Books

Authors contend cooperation essential in solving problems

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Despite our best efforts, our attempts to resolve conflict sometimes fall short, and that feeling of being stuck at a dead end can cause us to give up and walk away. Yet we are social beings, and are instinctively drawn to working together, say Dr. Donald Scherer, a professor emeritus of philosophy, and Carolyn Jabs, journalist, author and BGSU alumna. When cooperation fails, “What is the missing ingredient and what steps can we take to supply it?” Scherer asked. In their new book, “Cooperative Wisdom: Bringing People Together When Things Fall Apart,” published by Green Wave Press, Scherer and Jabs explore this vexing question and posit five virtues that can help jumpstart efforts at solving problems together. For each virtue, they include three concrete practices to use. “There will always be conflict,” Scherer observed, whether in public or private life, among organizations and individuals. “We can’t prevent that, but we offer tools to resolve it and initiatives that show good faith — constructive steps that ameliorate the problem and help ward off further problems.” The virtues he and Jabs present are: Proactive Compassion: becoming more attuned to what is really distressing to the other party and attempting to foresee harm before it happens Deep Discernment: discovering where the problem actually lies and realizing that sometimes it is simply the way things are arranged that produces the conflict, and not the values involved Intentional Imagination: reconceiving what is possible, looking for the resources available and the connections to be made Inclusive Integrity: looking holistically at how well potential solutions integrate with other aspects, on both sides of the conflict. “We have to think about what it is and what it is in the process of becoming,” Scherer said. Creative Courage: recognizing that there will always be risks in any step and that not everything can be predicted, but still being willing to sort out which risks to take to achieve common purposes In “Cooperative Wisdom,” Scherer and Jabs share the dialogue they engaged in over several years after Jabs, then a graduate student at BGSU, attended a 2006 seminar on the subject presented by Scherer, an applied ethicist who has devoted his life’s work to issues of peacemaking and environmentalism. Intrigued by what she heard, she suggested they pursue the topic. The resulting book ties each of the virtues to specific practices and presents case histories and examples of how the method of conflict resolution has been applied to such widely varying situations as business, government, volunteer organizations, faith communities, schools and families. Over his 40 years of teaching and research, Scherer said, his philosophy students interning everywhere from hospices to environmental restoration organizations have been able to use the technique to help achieve common purposes. “I trained students to take the bigger view,” he said, an approach that he has long used to creative innovative partnerships that strengthen communities. The lead author of “Upstream/Downstream: Issues in Environmental Ethics” (Temple University Press), he has been active in promoting wind and solar energy in his community and the state of Ohio. Jabs writes the award-winning column “Growing Up Online” and has published hundreds of articles on families, ethics, environmental issues and the Internet. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Working Mother…


Library offers variety of adult activities

A tour of downtown Bowling Green highlighting the city’s historic past, coloring for adults, job coach sessions, and book discussions are among the programs being offered for adults at Wood County District Public Library in BG. Saturday, May 21 Join WCDPL’s Local History librarian Marnie Pratt and Kelli Kling of the Wood County Museum at 10 am and discover downtown BG’s historic past with a “Business in Boomtown Walking Tour.” The tour leaves promptly at 10, rain or shine, from the Carter House parking lot. Light refreshments will be served in the Carter House at the tour’s conclusion. Registration required. Call 419-352-5050. Monday, May 23 Coloring It’s Not Just for Kids. Come, join friends and neighbors who have rediscovered coloring—a relaxing and creative pastime for adults. Coloring sheets ad colored pencils provided, but feel free to bring your own supplies. “Coloring: It’s Not Just for Kids” takes place in the library’s newly renovated 2nd Floor Meeting Room starting at 7 pm. Tuesday, May 24 Just the Facts, the library’s popular nonfiction book group led by Anne Render discusses Going Clear by Lawrence Wright at 10:30 am in the 2nd Floor Meeting Room. Thursday, May 26 Meet with retired HR expert Frank Day from 9:30 am – 12 pm for a half-hour, personalized “Job Coach Session.” From polishing resume to reviewing job skills to filling out online forms: Mr. Day will you help brush-up where needed to stand out in today’s job market. To book a 30 minute session, call 419-352-5050. 2nd Floor. 10 am. Coffee Talk book group meets at 10 am in the library’s new 2nd floor meeting room. The group, led by Kristin Wetzel, will discuss Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash. 2nd Floor Meeting Room. Sunday, May 29 & Monday May 30 WCDPL will be closed in observance of Memorial Day Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30. Wednesday, June 1 Deb Born leads the Read for Inspiration book group in a discussion of To Win Her Favor by Tamara Alexander. The group meets at 10:30 am on the 2nd Floor. Friday, June 3 Discover the top 5 free apps for Library Apps for Tablets at 10:30 am in the 2nd Floor TechLab and get your summer reading off to a great start. Performers wishing to participate in the library’s BG’s Got Talent extravaganza should sign-up by 6 pm today. For details call the Adult Services department at 419-352-5050. Download a registration form for performers from the attachment online at http://wcdpl.org/AdultServicesEvents. For more information contact the Adult Services department at 419-352-5050


