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Photograph by Luigi Ciuffetelli; Jurdy by Jenifer JurdenJenifer Jurden and her comic pal draw on their corporate experience to make the business world–and our world–better places.

Look out Ziggy. Step aside Dilbert. Here comes Jurdy.

The little green being from another world hasn’t hit the Sunday comics yet, but Jurdy and alter-ego Jenifer Jurden are aiming for the top.

The single-panel cartoon, as well as a green version, appears in a number of publications locally and abroad, and the website Autism Speaks features Jurdy e-greetings.

“We’re pretty close to getting syndicated,” Jurden says. “I’d like to get Jurdy licensed and offer merchandise and cartoons. My dream is to have a Jurdy World, a perfect world. It would be a theme park and a state of mind.”

For now, the pair is serving a dose of humor to the buttoned-down corporate world. Jurden, daughter of legendary News Journal political cartoonist Jack Jurden, combines her artistic talent with experience at the former MBNA to take Jurdy to new heights—such as the 11th floor of WSFS headquarters in Wilmington.

That’s where the dynamic duo helps run an internal idea-generating campaign for the bank. Jurdy appears throughout the bank’s offices via the Intranet, voicemail blasts, Post-It notes, notepads and counter cards that encourage employees to share ideas. The program has been so successful, the bank had to shift an associate’s responsibilities to field ideas full time. WSFS plans to renew the program in 2009.

“It keeps the campaign front and center in a fun way, without it being jammed down your throat,” says Stephanie Arnold, the bank’s vice president of marketing.

Jurden says a similar program helped one of her clients save $30,000 over a 50-day period. The cartoon can also be used to help a company boost employee morale.

“So much of what is wrong with corporate America is not being able to laugh about it,”  Jurden says. “Jurdy can be a positive force between the corporate walls.”

—Drew Ostroski

 

Page 2: Walk the Line | “On the Mason-Dixon Line” showcases works from the First State’s best literature.

 

“On the Mason-Dixon Line,” compiled and edited by Billie Travalini (left) and Fleda Brown, includes works by 45 Delaware writers.  Photograph by Pat Crowe IIWalk the Line

“On the Mason-Dixon Line” showcases works from the First State’s best literature.

When Billie Travalini channels her inner narrator, the voice in her head speaks with a subtle Southern twang.

Funny thing is, Travalini, director of the New Castle Writers’ Conference, grew up near Elsmere. It was friends and neighbors who moved to Delaware from the South who injected a little West Virginia drawl into her life.

Travalini’s dueling dialects reflect the many unique voices found in “On the Mason-Dixon Line, An Anthology of Contemporary Delaware Writers,” a major collection she compiled and edited with Fleda Brown, a former Delaware poet laureate.

“I think we did a pretty good job of canvassing the state,” Brown says. “And what this collection tells me is that we’re an incredibly eclectic group.”

The book includes works from 45 Delaware writers, from nationally published authors like Marisa de los Santos and Lara Zeises to Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.D. Snodgrass. Poems, essays, excerpts and short stories make up the mix. The unifying element is that every writer has ties to Delaware, a state that houses Southern sensibilities and mid-Atlantic megalopolis attitude.

“Even our writers who have moved from Delaware, the memory and the community of Delaware is still with them in a powerful way,” Travalini says. “They say their creativity was inspired by Delaware.”

The anthology is the first major collection of its kind. To Travalini and Brown, that speaks to the book’s importance and its status as a literary Delaware time capsule. “We shared the feeling that something like this should be done,” Travalini says. “A collection like this, at the turn of the century, I wanted to hear what those writers had to say. I wanted to feel like I was submerged in those voices.”

Find “On the Mason-Dixon Line” at the University of Delaware Morris Library and Newark-area bookstores.

—Matt Amis

 

Page 3: The Rights Stuff | On its 50th anniversary, AARP honors civil rights legend Littleton Mitchell. Some other heroes will be there in spiirt.

 

Littleton MitchellThe Rights Stuff

On its 50th anniversary, AARP honors civil rights legend Littleton Mitchell. Some other heroes will be there in spirit.

When the AARP celebrates its 50th birthday this month, the Delaware chapter will bestow its highest award on Littleton Mitchell.

