Thousands of Silver City children and their mentors have created 60 art murals around this southwest New Mexico town of 10,000. Their art celebrates the town’s rich history and culture and stunning natural setting. And more murals are in the works by the Mimbres Region Arts Council’s Youth Mural Program and others.
More than 3,000 children and volunteers worked together to create a ceramic-mosaic mural depicting the great floods of 1895 through 1903 that nearly killed the town.
Creating The Big Ditch mural combines art, environmental education and community-building.
In 1955, Tulsan Ann Patton graduated from high school. In the 62 years since, she has done many things — helped transform Tulsa’s flood management system to one of the best in the country, written several well-regarded books, and raised four children.
One thing she didn’t do? Earn a college degree.
Until May 15, that is, when just weeks shy of her 80th birthday, the 79-year-old Tulsa treasure leaned on a walker to make her way slowly across the stage to thunderous applause and cheers at the Oklahoma State University-Tulsa graduation to receive, as the announcer called it, “a bachelor’s of everything!”
Commencement speaker Mayor G.T. Bynum cited Ann as an example of how one person can truly change their community. “Ann Patton has made a difference in this city for more than four decades,” Bynum said, encouraging her younger classmates to follow Ann’s example of working for things they believe in.
Ann Patton never gave up on her dream to graduate from college.
Now, 62 years after she completed high school, her perseverance is about to pay off. Patton will receive a degree from Oklahoma State University-Tulsa on Monday night at a graduation ceremony in The Pavilion at Expo Square.
“I wanted to finish to show my grandchildren you should never give up on your dreams,” said Patton, who is just a few weeks away from her 80th birthday.
Patton spent years becoming a well-known journalist, author and activist in Tulsa.
But she didn’t really have the option of attending college when she graduated from high school in 1955. The choices of going the University of Tulsa or traveling out of town for school were simply too expensive.
“The next thing you know we have four children and Bob (her husband) and I both were working two or three jobs,” Patton said. “So it wasn’t possible.”
But she never gave up on her dream to graduate from college.
When Tulsa author Ann Patton graduated from high school in 1955, college was not an option for poor kids like her.
“The University of Tulsa was the only option for students who could not leave Tulsa, and it might as well have been the moon,” she said.
By age 22, Patton was married with four kids. Growing up in west Tulsa, Patton was taught that education is the preparation for complete living. So she never gave up on her dream of earning a college degree.
On May 15, Patton will participate in the OSU-Tulsa’s graduation ceremony after four decades of earning “a crazy-quilt collection of college hours from several schools that I always dreamed might add up to a degree.”
She will receive her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. The ceremony is just weeks before her 80th birthday in July.
By the time we met for lunch, Patton’s new book, “Dan’s War on Poverty,” was already making the rounds of book signings and reviews. (See Angie Jackson’s June Worth Reading column) The story of the Tulsa priest, Dan Allen, who founded Neighbor for Neighbor resonates with many in town who watched the organization develop into one of the city’s most successful social service organizations. Allen believed in helping the poor, especially the working poor, no strings attached. Carol Falletti, a medical technologist who developed Neighbor for Neighbor’s medical clinic, remembers that Allen never took government or United Way funds, simply because he didn’t want restrictions on whom he could help or why.
It’s a story that spans decades and it’s a personal one for the author. She was a Tulsa newspaper reporter who met a priest for an article. Forty years later, that article is now a book: “Dan’s War on Poverty,” about a man once called the conscience of our community.
As Ann Patton autographed copies of her book Sunday, she was quick to remind readers to celebrate Father Dan Allen.
“His words and his actions created change in that era and a lot of that change still exists today,” she says.
News On Six anchor Clayton Vaughn profiled Allen for CBS News back in 1968.
“In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a unique program to give incentive to the poor to help themselves has developed from small beginnings…” Vaughn says as the documentary outlining Allen’s Neighbor for Neighbor project opens.
From his church in North Tulsa, Allen was a civil rights crusader who said he saw the beauty of South Tulsa, built on the backs of the poor in North Tulsa and knew that wasn’t right.