Out and About (Sort of): Fall Seems Set; “Edna” to be Restored; Hospital Property Needs Study by Howard Freedlander

As I drove last along Glebe Road in Easton last week, I smiled when I viewed a farm field filled with geese. Though an unseasonably hot day, I felt buoyed by the sight of birds that portend cool, comfortable temperatures and festive occasions marked by celebration of animals that fly and swim.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-8-23-03-amOf course, I’m referring to the upcoming Waterfowl Festival, a three-day event during the second weekend of November focused upon conserving the Eastern Shore’s wildfowl and our way of life. It’s one of my favorite times in a town that has been my home for 40 years this month. Oysters served steamed or fried or raw add to the inviting and friendly ambiance that pervades this 46-year-old tradition.

And I should not forget OysterFest on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Tasty occasion.

And I would be remiss indeed if I didn’t mention our national holiday of Thanksgiving when a turkey and its delicious accessories grace the tables of American homes. For me, this holiday on the fourth Thursday of November is the best of all. Turkey is a real treat for me; to eat it alongside family and begrudgingly share the legs–what an incomparable delight. No gifts need to be exchanged; only goodwill and good cheer.

The significance of animals in the identify and culture of our American states interest and amuse me. I think of the pelican in Louisiana, the grizzly bear in Montana and the bison in Kansas. I could go on and on. In our increasingly urbanized country, we continue to pay reverence to animals—and often use them as the centerpieces of local and regional events.

Our region exemplifies a cultural affinity for birds and bivalves. Did I forget blue crabs?


I visited the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) the past Friday to watch the beginning of the restoration of the historic 1889 bugeye Edna E. Lockwood, the last of the log-hull bugeyes afloat. This log-hull restoration will take about two years.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-8-21-32-amWhat I watched for a few minutes was a crew of five, led by Michael Gorman, CBMM’s boatyard manager, shaping 130-year-old loblolly pine logs to replace the existing nine-log hull of this National Historic Landmark. As someone who is neither a boater nor woodworker, I appreciate, however, the history of a boat built in 1889 on Tilghman Island by John B. Harrison. I also marvel at the planing and shaping of huge logs that will give new life to what folks around the museum simply call “Edna.” It’s as if they are referring to a revered family member.

I observed something else: a new shipwright and three apprentices working with Michael Gorman in undertaking a project that will change their lives, if not their resumes. This project, open to the public, will enable the last working oyster boat of its kind, to extend her life and her significance to the thriving oyster business that once characterized the Eastern Shore.

It’s not far-fetched to view the restoration of the Edna E. Lockwood as a living history project. Even for landlubbers like me, a project like this one provides a glimpse into a foregone era. Edna, operating primarily out of Cambridge, last dredged or “drudged” for oysters in 1967.

I recommend that readers with an interest in the Shore’s commercial oyster industry and its socio-economic history visit the maritime museum and its showcase project. You can even ask questions.

(For full disclosure, I am a member of the museum’s Board of Governors)


When I read last week about the proposed construction of the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton—known simply as Memorial Hospital to many of us—I had mixed feelings. I am pleased that a new hospital catering to modern medical and logistical needs is again on the front-burner. As a neighbor a block away from the existing hospital, I am concerned about the future use of this South Easton property, once vacated by the hospital.

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-8-25-56-amI was happy to read that hospital officials plan to convene a diverse group of people to discuss and plan the future use of the existing campus. Lack of a sensible plan would lead to haphazard development of this valuable property; few can dispute that opinion.

I hope that hospital officials, obviously preoccupied in planning and financing a new facility, will look to Annapolis, specifically the Murray Hill community, where the Anne Arundel Medical Center once stood. The planners did an excellent job in designing a thoughtful plan for a community that blends in nicely with the adjacent neighborhood. Simply, the residential community that sits on the former hospital footprint represents good, rational planning.

The Washington Street corridor received a terrific boost through the creative, well-designed redevelopment of the former McCord’s Laundry by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. I hope it provides a catalyst for the development of the hospital property.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Hope for Healing by George Merrill

Early voting begins this Thursday.

