Friday, November 27, 2009


On Saturday 21st November GROW sent some of our members to The FED London MiniFest at Faraday house in Holborn, London.

We had a full day of writing, publishing art, meditation and performance related workshops, celebratory readings and TheFED AGM. We met with members of community writing and publishing groups from all over the UK and America.

A fabulous buffet lunch was laid on for us by Lucia Birch from Stevenage Survivors.

The workshops were all very interesting and generated a huge amount of work from everyone who participated. The Vale House Project workshop, which was run by Roy and Lucia Birch, included meditation, creative writing and Reiki. The theme for the writing was 'Freedom' and we decided to use the same theme for TheFED December 2009 Writing Challenge as a way of show-casing the beautiful and uplifting writing that was produced there.

The Celebratory Performance was expertly compered by Paul King from Manchester. Jan Hedger & Nick Crump very kindly prepared and performed pieces of writing done by some GROW members who were unable to come with us on this occasion. Their performance was very well received and they even took the opportunity to plug our 2010 GROW Calendar for us!

Later on, Tony May gave a spirited performance of his own work, 'Why do I bother?' and Jan Hedger delivered a very moving reading of her own piece 'Empty Teacups'

We met Steve Parks and six of his students from Syracuse University in New York. They had travelled all the way from America just to attend the MiniFest.

We also met some students from King's College in London, who were all new to TheFED.

GROW had two tables to display our own publications - and those of Jan Hedger and FLOW. People were very impressed by 'Illumination' and particularly liked the fact that we had tried to make it accessible to non-readers and visually impaired people by including a DVD. It was lovely to hear that GROW's hard work is inspiring other TheFED groups to make multi-media presentations of their own work.

We enjoyed the opportunity to look at and buy books from the other groups.

We bought back with us some copies of TheFED 2010 Calendar, which features some of the work submitted to TheFED Writing Challenges.

Many of the attendees have sent in their photos, memories, writing and video clips to share their experience of the 2009 MiniFest. They can all be viewed on TheFED website.

We are all looking forward to TheFED 2010 London MiniFest and will do everything in our power to encourage many more people to join us for our very special day out.

Monday, November 16, 2009



I have had an idea!! Yes really!! From now on I shall write up a particular event while the facts are still clear in my mind, and when I have, say, about 6/700 words it will get posted as a complete “Letter from America”. This will prevent my sending a short extra one covering all the things that I had forgotten to include in the first instance

29th October

Halloween turned out to be quite a surprise, instead of waiting until the 31st, the City decided that the official trick or treat was to take place on the previous Wednesday (28th) between the hours of 6 and 8 pm.. There were “official” events downtown, but by 6.30 the pavement outside was full of kids in fancy dress (and adults as well) and we had run out of candy by 7.30. The kids all seemed to have gone to a great deal of trouble over the costumes and all in all it was a great deal of fun for everybody. This turned out to be a good choice of date, on Saturday it rained!

8th November

Today (Sun) has been the best I have ever known for a November day, the temperature went up to 73f with not a cloud to be seen anywhere. Even higher temperatures have been promised for tomorrow. By Wednesday it should be back to the normal for this time of year, low fifties. We went to the local farmers’ market where the produce and some foods are much cheaper than in the supermarkets. You can get so many things there other than farm produce. There are stalls selling computers at a very low price, eg 1MB RAM, 40 GB hard drive for $130 (78 GBP), clothing, toys, furniture as well as two all-day auctions at which you can get some really good bargains.

12th November

New State legislation has just been passed, this makes it an offence to text (yes, text!) while driving!! It is still legal to use the cell phone, but I suppose that, what with the fact that the majority of cars have automatic transmission, it is not quite so risky as in Britain!

15th November

The weather is still holding up, today (Sun) it has almost got up to 70 and at 9am I was sitting out on the patio in shorts and t-shirt!!

The latest matter to erupt is the decision to have a show trial in New York of the 9/11 suspects. Speaking personally, I think this is a very bad decision indeed. This will provide a platform for the airing of fanatical beliefs and leave the City open for more attacks. The President’s popularity is on the wane, I think people expected too much too soon but it must be remembered that Obama inherited this mess from the Bush Administration. I have to admit that despite my support last year, I do feel somewhat disappointed with the progress so far. Incidentally, I was looking through a book I have about the British Monarchy (oddly enough bought over here) when the following timeline entry caught my eye:- “1838-1842 First British intervention in Afghanistan ends in disaster” Seems like nobody knows when to quit!

Thursday week will be Thanksgiving once more, it really does make one wonder where the year has gone. This year we shall be going to Jimmy’s as he will be working over Christmas (he works in the electricity supply business) and to Linda’s for Christmas instead of the other way round as it has been for the past three years.

I don’t think I have mentioned how small businesses exist in the middle of what are primarily residential areas. This, as far as I can see, is the norm in small-town America. For instance two doors down is Charlies Pizza take-away. The plot size is the same as ours and, because it is on a corner, what would have been the garden is the car park. Charlie also sells milk, crisps etc. and is very useful if we run out of anything or fancy a pizza or sub. Two blocks up the hill is a branch of Brok-Sel which is a chain of local “come in handy” stores. It is around the same size as a small Tesco with a carpark to match. Our major stores are either Wal-Mart, four miles to the north or Giant at Cressona, four miles to the south. The local mall, Fairlane, is slowly dying on it’s feet. One large department store closed it’s doors last year and has left a very large unit empty and last week we learned that Borders, the bookstore I love so much, will be closing the branch early in the New Year. They have got a petition going to try to reverse this decision but I doubt it will do any good. The nearest branch will be in Reading, about thirty miles away.

Until next time,


Monday, November 2, 2009


I expect you are all surprised to be getting another letter so soon after the last one. Well, I realised that I had forgotten one or two things that I should really have included, so here they are.

Here is a photo of the US coins, from left to right they are “Quarter” (25 cents), “Dime” (10 cents), “Nickel” (5 cents) and “Penny” (1 cent) The difference between dimes and nickels I still find confusing, on the other hand, having dollar bills means that you do not accumulate masses of heavy coins, so no holes in pockets over here and these coins are very lightweight.

I forgot to mention the automatic garage doors everyone has, it is a neat system. When we leave home, a push on the button located just inside the garage door causes it to open. There is a radio transmitter kept on the sun visor which closes the door after we have left. Upon returning, the reverse sequence of events enables the car to be garaged without anyone having to go out in the rain/snow etc. I really love this!! The door, by the way, is horizontally sectioned and runs on tracks beneath the garage ceiling.

Life goes on here, Tuesday, November 3rd, is polling day when a plethora of officials are due to be elected. This includes Judges, Sheriffs, Mayors and goodness knows who else. As I do not have the vote, I don’t get very involved but must say I shall be glad to see the end of the election commercials on TV.

Talking of TV commercials, on some channels there are a surprising amount of advertisements for prescription medications, totally unlike those in the UK which are limited to non-prescription items (of course we have those here too!). Generally they are of the type designed to frighten, you know “take our pills or else you will suffer a fatal heart attack”, that sort of thing. Actually it strikes me that Americans are far more concerned about their health than we Brits. The number of specialist health centres, even in a place like Pottsville, is truly amazing!

Autumn is almost over on our mountain. Have you noticed that the first day after the clocks go back is almost always sunny? Ironic eh?

Anyway, I think I am up to speed on what I wanted to tell you, so until next time,

Henry Dallimore