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Designing our Future

Niall Kirkwood is a designer. He teaches at the Harvard School of Design. Twelve of his Masters level landscape studio students will accompany him on a visit here the first full week of March.

My responsibility is to guide them all in understanding the landscape of Ottawa County and how we experience it. No simple task. My plan is to schedule tours and interviews with individuals, large and small groups. Your invitation is to help me.

These landscape students have enrolled in the class entitled: Ottawa County Remade. What do your grandchildren need to thrive in this county? What beauties you love seeing and being near do you want them to enjoy? What hopes do you have for what will be seen from their backdoors?

We already know the University of Oklahoma students are coming and will be seeking your permission to learn from you about the experiences you have had in the past as we gather Air, Water and Work Stories, and now we have the unique chance to then also look forward to the future.

Unique it is.

The phrase "what's past is prologue" in Shakespeare's The Tempest, is quoted and even carved in stone on the National Archives building in Washington, D.C.

I had never considered that phrase until it has landed smack on my lap like it has with these two distinct opportunities to shape our future and tell our past.

My brother Clark Frayser was a teacher for 40 years and became a playwright as a natural outlet for his love for the theater and the way words lay out on the page, but come to life when spoken.

When laying out the pieces of what would become a book: Making a Difference at Tar Creek with a real editor, Marilyn Power Scott. I was shown how she must have laid out the pieces of the Cherokee Volunteer's second anthology. The beginning of the books were key to her. The pieces of books, the ones I have turned past all my life: the introductions and prefaces, the foreword, ended up being prizes that set the tone of the books and gave key information to the readers who long to get the most out of any book they might take the time to read in full. There are two ways of attacking books. The second: I flip past all but the cast of characters, if listed, because I have always thought those added pages would give too many clues to the surprises I knew lay ahead in a brand new book.

But with the plays Clark showed me time and again that the prologue is sort of a kick-starter to a play, and without one you are left sitting literally in the dark.

The past is prologue right here in Ottawa County. We are piecing the past together with your help, with each of your stories, we are handing it off to the future builders, the designers who are assembling only too soon.

We have time and as the Cherokee Chief John Ross said, "Let us look forward to the pleasing landscape of the future."

Two days earlier, the geology students from Emporia State University will be coming to tour the Tri-State mining district. They are interested in what we have laying around that both made our history and ruined the health of our people, tainted our water and has forced the US government to take on the challenge one of the largest superfund sites in the nation, one piece at a time. So literally the past is prologue as the days of March lay out for us.

Put yourself on high alert. Be discovered. Share your past, dream with us for your future generations. We have time and gladly will add you into the circles that will be forming, minds full of questions, and we have lived the answers they will long to hear and have dreamed the dreams they need to know.

Call LEAD Agency 918-542-9399 or email: to save your spot on the itinerary.

Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim

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