Family, Fidelia Hall, Life, Titusville, PA

Fidelia Hall (Spring 2018 Update)

It’s been a little more than a year since I last spoke in depth about Fidelia Hall on this site. Our “we’re really hoping it becomes a yearly tradition” Mother’s Day Plant Swap is right around the corner and with that comes the reminder for an update on all things related to Fidelia Hall.

Long story short: we’re still working on it. We’re a family of five who has one income and with that we’re still living a paycheck to paycheck kind of life. Our big outings these days are to the grocery store (Yay! We can eat!) and occassional visits to the movies (you have to spend a little to have some fun every once in awhile). We spend a lot of time in and around our home and with that we’ve become quite in tune and in love with our little 0.66 acres of land right in the middle of Titusville, PA. You may have read about me searcing for a new job recently. You’re probably wondering how someone so in tune and in love with their home was willing to give it up so easily. Here’s the deal: not everything in this world is so simple. I love my home. I love parts of this small town. I love our gardens. I love the fact that I get to renovate and live in a 145 year old church. I don’t like the fact that I make very little money. I don’t like the fact that I struggle financially to feed my family. I don’t like small town politics and gossip. Combine all those things together, and you get a confusing but very realistic picture of where I’ve been the past year…..At home, enjoying life, but trying so hard to get ahead and thinking about the possibilities out there. A perfect amount of happiness and confusion. A natural curiousity about what is and what could be. A very human thing.

The one thing that has changed is our living situation. 2017 was not kind to the actual house we live in: frozen pipes, leaking walls, mold in the ceiling and walls, and other not fun at all things you want in your house. With that in mind, we’ve developed a plan to move out of our home as quickly as possible and into the hall (aka the old church). While it sets us back from our original idea of Fidelia Hall being a community center for all people, it does something that is needed much more now than a community center: it gives myself, Haley, her mom, Finn, and Aero a happy and healthy place to live. Human beings should not have to live in a home that is falling down, has water leaking everyone, has frozen pipes, and mold in the ceiling. We need to take care of ourselves first before we do anything for the community. SO….we’re moving into a 145 year old church.

With that in mind, we’ve changed our mantra over the past year. Here’s what we’ve been telling people when it comes to Fidelia Hall:

Fidelia Hall is first and foremost the homestead of the Hoenke family. It is our hope that through our passion for family, community, creativity, sustainability, flowers, bees, art, fun, and food, that our contributions to the world will chip a tiny crack in the massive wall of negativity, fear, and greed that drives our culture.

We are not a business. We are not a non-profit. We are not a church. We are not a social club. We have explored every avenue and consulted every consultant and nothing fits. So we’ve decided to just be us.

Here’s a list of what we’ve done in the hall over the past year:

  • The downstairs of the Hall is heated. A big thank you to my father for his work on making this happen.
  • The upstairs of the Hall is heated. A big thank you to Haley’s father and his wife Audrey for making this happen.
  • Half of the downstairs of the hall has been wired for electricity. Thank you to Daniel Stockwell for the work he did for us.
  • My father and I ripped out some flooring and a wall that was damaged due to water. We put in a new floor and an entire new room. Part entrance, part closet, the space is a welcome addition to the dowstairs of the hall.
  • We ripped down the plaster and lathe ceiling in the kitchen. It was crumbling. Thank you to Daniel Stockwell for the work he did for us.

All of these projects were funding by monetary and sweat donations by members of our family. We thank them so much for their love, support, energy, and time.

Here’s a list of what we NEED to do in the hall:

  • Complete wiring the downstairs for electricity. We are so close to being done.
  • Restore water lines to the kitchen and add water and sewage lines to a new bathroom. Basically we have to run water lines to most of the building.
  • Set up an LLC so that we can do some business, run some events, etc as Fidelia Hall.

We still have some stuff to do, but as you can read we are nearing an almost finish line. At the moment, we have some money set aside to get ahead on these projects. If you would like to make a donation that will go towards helping us, you can do so here: paypal.me/justinwilliamhoenke. I don’t expect anything, but if you feel like helping I can promise you that your help will go a long way in helping us get ahead to make the Fidelia Hall space something that we can not only live in but also use to give back to our community.

