The Naked Gardener Calendar continues to cause a stir. Sunday's
article in the Traverse City Record Eagle was well written and balanced. According to the article, the first printing of the calendar has sold out, 500 copies at 20 dollars each. Not so balanced was the rumor yesterday that the pastor of the Lutheran church was bringing a petition to the school board meeting demanding that Mike Hartigan be punished for appearing in the calendar.
Oddly enough, I was at the 4-H office when I heard about the petition, checking on the progress of Leelanau County 4-H's main fundraiser, a plat book that sells for $28. Our plat book is a series of maps that detail the property lines and who owns what throughout the county. It is used by people interested in real estate, hunters and fishermen, farmers, and the generally curious. It is expensive to produce and has generated some vociferous complaints from people who disagree with how their property lines are portrayed. We started selling our latest printing of 1000 in April and we had sold 538 of them as of yesterday. I will be very happy if we sell out in a year; selling out in a matter of weeks is unthinkable.
I had a 4-H board meeting last night, but Liz went to the school board meeting as our family's representative. She reports that the high school library was filled and that the most of the people there wore yellow nametags that read "I Support Mike", that were made by a member of the class of 2003 and distributed by his mom. When I dropped Liz off I saw all kinds of people walking into school. Most of the faculty was there, many students, parents, and graduates.
Two people spoke against the calendar, but most of the meeting was, in fact, a "kind tribute to our superintendent" as one mom told me later. Mike Hartigan did offer an apology to anyone who was offended by the calendar. The threatened petition never materialized. One of the people who spoke out against the calendar in the first comment session spoke about what a good job Mr. Hartigan was doing in the second comment session.
Liz was confused by that, but I understand perfectly. None of these people are bad people, and almost everyone supports public schools and expects them to be adequately funded. It is totally possible to come out to a school board meeting alarmed about a calendar and come back home even more alarmed to find out that the tax dollars you had thought were paying for your local school are disappearing to who knows where.
People around here are polite. Although they came to speak about the calendar, they stayed to hear about the four new textbooks that our district will purchased this year, about the addition of a JV soccer team, and about how our intermediate school district's fund balance is growing even as the individual school districts are coming up short. It is hard to vilify the school board as you see them in action, trying to use our limited resources make the best choices for our kids. The Naked Gardener produced one of the best attended school board meetings in history, and that may be its crowning achievement.