Sonnenberg’s “Gastown Girl” Documents An “Ordinary Life” Lived  Extraordinarily  Well;  Memoir Signing at Grounds for Thought

By FRANCES BRENT Lois Sonnenberg grew up during the Depression Years, in a depressed part of Tonawanda, NY known as Gastown, in upstate New York near the Niagara Area. The times may have been depressed but Lois wasn’t. An extended family, a tight knit neighborhood, strong female role models and her own joyful and intrepid spirit launched her into wider world. April 23, 2016 marks the celebration,  at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church,  of the life of her friend and Colleague,  the beloved BG School music teacher Jim Brown. Sonnenberg’s table at Grounds for Thought from 2 to 6 p.m.  is along the Art Walk route. Her story, in part, is living the American dream in a small town community such  as Bowling Green. Eighty-eight years young now,  and with Otie, her husband of nearly seventy years at her side, Lois turned her energies over the last five rears, into remembering, researching and  writing “Gastown Girl.”   She recounts  a life, not free of challenges , so much as a life that was a non-stop journey to the next opportunity and adventure. Among the titles she has enjoyed: crack the whip survivor, cheer-leader, French horn player, Girl State delegate, US Cadet Nurse Corp Cadet, University of Michigan Graduate, registered nurse, dairy farmer’s wife, mother, grandmother, English Teacher, French Teacher, Wood County Language Arts Consultant, originator of Wood County Young Writers’ Workshop, bridge player, Independent Language Arts Consultant, BGSU Assistant Director of Adult Learning, antique dealer, St.Mark’s Lutheran Council member, Cookie Minister, church choir member, author. That is just a sampling. The book is dedicated to Tom Brokaw, that celebrator of obscure lives well lived.  Her primary audience, for a  memoir self-published on Amazon, is family and friends. The subtitle calls it a book published by five people in three states – parents and adult children. The family is wide, the friends are legion,  but there is an appeal to a wider readership. Here is a life of real accomplishment, lead with little drama, but much thought, love, and old fashioned entrepreneurship. Lois Sonnenberg is a  small town girl who  goes through one transformation after another –  while staying true to herself. Available on Amazon  and at Grounds for Thought. Sonnenberg’s earlier spoof  Mother Goose verse is also on Amazon…and still selling!


