Articles by David Dupont

BG High, Owens theater productions school audiences in teen drama

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News Local theater companies seem intent on returning this aging writer to high school. In February Bowling Green State University staged  “The Wolves” about a teenagers on a female indoor soccer team. Now, on the same weekend, Bowling Green High is staging as its all-school music, “High School Musical: On Stage,” and the Owens Community College is producing the dramatic comedy “She Kills Monsters.” (See times and ticket information below.)  And, no, it doesn’t help that BGSU opened its season with the play “You Got Older.” The high school setting brings together the coming-off age story and clash of the individual against hierarchy, and high schools have those aplenty, with the bureaucratic administration and the  cliques based on popularity and spheres of interest. What’s a kid to do? Maddy Depinet performs during “Stick to the Status Quo.” “High School Musical” Well, in “High School Musical: On Stage,” one kid  Kelsi (Emma Matney) writes a show about those early models of teenage angst Romeo and Juliet. She reimagines the play as “Juliet and Romeo” with the title characters surviving. This imaginary script provides the conflict on which “High School Musical,” also loosely based on Shakespeare’s tragedy, will revolve. At East High home of the Wildcats, the twins Sharpay, drama club president, and Ryan Evans (Sarah Kelly and Ethan Brown) would be expected to assume the lead roles. But they have competition in the wings. Troy (Hudson Pendleton), the star and captain of the basketball team, discovers a knack for singing while on vacation when he is thrust into the karaoke spotlight with a total stranger Gabriella (Terra Sloane). They hit it off on the duet “Start of Something New,” and go their separate ways. For Gabriella, that’s East High.  So here she is, a bright young woman gifted at math and science, reunited with this hunk of a sensitive jock. She falls in with the nerdy crowd and finds a new best friend in Taylor (Olivia Strang) the head of the Brainiacs. Taylor enlists Gabriella to the competitive math team while Troy has the team, coached by his over-bearing father (Isaac Douglass), counting on him to win the championship. But can they do that and still find time to reignite their love of singing and being together? Sure, they can. They’re teenagers. They do this all the time. If they didn’t, there would be far fewer actors populating the stage at the Performing Arts Center. But this is Disney’s “High School Musical,” not the BG High all-school musical. So in the play, circumstances and their classmates conspire so they can’t do both. Their teammates go to great lengths to keep them from auditioning for the musical so they can win the big game for their respective teams, and then they go to great lengths to make the now unlikely audition happen. Meanwhile Sharpay moves through the corridors trying her best to sabotage them. The whole production is a wonderful swirl of energetic plotting.  Kelsi Nelson (Emma Matney) pleads with Ms. Darbus (Charlotte Perez) as Sharpay (Sarah Kelly) and Ryan (Ethan Brown) look on. As usual in these plays the adults are more objects of manipulation than guiding forces. Charlotte Perez as Ms. Darbus, the theater teacher, alternates from being excited to being exasperated as she struggles to cast her show. She’s trapped between Sharpay’s slick routines — Kelly and Brown’s contrived audition number is a hoot on “What I’ve Been Looking For” — and distrust of Troy’s intentions. I’m sure Ms. Darbus would love to have the cast that director Jo Beth Gonzalez has assembled here….