I will vote largely by the way I feel. Since no one is in command of all the facts of the complex political scene, feelings must often carry the day. If feelings are informed, then we act wisely. If not, feelings can do us in. Being aware just what a particular feeling is attempting to tell us can be the difference between wisdom and folly.

I know that the most important decisions in my life, like deciding whom to marry or what home to buy, have been settled more by a feeling than some rational process I engaged in. Identifying the source of a feeling is difficult at times, especially when we’re beset with a variety of conflicting emotions all at once. A feeling can be very insistent even while what’s causing it remains elusive. Because our feelings can easily deceive us, “know thyself” avoids lots of pain for ourselves and for others.

The presidential debates are over. I suspect by now most people’s minds are made up. I confess that I experience the predictable feelings party partisans go through as they hope their man or woman will be elected. It’s a given now that partisan feelings are running exceptionally high, going over their banks as swollen rivers do and like storm surges, leaving behind impoverished landscapes.

Since I am Clinton supporter, I, of course, see her as the superior candidate. In that sense, I experience all the appropriate feelings toward Trump that many card carrying Democrats would: anger, outrage, incredulity, and contempt. These are undoubtedly the same sentiments that Trump supporters feel toward Clinton. To that extent I believe I am operating within that normal window of negative emotion that most political conflicts arouse. Yet, I’ve noticed another feeling, subtle but powerful.

As I watched the debates, I became conscious of this strange feeling: a feeling that seemed wholly unrelated to the combative exchanges. At first I wasn’t sure what the feeling was: I had the urge to hide somewhere, as if I had been witnessing some act of desecration. Then I felt sad and finally experienced a sense of loss, like a death. When I reflected on it for a few days I suddenly realized what it was: I felt shame, which slowly morphed into grief. I felt shame that something as potentially noble and treasured as our democratic process has been sullied and cheapened by Trump’s unbridled appetites for power and dominance. America was being dumbed down while dignity and idealism were pitched aside.

Dr. Joseph Gurbo, a psychologist writing in Psychology Today, defines shame as a “painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.”

Why I’ve found the political climate so demoralizing is that it follows in the wake of a presidency that, despite significant policy failures, was conducted with great personal dignity and respect for the country. Obama conducted himself as an honorable man. He was an icon of the American dream.

As the debates have demonstrated, there’s little dignity in public discourse. It’s further exacerbated by eroding confidence in our once revered public institutions: the child-abuse scandals in the church, sexual misconduct in the military, the economic exploitation of the poorer by the rich in the corporate world, peccadillos by elected officials and police brutality; all these have led to widespread cynicism.

Still, I believe Americans have a deep hunger for being a part of essential goodness. I could see it when Pope Francis brought an inspiring vision to America– compassion for the poor and disenfranchised and justice for all. His visit ignited, however briefly, a hope for healing. His vision was lofty, idealistic and visionary – something I believe our souls long for. Francis imparted a sense of dignity to the tasks he told us that we must engage as a global community. The American public was inspired by his presence – I know I was – although significantly, most presidential candidates at the time kept him and his vision at arms length, often with dismissive comments like religion should help people become better persons, but should not mix with politics.

Whatever character deficits we believe either presidential candidate possesses, there is one fundamental difference in how each candidate defines his or her presidential task. Trump says repeatedly that “he” is going to make America great again. His claim that “I alone can fix it” is as though American greatness depended on him. Clinton on the other hand emphasizes the importance of community and our common humanity, the possibilities of what we might become if we could pull our weight “together.” She saw America’s healing as all about us. Trump’s style is the classic top down model, basically authoritarian, while Clinton represents a collegial approach in which we all become a critical part of the solution.

But back to feelings . . .

I read about the National Museum of African American History and Culture opening on September 24th in D.C. The picture accompanying this essay was taken at the opening ceremonies. I was deeply moved by it, almost to tears. The picture said to me that although America may be wounded, she’s still great. The occasion brought dignity to African Americans who have been marginalized since our founding, and judging by the picture, also brought those who had once been political adversaries together in solidarity with the noble vision of equality –the vision that we are all persons of worth. This is America at her best. A noble vision inspires the best in us and draws us together. It feels good and warms the heart.

