LEAP: NLC in DC, Day 2
We had a slightly more restful start to DC – Day Two, with a hearty breakfast and plenty of caffeine. We jumped right into the day, with the hopes of more learning opportunities and some wonderful weather to accompany the activities on our itinerary.
NLC Conference: Making Robert’s Rules Work for You (MD)
The LEAPsters started the morning with a 9:00am seminar on Robert’s Rules of Order led by Ann Macfarlane, who serves as a Professional Parliamentarian for Jurassic Parliament.
The three-hour seminar addressed proper procedures for running an efficient meeting; board chair and member expectations; and how small board should adopt rules of order.
Ann started with an introduction and room activity, where attendees read from a script, prompting working through expected debate in a regular meeting.
Macfarlane provided a thorough handout and went into even more depth in her presentation. Throughout the session, she took questions from the audience about their specific situations, offering tailored parliamentary advice. Promoting group interaction within our table, we read scripts about calling a point of order, improper remarks, and even included a script for an entire meeting.
Towards the end of the seminar, Macfarlane facilitated an activity where we all moved around the room, choosing a corner that allowed us to “vote” on the most important part of running an effective meeting.
Options were “the chair is a servant,” “no one may speak again before others have had a chance,” “courtesy and respect are required at all times,” and “one thing at a time.” Most of the attendees, LEAPsters included, chose “courtesy and respect are required at all times.” We agreed that showing courtesy and respect would intuitively lead to the other three fundamental principles.
Lunch – Food Trucks on the National Mall (MD)
Following the conference session, we stopped at the hotel for a quick change before heading to the National Mall for lunch. Annie Jamarik met up with us again as we perused the various food truck options that line the Mall area, especially on days with such wonderful Spring weather. Esme and Maggie decided on WasSub DC, a bright food truck featuring Asian fusion, selecting Beef Bulgogi and Chicken Teriyaki bowls. Miranda chose a food truck further down the line, ordering a Philly cheesesteak with avocado.
Washington D.C. is home to 17 of the 20 Smithsonian museums. Although we would not be able to see all 17, today we had the opportunity to visit the National Museum of American History. The Museum is full of iconic treasures that fill three floors and offer unique aspects of our country’s history. The Smithsonian Institute recommends taking two days to see one museum; we were limited on time but determined to see the biggest and most pertinent attractions.
We started our journey through the Museum at the exhibit displaying Dorothy’s iconic ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz. The shoes are on display in a dimly lit room, which helps conserve the sparkling slippers. This was a childhood dream come true for some Ambassadors (Miranda) who grew up watching the slippers lead Dorothy down the yellow brick road.
We then visited “The First Ladies” exhibit, which highlights the current and former First Ladies, demonstrating changes in fashion and home decorating through several inaugural gowns and china patterns.
The exhibit also features a section entitled ‘Changing Times, Changing Ladies” that features first ladies who contributed in large part to their husband’s administration through their own initiatives and programs, featuring First Ladies such as Mary Todd Lincoln and Lady Bird Johnson.
While we could have admired the gowns longer..
…moved to the adjacent section highlighting the highest elected position one can hold in our country: The President of the United States. “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden” explores the lives and decisions of the past 44 Presidents. The exhibit expands to cover every aspect of what a President may face, including a round room that highlights all of the roles our president plays from party leader to commander-in-chief. The exhibit also explores life at the White House, impeachment, and the unfortunate times around a President’s passing. Home to over 900 artifacts, our favorites included: the top hat worn by President Lincoln, and a sample original Teddy Bear, named after President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.
“The Price of Freedom: Americans at War” was the last exhibit we had time to see; it explores the chronological progression and growth of our country’s armed forces. In the exhibit, we saw a very familiar face and (rightfully) favorite soldier and statesman, Sam Houston.
We learned about the development of weapons and vehicles used in combat, and particularly enjoyed seeing the section on World War II, comparing the displays and soldiers’ stories to those we saw at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans when we visited last summer. There were additional items from Vietnam and even 9-11.
We neared the exit, but detoured briefly…we just couldn’t leave without seeing *the* Star-Spangled Banner, our country’s flag. The flag on display was raised over Fort McHenry and signaled the American victory over the British in the Battle of Baltimore on September 14, 1814. The sight of the flag inspired Francis Scott Key to write the National Anthem. The flag was kept in a private collection and pieces were cut off and given as mementos, but what remains of the flag now is on display for thousands of people to see. It is one of the most treasured artifacts at the Smithsonian.
The warm weather, which had closed down the Garden’s central skating rink, was perfect for a walk. The footpath took us past a number of early-budding trees that were the subject of numerous photographers, and more importantly, past pieces by several modern artists, some of which LEAPsters have seen in numerous museums in different states:
- Roy Lichtenstein
- Alexander Calder
- Sol LeWitt
- Roxy Paine
- Ellsworth Kelly
- Louise Bourgeois
- Claes Oldenburg
- Joel Shapiro
One favorite of nearly all cohorts of Ambassadors, though, is Robert Indiana, whose work we’ve seen in Philadelphia, PA; NYC, NY; Bentonville, AR; San Antonio, TX; and many more places! (But what’s not to LOVE about his work?)
Our next stop for the day was Constellation Theatre, tickets in hand for The 39 Steps.
Some background on The 39 Steps, the play version – it is a combination of John Buchan’s original novel (1915) and Alfred Hitchcock’s movie (1935). The story is about a typical London civilian, Richard Hannay, who becomes entangled in a spy organization after he meets at a woman, who is stabbed to death in Hannay’s home the night they first meet. Hannay becomes the prime suspect for her murder, and ends up attempting to complete her spy work, making his way (on the lam) to the Scottish Highlands to find the master behind the 39 Steps, save his country, and bring justice about for Schmidt’s murder. It is humorous in its chaos, especially after you realize that all characters are played by four actors (but really three, as the main character only plays the lead!).
The Constellation Theatre is centrally located in DC’s “historic and vibrant U Street Corridor.” The Constellation Theatre Company’s 4-person cast for this show (the Company is led by Founding Artistic Director Allison Arkell Stockman and Managing Director A.J. Guban) gave a most enthusiastic performance that reached into the intimate setting (only 100 seats!) and kept the audience laughing. The spare (but creative) use of props matched perfectly the minimalist black-box theatre.
Dinner – Ben’s Chili Bowl (EM) [https://benschilibowl.com/]
Since we were in the neighborhood, we made a quick stop for a bite to eat at the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl. Ben’s Chili Bowl opened in August 22, 1958 in a converted pool hall. While we waited for our “chili smokes,” we checked out Ben’s “Celebrity Wall,” which included photos of Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson, Steve Harvey, and many more. Along with their famous chilidogs, we ordered “thick n’ creamy” milkshakes, sampling both chocolate and cherry. (They did not disappoint.)
We wrapped up our evening of fun with a train ride back to the hotel – ready to rest up and prepare for the next day’s events.