Mitchell is one of Delaware’s most accomplished human rights leaders. Head of the state branches of the NAACP from 1961 to 1991, he is credited with helping local African Americans gain equal access to employment, education, housing and public accommodations.

“He’s just been a major player,” says historian Jeanne Nutter of AARP Delaware’s executive board. “I call him the pit bull for civil rights. He grabbed onto something and he didn’t let go.”

On December 12, AARP will present Mitchell with its Andrus Award for Community Service. The ceremony will be held at the Delaware Art Museum. A retrospective of photos by Gordon Parks, the first African-American photographer for LIFE magazine, will be open during the reception.

But that’s not the only interesting tie between the civil rights legends. As Nutter discovered, a Parks photo was used on the cover of an AARP-produced book about the civil rights movement, “My Soul Looks Back in Wonder.”

Nutter then thought of another accomplished African-American photographer from the civil rights era, Moneta Sleet Jr., the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize. Sleet was the father of Judge Gregory Sleet, the first African American to become a federal judge in Delaware. Parks had written the foreword for a book by Moneta Sleet and attended his funeral. Gregory Sleet and Mitchell are friends.

An eight-minute documentary about Mitchell’s childhood, produced by Nutter, of course, will be shown that evening.

Mitchell, an AARP member since the 1960s—he notes his membership is due to expire in 2013—is humbled by the honor.

“I’m a product of so many people, not a product of myself,” he says. “There are so many more who did it.”

—Drew Ostroski
 

Page 4: A Jacket and Much More | Operation Warm jumps to a new level.

 

Operation Warm has distributed new winter coats to 500,000 children during its first 10 years.A Jacket and Much More

Operation Warm jumps to a new level.

During the past 10 years, Operation Warm has provided new winter coats to a half-million children who otherwise wouldn’t have one. The tireless Chadds Ford-based nonprofit is now tweaking its mission by going green and harnessing youth power.

“Operation Warm started just to keep a kid warm,” says founder and chairman Dick Sanford. “It’s gotten to be a heck of a lot more than that.”

The work started when Sanford, an entrepreneur from Kennett Square, read about coatless children waiting at a local bus stop in 20-degree temperatures. He immediately bought a local department store’s winter jacket inventory and, with the help of his Rotary Club, got coats to 58 kids who needed them.

Operation Warm now puts its snow parkas on 140,000 pre-school and elementary-age students in eight states annually—including more than 22,000 in Delaware this year alone.

“We’ve found that children who have a new jacket are more likely to get to the bus stop and get to school on time,” says president Kim Fortunato. “Sometimes they don’t go to school because they are ashamed of the way they’re dressed.”

Operation Warm is working with students from two local universities to provide coats to children in two Philadelphia schools. The college students will manage their own fundraising, purchase “green” coats (made from recycled plastic bottles) from Operation Warm, then distribute them. Jacket recipients will also receive a lesson about environmental issues. “We’re trying to harness this kid power,” Sanford says.

For more information or to make a donation to Operation Warm, visit www.operationwarm.org.              

—Drew Ostroski
 

Page 5: Boots Shines | Middletown women form Delaware Boots on the Ground to provide aid and comfort to local military families. The group is marching on.

 

 Grotto Pizza president Dominic Pulieri presents a $3,000 check to Delaware Boots on the Ground, which raised nearly $60,000 in less than a year.Boots Shines

Middletown women form Delaware Boots on the Ground to provide aid and comfort to local military families. The group is marching on.

Delaware Boots on the Ground has little to do with footwear. The organization has everything to do with helping military families.

Boots began over a cup of coffee in April 2007. Two women, Shirley Brooks and Kathy Greenwell, both of Middletown, had sons who were serving overseas. They met with Chief Master Sgt. Dawn Peet, the Delaware State Family Readiness leader for the Air National Guard.

“Dawn could do certain things with government money, like provide boots, ammunition and helmets,” Brooks says. “But other functions, like providing food and other items for military family members, she couldn’t do.”

On the spot, Brooks and Greenwell decided to start Boots. “Things went crazy quick,” Brooks says. “We started with a few people and a board of directors, quietly raising money here and there. And suddenly, there was Jill Biden.”

Biden, whose son, Beau, left for Iraq with the Army National Guard in September, suggested the group start raising money across the state. Boots raised $30,000 during its first event. Sponsors such as AstraZeneca, