Tag Archives: community


I’ve run along the periphery of Columbus music for 16 or 17 years, and sometimes right through its center. I’ve written about it, talked about it, consumed it, even married and had a child with one of its central stewards.

Let me tell you, it’s a world full of dudes. Dudes who play, editorialize about, promote, gloat over or criticize, but ultimately love music. Several of those dudes have only ever referred to me by my initials. Why call someone Tracy when you can call her TZT? I’m okay with that. It makes me feel like an honorary dude.

In this scene, there are jerk dudes, frustrated genius dudes, drunk dudes, well-meaning dudes, lecherous dudes, armchair comedian dudes and awkward dudes. And then there are the kind ones. The ones who are generous of spirit and might play in the realm of dudes, but you quickly discover that they are also good, decent men. They are the ones who don’t run away from you when they hear you lost your job or that your grandfather died. They see you out in the city and they walk toward you. They put an arm around you and acknowledge your loss openly, thoughtfully. They say something encouraging or offer a listening ear. The whole thing may last all of five minutes, and you may not see that person again for weeks, even months, but you walk away from a man like that and you just feel happy that you know him. Happy that you walk in the same circles and will surely see him again soon.

The city lost one of those good men this weekend. A man who gave body-crushing hugs and radiated warmth. The news broke last night that Andy “Andyman” Davis – a veteran of local radio – drowned Saturday while on family vacation, and the more that I sit with that fact, the harder I find it to accept.

I’ve seen a lot of friendships made through music. You find out that someone loves what you love, they relate to what you relate to, and suddenly, you are connected. You may drift apart or even have a falling out, but if that person introduced you to a song or artist that’s continued to keep you company, their dearness is never completely lost. Andy is that kind of friend to countless people that he hasn’t even met because he’s been the face and voice of one of our only local, independent stations for so long.

To me, he was a local media colleague and a social friend – someone I probably saw and shared words with weekly to monthly in my twenties and early thirties at my husband’s clubs, Andy’s bar or some other show in the Columbus universe.

He had been a dad for a while by the time I became a mom. Once I made that transition, I only saw him once or twice a year, but our casual conversations shifted. When I saw him at Comfest last year, I got one of his bear hugs before he held onto my hand and stood with me, looking at my son the same way I do – like something miraculous and joyful. He pulled out the pictures of his two boys and told me about his third baby coming. I don’t remember the words we shared exactly, but that feeling of belonging you get when you relate to another person about music? Change that to two music-bound people talking about being parents and the feeling is amplified by a zillion. I love being a mom. I know he loved being a dad. That’s what has my heart caught today.

I’ve been through a fair bit of grief and loss lately, but please don’t feel the need to console me for this one. There are certainly hundreds, likely thousands, who are feeling this loss. Between social media and the airwaves, you can sense our community grieving. My hope is that every one of us who has felt that warmth from Andy, be it first-hand or through the airwaves, can reflect it back to his family — especially his wife Molly and their three sons — and surround them with it for years to come.

You can find information about a memorial fund that’s been established for them at the CD101 web site.

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Plant an alveolus for Earth Day

We visited with some fine local women and children yesterday after recovering from the news that we didn’t hit the lottery for any of the urban magnet kindergartens that we were hoping to. We’re waitlisted everywhere, and only certain to get into the one that I’m most lukewarm about and Declan is a little afraid of.

I’m feeling oddly okay about it because I have other hopes in reserve. And I know that my kid is the kind of learner that any good teacher dreams of teaching. I don’t expect that there will be many years ahead of us that won’t require us to find him a number of challenges beyond school walls.

We went to a science-y library program yesterday too, where the kids learned a few things about trees. After getting over a bout of complete and total shyness, Declan told the librarians that “trees are the lungs of the earth.” A fact gleaned— not from school or any eco-moralizing on my part — but from his kids’ yoga video.

When we got in the car, he seemed puzzled.

“How was that science?” he asked me, though he liked it. It was earth science, I told him.

“Huh,” he said, thoughtfully. “I thought that all science had to be really cool or really gross.”

“You don’t think photosynthesis is cool?”

“Oh yeah, I guess it is.”

Seriously, you lousy schools, it’s your loss.

