Month: September 2015

Never Underestimate the Impact One Person Can Have on the World

(Editor’s Note:  My son, Andrew Brown, lost a very dear teacher, mentor, and friend yesterday when Ben Hutto passed away.  This is the same Ben Hutto who was recently given a shout out by Stephen Colbert on one of his first Late Night shows, and the same person who was included – unbeknownst to us before we heard his name read out loud – in the Prayers of the People when we visited St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London a couple of weeks ago.  Ben not only touched our family, he touched tens of thousands of people all across the globe.  Ben had a love for music and life that reached so many people on so many different levels.  I noted in my 60 Lessons from 60 Years (#54) that one should never underestimate the impact one person can have on the world.  Ben Hutto was one of those people who touched many lives.  Andrew wrote the following for Facebook, and as of this afternoon, his post was nearing 400 likes.  It was just one of hundreds …

Stick a Fork in This Season

Saturday was the final home game included in my season ticket package for the Washington Nationals 2015 season. I was much more ambivalent about the end of this season than I am for most. Although the Nats finally won in the 12th inning yesterday, the Mets also won earlier in the evening and clinched the National League East Division title.  Time to stick a fork in this stinker of a season. I’m not going into all the problems with the 2015 Nats (although I’ve touched on several recently). They are almost too many to contemplate. If you want to read why Matt Williams should be fired, you could do worse than this one from Nationals Baseball at the end of the disastrous 3-game sweep by the Mets earlier in September. If you want to read why the trade for Jonathan Papelbon was the worst trade of the season (something I supported at the time, but now see how wrong I was), read Joe Posnanski. That trade, plus the pre-season dealing of Tyler Clippard (which I …

I Haven’t Laughed This Much in Years

Last evening Candice and I kicked off the 2015/2016 season at Arena Stage with the hilarious Destiny of Desire, a new play by Helen Hayes Award-winning playwright Karen Zacarías. I haven’t laughed this much in years. This modern comedy is based on a Latino telenovela, and Zacarías and the cast are pitch perfect in capturing the wild plot twists, overplayed drama, and shirt-ripping passion required by the genre.  The play begins on a dark and stormy night in Mexico, when two newborns are switched in a hospital, and the play gallops along from there for two hours to the entirely predictable, but nonetheless enjoyable, ending. The all-Latino cast is strong, and the Arena crowd – which is generally stingy with its praise – gave a swift and heartfelt standing ovation.  Candice and I attend 6-8 plays a year at Arena, and I’ve never seen a crowd leave in such good spirits. This is a rollicking good time.  Even if you’ve never tuned in to a telenovela on Spanish-language television, you’ll quickly pick up the vibe …

Walking Through Autobiography

Friday evening I was at the Grey Barn and Farm on Martha’s Vineyard listening to Presidential historian Michael Beschloss. I was there in my role at the National Trust for Historic Preservation with a group from the National Trust Council and special guests from the region. Beschloss – in speaking to the importance of preserving the places where history happened – made two points that spoke directly to our last four days of touring, learning, and generally soaking in as many new experiences as possible. First he noted that in seeing places where people lived in the past, “You are walking through their autobiography.” Beschloss added – as a good historian should – that is was important to try with all your might to “get the interpretation – the story – right.” On my first visit to Martha’s Vineyard, I hoped to gain an understanding of the many layers of history where the autobiographies are derived from its past as Native American settlement, a working whaling port, Victorian resort, a vacation refuge for African-American professional …

Connecting…Across a Distance

After a very busy week of conference activities in Cambridge – going from early morning until late in the evening – Candice and I came to London for two days to rest and reconnect with each other and with our souls. Knowing that we were likely to need a break from seven days of nonstop travel, meetings, tours, discussions, and connections, we chose to see where the spirit would lead.  Little did we know that although we were quite a distance from home, we would connect to friends old and new in ways wonderful and unexpected. The train from Cambridge deposited us at King’s Cross Station on platform 9, and that was the first reconnection.  My mind immediately went to those summers of reading Harry Potter books to Andrew and Claire at the river house.  And I thought…hmmm, I bet Platform 9 3/4 is around here somewhere. Sure enough, there was a queue of twenty-somethings waiting to take their picture at Harry’s famous point of departure for Hogwarts.  We laughed, and reminded ourselves that our …

A Brilliant Week of English Charms and Global Lessons

In Cambridge – a lovely town with an international reputation for education – it was appropriate that the delegates to the 16th International Conference of National Trusts (ICNT) took in the charms of the East of England while also gathering so many valuable lessons from instructors both local and global. All in all – to use the British equivalent of great – it has been a brilliant week! The opening day’s remarks set the stage for discussions throughout the week.  Dame Helen Ghosh – Director General of the National Trust for England, Wales & Northern Ireland – began by reminding the delegates of the need to be open to change as we seek to conserve our heritage.  Jonathon Porritt challenged many of the assumptions the delegates brought to Cambridge, in a speech on our environmental challenges that was referenced throughout the week. Tuesday took Candice and me along with half of the delegates to Wimpole Estate, for conversations around cultural identities.  This emphasis arose from the 15th ICNT in Entebee, Uganda, in 2013, which raised …

Sheep and Chandeliers

“Sheep and Chandeliers” is the title the National Trust of England, Wales & Northern Ireland has given to its brochure for Wimpole Hall and Wimpole Farm, where we joined a group of participants in the 16th International Conference of National Trusts for a day of in-depth discussions and tours on Tuesday. Over the course of the day, we gathered in small groups throughout the estate with National Trust staff and volunteers to discuss topics such as the spirit of place, ways to use the past to engage with contemporary issues, and cultural identities in a homogenizing world. All were fascinating, made even more so by the extraordinary setting of this estate and working farm. We learned of the site’s role in World War II, where it hosted American and British bombers on the large expanse of lawn in the front of Wimpole Hall, as well as some of the challenges of interpretation for a site with layered histories and traditional expectations of how an estate would be presented to the public. The discussion sessions were …