Monday, April 1, 2013

We Built This

I'll celebrate my twelfth year working with Rural Studio in May, 2013.  It is an amazing ride.  Nothing in those twelve years gives me as much pride as what was accomplished on Friday, March 29, 2013~

We launched an online giving site.  Why is that significant?  Because it is groundbreaking for Auburn University and for Rural Studio.  It is significant for Auburn because they let go of their "rules" and "design templates" and for Rural Studio because they worked within the system to help bring about positive change instead of going around it.  It took teamwork from several sources.  People came to the table with one goal - to try a new and different approach to annual fund-raising that might be duplicated throughout the university system.

I've spent the last five or so years researching, working with, and documenting social media as a method of annual fund-raising.  I, along with several of my colleagues who drink the social media kool-aid, know this is the way of  future annual giving.

The team-members left their constituency agendas behind.  It was fun, productive and most of all we have a beautiful site of which to be proud.

Natalie Butts, Twentieth Anniversary Manger for Rural Studio, was the leader of this mammoth undertaking.  I think it is significant that she was the leader.  She is a Rural Studio graduate and a member of the target audience.  She understands design, Rural Studio, Auburn and was able to bridge the gaps.  It took her fresh eyes to build a team without preconceived notions of prior attitudes.

Colleen Bourdeau, Communication Director for the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, took a fresh look at bending the rules and understands that because CADC and Rural Studio are part of a design school, DESIGN MATTERS.  The site couldn't be just another template on a wall.

Michael Tullier, Marketing and Communications Director for the Office of Development, understands the power of social media and is a fellow kool-aid drinker.  He sees this as a step forward to move the larger university to more user-friendly platforms.

Charlie Saliba, IT Manager for the Office of Development, did the lion's share of programing work.  He understands, too, the power of social media and drinks the orange stuff~  He was the perfect liaison with development accounting, which we knew from the beginning would be the hardest sell.  They bought it.

Clifton Burt, Graphic Designer, is the brain of the twentieth anniversary branding and creator of all things RS20.

Arm Chair Media, Kenny Fergenson and his crew worked tirelessly to make the design fit into the existing university platform.  They and Charlie Saliba worked miracles with the platform.  I can not say enough about their work ethic, long hours and dedication to a project.

Dara Hosey, Development Manager for the College of Architecture, Design and Construction and my boss - had our back at every turn.  She went to bat for us wherever it was needed.

None of this could have happened if Andrew Freear, the director of Rural Studio hadn't given his total confidence and buy-in to the idea.  He told us to Proceed and Be Bold!

Dean Vini Nathan, School Head David Hinson, and VP of Development Angie Stephens are taking a chance on us.  We won't let them down.  The site is up, the site is beautiful and it will make a lot of money.

Visit it.  Buy a toilet.  Share it.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


After many years of broken mood, my love of quilting and everything fabric was resuscitated.  My renewal began when I received invitations to activities related to The Healing Quilts Initiative at Auburn.  Many of my friends are involved in this amazing program. People began asking me which quilts were mine, or that they didn't see me a such and such event.  I missed the fellowship and genuineness of these soulful women.

Feeling the need to explain to my colleague and APLA faculty member who helped organize the event and who quilts regularly, I stopped her in the hallway and explained to her that I had stopped quilting about four years ago.  I explained, holding back tears in my throat, that I hadn't felt like quilting since my friend who taught me so much about quilting and with whom I quilted everyday died suddenly in September 2008.  It is too painful, I protested.

She looked directly in my eyes and said we've got to get you back on the machine.  The 2013 Lake Martin Quilt Workshop and Festival was born.

My other quilting BFF, Kim and I have had the idea since we bought our lake place.  Now, it was going to happen.  We organized a schedule of events, meals, and of course wine at sunset to take place over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.  Since several of the women we invited learned to quilt at a Gees Bend workshop, it was the perfect way to honor them and Dr. King.  It also happened to be our dear deceased friend Cindy Wall's birthday week.  Perfect.