I have hope for our healing.


Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Special Spy Tip: CBMM and the Art of Trumpy Yachts

The world of boat designers holds a special place in the annals of maritime history. Hailed as the real innovators and craftsmen of their day, this select group has captured the imagination of countless boat owners endlessly searching for the perfect convergence of beauty, design and physics.

Some of these superstars’ work are still very much in evidence in the boatyards of Oxford and St. Michaels. On any given day, one can see the sleek designs of an aging Herreshoff or new Hinkley, as well as the extraordinary examples of John Trumpy of Annapolis.

The Trumpy legacy includes some of the most well known ships in the world, including the historic USS Sequoia, which served as the country’s presidential yacht for decades. And it was this extraordinary reputation that set the granddaughter of John Trumpy, Sigrid Trumpy, on a journey of discovery about the family business.

The net result of that exploration was Sigrid, a well established contemporary artist in her own right, curating a special exhibition entitled A Single Goal: The Art of Trumpy Yacht Building, now on display at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum through November, 27.

This video is approximately one minute in length For more information about A Single Goal: The Art of Trumpy Yacht Building, please go here. Video content provided by the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts.

Warming Up for the Chesapeake Film Festival with Democratic Leadership Conference Founder Al From

There could be a number of Republicans out there these days looking for a way to rebuild their party after the presidential election this November. To save time, they might want to interview political expert Al From after seeing the documentary Crashing the Party, at the upcoming Chesapeake Film Festival.

It was this policy and politics guru who teamed up with the likes of Al Gore, Sam Nunn, Chuck Robb, and Dick Gephardt, to create an entirely new Democratic Party after the party’s stunning losses to Ronald Reagan and George Bush, through the founding of the legendary Democratic Leadership Conference (DLC). And it was the DLC that gave rise to a then unknown southern governor named Bill Clinton.

The Spy had a few minutes to sit down with Al at this Chesapeake waterfront home to talk about the DLC, and the documentary based on his book Crashing the Party, which recalls a special turning point for the Democratic Party and our country.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Crashing the Party with be screened at the Easton Cinemas on October 29 at 12:00 PM and followed by a question and answer session with Al From. 

Entanglement: Faith and Politics by Al Sikes

A political proverb: Election campaigns are about addition, not subtraction. Reality: recorded history tells us that subtraction is often used for addition.

Subtraction has rarely enjoyed such an important tactical moment. Donald Trump’s campaign is built on damning various people and groups. Most of his assertions demonize some opponent; elect me he says, to “Make America Great Again”, as if unity is an anachronism.

Hillary Clinton, presumably to demonstrate the moral superiority of her followers, called half of Trump’s supporters “deplorables.” Not, I understate, a leadership moment.

There are numerous theories on how we arrived at this moment, but one observation (outside the election cycle) that deserves further comment was made by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at a University of Chicago Law School presentation. Ginsburg, when asked for reflections on Roe v. Wade, said the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that “affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion was too far-reaching and too sweeping.”

Justice Ginsburg favors a woman’s right to choose, but now understands the downside of such an abrupt and sweeping preemption of State laws on an intensely personal issue that for many attacks an important religious belief.

Post-Roe v. Wade we are still feeling the shrapnel from that decision and especially in this election cycle.

In a recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, the noted Dietrich Bonhoeffer biographer and Christian media personality, Eric Metaxas wrote: “It’s a fact that if Hillary Clinton is elected, the country’s chance to have a Supreme Court that values the Constitution—and the genuine liberty and self-government for which millions have died—is gone. Not for four years, or eight, but forever.” I can feel the shrapnel.

If Hillary Clinton, who praises Roe v. Wade, shares Justice Ginsburg’s wisdom, it is not apparent. If she were to publicly embrace this more cautious judicial view, I believe there would be a significant political upside for her and the nation.

I am a Christian and strive to understand what that means in relationship to the political world where I spent part of my career. When I was nominated to be Chairman of the FCC, three Christian-right political activists who preached in the halls of Congress, opposed my confirmation. They wanted to tell President George HW Bush who to appoint. While Chairman, I took on Howard Stern (a Trump enabler) and was praised by those who were earlier damning me.