BGSU Arts Events through April 30

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS April 11 – The BGSU Creative Writing Program welcomes Thrity Umrigar, a bestselling author of eight novels, including “The Space Between Us” and the recent “The Secrets Between Us.” She will read from her works as part of the weekly Prout Reading Series. Umrigar has also written a memoir and a children’s picture book. A former journalist, she has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe and other publications. She is the recipient of a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard and the Cleveland Arts Prize. She is a professor of English at Case Western Reserve University. The reading will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Prout Chapel. Free April 11 – The International Film Series presents “The Farmer of Nathal: Not a Film about Thomas Bernhard” (“Der Bauer zu Nathal: Kein Film über Thomas Bernhard”). The 2018 film, produced by David Baldinger and Matthias Greuling, tells the story of Bernhard, a world-renowned author from Austria who is both acclaimed and sharply criticized. The documentary investigates Bernhard’s curious relationship to the community and its response to him. The film is, however, less about Bernhard and more about us; it is more about the impact of our community and environment on us and how we live and create. Viewing the poet as seismograph of society: even today, the confrontation with the contrarian Bernhard provides insights into the Austrian soul. The 7:30 p.m. screening in 206 Bowen-Thompson Student Union is co-sponsored by the Austrian Cultural Forum (New York) and is part of the Austrian Studies Conference being hosted at BGSU. Free April 11 – Praecepta, the student chapter of the Society of Composers Inc., promotes new music activities at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall, Moore Musical Arts Center. Free April 12 – The BGSU College of Musical Arts presents a recital by cello professor Brian Snow and piano professor Robert Satterlee for the weekly Faculty Artist Series. This event was rescheduled from March. The recital will begin at 8 p.m. in the Marjorie Conrad M.D. Choral Room in the Wolfe Center for the Arts. Free April 12 – BGSU’s School of Art and Creative Writing Program team up for a special presentation as part of the BFA Senior Thesis Exhibition. The two arts programs come together to showcase creative writing BFA seniors reading some of their works, including ekphrastic pieces that vividly describe visual works of art by the School of Art BFA seniors. The collaborative presentation will be from 6-8 p.m. in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery at the Fine Arts Center. The BFA Senior Thesis Exhibition runs through April 14. Gallery hours are 11 am. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Free April 12 – EAR | EYE: Listening and Looking: Contemporary Music and Art features BGSU doctoral students performing contemporary music in the various galleries at the Toledo Museum of Art. This series explores the relationship of contemporary music and art through performances in response to specific works of art. The recital begins at 7 p.m. in the galleries of the museum, 2445 Monroe St., Toledo. Free April 12 – The BGSU Department of Theatre and Film’s Elsewhere Productions presents “Dog Sees God,” a play written by Bert Royal about a teenage boy, CB, who begins to question the existence of an afterlife after his dog dies. Unable to find solace from his friends after his dog’s death, CB turns to an artistic classmate, but their rekindled friendship pushes the bounds of what CB’s friends are willing to accept, forcing CB to consider who…


Holy academia, Batman! BGSU hosting conference on Caped Crusader

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS In celebration of the 80th anniversary of Batman, Bowling Green State University’s Department of Popular Culture and the Ray and Pat Browne Library for Popular Culture Studies will host the Batman in Popular Culture Conference April 12-13 at Jerome Library. March 30, 2019, marked the actual 80th anniversary of Batman’s first appearance in the 1939 Detective Comics No. 27, which was written by Bill Finger and penciled by Bob Kane. The story, “The Case of the Criminal Syndicate!” was only six pages long and introduced audiences to Batman and Commissioner Gordon and revealed Batman’s secret identity as wealthy bachelor Bruce Wayne. Registration is closed for the conference, which will feature more than 20 sessions on Batman, including Girls of Gotham, Batman and Popular Music, Batman and Modern Technology, and Batman and Villains. Keynote presentations are outlined below. The conference will also include an appearance by Marc Racop from Fiberglas Freaks, who builds authentic Batmobiles. In addition, Marc Sumerak, comic book writer/creator and BGSU alumnus, will present a community event, “The Craft of Comics,” from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at the Wood County Public Library, Bowling Green. WHAT: Batman in Popular Culture Conference WHEN: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 12 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 13 WHERE: BGSU Jerome Library, Pallister Conference Room and Room 142B KEYNOTE PRESENTATIONS: 3:20-3:55 p.m. April 12, Pallister Conference Room: Growing Gotham, Making Metropolis: Building the DC Universe – Dan Mishkin, comic book writer/creator11:20-11:55 a.m. April 12, Pallister Conference Room: Holy Bat Heartbreak: The Long Dark Knight of the Soul – Dr. Jenny Swartz-Levine, dean, Lake Erie College11:20-11:55 a.m. April 13, Pallister Conference Room: Batman and Sons: Family and Patriarchal Authority – Dr. Jeffrey Brown, BGSU popular culture faculty3:20-3:55 p.m. April 13, Pallister Conference Room: A Conversation with a Bat-writer – Mike Barr, comic book writer/creator