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For now, we continue being the Hoenke family and doing what we can with what we’ve got. As you can see in the image above, we’re doing our second annual plant swap at Fidelia Hall this upcoming Sunday. We love this event because it not only brings in a lot of people but it also is a good chance to create community, share gardening resources and plants, and all in all it just creates good vibes in the world. If our home falling apart due to busted pipes and the slower than anticipated renovation of Fidelia Hall has been tough over the last 3 years, THE GARDENS OF FIDELIA HALL have provided us with a much needed outlet. Last year I personally became very obsessed with sitting in our gardens watching all of the bees in the borage. The bees gracefully flew around from flower to flower, sniffing and collecting pollen. You can tell they were very appreciative of these plants. It helped me realize just how much of a difference a person can make by doing something simple like planting some borage. Gosh these bees loved it, and in turn I fell in love with Haley’s idea of building magical and inspiring gardens. Heck! I even wrote this song about it:

Curious about our gardens? You can see their growth and evolution here.

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Thank you for your kindness, your love, and your support through the years.

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Life

Routine and Order

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This weekend my mind turned to routine and order in an attempt to understand the world which I see in front of me. I believe that there is a lot we can understand from routine and order in our daily lives. We can then apply what we learned in our daily observations on a larger scale and through that have an impact on our overall lives. All of the things which we come into contact with both physically and mentally are connected. As individuals we can weave those things together into a giant tapestry which tells the story of who we are.

I am a being of energy, and that with my energy I chose to focus on positivity, creativity, and love. But the energy of an individual needs fuel and for me that fuel can come through routine and order. Below are some examples of routine and order that are in my life. These acts are simple but they give me great energy. This energy is needed in order to act as a being of positivity, creativity, and love.

WHEN I AM AT HOME

  1. Prepare and consume tea in the morning.
  2. Shower, brush my teeth.
  3. Spend time in the gardens (weather permitting).
  4. Piddle around in the gardens. Move some dirt, tidy up the area, etc.
  5. Water the plants inside and outside.
  6. Let the chickens and rabbits out to roam freely.
  7. Clean and feed the chicken and rabbit area.
  8. Make sure the bird feeder is full of seed.
  9. Perform or compose music in the gardens.
  10. Sit in the hammock and listen to the world around me.
  11. Unload and then load the dishwasher.
  12. Wash, dry, and put away laundry.

WHEN I AM AT WORK

  1. Set up my work space for a full day of work.
  2. Read and record our daily circulation and visits.
  3. Prepare coffee for the library staff.
  4. Water the plants inside.
  5. Take 1-2 minutes every hour to stretch.
  6. Open the window in the spring/summer for fresh air and to hear the sounds of the world.
  7. Actively observe the library around me when I leave my office. Try to notice something that can be improved for the community.

Routine and order use energy, but at the same time it fills our minds and souls with energy needed to move ahead. When we are aware of the acts that make up our daily lives, we become more in tune with the world. As beings of energy who are in tune with the world, we are able to focus and reach our goals whatever they may be. This is where change occurs. Be aware of the moment and that you have the ability to produce positive energy and in return you will experience significant changes in your life.

Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Titusville, PA

Change The World With Positivity

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As I wandered into 2018 something inside of me felt off. I was not the Justin that I was just a few years ago and overall I was not on a path that allowed me to contribute towards a positive world. A lot of things in my life contributed to this. My family and I moved into a wonderful property that required more work than we expected. The long term effects of crippling student loan debt really hit my mind in a hard way. I questioned my role as a librarian and I questioned the profession as a whole, wondering if I was strong enough to do the work and if the profession as a whole had lost its overall focus. The country where I live entered a stage of great uncertainty, upheaval, and confusion. My immediate world and the greater world around me was off its axis. I let things be and thought it would correct itself, but it did not happen and that was when I realized that inside of myself I had the energy to make necessary changes towards a positive future.

I envision a world where all humans recognize that the energy they have inside of them can be used for good. I believe that positivity, creativity, and love are the three major things that we as humans should be focused on at all times. I believe that if there were enough of us that understood this and acted in such a way where our lives focused on positivity, creativity, and love that we would have the momentum to shift the trajectory of the world towards a brighter future.

I found out that I have the energy in myself to make necessary changes towards a positive future. To start, I had to understand this concept and then put it into practice. I put that into practice by saying these lines out loud to myself

  • I will work hard to have my heart and my head aligned.
  • I will express a message of positivity and convey this message to others through my words, both written and spoken.
  • I will encounter many different humans on my journey, and no matter what the situation is I will approach every single human being with a positive message.
  • I will understand that sometimes I may stumble along the way, but that I have the energy in myself to refocus.

 

Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Music

Four Things That We Can Do To Change The World Together

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My brain has been humming quite a bit these days. As a result you will most likely get a lot of posts in the upcoming weeks based around what I’ve been thinking about. The overall theme is one of energy, positivity, creativity, and love/kindness. My head and my heart know that these four things connect in some way, and this is my attempt to figure them out and present some kind of cohesive statement.