Stepping back, as faith requires, I am reminded of William Wilberforce, Fredrick Douglas and Martin Luther King. Wilberforce, an evangelical, led the successful fight to abolish slavery in Britain. Douglas fought it in the United States, and King fought 20th Century discrimination. Each spoke about their faith and its importance in shaping them and their mission.

And each spoke of disappointment and sadness when they saw Church leaders yield to politicians who were appealing to our worst instincts.

Martin Luther King in commenting on the early Church captured that sadness in Letter From Birmingham Jail: “There was a time when the Church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the Church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”

Metaxas, in his biography on Bonhoeffer, chronicled Bonhoeffer’s departure from Germany’s state church to form the Confessing Church. Hitler had co-opted, what was called the German Church and it ended up supporting his nationalism. Bonhoeffer was implicated in the attempt to assassinate Hitler and in its aftermath he was executed. We should all get to know Bonhoeffer, Wilberforce, Douglas and King–those who courageously followed Jesus Christ.

Coming back to today’s campaign I will leave you with my heroes of faith except to say that I believe the Church and its leaders are best when they are concentrating on saving souls and serving those left behind. The more the Church, in all its diversity, reflects the life and teaching of Jesus Christ the more influence it will have. The influence will not be due to its political advocacy, but to the faithful living lives of grace and the extraordinary influence of that reality.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

Out and About (Sort of): UK trip Provided Escape; Politics still Loomed by Howard Freedlander

Busy and bustling, London continues to captivate me, going back to my first visit nearly 50 years ago. This time around, a three-day visit to British friends in the Dorset countryside offered a startling contrast to the world-class city that draws millions to the United Kingdom.

The highlight for my wife and me in London was a Broadway show. Yes, folks, we traveled to this city on the Thames River to see “Jersey Boys.” It amused us that we watched, in a packed British theater, a musical about a singing group so American in its origin and its hit songs. The mostly English audience seemed to love the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, standing at the end to sing along with the actors. Ironically, I remember more vividly the Liverpool guys called the Beatles than I do the New Jersey gents.

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-8-56-56-amAfter two days in London, with 8.6 million people in its greater area, we traveled to Gillingham, with a population of nearly 12,000, situated in the northern part of the county of Dorset in southwest England. Like crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge onto the Eastern Shore, we found this part of Great Britain to be tranquil and relaxing.

I took a phone call during our stay in Gillingham from a friend, who was surprised to hear me say I was in England, He wondered whether I had deliberately chosen to hide from our presidential campaign. Not a surprising question in light of the outrageously ugly nature of our current political slugfest.

My British friend, whom I’ve known for 30 years, asked a rather intriguing question about the major party candidates: “Isn’t there more talent in the United States?” Now, that’s a difficult question. I answered in a long-winded, not necessarily relevant manner that the negativity and intrusiveness of American political campaigns—particularly on the state and federal levels—discourage participation by many talented people who might consider dipping their toes into politics.

While staying at our friends’ home, I could not escape BBC coverage of the Oct. 9, 2016 debate between Clinton and Trump. Looking at the confrontation through the eyes of our British friends, I wondered if the behavior, particularly Donald Trump’s, could get any worse. And it does, daily. When I think the bar for civility could not get any lower, it does. Our foreign allies must be dismayed.

As I returned home from a too-short five-day trip to the UK, I felt even more discouraged and disgusted by our election. Like many, I am eager for the unsightly brawl, expected to be vicious, to end. To end the political nightmare that is the 2016 presidential election. To end the disregard for citizens dreadfully concerned about the future—theirs and the nation’s.

I find that hope and optimism are in drastically short supply, if non-existent, in the person of Donald Trump. I cannot and will not vote for a person whose sense of reality is misguided, whose views are shallow, whose barely disguised bigotry is frightening, whose grasp of policy is solely lacking and whose self-centered view of life permits little or no compassion for others.screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-8-58-20-am

When I think about people like John Kasich and Jeb Bush, or even Ohio Governor Rob Portman—serious politicians with thoughtful agendas—I so regret that Donald Trump represents the Republican Party in an election that has torn asunder the tenets of acceptable behavior and policy-driven campaigns. Personal attacks and constant disparagement of critics underscore a morally bankrupt campaign waged by a person who craves attention and proffers scant substance.