Jim Scott coming to BG to celebrate the music & message of his friend Pete Seeger

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News For Jim Scott, any music can be seen as subversive. It doesn’t matter if its jazz, or folk, or even Protestant hymn tunes.  That’s never in doubt when he’s talking about the music of folk legend and activist Pete Seeger, who he counted as a friend as well as musical collaborator. “He was always there on the front lines in the  peace movement and the labor movement,” Scott said. Later in life, Seeger dedicated himself to the successful efforts to clean up the Hudson River. Scott, a guitarist, composer, and songwriter, will present the Pete Seeger 100th Birthday Songfest, Sunday, April 14, at 1 p.m. at the Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation. He’ll also participate earlier in the day in the 11 a.m. service. During the celebration, he’ll perform songs that Seeger wrote as well as songs he helped popularize. He’ll also include a few of his own compositions.  Scott said the songs will be interspersed with commentary on Seeger’s life and music. Scott said his approach is inspired by Seeger. He’ll teach the songs by calling out the words for the next stanza. He’s not controlling the events. “I’m just inviting everyone to sing. We just talk about it like it’s the easiest thing.” The commentary will be in the same spirit. “I’m just a guy, and this is what I learned.” Before Seeger died in 2014, Scott asked his permission to do a song fest of his work. Seeger agreed. The setting was a workshop with a couple choirs. Scott printed out the words and music for a number of pieces. But seeing the singers looking at written music, he realized this was the wrong approach. Instead, he told them, “let me demonstrate the way Pete taught songs.” Seeger, he said, wasn’t one for a lot fuss. “He just let people sing.” Scott was a member of the Paul Winter Consort when he met Seeger in 1978. “I just crossed paths with him a lot of times,” Scott said. He visited Seeger at home in New York’s Hudson River Valley.  In conjunction with the Unitarian Universalist Green Sanctuary ministry, Scott assembled the “Earth & Spirit Songbook,” a collection of more than 100 songs. Seeger, he said, helped by suggesting songs and songwriters. Collecting songs, as well as writing them, was important to Seeger. He performed the Cuban song “Guantanamera” in the 1960s when relations between Cuba and the United States had deteriorated.  He wanted people to sing it to remember that Cubans were human beings, Scott said. As with so many tunes he introduced, “Guantanamera” became a hit… for someone else. When he was at the Highlander Folk Center in Tennessee, Seeger helped popularize the protest song “We Shall Overcome.” The center was a training school for a who’s who of civil rights activists. Zilphia Horton, the wife of founder Myles Horton, had heard a version of the song sung by women striking at a cigarette factory. She brought it to the center where it was adopted and became an anthem of the movement.  Scott said Seeger pushed to have the song copyrighted the song in the name of the Highlander Center to keep it out of corporate hands. Many songs were pieced together from different versions, with words married to different tunes. Scott said he’ll discuss the provenance of some of those. The emphasis, though, will be on the music. “I’ve never quite figured out how I fit into a folk thing,” Scott, 73, said. He studied classical guitar at the Eastman School of Music, and played jazz guitar in bars…


