With a Little Help from My Friends – Embracing 65

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(And, advice for my high school grandson)

When the Beatles first released the song With a Little Help from my Friends, I was almost 16 years old. Now, at age 65, my oldest grandchild is almost 16 years old. If there is one thing I really want to impress upon him, it is to pay special attention to those friendships he is now making in high school. (I would also tell him to study hard and cultivate his athletic skills, but he already does that, so it’s the “hang onto your friends” skill that I want to emphasize.) 

I, along with my high school friends, turned 65 this year. Sociologists would define us as “the young old” – the group between 65 and 74. When we were in high school, we never planned for life at 65 – it was so far away it was beyond comprehension. Now that we are here, what have we learned about the value of friendships? 

First, once you are 65, I can pretty much guarantee that you will not be able to keep straight all the stories of your life. Events, and people, and jobs, and decades, run together - into a complicated narrative. A quilt of many colors, as they say. Having friends who have known you throughout is priceless. At 65, my high school friends are a mix of happily retired, nervously retired, partially retired, soon to retire, and never going to retire. We are married, single (but with sleep over boyfriends), parents, stepparents and grandparents. We range from gun-toting to never allowing a gun in the house, from Republican to Democrat, from straight to gay (OK - only one gay person, but if you count our present numbers that’s over 10%). Most importantly, we have become people who can complete each other’s stories - often more accurately than we can ourselves. Maybe you will be lucky enough to have a spouse that will stay with you for decades and can also complete your stories. Good for you, but you still need the friends. They provide an outside perspective that is fun, deep, and life-affirming.

What’s it like to hang onto friends for decades? Well, don’t expect that you will agree with them all the time. Don’t even expect that you will want to see them each and every year. Sometimes you may be off - distracted by a new love, the end of a marriage, the death of a parent, the responsibilities of a new job. But when you remember to pay attention again – a true friend will still be there. Realize that you may let one another down once in a while – true friendship does not require perfection. Hang on -and forgive - and reconnect when you can. It keeps getting richer.

For us, I believe it has evolved into an experience of “being held.” It is a friendship intimacy that comes from knowing you have this web of friends, people who laugh with you (not at you - although sometimes there’s a bit of good natured laughing at you too) - who help you make sense of life events, of aging, of helping you feel you’re not crazy or alone when life gets hard. Amongst my friends we have experienced: a few cheating spouses, several divorces, deaths of parents and siblings - sometimes from a shocking accident and sometimes from a slow meandering painful death - several remarriages, family members with substance abuse problems, several new body parts for ourselves and our spouses (knees, hips, shoulders), the joy of grandchildren, and even the very sad death of one of our own after watching her endure a frightening ten months of brain cancer. We have attended one another’s weddings (and for some of us, those wedding invites were sent out more than once...), funerals of family members, decade birthday parties, recognition & retirement events.

For our next step, we need to renew our commitment to these friendships. So far, we have lucked into this. But now - at 65, maybe we need to pay more attention. We only have three mothers left - and no fathers. We grow in and out of roles as each other’s parents, and siblings, and even children. Each of us hold various portions of all those memories that we each need to have reflected back to us to remind us who we are, to help us define who we are here, now, at this time and place. 

The commitment is simple; it is a recognition that we know one another and a promise to continue showing up for one another. If you contact me, I will respond - happily so. If I contact you, you will respond - happily so. We can offer one another words of advice, or just a listening ear, as may be appropriate. I don’t expect you to solve my issues, I realize I can’t solve yours. But the fact that we have 50 plus years of overlapping lives brings substance to a self that still, even at age 65, can often be hard to know. We are helped enormously in our journeys by the fact that we unfailingly seem to make each other laugh. We see one another reflected in the others’ eyes and memories, and that helps make us real.

My wish for my oldest grandson, who is turning 16 this week, is that he and his friends will realize that being a friend, and having a friend, is at the very top of the life skills they are now learning.

-October 2017

Jane Marquardt

Honoring Kate Kendell - Key to the City Ceremony

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Yesterday, I was honored to be part of the Key to the City Ceremony honoring my good friends Kate Kendell and Bruce Bastian.  The Key to the City is presented to people who have used their voices, talents, or resources to improve the local community in a significant way, and both of these individuals are well deserving. 