It was a mixed group of women.  Some seasoned designers who learned from Gees Bend and wanted to learn contemporary quilting techniques, quilters who wanted to learn from the design professionals, and designers who were learning to quilt for the first time.  We had some women who came for fellowship and shared old beautiful family quilts. Our dear friend who is a fiber artist came to show some of her creations.

It was a perfect time.  My love of quilting is re-born.

Click on this image to see pictures of the weekend:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Zoom Zoom

Holy Moly, how did that happen?  It is 2013.  Our life is going by quickly.  It occurred to me over the break that it has been five years since I've sent a Christmas card.  I don't blog much either.  I think social media is to blame.  It has taken the place of the annual update in the card or weekend blog.

Here is a quick cup of miscellany soup of the past few years.

Trey, Top Left

Trey is a second semester sophomore at Auburn University on full academic scholarship.  He is in the honors college and has joined a fraternity.  Yes, you read that correctly - Tom Denney's son is a member of a fraternity.  I said when he was ten, that as rebellion he will become a Republican, Frat Boy and Baptist Minister.  Two out of three so far, and he is sowing those wild oats so that he can be a good minister.  All kidding aside, Trey is doing well and trying to decide what he wants to do.  The hardest part is that he is good at many things.  We've told him to find out what he loves and go from there.  He lived his first year on campus in a hill dorm, this year he is in an apartment off West Glenn that resembles a club med. He has a new Koolie Lab mix puppy that is adorable.  He has a tough life.


Foster is a junior at Auburn High School.  As always, he is his own drummer.  He is a mid-fielder on Auburn High Soccer Varsity Soccer which starts on January 20.  He is also an anchor on Tiger TVs AHS Now  They begin broadcasting January 14. He has a 2006 Infiniti G35 and drives like an old man. That was a huge surprise for us, we always thought he would be full throttle.  His brother did not get a car until the second half of his senior year, but we needed for Foster to have one because Tom and I are both traveling more. Foster spends most of his free time playing pick up football, soccer or online gaming.  His grades are excellent, and he is beginning to figure out where he wants to go to school.  It is difficult for children of Auburn employees, they want to move away, but the employee tuition benefit is usually a deciding factor.  He can go to Auburn for half the cost of anywhere else.  We hate for cost to be a factor, but life is what it is.

 Tom is the one in our family with the biggest news in the last five years.  In 2008-09 the Auburn University MRI Research Center was formed and Tom was named director.  He oversaw the construction of a new building and the installation of a 3T and a 7T MRI machines.  He is not only responsible for the building and staff, but he is also the primary research generator.  The center has collaborative research in many areas on campus and throughout the southeast.  It is an amazing opportunity for him, but it means longer hours and much responsibility.  It is his life-long dream to run a research facility and it is fun to watch him fulfill it.  He loves his work and they are doing incredible things.  Take a tour of the site, you won't be sorry.  I'm proud to say the least.

I celebrate my twelfth  anniversary at Auburn University soon.  I've worked all twelve years in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction raising funds for Rural Studio.  I love my job.  I always feel like I've won the life lottery when it comes to employment.  I'm proud of what I do and the success we've had.  Beginning January, 2013, with the introduction of a new dean of CADC, I will not only be raising funds for Rural Studio, but also the other schools and programs within our college.  I am a member of a newly-formed four person team.  I love and enjoy my team mates, and we have a lofty goal for the next five years. Auburn is in the midst of the silent phase of a large capital campaign.  So, yes, we have our working boots on and I feel good about it.  It helps that our schools and departments are world known and in the top ten nationally.

Tom's Dad and my Mom are in as good a health as most their age.  Tom's dad has Parkinson's and my mom has had back surgery since I last posted.  They both seem to get around just fine.  We still miss our other parents deeply.

We spend many weekends and as many weeks as possible at our lake place on Lake Martin that we bought in 2009.  We love it and will eventually retire there.

I think that catches us up.  Happy New Year and Off We Go!