Interfaith events express our dreams and hopes

The recent BG Interfaith Breakfast held at the Junior Fair Building was a success that drew 200 persons to celebrate not only different faiths but all parts of our community.  Congratulations to South Side Six, Grounds, co-chairs of our peace-making breakfast, our city administrators, our school teachers and leaders, and our citizens. In fact there have been hundreds of interfaith events here and around the country:  to name a few, there’s the Multi-Faith Council of NW Ohio Banquet, Temple Shomer Emumin’s Interfaith Seder, the spring National Prayer Day held annually since 1952 (sadly, ours next spring will depart from its interfaith purpose), and Al Gore’s “interfaith service” at the Atlanta Ebenizer Baptist Church where 600 persons gathered.  Most of us gather in interfaith groups at work, school, sports, card games, houses of worship, and families without recognizing them as such. We take the diversity of those groups for granted, but by calling them “interfaith,” we intentionally attend to each other, identify our religious community or none, seeking understanding of our similarities and differences, learning from them, erasing stereotypes, agreeing to live together in respect and peace. Interfaith events are a forceful response to our toxic divisions and national polarization, fault lines that have caused anger, social fragmentation and violence.  We know that each of us can be seen as “the other.” But when we are truly together, friendships are born.  When we sponsor interfaith dinners, seders, climate talks, or workshops, and when we interact as real persons., we question stereotypes, there are no “others” and we reach across the tables in solidarity. Although it is not considered religious, Edward Hicks’ painting The Peaceable Kingdom (1833) exemplifies Quaker ideals of equality, criminal and social justice, peace, protecting the earth and seeking personal wholeness and social harmony. The animals and children are taken from Isaiah 11:6–8 including the lion eating straw with the ox. Hicks used his paintings as a way to define his central interest, which was the quest for a redeemed soul.  May those images of lions and oxen together enter our dreams and hopes. Tom Klein Bowling Green


Jeffers possesses qualities that represent the best of BG

Among Bowling Green’s many positive characteristics, one of its best is the quality of our City Council. Our City Council also sets a tone for our community by working together well, thinking through issues regardless of party. That is why, now as much as ever, Bruce Jeffers would be the best choice for Bowling Green’s at-large Council seat. It’s been my privilege to know Mr. Jeffers for some years. We have shared many long conversations and been on committees together, and I have watched him serve on City Council. He has worked to foster street and housing planning, prepare the city to use more solar power, and promote a welcoming atmosphere to immigrants for our expanding job market. More than that, though, he possesses two qualities that represent the best of Bowling Green. First, he is an excellent listener. Rather than pushing any one agenda, he listens intently to members of the public and other Council members. Second, he is practical. He works to find progressive, workable solutions to BG’s current and future challenges. In sum, in addition to his having a strong record of accomplishment during his time in City Council, he is the best candidate, going forward, to help our city function well and continue its record of responsive, practical governance. Andy Schocket Bowling Green


BGSU offers Skywarn Severe Weather Spotter’s Webinar

The BGSU Department of Public Safety and Office of Emergency Management in coordination with the Wood County Emergency Management Agency will be hosting a 2019 Skywarn Severe Weather Spotter’s Webinar. This training is open to BGSU students, faculty, staff, first responders and the general public. The webinar will be presented Thursday, April 18, 1- 2:30 p.m. in Room 206 (Theater) at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union No pre-registration required. You will register the day of the webinar starting at 12:30 p.m.The webinar will be presented by the National Weather Service Cleveland Weather Forecast Office. There is no cost to attend.


Black Student Union hosting meeting on changing name of Gish Film Theater

The Black Student Union at Bowling Green State University is hosting a Gish Theater Update forum Thursday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in room 210 of the Math and Science Building. The organizers said the  forum is open students, faculty, media, and the public to get an “accurate update on the situation as it is unfolding.” The forum will include an update from the task force, statements from the BSU, which wants the name changed, comments from those both supporting and opposing changing the name, and a chance to ask questions. In a statement, the BSU says it has no ill will toward the Gish sisters and their legacy, however, they want “to tell history in great veracity and detail, including the parts that are deeply problematic.” That includes Lillian Gish’s prominent role in “The Birth of a Nation,” a film that played a role in the revival of the Ku Klux Klan. The display in the theater located in the Bowen Thompson Student Union is “offensive to black students whose families were affected by the racism (“The Birth of a Nation”) instilled in this nation.”