Hillary Clinton is a flawed person and lackluster candidate. Like some, I guess, I wish the standard-bearer for the Democratic party were Joe Biden. I wish I liked and respected the Democratic candidate. I will vote for her, but not enthusiastically.

After reading a Washington Post article addressing Trump’s contempt for information provided him by intelligence professionals about Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee, I again realized that a person unwilling—or perhaps unable—to listen to and accept non-partisan, data-driven national security information is ill-suited to be our nation’s commander-in-chief. Information provided by intelligence officers is often displeasing and uncomfortable; nonetheless, it should not be dismissed as folly if it conflicts with preconceived notions.

I’ve gone from “Jersey Boys” to the restful and refreshing environs of Dorset, to the ceaselessly disturbing nature of our presidential campaign. Though it may seem like a convoluted story line, it isn’t.

We live in a small world offering plentiful opportunities for enjoyment and enlightenment. Darkness too permeates our world as our two candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, fight to occupy the White House in a mostly unseemly, civility-bashing way. Despite her personal and professional drawbacks, Mrs. Clinton is by far the most capable to lead our country and world.

Mr. Trump is poorly equipped to serve as President of the United States. I couldn’t hide from that truth in Gillingham. I can’t ignore it in Easton.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Senior Nation: A Tour of Dementia Village with Irma Toce

While there has been an ongoing debate for decades in the United States and its European counterparts about different approaches to health care, there is one particular area where the Europeans, or in this case, the Dutch, wins hands down, and that is their innovative approach to taking care of their citizens with dementia.

That’s the conclusion of Irma Toce, the C.E.O. of the Londonderry on the Tred Avon retirement community in Easton, based on her personal experience as an expatriate from Holland whose grandmother was a victim of dementia in the 1970s. From those early days to the present, Irma has watched with amazement as the Netherlands has moved to the forefront of innovative care for those suffering from acute memory loss.

Even though Toce’s day-to-day responsibilities at Londonderry rarely involves issues related to dementia, she has spent a considerable amount of her career studying the condition, and has joined others in attempting to end the crippling stigma that comes with it. In her frequent trips back to Holland to visit family, she has also kept up with her former country’s latest developments in care.

Perhaps the most exciting of these for Irma has been the creation of “dementia villages” in Holland. Housing approximately 200 residents each, these heavily secured facilities entirely replicate the essential elements of a community, including independent living for residents, coffee cafes, restaurants, art galleries, gift shops, bars and a grocery store all within a controlled safe zone. Those within the village can continue to maintain their lifelong habits of shopping or meeting friends for drinks without the risk of getting lost or harming themselves.

In her first Spy interview, Irma talks about her most recent visit to a dementia village and the extraordinary benefits its residents receive from this new model of care. Research data confirms that those placed in these facilities experience need far less medication, live much longer, and are considerably “happier” than those in a traditional nursing home setting. With those facts in hand, Irma continues to fight her campaign for similar approaches in this country.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about dementia and its care, please go here.

The Day of the Dolls by George Merrill

For many years I directed a network of counseling services in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. corridors. They were good years for me. I was personally fond of my staff who were generously caring and committed people. They represented a variety of health care professionals and clergy of most all denominations. Our mission was to equip clergy in mental health counseling skills and, through supervised interns in training, offer counseling services to the general community. Churches hosted our offices. This allowed us to bring quality mental health services to the general community at affordable cost.

I discovered something of who I was in those years. The knowledge freed me.

The agency was successful. I functioned well as its director. However I was plagued with an internal saboteur who hovered at the edge of my consciousness. I kept feeling I wasn’t that effective, that I needed to be doing more. This phantom saboteur appeared periodically, his head tilted skeptically to one side, eyes raised and his voice barely audible, whispering, “Not good enough!”