Kate and I met in 1980.  I was practicing law in Ogden and running for the state legislature, and Kate was a stellar debate student at Weber State who helped me on my campaign.  Over the years, Kate and I have shared many caucuses and adventures.  While I was originally the more experienced one, Kate quickly surpassed me.   In 1994, Kate became the legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and two years later was named the Executive Director. 

Anytime Kate speaks at a conference, or an event, she always has a swarm of fans around her.  Why?  Because in addition to her eloquence, brilliance, and strategic thinking about civil rights, she has a magnetic ability to make people feel appreciated, to make them feel needed, to make them feel loved.  It is that ability that makes her shine.  It was an honor to honor Kate Kendell. 

Photos from the LGBT Community Endowment Fund Reception

On August 29, the grantees of the LGBTQ Community Endowment Fund gathered to award 11 organizations whose projects earned the support of the Endowment Fund.  At the event, each of the 11 organizations gave a five-minute pitch to compete for a share of $10,000 in additional funding available.  The presentations from all the groups were all so compelling that each group received some additional funding, but the top three were:

  • Youth Futures
  • Comunidades Unidas
  • Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC)

    Congratulations again to all the grantees.  The work being done is both impressive and important. 

 

Thank you to David Ricketts for the beautiful photos of the event. 

As one of the founding members of the Endowment Fund, I’m proud of the organizations we are supporting, and proud to be part of the Community Foundation.

           

Plan B Theater Company’s 2017-2018 Season Announced

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Plan-B Theatre has been an important cause for Tami and me since 2001 when Plan B produced The Laramie Project.  Since then, we have supported Plan B, and Tami has been a long-time member of the Board of Trustees.  Plan B raises awareness and invites conversation about the important issues that are present in our community. Just announced, the 2017-2018 season has 3 incredible plays and the Script in Hand Series.  Tami and I hope to see you at some of the performances.  Tickets can be purchased here.

The Ice Front
By Eric Samuelsen
November 9-19, 2017 - PURCHASE TICKETS

The actors of the Norwegian National Theatre find themselves in an uneasy truce with Nazi cultural authorities during the German occupation of Norway. When they are forced to perform a Nazi propaganda piece, conscience comes face-to-face with The Final Solution.

THE ICE FRONT questions what it means to be an artist, to be a patriot, to be human

The Weird Play
By Jennifer Nii
March 1-11, 2018
A co-pro with Sackerson

Whom do you love? What do you love? How do you love? And why?

THE WEIRD PLAY lives in the space between romance and devotion.

From the author of WALLACE, THE SCARLET LETTER, SUFFRAGE, RUFF! and KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

JUMP
By Austin Archer
April 5-15, 2017
A co-pro with Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory

How will you die? Will you see it coming? What if you’re given a second chance?

JUMP explores the impact of survival on those we love.

In partnership with The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists 

Script In Hand Series - Free readings of plays-in-progress

THE PRIESTHOOD
by Carleton Bluford
featuring Tyson Baker, Mark Fossen, Lonzo Liggins, Gray Mckenzie, Matthew Sincell & one other actor TBA
directed by Alicia Washington
Wednesday, November 15, 7pm

How do we choose to find ourselves? The LDS Church’s 1978 decision to ordain black men to the priesthood sends two young friends on a surprising and unexpected journey of personal revelation. From the author of MAMA (2015).

MOUNTAIN LAW
by Melissa Leilani Larson
featuring Calbert Beck, Matthew Sincell & Emilie Starr
directed by Cheryl Cluff
Wednesday, March 7, 7pm

In the fall of 1850, Tamson English has been alone with three young children on the Western frontier for more than a year. Isolated from civilization, abandoned by her husband, haunted by her past, Tamson’s mind begins to fracture… Until an old friend appears at her door. From the author of PILOT PROGRAM (2015) and THE EDIBLE COMPLEX (2016).

SELECTIONS FROM THEATRE ARTISTS OF COLOR WRITING WORKSHOP
playwrights TBA
directors TBA
Wednesday, April 11, 7pm

We hosted a gathering of Theatre Artists of Color in June of 2017. The desire to tell stories authentically came up multiple times throughout the gathering. So we organized a writing workshop with Utah’s most produced playwright, Julie Jensen, to be held in November and December of 2017. Julie will teach the basics of the craft; the writers will write; we’ll craft select pieces into an evening of short works

LGBTQ Community Endowment Fund Announces 2017 Grantees

Congratulations to all of this year's LGBTQ Community Endowment grantees! 