2019 Hatchlings include Falcons from a variety of majors

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Eight Bowling Green State University student entrepreneurs will present their business ideas to alumni investors during The Hatch on Thursday, April 11 at 6 p.m. in the Stroh Center, vying for funds to launch their businesses in a format similar to the popular television show “Shark Tank.” This event is streamed to Hatch Watch parties across the United States and to several countries throughout the world. This is the seventh year for the event in which alumni investors make equity investments providing real money for students to launch real businesses. To date, more than $500,000 has been committed to student startups. This year’s Hatchlings represent several colleges within the University, from freshmen to a graduate student. Their business ideas focus on everything from outdoor sporting, wearable health devices for children, recreation and entertainment innovation, creative storytelling to promote literacy, online apparel that supports women in ministry and a speech app. Jacob ClarkDecoil – Retractable Duck Decoy Weight Jacob Clark, of London, Ohio, is a senior in the College of Education and Human Development majoring in tourism, leisure, and event planning with a minor in entrepreneurship through the College of Business. Clark’s business idea is a retractable decoy weight that can be attached to any duck decoy, ideal for waterfowl hunters who want to shorten their time deploying and retrieving decoys. With this time-saving decoy weight, waterfowl hunters can spend more time in the field and less time untangling and retrieving decoys from the water. Laura DworningSevas – Diabetes Bracelet for Kids Laura Dworning, of Leroy, Ohio, is a senior dietetics major with almost five years of experience studying nutrition and dietetics. She will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in dietetics in May 2019. Dworning’s business idea is to develop a product exclusively for children with Type 1 diabetes. Her device is a bracelet with an LED screen that will sync via Bluetooth to the child’s “site,” which is usually located on their arm. “Site” is a device that most Type 1 diabetes patients wear, which has a needle inserted into the skin and takes accurate blood sugar readings for seven days before having to be replaced. The site takes accurate blood sugar readings and sends easily understandable signals to the bracelet. The LED screen will show one of three colors – blue for low blood sugar, green for normal range, and red for high. The bracelet will also vibrate to alert the child’s caregiver and/or school nurse when blood sugar is low or high. Philip ForrestSplit-Pax – a backpacking rig designed for comfort Philip Forrest, of Cleveland, is a junior specializing in business management with a minor in military science. Forrest’s business idea is called Split-Pax, a backpacking rig that redistributes pack weight between the front and back of the body. This product is designed to promote proper posture and reduce back pain and fatigue. It also provides easy access to trail-essential items such as water, snacks, electronics and rain gear. Split-Pax will allow for a more comfortable and pleasant hiking experience in the great outdoors, whether for a day hike or a long-distance thru-hike. Blade Frisch Spoken – a mobile communication-assistance app Blade Frisch, of Toledo, Ohio, is a graduate student pursuing a dual master’s in special education and computer science. He earned dual undergraduate degrees in music education and computer science education at BGSU. Frisch’s project is a mobile communication-assistance app called Spoken. The app helps people with verbal deficiencies communicate effectively through a simple interface and a customizable experience. Savannah HindeEsther & Light – an online community to support young women…