Lawrence Coates’ historical fiction earns top BGSU research award

By BGSU Office of Marketing & Communications Reading Dr. Lawrence Coates’ fiction is to be immersed in another era, from the California of the first settlers to its vineyards during Prohibition and even the first dot-com bust of the 1990s. Coates achieves this resonance in part through assiduous research, making sure that all the subtle details render the sights, sounds, landscape and tenor of the times against which his stories are set. His achievements were recognized with the 2016 Olscamp Research Award, presented to him at the annual Faculty Excellence Awards on April 14. Given annually by the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research to a faculty member for outstanding scholarly or creative accomplishments during the previous three years, the award includes a $2,000 cash prize and a reserved parking spot for a year. Coates, a professor and chair of the English department, has received recognition for his work almost from the beginning. His first novel, “The Blossom Festival,” was chosen by Barnes and Noble for its 1999 Discover Great New Writers program, and he has continued to win kudos and awards ever since on both the regional and national scales. He has been the recipient of the Western States Book Award in fiction and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction. “For the last 20 years, I have written fiction set in California that explores and interrogates the interrelationship of space and human desire,” he said. The last three years have been especially prolific for him. He has published two novels and a novella and a number of short stories in literary journals. In 2013, his novel “The Garden of the World” won the Nancy Dasher Award in Creative Writing from the College English Association of Ohio. His novella “Camp Olvido” won the 2015 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was chosen as one of the top three novellas of the year. And his short story “Bats,” a departure from his California-based work, won the prestigious 2013 Barthelme Prize for Short Prose, given by Gulf Coast literary journal. His latest novel, also published in 2015, is “The Goodbye House,” published by University of Nevada Press, chronicling the displacement and dismay of a San José family set adrift when their prosperous life is shattered by the dot-com bust and 9/11. “Camp Olvido” concerns people for whom prosperity has never come. As migrant farmworkers in a Central Valley workers’ camp, they are at the mercy of their employers when a child becomes deathly ill. His award-winning short story “Bats,” a 500-word, incantatory meditation on the handbags of women in northwest Ohio, was selected for the Barthelme Prize by judge Robert Coover, an American author and professor in the literary arts program at Brown University whose work has appeared in the New Yorker. Coates has given readings from his work across the country and been interviewed several times on National Public Radio programs in California. He serves as a reviewer and judge for numerous literary journals and competitions. From 2011-13, he was director of the Creative Writing Program at BGSU, where he has taught since 2001. Before he began his academic career, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard and as a Merchant Marine.


Karen Osborn is a novelist and poet, despite – or perhaps because of – growing up among scientists

By FRANCES BRENT Karen L. Osborn, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Writing at BGSU addressed a young audience gathered on the worn pews of venerable Prout Chapel about her creative “Life on Mars.” The haircuts, hair colors and head coverings were varied, as befits a gathering of the artistic young. It was a comfortable audience for Osborn whose novels explore the difficulties of being young, not in isolation, but rather as part of the continuum of life. (The audience had its mature component too.) The evening was a meditation on the craft of creative writing, with learned and meaningful references to Chekhov, Virginia Woolf, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Frost and Walt Whitman. Interesting, insightful, intellectual and all tied to the Niagara River banks where she grew up – tuned to a dramatic natural environment and within a family that wanted to explain it. The depth, heart of Osborn’s writer’s craft developed as she grew up a “space child” surrounded by a scientific family that didactically and enthusiastically quantified and categorized everything. All this science was the other half – the balance of her creative world. This grounding in the observed world was a platform for her to start wondering about the unseen, to be curious about what could not be explained about human behavior. She is not afraid to explore the Chinese Boxes of the human heart – to follow one unanswerable question to the next as plot and characters develop. “Curiosity, vision and courage,” are required in her view. Karen Osborn, author of four published novels of great individuality, is a successful professional writer. She has the requisite list of foundation grants, awards, small magazine publications, and artists in residence postings that keep writers going. “Patchwork” was named a New York Times notable book. The recent “Centerville” was the fiction choice of The Independent Publishers Books. Osborn describes “Centerville” as a cyclone. The human effect and transformations that circle out from the core explosion of a bomb left by a vengeful husband in a small town drugstore are part of the shockwave. All seems idyllic on a hot summer day in the still innocent sixties. There is a blast and the innocent are dead. It is the living that are left wounded, with lives, selves, understandings, families, friendships, assumptions and status exploded into new patterns. The prose moves with an underlying driving, but subtle, rhythm. The reader suddenly realizes a breathless feeling. Osborn admits to being influenced by the King James Bible of her youth, the river sounds she grew up with and her recent reading of Martin Luther King Jr. sermons. The core questions of who is this man, named George Fowler, and how could he do such a thing as make and explode a bomb are never really answered. The interest is in the collateral damage. A popular minister, happy in every way, realizes he is a hollow man. A teenager comes to terms with more than her father’s death. The perfect housewife is forced into introspection and a wonderfully creative coping mechanism. A policeman, in all ways dutiful, realizes he has lost touch with his humanity. Through all the stories Osborn has a fine ear for dialogue, the rhythm of family life, the pace of a small town summer. Here, as in the earlier “Between Earth and…