The LGBTQ Community Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation of Utah was established in 2011, with an aim to strengthen Utah’s LGBTQ community and our state as a whole. This year, $34,000 has been awarded to 11 organizations that were selected from a record number of competitive applicants.

“From providing shelter and other resources for LGBTQ homeless youth, to mentoring through art, and much more, the grant recipients are making a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of everyone in our state,” said Jane Marquardt, one of the founding committee members and donor to the LGBTQ Community Endowment Fund. “Hearing of the work that these innovative organizations are engaging in is impressive. We are honored to support them with a modest, but hopefully significant, grant to help advance their efforts.”

2017 Grantees:

Comunidades Unidas, Community Promise/Promesa Comunitaria
Encircle, Youth, Family and Community Programming, and Therapeutic Services
Equality Utah, Wellstone Action Boot Camp
Plan-B Theatre, The world premier of THE ICE FRONT by Eric Samuelsen
Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC), 2017/2018 productions of HIR and FUN HOME
U of U College of Health - Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Utah Speech-Language Hearing Clinic, Giving Voice to the Person Inside: A Voice Therapy Program for Persons in Transition  
Utah Film Center, Damn These Heels
Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA), Out Loud
Utah Pride Center, Survivors of Suicide Attempts (SOSA) 
Utah Public Radio, A UPR Original Series - Off the Grid
Youth Futures, Program Operations 

The Fund Selection Committee members (Jane Marquardt, Jim Dabakis, Carol Gnade, Michelle Turpin, Jeffrey Mathis, and Lauryn Hansen) are hosting a reception on August 29th at the S.J. Quinney College of Law building at the University of Utah. Open to the public, the reception will help foster collaboration, raise awareness, and provide extra support for nonprofits serving the LGBTQ community in Utah. In addition to receiving their grant awards, the 2017 grantees will each have an opportunity to give a five-minute pitch to compete for a share of $10,000 in additional funding available.

RSVP for the LGBTQ Community Endowment Fund Grantee Reception on Tuesday, August 29th here.

Jane & Tami Marquardt are proud to support these great nonprofits that serve the LGBTQ community in Utah!


About the Community Foundation of Utah
The Community Foundation of Utah is a private, not-for-profit organization that works to be a catalyst for inclusive, visionary, and diverse philanthropy. They assist entities such as individuals and families, to organizations, corporations, and governments in establishing an array of charitable funds. Since its inception in 2008, over 200 funds have been managed and accounted for by the Community Foundation, which then deploys those funds through scholarships, grants, competitions, Program Related Investments, and other awards. For more information, please visit www.utahcf.org.

About The LGBTQ Community Endowment Fund
Established in 2011, the LGBTQ Community Endowment Fund pools donations from members and allies of the LGBTQ community. Leveraging individual donations to increase the impact of those individual donations, the fund has awarded over $318,000 in grants since its inception.

The Latest NCLR Supreme Court Victory

The Pavan Family, photo by NCLR

The Pavan Family, photo by NCLR

Congratulations and great work to Kate Kendell and the NCLR!

Justice for same-sex couples in Arkansas! In June, the National Center for Lesbian Rights won their most recent Supreme Court battle, Pavan v. Smith. NCLR represented two married same-sex couples who sued the state of Arkansas for refusing to put the names of both parents on their children’s birth certificates. NCLR argued that it was unconstitutional discrimination that violates Obergefel v. Hodges, the 2015 case that legalized gay marriage in the United States.

Pavan is a great victory for NCLR and for same-sex couples throughout the United States. In Pavan, the United States Supreme Court found that the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision defied Obergefel, by denying “married same-sex couples access to the ‘constellation of benefits that the Stat[e] ha[s] linked to marriage.’”

Kate Kendell, Executive Director of NCLR and a former guest speaker at Weber State University’s Peace & Possibility Lecture Series, said of this latest victory, “The Court’s ruling in Pavan is all the sweeter because it comes on the heels of a similar victory just last year. In V.L. v. E.L., NCLR won another summary reversal – this one unanimous – when the Supreme Court ruled that the Alabama Supreme Court had wrongly denied recognition of our lesbian client’s adoption of their three children.”

It is also interesting to note that our newest Justice Neil Gorsuch, nominated by President Donald Trump, filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito joined.

Jane and Tami Marquardt are proud supporters and fans of Kate Kendell and NCLR.