Novel races story of Japanese soldier in Vietnam

Submitted by RICHARD A. RAJNER Local author Richard A. Rajner has announced the release of his novel, Hiroshi’s Story: The Journals of a Japanese Soldier in Viet Nam, 1941-1968, published by Austin Macauley, New York, NY.  T During the next few weeks, Rick will be giving short presentations, followed by a question and answer period and a book signing at Gathering Volumes in Perrysburg (April 13 at 2:00) Waterville Branch Library (April 22 at 7:00) and Maumee Branch Library (May 6 at 6:30).    The book departs from the common themes associated with Vietnam’s twentieth century wars, chronicling the experiences of of a humble enemy private.  Hiroshi Watanabe was one of five thousand Japanese servicemen who volunteered to remain in-country at the end of World War Two, shifting their allegiance from Emperor Hirohito to the Viet Minh.  Two things separate Private Watanabe from his comrades in both armies:  he recorded his experiences in carefully-written journals, and he soldiered on for a remarkably long time, twenty-eight years, nine months, and four days.In addition to the conventional accounts of firefights and hardships, Hiroshi takes the reader behind the scenes, describing every imaginable element of life on the other side of the battle lines.  His scope is broader than any historian’s and includes hundreds of little-known (but incredibly interesting) aspects of the wars:  The day-to-day duties of an anti-aircraft gun crew at a backwater airbase; hundreds of miles from the front; The clever propaganda that persuaded thousands of Japanese servicemen to remain in Vietnam; The independence movement’s well-camouflaged base camps, its training regimen, its logistics systems, its rations; and the taxes that paid rebel soldiers.  Hiroshi also reveals how an ancient remedy used arsenic and other heavy metals to save his life when malaria swept through the ranks; how his unit sawed apart a dud aerial bomb and salvaged the explosives to hand-craft land mines in a jungle workshop; and how teams of locally-based soldiers used the cover of darkness to guide Communist troops and weapons along trail networks that stretched from the Cambodian border to the Mekong Delta.  Woven among the enemy’s secrets, Private Watanabe also tells the story of his love for Tam, a Vietnamese war widow he acquires in a marriage arranged by his commanders, adding another unusual element to this unique tale.  The 498-page book is available at Gathering Volumes in Perrysburg, local Barnes and Noble outlets, and Amazon. Richard A. “Rick” Rajner followed four career paths, all beginning with the letter “S.”  He became a soldier by volunteering for the draft in 1966.  Rick didn’t see the U.S. Army as a vocation; he simply wanted to avoid four years of undergraduate poverty by qualifying for educational benefits offered under the provisions of the GI Bill.  After his unit was attacked near the Korean DMZ, he volunteered to serve in Vietnam.  In 1968, he returned to school, then re-enlisted when he realized his younger brothers were likely to be drafted.  He served two more tours in Vietnam, earning more than two dozen decorations.  After leaving the Army, Rick entered Local 50’s apprentice program; four years later he became a journeyman steamfitter.  An unsuccessful surgery, which intended to repair a wartime injury, sent Rick back to college where he remained for ten years.  In his years as a scholar, he taught Anthropology and American History, and authored a number of popular, academic, and “history-for-hire” works.  A few years after he retired, he noticed an a news item announcing a Veterans Writing Workshop offered by Lourdes University and the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.  There he found his fourth calling:  storyteller.  Hiroshi’s Story was inspired by one…


Arts festival seeking poster designer

From BLACK SWAMP ARTS FESTIVAL The Black Swamp Arts Festival has great posters. Every year, the poster receives media hype and community admiration. This year, the Festival is opening the opportunity to create the poster to all interested artists. The festival is asking for artists to submit a sketch or mock-up by April 29 to: bsafmarketing@gmail.com for consideration. For full details, please visit the Black Swamp Arts Festival Facebook page. Timeline: April 5: open call of concept April 29: submission deadline for mock-up April 30- May 3 : Selection process June 15: final Poster Design delivered The Black Swamp Arts Festival is a three-day, free live music and arts festival committed to providing quality art and music experiences. Held in downtown Bowling Green, Ohio the first full weekend after Labor Day, there are three stages of music, two art shows, Youth Arts, Artists at Work, Chalk Walk, and more.