If only there were grants out there that parents could apply for to spend a year taking a kid like mine to the Met, CERN, a bunch of Smithsonian museums, every NASA site that’s open to the public and a few natural wonders.

That would be the education my son deserves.

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Team WhyMommy Virtual Science Fair

Known to the blogging world as WhyMommy, Susan Niebur is an astrophysicist, a mother to two young boys, an advocate for cancer education and research, and a survivor. Since 2007, she’s graciously, frankly and bravely let us into her life through her blog, Toddler Planet. She’s let her readers walk with her as she’s battled Inflammatory Breast Cancer and dealt with its physical and emotional fallout, all the while advocating for women in planetary science.

She’s had a recurrence, and is slated to have surgery today. So, to let her know that we’re all thinking about her – thinking of the whole of who she is, not just this tenacious disease she keeps kicking — Stimeyland is holding a virtual science fair. People have been making an effort to do something science related (with kids or on their own) and posting about it today in Susan’s honor.

If you read Tiny Mantras at all regularly, you might guess that I don’t go through a day without doing something science-related. And you’d be right.

So far this week, I’ve overseen the assembly of an anatomy floor puzzle and helped my son navigate CERNland — a kids’ site designed to explain particle physics and illuminate what the Large Hadron Collider is doing. We’ve snapped together models of the Ares Launch Vehicles that NASA is developing to take people back to the moon, and eventually to Mars. We’ve read Millions to Measure.

I thought I would compile a list of a few of my favorite posts about raising a science-inclined child and the things we’ve done to keep up with him, focusing particularly on Susan’s passion (also Declan’s) — space:

I gave birth to the whole universe — This is the way we tell a bedtime story.

Beginnings of a solar system magnum opus
– This is the way we write a song.

Sometimes, science makes us anxious. It makes us dream. We sleep in the rings of Saturn.

Every placemat, book and ball in our house has been part of the solar system at one point or another.

Space changed the way I look at art.

Halloween costumes — My son has actually been getting smaller every year. First he was space, then the solar system and last year he was Jupiter.

I once had to convince my son he was on Triton (Neptune’s moon) to get him to take a bath.

There is really nothing cuter than a 2-year-old talking about space or going through Hubble Space Telescope images or interpreting the world through space or warning you about impending doom.

Spaced out at NASA’s Plum Brook Station — This is a huge NASA site in Ohio that’s rarely open to the public, but they had an open house in 2008 and we went. We also like hanging out in Space Shuttle tires in Wapakoneta.

Here are some kids’ space books we love. Here is one Carnival of Space. And another.

Be well, Susan. Kick this cancer to the Kuiper Belt.

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As we drove home from school today, Declan told me that he knew nanodiamonds could keep our dog Arrow from dying. Now, Arrow is barely six years old and pretty robust, so I’m not sure why this was on his mind (other than the fact that a National Geographic special about spatial relationships in the universe schooled him on the nanodiamonds stuff), but he was insistent.

I told him that nothing could keep Arrow, or anyone, from dying sooner or later, but that Arrow seemed very healthy and happy to me right now. He was angry with me and pretended to sleep for a while. I let it be until the next question comes.

I’ve only watched the news after Declan is asleep or when he is elsewhere this week. It takes my breath away to watch the devastation, the human suffering, the chaos happening in Haiti. At this death-sensitive age, I can’t imagine him being able to process much about this, so I haven’t figured out what to tell him. Meanwhile, I feel helpless and grateful for every little thing I have here – fresh air, clean water, a roof, a car, family, schools for my son, food, music, books, love, jokes.

This afternoon, the father of one of his schoolmates passed away after a short battle with cancer. The boy Declan shared a class with last year was the older of two and their third child is due in less than a month. The preschool’s community and friends of the family have rallied to do everything from laundry to childcare to grocery shopping to help them during this tragic time, but this is just heartbreaking news. I wish him peace.

This is a loving and kind family. The mother is a young and passionate wife and parent. I can’t fathom the stress of being self-employed, almost nine months pregnant, parenting two young children and losing your spouse. So if you’re listening, and you’re feeling generous, you could help them out a little bit financially to help ease some of their material stress as they begin to grieve and await this new birth.

Take care. Breathe. Hug your loved ones tight.

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