At Nourishing the Planet in October, Molly Redfield interviewed Vietnam vet Howard Hinterthuer, a peer-to-peer mentor for an Organic Therapy Program that helps distressed veterans.
Redfield: “You recently gave a Ted Talk on the Organic Therapy Program (OTP). Can you tell us how the OTP started? …
“William Sims, a Vietnam veteran of the 101st Airborne Division who served from 1966 to 1967, started the Organic Therapy Program. Mr. Sims was wounded after being in Vietnam for about 9 months, and returned home to Milwaukee. He was able to deal with the stress of coming home and experiencing combat by puttering around in his mom’s garden. He remembered that.
“The Center for Veterans Issues [in Milwaukee] has about 300 or more formerly homeless veterans in transition with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and depression. These veterans come to us and we provide a wrap-around service to deal with their different problems. Mr. Sims figured that if gardening was good for him, then it would be good for other veterans as well. So he began creating raised-bed gardens to help veterans cope with their problems. …
“Gardening is important because it allows our veterans to have … positive experiences. This is almost guaranteed by the act itself, as it creates such a peaceful place. Gardening is meditative and increases self-esteem. …
“After the TED talk I gave, I was contacted by a woman in Scotland working with veterans of the British military. Her program used horticulture for veterans’ recovery, so I think gardening is an approach to dealing with difficult issues that can definitely be replicated in other places.”
Photograph: AP Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press/Allison Love
Working in community gardening programs is proving to have many good effects on troubled military veterans.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged baritone Ollmann, buffalo commons, buffalo nation, deborah popper, Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, frank popper, Jerome Kitzke, Kathleen Masterson, map fund, milwaukee, music, nea, opera, present music, Princeton, Suzanne and Richard Pieper on April 11, 2012 |
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My husband went to college with Frank Popper, who went on to become a professor at Rutgers and Princeton. Along with his wife Deborah, also a professor, Popper has written extensively about the loss of population in the industrial Midwest and the idea of returning former urban areas to a “Buffalo Commons.”
That once seemed far out, but today he is popular with leaders of shrinking cities like Detroit that are open to any idea that might make cities livable again, including turning abandoned neighborhoods into parkland.
This week he sent a surprising e-mail. His research is in an opera being performed by a Milwaukee new-music ensemble called Present Music.
“The libretto.” writes Popper, “has big quotes from a 1999 academic-journal article Deborah and I wrote about the Buffalo Commons, and two of the actors play us. Composer Kitzke, librettist Masterson, baritone Ollmann and the other performers are all excellent.”
From Present Music’s website: “Buffalo Nation (Bison bison), by Jerome Kitzke and Kathleen Masterson, [was] commissioned by the Map Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation; Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, Suzanne and Richard Pieper Family Foundation and by other individual donors. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.”
Jerome Kitzke and Kathleen Masterson
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