for my photos) 16 Leafs were stapled to each strip, and David Dillon hung each strip on the wall so that the Leafs formed a grid on each wall. I will have photos (taken by Tom Allison) on the web-site before too long. Hanging the show took over 120 man hours, 375 nails, and 4,000 staples. What is even more impressive, after many grueling hours installing the show, they all (except for the unwitting passers-by) came back at the end of the month to pull all 4,000 staples...From the comments I received, I suspect many viewers were more impressed with how the show was hung than they were with the project! BTW, the method of installation was designed by my cousin, Rus Estep, and his wife, Liz Humes of Sundog Frame makers and Art in Maryland.

The show was well received. I was invited to speak to several groups from the Art Academy and from the University of Cincinnati. There is a forthcoming feature article about the Millennium Project, though I suspect they are holding it until closer to New Years. I will link it to the web site as soon as it is published. Sales of prints, t-shirts and mugs, as well as honoraria for speaking engagements have raised close to $1,000 for shipping expenses for the Millennium Project

Heidi Joffe came to the opening. Heidi found a Leaf in Pittsburgh some time ago, and knew nothing about the project. I never sent a Leaf to Pittsburgh, so apparently, Leafs are getting around! Heidi may be doing some planting herself in the future.

PRINTS
Photos displayed in the exhibition are now available in limited editions of 100 prints. These are for sale on the web-site for the ridiculously low price of $40 for an unframed print, plus $10 for shipping and handling for each Domestic order (regardless of the number of prints). I will ship overseas but will have to quote for individual orders. The photographs document Leaf Plantings in Virginia, Egypt, and France. You can see these at http://members.aol.com/leafnews/store.html The image files had to be greatly reduced for the web-page. Resolution of the actual photos is much greater than you will see on the page. I shot these photos with my favorite camera, a 40 year old Welmy Wide with a hand ground lens which my parents gave me over 20 years ago.

HEROISM
During installation, David Dillon noticed a suspicious character during one of his brief breaks down off the ladder and chased him down the block and around the corner, to discover that he had taken both of my cameras, including the aforementioned Welmy. Thank you David, for rescuing them for me : )

MILLENNIUM PROJECT
Currently, over 1500 Leafs have been committed to 100 Planters in 21 countries in 16 time zones. So far, 27 states are represented. I am waiting to hear back from possible Planters in an additional 12 countries. My original goal was to involve 20 countries. Since that has been met, I am now shooting for 30. Thank you to all of you who have helped identify foreign Planters, especially Dagmar, Lita North, Amy Bogard, Maria Richardson, Debbie Brod, Carla Kennedy, and Julia Gruber .

SHIPPING
Shipping of Millennium Leafs to overseas locations started last week. I was fortunate that my first shipment went out the day after my local postal branch was trained in new procedures for their Global Priority Guaranteed service which uses DHL on the receiving end instead of local post offices. I can assure that they now are well broken-in. They have been warned that I have only just begun, and I have promised not to come (again) when they have only one person working.

When you receive your Leafs you may notice that your shipping box may say “Coffee Break” or “Office Depot” on the side. Abdul Deen, Kathy Beck, Belinda Pearl, Winkie Hillman and Sharon Penn of Talbert House have been saving boxes for me for months. New Leaf is economical as well as ecological!

PEOPLE
I wish I had time to recognize everyone who has come on board since July but there are way too many. If I stop to do that, I won’t get all your Leafs shipped out before New Years!! I do want to mention Kadyr Toktogulov, who teaches at the American University of Kyrgyzstan, and is the president of the Kyrgyzstan chapter of Amnesty International. Amnesty International is starting a major campaign on October 18th. You can find out more about the important work Amnesty International does at http://www.stoptorture.org .

I will devote a future newsletter to our Planters. I meet so many fascinating people through New Leaf and I want to share you with each other.

E-MAIL
between the show and Beez, there was some e-mail send to me in August that dropped out of my mailbox before I could answer it. If I did not respond to your e-mail, please resend.

GOOD-BYE BEEZ
Some of you know that 2 weeks ago I made the difficult decision to euthanize my dog, Beez. Beez’s heath started to decline in June while I was in France. All tests came back negative. Meanwhile, my beautiful, active dog slowly lost the use of his hind legs, and was in so much pain that he howled if someone even looked like they were going to touch him. Chiropractic care helped relieve the pain, but did not stop the deterioration of his hind legs. In the end I was feeding him by hand and holding up his water bowl for him. I did not get a diagnosis until the end of September, when he was identified as a classic text book case of Tabes Dorsalis, an irreversible condition which attacks the spinal cord and the nervous system.

I cannot take credit for rescuing Beez from Red River Gorge. My friend Georgia did that while I was advocating against bringing him back to Cincinnati with us. Beez became mine after Georgia’s dog, Rose, let it be known that she was not going to tolerate Beez near her. (They later became great friends. Beez would let Rose pick up his leash in her mouth and “walk” him around Georgia’s house) I thought I was taking him off her hands for a few days. He stayed over 7 years.

When Beez came, he provided me with needed distraction from a personal heartbreak. Having to focus in his needs kept me grounded while I worked through a break up.

Beez did what no employer has ever been able to do. He taught me time management. Forced with the need to get home before his bladder gave out, I learned to get my work done within the 8 hour work day.

Beez had a lovely personality but was not used to living in a house. He would eviscerate my throw pillows and cushions, sending shredded foam rubber over the edge of my second story terrace. This was highly amusing to my landlord/neighbor, Rudy. The first months were difficult and I found myself at wits end on many occasions.

I got him into obedience training. Beez was an intelligent dog who loved to “work”. He did so well in this area that people frequently offered to trade their children for him (I am sure they were kidding...I think). I learned important things from working with Beez.

I read once that “focusing on evil gives it greater strength...the best way to combat evil is to make progress in the positive” I found this to be true with him. If I punished him for digging up my begonias, he would only go right back out on the terrace and do it again, as quickly as possible. I learned instead to take him out and work him when he was behaving badly, and to focus on rewarding positive behaviors. This was effective in eliminating his bad behavior without giving it negative reinforcement.

This was an important epiphany for me. At that time I was providing chemical dependency counseling for correctional clients. After I started making progress with Beez, I changed my whole style of working with this population. The work which I had found challenging and frustrating became joyful for me, to the point that I suspect I would not have left it if I hadn't been forcibly called elsewhere. (Beez was a favorite with the clients at Droege House.) Along with learning to focus on the positive, I also learned about patience, consistency, positive reinforcement, and humor. I still try to use these tools as much as possible.

I realized soon after Beez came to live with me that he had been severely abused. He cringed when a friend walked by holding a 2 x 4, and when I tried throwing a ball for him to fetch, he would duck. When we brought him home from the gorge, he was heavily infested with ticks and had fur torn off his face. I suspect he had been fending for himself for months. I have always been amazed that a dog who had suffered so much could be as friendly, gentle and playful as he was.

When I started a series of murals in a drug-infested inner city neighborhood, I took him with me. We walked the neighborhood, looking for local children to photograph for the mural. Beez helped me to make friends with the kids and their parents while ensuring that I was safe during the 18 months that I worked on this project.

One summer, someone kicked in the basement door of the two family where I live, then exited through the first floor kitchen without taking a single thing. I know that Beez scared them off. I suspect that it was this event which convinced my landlord to rescue a dog of his own.

I have been grieving over the loss of my friend, protector and teacher. No tribute seems adequate to express my feelings about the gift of him. My hope is that you are similarly blessed with your companions, no matter how many legs they walk on.

Yours in Foliage,

Carol Ann Newsome
New Leaf
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