Friday, October 28, 2011

Kindling Creativity

This morning we are hosting a group of middle school students enrolled in Georgia College's "Early College," a program designed by the university to serve at-risk children in Baldwin County. As I write, 51 youngsters have already toured the house and are now exploring the Andalusia property. They have been tasked by university student leaders with creative writing projects. One leader asked her students to write a short essay imagining what Andalusia will look like in 100 years. How will this place have changed if you were to visit the farm in 2111? It is a beautiful fall day, and the children seem excited to be here. After enjoying a snack on the grounds, they will soon be going back to Georgia College for lunch. This is the third year we have been involved with GCSU's "Early College," and we are happy to participate as it is entirely consistent with the foundation's mission of educational outreach. We hope that our "Early College" learners had a positive experience here and that they will be inspired to do more reading and writing.
- Mark

Friday, October 21, 2011

Guinea Gambol

As you can see in the picture to the right, our guinea fowl are getting used to their new environs at Andalusia. On Monday, we released the birds from their temporary pen. The first day they explored the farm, spending a good bit of the afternoon outside our office window munching berries. Later in the day we went outside to see what they were up to and were surprised to discover that they had wandered back into the pen on their own. We decided that maybe they were telling us something and that they needed to spend the night in the safety of the shelter. Tuesday morning we let them out again, and they have been outside the enclosure ever since. While they gobble up the cracked corn I strew on the ground, the guineas also enjoy foraging in the grass for insects and other tasty treats. So far, our little flock of five has stayed together, and this is reassuring to us as there is safety in numbers. Besides roaming around the perimeter of the main house, the birds have also checked out the the roof. They've flown up there only once that I am aware of, and it was a bit of an adventure for them. When they landed on the slanted metal roof they couldn't keep their footing and slid down it like it was a ski slope. Nevertheless, it was good to see them fly, for it gives us a tad more confidence that they will be able to evade potential predators. Hopefully, their gambol outside the pen this week will not prove to have been too much of a gamble on our part.
- Mark

Friday, October 14, 2011

Flannery in the White City

What a wonderful time we had at the Flannery O'Connor conference in Chicago last week! The conference at Loyola University featured some of the heavy-weights in Flannery O'Connor studies, and it was a pleasure to get to meet some of these scholars. The four days we were in Chicago were an absolute delight. The weather was sunny and warm, affording us the opportunity to take in Windy City sights such as the Art Institute, Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, and a good many other iconic buildings in this city renowned for its architecture. The site of the conference - Loyola University's Water Tower campus on Michigan Ave. (pictured to the left of the water tower) - provided magnificent vistas of the Chicago skyline. From our perch atop the 17th floor of Lewis Towers, we could see the John Hancock Building in the near distance as well as the other landmarks dotting the "Magnificent Mile." No trip to Chicago would be complete without sampling some of the city's gastronomic delicacies. We had some fabulous meals there, including a lunch of classic Chicago hot dogs on the last day. As much fun as all this was, the purpose of our being there was to promote Andalusia and further our understanding of the philosophical and theological influences in Flannery O'Connor's work. To that end, the Loyola conference was a success. While most of the presentations were first rate, the plenary address by Susan Srigley on Flannery O'Connor and Martin Buber was outstanding. What I enjoyed most, however, was meeting new friends who enthusiastically shared with us their love for Flannery O'Connor. Last and certainly not least, I would be remiss if I did not thank the Flannery O'Connor-Andalusia Foundation for making this trip possible.
- Mark

Saturday, October 1, 2011

We Did It!

For the last month or so Craig and I have been keeping careful track of attendance figures, as it looked like there was a possibility we could set a record for 2011. And yesterday it happened when, for the first time in the foundation's history, we topped 5,000 visitors for a fiscal year! It is truly a remarkable feat when you consider the state of the nation's economy and the fact that this past summer - normally one of our busiest times - was the hottest in Georgia's history. Thanks to all of you, the more than 27,000 folks who have visited Andalusia since we opened to the public and who continue to support us in so many ways.
- Mark