Honoring Emily with Art 2022: The Beauty of the World
Each year, something comes to me as an inspiration for our event to honor Emily. A couple of weeks ago I was out in the early morning, not thinking about the event at all, the sky was just starting to turn pink, and as I saw that beautiful pink sky an idea filled me: The world is so beautiful. Emily saw that beauty and was a part of it, she reflected it, and she expressed it. What went through my head was: If Emily were here I know she would be committing herself to protecting the environment, whether through her work or through how she lived her life. Because that’s what she did while she was here.
She was president of the Green Team in high school, working hard to help the school recycle and compost. At home she did the same, and had her garden bed for planting snap peas. Those who knew Emily know that she also was very social, and she wanted to have fun and get people together. All in that same moment as I looked at the pink sky a flash of memories came back to me, about when Emily was a junior in high school and got the idea to hold a school dance to benefit Canopy, an organization that helps grow urban tree canopies in the midpeninsula area. This idea of a dance combined two of her passions: helping the environment and having a party!
That school year at Paly on-campus dances had been canceled as part of a crack-down on alcohol use. Emily’s friends might remember more of the details but what came back to me that morning was a flash of memories of Emily being determined to hold a dance and, through ticket sales, raise money to support Canopy. Since an on-campus dance wasn’t an option, she found a way to have the dance at the Palo Alto Lucie Stern Community Center. She made all the arrangements – designed tickets, planned getting the word out, arranged for ticket sales, coordinated with Canopy, got a DJ, sound system, etc. Just days before the dance was to be held, the Palo Alto police department contacted Emily and said that someone had contacted them to warn that students would be coming from outside of Palo Alto in large numbers and that things could get out of control. Emily met with the police and all I know is that after the conversation she had worked out a solution: they would hold the dance at another venue (I think it ended up at Illusions, a club in Palo Alto) that was private, so the City would not be held responsible, and she also assured the police that she would make tickets that were not reproducible and those tickets would be required for entrance.
What I remember happening next is that our good friend Mike from PIP Printing in Palo Alto (best darn printing services on this beautiful planet, and Mike is also an artist, like Emily, so they shared that bond) showed up at our door with a stack of yellow, roughly 2”X5” cardstock tickets for the dance, printed with a design Emily had created. This was the night before the AP US History exam and I remember asking Emily – Don’t you think you should be getting to bed, or doing some brushing up on history, or something??! But she assured me that was not necessary and she stayed up and used a special star-shaped hole puncher to punch star-shaped holes in hundreds of tickets. She had told the police that no one would be admitted to the dance without one of these special, hole-punched tickets.
The dance was a huge success. Safe, fun, huge numbers of kids came. They all bought tickets. And even after paying for all of the costs for the venue, DJ, etc., Emily had raised more than $1,000 for Canopy.
All of that flashed through my mind in a moment. Looking at the pink sky. And I thought: this planet is jaw-dropping beautiful. Emily knew it. She tried her best to do what she could. So for this year’s Honoring Emily event we asked people to take some moments to look around and see the Beauty of the World, and send us photos. We printed out the photos and everyone made cards at the event—either by painting watercolor versions or by attaching the photos directly to cards. We saw some amazing examples of the beauty of the world.