Arts a la carte: Luncheon for kids at the Field Club

Lani Carney (third from left), author Rana DiOrio (center, sitting), Featherstone director Francine Kelly (seventh from left), children, and their parents gather to discuss the importance of creativity and the environment. — File photo by Susan Safford

One seldom encounters enthusiasts like year-round Vineyard Haven resident, Lani Carney. Ms. Carney is a retired professor who was asked to write and develop a children’s program at Featherstone Center for the Arts five years ago. She currently teaches five year-round classes in addition to 110 children in her six-week summer program.

Last Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm, Ms. Carney organized her third annual morning luncheon for kids in her program at the Field Club in Edgartown. For the past two years of the event, entitled Arts a la Carte, Ms. Carney has aimed to give back to parents of enrolled children by inviting them to brunch and a discussion with a children’s book author or illustrator.

This is the first year children were invited to the event along with author Rana DiOrio. The group gathered in a discussion of Ms. DiOrio’s book “What Does it Means to Be Global?” (co-authored by Chris Hill). Lunch consisted of croissants provided by Rickard’s Bakery and scones and bread baked by Ms. Carney. The Edgartown Field Club made quiche and bacon with baked basil farm-grown from Featherstone and a recipe given by Ms. Carney.

Later in the morning parents engaged in a discussion with the author while Ms. Carney led the children under a tent to read one of Ms. DiOrio’s other books, “What Does it Mean to be Green?” (also co-authored by Chris Blair). After, the group painted old Hershey cans Ms. Carney had collected from the Vineyard Haven Mocha Motts, who had saved eight weeks worth of the cans for the event. The Hershey cans were transformed into watering cans with the help of string and a parent in order to emphasize the theme of reusability.

“If you give a child a project involving recycling, they get it,” Ms. Carney observes keenly, adding that at Featherstone the children ensure drinking water is never poured downed the drain but instead poured onto the plants.

In her recollection of the morning, Ms. Carney exudes excitement. “We were expecting 17 children and 39 showed up,” she says. The teacher stresses the specialty of the event to explore the children’s creativity in a collective manner. “I see the children as the talented ones, and myself as the lucky one.”

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