I have been searching for something all of my life, and I believe that you are most likely searching for something too. We all want to understand the world that we live in. We all want to know if there’s a bigger picture out there. We all want to be part of something. In the past two years, I have struggled with this idea in my journey. When I boiled it all down, I came to the conclusion that I was, like Carl Sagan said many years, a bunch of starstuff that was assembled and now wander around the Earth. It felt right to believe this and while it still feels right to believe this I still had a curiosity inside of me. I am matter, one that was created and one that will eventually deteriorate and be absorbed back into the cosmos, but was that all that I could be? I don’t think so. I knew that I could be more if I wanted to be. With that, I thought about what changes the world. I tried to narrow in on the real forces that change thing. I looked at the people who have come before us that have had that kind of real and positive change. I tried to connect the thread between them all. I think I’ve got it. Everything starts with energy. Let’s jump in…

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”   -Carl Sagan 

ENERGY

We are beings who emit energy. There is a life force around each and every one of us who inhabit this Earth. I personally cannot see any manifestations of that life force, but I know it is there. I look up at this moment and see people all around me. I know some of these people, but there are others that I do not know. But each and every one of them gives off an energy. Some are positive and kind, others are off-putting and not something I want around in my life. That’s not the focus here. The focus for us is to understand that we are all beings who create an energy, and each of us have the ability to use that energy to change the world. All that it takes is a simple choice and then a declaration of intent: I am a being who creates energy, and I chose to use that energy in a positive, creative, and loving way.

If you feel this way, read that sentence and then say it out loud to yourself and the universe. Once you do so, you create a pact that allows you to move ahead in your journey. You are a being who will use that energy in a positive, creative, and loving way.

POSITIVITY

The energy that you as a human being have chosen to put out into the world is one that oozes with positivity. From your heart, your head, and your lips comes a message that is positive. Think about something you’ve said in the past that is negative, harmful, or that just does not sit well with you. Think about how you felt as you put that idea out into the world. Did you feel how it was just a bit off in your head, your heart, and in your gut? Chances are that you felt it but that you may not have been able to recognize it. The key to moving ahead is to recognize this and to change it.

One of the ways to move ahead is to craft a positive message and continually put that out into the world. When you craft this message and put it out, you will notice the change it has on the world. Positive messages are addictive. Negative messages are addictive too. But when you get on the positive message train, your addiction will be fed by the goodness you are putting out into the world. You will see that this positive message is having an impact, and in turn you will want to repeat your actions. Do that time and time again and what you’ve now done is contributed a great deal of positivity to the world. You have become a being who uses their energy to change the world.

CREATIVITY

I believe that one of the greatest things that a positive energy emitting human being can do while they are here in the world is to create something. The act of creativity means looking inside of yourself, capturing the energy that is unique to you, and then shaping that into something positive and unique and putting it out into the world. It can be anything: you can write a poem, create an album of songs, or make your own clothes. You can create anything because you have this amazing ability inside of you. We all have the ability to be creativity. All that it takes is for you to recognize that you have this ability inside of you and to say this to yourself and the world:  I am a being who creates a positive energy and I am full of creativity. I will put that creativity out into the world and use it towards positive change.

We should all search our heads and hearts to find what creativity we want to bring to the world. I myself love to write, both here on this website and also as a songwriter here. This is my creative act. I first do it for myself because I need to put this positive energy into the world, and then I hope that by doing so it creates a positive ripple that may somehow change the world. I may see this change in action or I may never see this change, but that’s not what matters. What matters is the act of creativity and the fact that all of us have the ability to create something positive for the world. Embrace this gift and use it so that together we can make the world a better place.

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I highly recommend Ellen J. Langer’s book On Becoming An Artist if you would like to explore creativity more.

LOVE/KINDNESS

We all want to live in a world that is positive and full of love. No one here on this Earth, not even the people who use their power and abilities for selfish and manipulative reasons, will say that they want negativity and hate in the world. Why is this? It is because at the core of every one of us is the need for a positive world. A positive world allows us to live, and every human being that has ever existed shares the desire to live. When we are alive, we are the living, breathing, and functioning embodiment of the starstuff that Sagan talked about. When our life ceases, we are still that starstuff but we are no longer living, breathing, and functioning. All of our stuff will eventually be recycled, but we do not know how long that will take. So we cling to the life we have at the moment, and a positive world full of love and kindness allows us to cling to that current life for as long as possible. We want to be alive and the best way to remain so is through love and kindness. Say this to yourself and to the world: I am a being who creates energy, and I chose to use that energy in a positive and creative way with love and kindness at the front and center of everything that I do. 

