Saturday, February 12, 2011

Richard Crowson and Moments When Lives Change

Every once in awhile, we are witness to a moment when lives are changed. No doubt it happens regularly, but it's rare we can pinpoint the time. Usually those things are more obvious in retrospect than they are in process.

But today, today was one of those amazing times when I knew people around me were being affected in ways they will remember - in ways that change who they are and what they're about.

We had a big event today to celebrate the opening of a special exhibit about Snoopy's involvement with NASA. When I learned we were getting this exhibit the first thought I had was to contact cartoonist Richard Crowson and ask him to do a presentation. He was incredibly generous in agreeing to do so.

This afternoon he spoke to a crowd of about 60 people, demonstrating cartooning techniques and talking about his own experiences with drawing. The crowd was mostly families, and I was amazed at what great artists some of these kids were. There was one young man who has already started drawing his own comic strip. 

I've seen more than a few speakers, and I've never seen one better than Richard Crowson. He was perfect. Absolutely perfect. He talked to the kids at their level of understanding but made it fascinating for the adults at the same time. He played banjo, he drew, he talked about the 150th anniversary of Kansas, he engaged the audience, he taught, he encouraged, and he listened.

And, in the midst of it, as if it were the most ordinary thing in the world to do on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in February, he changed people.

Not everyone, of course. Some people won't give today a second thought. But others will remember it as an hour in which their lives were changed. A turning point. A moment. Years from now some of those kids will be telling people about being at the Cosmosphere and Richard Crowson teaching them how to draw. They'll remember him looking at what they drew with kind eyes and speaking about it with kind words.

And I will remember it, too, because it's a privilege to bear witness to such a moment.

Thanks to Greg Holmes for the photo.