It mattered little whether the agency was doing very well or experiencing hard times; the saboteur had the same message in weal or woe, “Not good enough.” Anyone who has struggled with self-confidence will recognize my visitor.

In reality the agency flourished and my staff had no problems with my leadership.

Then, the Myers Briggs inventory was in vogue. For those unfamiliar with it, the inventory helps individuals and groups understand the difference in people’s personality styles as well as how they process information. It’s a helpful tool for identifying personal gifts and abilities including whatever things, because of our personalities, we probably have no business messing with. The staff and I opted to do the Myers Briggs and Isabel Myers came and administered the inventory.

At the time, my administrative assistant, Jean, was a highly organized and detail oriented person. She kept the columns up to date and the figures were accurate. Our records were kept impeccably, appointment times scrupulously scheduled. However, I felt intimidated because she seemed to have much more of a command of the Agency’s details while even on my best days when I thought I had it together, I always wondered if I had thought of everything.

As we took the inventory I discovered one of the most affirming aspects of my function on the staff: I was a natural in the leadership role I held in supporting the staff and solving our problems together. There was no way I could ever be the master of details, but more importantly, that wasn’t being asked of me. I could never have a mind like Jean’s. By understanding more clearly who I was, I could be with my staff far more easily and not feel as if I were failing them or had to do “more” or be “better.” My affection for my colleagues grew with my new sense of personal freedom.

I was thinking about my experience the other day. It occurred to me how in community we discover ourselves. A healthy community searches for and calls forth what’s best in its members and helps them see where they can function maximally in the larger picture. A community becomes diseased when its members feel at odds with their neighbors and are set against one another.

Racism and xenophobia, hardly new to America, are increasing. The state of uncertainty in this post-modern world is a fertile climate for a demagogue to appear. Appealing to the fear of the unknown, this natural human inclination is inflamed and exploited by opportunists as we’ve seen recently on the political scene. Not affirming and cultivating the immigrant and African-American presence already here, both of which are having an enormous influence on American culture, I find naïve and short sighted. By 2045, the census bureau predicts whites will become America’s minority. It will be instructive to see what happens when the tide’s turned. These however are general cultural considerations. More to the point is how, when racism and xenophobia get personal, they become tragic.

To understand what discriminatory attitudes and practices do to the soul of a person is profoundly disturbing. I’ve written of this before, but I know nothing, save active violence, that brings the horror of discrimination home more poignantly than what clinical psychologists, Mamie and Kenneth Clarke concluded in an experiment they performed in 1956 involving black children.

They showed black children a number of dolls. The dolls were identical except for skin color. The children were asked to choose the dolls that they liked best, asking them questions like; which doll would you like to play with? Which one is nice, pretty and which one is bad and not pretty?

The majority of children had a clear preference for the white dolls, some even saying of the black dolls that they were not nice or pretty.

The results of the experiment exposed how self-hate internalizes itself in African-American children. The American culture had successfully taught young black children not to like who they were.

I first saw this experiment years ago. I saw it as a clip on TV presented by Bill Cosby. It had a profound effect on me. Up to then I had a general idea but no real feeling for the monstrous implications racism and discrimination have for the soul of a human being.

I recall watching the clip. When a little girl picked up the white doll because she thought it was prettier than the black doll, I remember how my throat constricted, tears formed in my eyes and I wanted to hold the child and say to her again and again, “No, no!”

But she was just a little girl being who she thought she was while being taped on a TV clip. There was no way she would ever have heard me no matter how loud I protested.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Republican Party: Dead or Alive by Al Sikes

One phenomenon of Donald Trump as a candidate for President is that never in a Presidential campaign have more persons looked beyond Election Day so early. And I am not talking of discussions about the inauguration or the President’s choice of key aides.

To me the Clinton-Trump match-up is no longer interesting. Both are fully revealed in a campaign that is focused on them and not the challenges our nation faces.

Turning briefly to Trump, a majority of those who supported him during the primary contests did not anticipate the cascade of self-inflicted bullet holes. And that, of course, is the essence of the problem. Trump’s decisions turn on his psychic needs. This fact causes an overwhelming majority to be unnerved, if not horrified. In a world of unpredictable dangers a discernable measure of stability and consistency is vital.