Wife, ‘American mother’ fear for BGSU graduate being held by Saudi government

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News Ayman al-Drees wasn’t outspoken.  Even as he advocated for women’s rights he tried to keep a low profile, his wife and fellow activist Malak “Angel” al-Shehri said. She was the high profile feminist who was pushing hard against Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system. “I’m the activist. I’m the women’s rights activist. I’m the feminist,” she said Monday (April 7). They met at the time she was arrested for tweeting a photo of herself without a head scarf in violation of the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islam. That photo brought forth a surge of violent threats with some arguing she should be beheaded. Now it’s become clear that for al-Drees maintaining a low profile wasn’t enough. The 2016 Bowling Green State University graduate is among a number of activists rounded up by Saudi officials in a crackdown on advocates for greater women’s rights in the kingdom. The New York Times published a story on the arrests April 5. Al-Shehri said she last heard from her husband late last week. They were on the telephone when he said people were coming to arrest him. He said he loved her, urged her to be careful, and to take care of herself. That’s the last she’s heard from him. Al-Shehri has no way, she said, to get any information about him, even what charges he faces. Ayman Al-Drees Al-Drees worked as an insurance underwriter, but his passion was as a translator of documents related to human rights. He did this to enlighten people about the fight for women’s rights with Saudi Arabia. His wife wants people to know that side of him. Trolls on social media, she said, are trying to paint him and the others arrested as traitors. Al-Shehri now lives in California. Last May she fled her country when some of her friends in the movement were arrested. In February she had visited the Hubbell-Staeble family in Bowling Green with al-Drees.  Al-Drees came to know the Bowling Green family when he took a General Studies Writing course taught by Hubbell-Staeble. He was one of a trio of male international students who bonded in the class. Later he became close friends with Hubbell-Staeble’s sons, Nathan and Aidan. He often visited the house, Dawn Hubbell-Staeble said. His wife said that Hubbell-Staeble was “his American mother.” Al-Shehri said her husband had good memories of Bowling Green, and that his experience here helped shape his later activism. “He was very insightful, very caring, and super bright,” Hubbell-Staeble said. The papers he wrote for her class were focused on human rights and environmental issues. And he was always willing to help. Once in class she mentioned in passing that she had yard work to do. He  asked what time should he be there. In February, Hubbell-Staeble said, he was very concerned about leaving his wife alone in the United States when he returned to Saudi Arabia, and asked Hubbell-Staeble to look out for her. He lost his ability to leave the country after he returned. That, Hubbell-Staeble said, was clearly a sign he would be arrested. Al-Shehri said she was confused when he was banned from traveling. He hadn’t done anything, she said. He was very aware of needing to stay safe. But the Saudis arrested their whole circle of friends. All were involved in fighting the system within Saudi Arabia that gives power over women’s lives to their male relatives. Their struggle is to end male guardianship and to establish effective domestic abuse laws that now do not exist. For many years, the 35-year-old said, “I was thinking there is something…


Safe Communities has a message for those who text & drive

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY Wood County Safe Communities has announced that there have been three fatal crashes in Wood County for the calendar year 2019, compared to five the same time frame in 2018. *** Many of us have witnessed a distracted driver; they are often easy to spot. Some reading this article, may even admit to driving distracted in the past. With so many individuals, tuned into smartphones, texting from behind the wheel has become one of the most common causes of fatalities on the roads.That is why, Safe Communities of Wood County is teaming up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to reach all drivers with an important warning: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.Every year, about 421,000 people are injured in crashes that have involved a driver who was distracted in some ways. Additionally, each year, over 330,000 accidents cause by texting while driving lead to severe injuries. Meaning, over 78 percent of all distracted drivers are distracted because they have been texting while driving.Driving distracted is a life or death issue. Many do not understand how dangerous it is to take your eyes off the road, hands of the wheel, and concentration off the task of driving safely it only takes a few seconds, to change your life or someone else’s. As a result, this April, the police presence on Ohio roads will increase. Anyone caught texting and driving will pay the price. “Too many drivers are ignoring their responsibilities behind the wheel,” said Sandy Wiechman, Safe Communities Coordinator for Wood County. “Do the right thing – put your phone away when you get behind the wheel.