The first step we all need to take in order to change the world is simple: Read this, and say these things outloud to yourself and to the world. For love, kindness, creativity, and positivity to reign supreme over everything, we must first allow ourselves to be the energy creating beings that we want to be. You are everything and inside of you is the love that the world needs. Understand that love and then put it out into the world. Positive change will occur on a mass level when we understand the love inside ourselves.

This is a great moment in time where we can all make the decision to make a better world. I believe that with these four things in our heads and our hearts we can start to make a positive difference.

-Justin Hoenke, April 22, 2018.

 

Benson Memorial Library, Libraries

Small Things

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It took about one year to fund and then a few weeks to put it all together, but we finally have a bench outside of our library. It may seem like a tiny thing to get really excited about, but you see it’s the tiny things that I think really mean something in public libraries these days.

I’ve talked about it before on this blog and the deeper I get in my mind with the idea that public libraries should ditch the hype, stop copying and pasting ideas from other libraries, and instead focus solely on your own community, the more I believe this is the only way forward.

The bench was made possible by very generous donations given by community members in memory of their loved ones in 2016. We decided to install this bench in the front yard as a spot where library visitors could relax, read a book, and enjoy our free public wi-fi (which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year!) under the shade of one of our wonderful trees.

We may not be getting a fancy five star rating from a library related publication© or Boing Boing isn’t helping us go viral with our really fun library video, but dammit the dude sitting on the bench in this photo is outside, using the library wi-fi for free, and is enjoying a great spring day. Fuck everything else. This is what matters.

 

Libraries, Life

Count Me (Out/In)

I think it all comes back to the Summer of 2015. At that point I had experience what felt like a lifetime of library work in just 9 years. I worked the desk, I shelved materials, I put one some great programs, I met some great people, I spoke at conferences, I got to travel around the world, I worked at the big libraries and the small libraries and everything in between, I wrote some articles, I joined some library clubs, I dabbled in the professional organizations, I shared things on this website and Twitter, and there was a whole batch of other things too. My family and I settled in Titusville, PA and decided to carry out the next bit of our lives living at Fidelia Hall. Once you buy a 144 year old church you can never really go back.

My career as a librarian felt packed to the brim at that point and I didn’t know what else I wanted to do in this profession. If librarianship were anything like being a rock band, this is the point where the band would announce that “we’re not breaking up, we’re just going on a hiatus.” But librarianship is nothing like that, and thanks to capitalism I guess I’m in this for the long haul. So on my 35th birthday, I became a library director. Over the last two years that’s where I’ve been and even though I find myself in a professional stalemate of sorts I have to say that I’ve enjoyed this job. I get to walk to work every day and work with some great people who are great at their jobs, there is little to no drama in the workplace, and what we’re doing for this small community actually makes a difference. You can see that difference in the people that use the library. I can’t associate it with any particular statistic or program….instead it’s just a feeling. I feel it in my gut. This work means something.

That’s where I am now. I do this for 40 hours a week and then I put it behind me. I go home and most of the time piddle my day away hanging out with my family at Fidelia Hall, tending to my chickens, or mowing the lawn. Of course, I wouldn’t mind traveling to another country to hang out with librarians some time in the future, but I’m not gonna bust my ass trying to do so anymore. I’m just going to exist, see what happens, and stay right where I am. I’m out, but I’m in.

 

Libraries, Life

The Power of Kindness

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The local YWCA in Titusville does a great job of spreading a positive message to all in our community.

I believe in the power of kindness. I believe that no matter what kind of evil or injustice we may face directly in front of us that the thing that’s gonna win out in the end is kindness. My statement may sound a bit naive, but after 36.5 years on this planet I haven’t found anything better than kindness. I’ve tried being angry, I’ve tried throwing punches, and I’ve tried to tapping into the dark side of things (you know, like Star Wars kind of stuff) and while those methods have produced results, those results did not last and actually cause more harm than good. With that acknowledged, I pledge allegiance to power of kindness.

With that said, I’d like to share a recent piece that I wrote for the LIANZA (Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) Library Life publication titled Libraries: A Global Necessity (click here for the PDF and scroll to page 21). It nicely sums up my approach to the current state of the USA and public libraries in general and how I believe that through kindness and great customer service we will provide for our citizens.

I highly suggest you take the time out of your day and read the rest of the current issue of Library Life as well. This is my favorite Library related publication out there. It does a great job of inspiring me to be both a better librarian and a human being with every issue that is published. This month’s issue has some great pieces by Cath Sheard and Fiona Kerr to name a few.