It is my guess that Clinton will win and that the failure of the Republican Party to pick a winning candidate, and the likelihood of negative down ballot consequences, will result in an intense leadership battle. If our laws were not stacked in favor of the two major parties, the Republican Party would be history.

I suggest to those who want to lead the Party that they not just lip sync the name of Ronald Reagan, but go back and do personal and leadership studies of the party’s legendary figures.

Why, they should begin, is there a Republican Party? Abraham Lincoln and his stand against slavery and for the Union is the answer. What, they might ask, would Lincoln do today?

Why, they might question, is Teddy Roosevelt on Mt. Rushmore? The reformists (reform is essential) should look at his aggressive defense of business freedom and environmental initiatives.

Why, they should ask, did Dwight Eisenhower decide to run as a Republican when both parties were courting him? And why did Ronald Reagan switch parties and then serve two terms as Governor of California, a state where Republicans barely have a pulse today.

And the reformists must understand how Donald Trump gained the support of so many, given his obvious personal and policy irregularities? The answer, I would suggest, is that voters were paying attention to the full field of candidates and didn’t find scripted orthodoxy appealing.

Occasionally leaders shape culture; more often it is the reverse. Year after year we see certain sports teams dominate their respective collegiate or professional leagues. We understand that they are capitalizing on a winning culture shaped and sustained by legendary players and coaches.

When we look around the business community we find no shortage of new companies, but we also find iconic ones that underscore Jim Collins’s analysis, in his book, Good to Great. Inevitably these are companies with strong and constructive cultures and leaders that understand succession is the single most important act of corporate leadership.

My view is that both major parties have regressed into extensions of their strongest interest groups—neither party represents the broadly defined public interest. Since neither party can pass the public interest test, leadership succession has become a systemic problem. When prospective leaders are forced to ape the most extreme positions of their special interest coalitions the best and brightest use their energies elsewhere.

Bernie Sanders, an obscure socialist senator from a small state, would have won his Party’s nomination but for the Clinton Network pulling the strings of her party’s apparatus. Sanders used the title Democrat as a convenience not a definition. The Republican Party voters selected Donald Trump who for much of his life was what economists call a rent-seeker and a registered Democrat.

If the Republican Party is to be revived, its leaders must begin by working on its culture. They must revisit its historical sources of strength. If they fail to develop responsive policy positions, then leadership succession will remain problematic. If Party leaders are wise and skillful the Party will have a huge advantage because if Mrs. Clinton wins, the Democrat Party will not be forced to face its similar weaknesses. In short, whichever Party loses, has the potential to be the ascendant Party for the next generation.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

Channel Marker: Providing a Community Lifeline to the Mid-Shore’s Mentally Ill

A few years ago, the Chestertown Spy published an account of an altercation between a police officer and a town event volunteer who was wearing the costume of a cartoon character. The results of that encounter made national news for an audience who enjoyed the comic aspects of this unlikely collision. But for insiders, which in this case represented most of the downtown residents, is was another painful example of a friend and neighbor declining into severe mental illness.

This is just one example of the special toll we all feel when members of our community suffer from these deliberating conditions, as well as the stress and anxiety a small town has when one of their own is not well.

It was that kind of experience that motivated some visionaries to create Channel Marker in the late 1970s. As state mental hospitals started to release patients in the 1970s as part of a nationwide deinstitutionalization movement, the burden fell on local communities to find homes, jobs and health care for these new residents.

Led by its first director, Nancy Clem, attorney Jim Griswold, and other local leaders, Channel Marker was created in 1982 to close this gap in services to those with mental illness on the Mid-Shore.

Fast forward to 2016 and Channel Marker now works with close to 300 clients and their families on the Mid-Shore, like the former Chestertown resident mentioned above, who are able to find support, housing, and a new peace of mind through their services and programs.

In her Spy interview, executive director Debbye Jackson talks about the special challenges for Channel Marker, their growing program, and their needs for the future.

This video is approximately six minutes in length