BGSU hopes to Make a Splash with national grant to fund swim lessons

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University’s Department of Recreation and Wellnesswas chosen as one of 85 Make a Splash programs in the United States to receive grant money from the USA Swimming Foundation in early 2019. The awarded money will go toward continued efforts to provide free or reduced-cost swim lessons. The USA Swimming Foundation awarded a total of $507,461 to programs across the country that will provide swim lessons to an estimated 25,000 children. “Receiving this grant creates an amazing opportunity to provide swim lessons to over 60 kids who have never had that opportunity,” said Recreation and Wellness Assistant Director Chris Ballard. “Our program is about providing lessons, but also about teaching kids to be safe in and around the water, and I’m excited to impart swimming and safety skills to new swimmers.” BGSU’s Learn-to-Swim program has been serving the community for 40 years, offering swim lessons for all people, age six months through adult, and all skill levels, from beginning to advanced, taught by fully certified American Red Cross water safety instructors. The goal of the program is for participants to learn the fundamentals of swimming, the importance of safety and develop a love and passion for the water.? The USA Swimming Foundation vetted 241 applications through a competitive annual review process and chose 85 Make a Splash local partner programs to receive funding, 26 of which are first-time USA Swimming Foundation grant recipients. “It’s an incredible feeling to know that USA Swimming Foundation funding will be used to create a valuable swimming experience for tens of thousands of children who may not have had the opportunity to learn how to swim,” USA Swimming Foundation Executive Director Debbie Hesse said. “We are thrilled with the depth of this year’s Make a Splash local partner applicant pool and we couldn’t be prouder to support these exciting and lifesaving opportunities for children across the country. We owe a tremendous thank you to our partners and donors, who continue to make a difference.” The USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative is a national child-focused water safety campaign, which aims to provide the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim. Through Make a Splash, the USA Swimming Foundation partners with learn-to-swim providers and water safety advocates across the country to provide swimming lessons and educate children and their families on the importance of learning how to swim. The USA Swimming Foundation has invested millions of dollars to provide grants to qualified Make a Splash local partner learn-to-swim programs, to spread national awareness and to bring together strategic partners to end drowning. To date, 7.5 million children have received the lifesaving gift of swim lessons through the USA Swimming Foundation Make a Splash Local Partner network, comprised of 1,000 qualified lesson providers across the nation.


Hundreds gather to celebrate Japanese Culture at BGSU Cherry Blossom Festival

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News Eri Maeda feels right at home in Bowling Green. The exchange student from Japan was helping visitors try on kimonos Sunday at the annual Ohanami Cherry Blossom Festival at Bowling Green State University. She said she feels so much at home in Bowling Green, she’s not looking forward to leaving in May. Eri Maeda (right) adjusts a kimono on Summer Pollick (left) as fellow Japanese Club member Shelby Bray looks on. “I’m so happy that so many people enjoy Japanese culture,” Maeda said. Back home she doesn’t encounter many foreigners, so she was pleasantly surprised that several hundred of people gathered in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union to celebrate the culture of her native land. This is BGSU’s 18th annual Ohnami. The first was held in 2001 to celebrate the planting of 50 cherry trees that were donated by BGSU alumni living in Japan. The grove also includes three sakura grown from cuttings of the original trees that were presented to Washington D.C. by the City of Tokyo during the presidency of William Howard Taft. Since 2001 Japanese firms have donated a few dozen more trees. From left, Sedona Spellen, Ayslee Grant, Jaryn Shumaker,and Nhu Nguyen chat after a light lunch of sushi and other Japanese treats, That first festival was held on a windy day under cloudy skies, so it was decided to move it indoors. Akiko Kawano Jones, who teaches Japanese and advises the Japanese Club, said when the club and the Asian Studies Program launched the festival it was the only one in the region. Now several others have blossomed. Nagisa Watanabe helps her son Yoshihito make an origami figure What sets the BGSU event apart, she noted, was BGSU’s Ohanami is free. Entry even included a snack plate of sushi and a sweet rice roll as well as rice crackers. This is made possible by funding from university as well as Japanese firms with local operations. Jones said she wants to keep it free to encourage students to attend. What they find was an array of hands-on activities, including origami, traditional games, calligraphy, and flower arranging as well as performances by the university’s Kaze No Daichi Taiko. A performance on the traditional string instrument koto by Mutsumi Takizawa was a new addition to the festival. Mutsumi Takizawa performs on the koto. For St.  Ursula students, Ayriana Shartzen and Kiera Waters, the appeal was the company. “I like that I can speak to so many different people,” said Waters, whose mother works for a Japanese company in Toledo. “It’s so diverse,” Shartzen said. “It’s a great sense of community. It brings people together.”   Jones was pleased that the counsel general from the Japanese consulate in Detroit as well as Mayor Dick Edwards, BGSU President Rodney Rogers, and Dean of Arts and Sciences Raymond Craig were all on hand to open the festival.  That recognition, Jones said, means a lot to the  students who stage the event. Rob Snyder staging, guides Jason George as he works on origami. Also, at the table are Ayriana Shartzer and Kiera Waters, right.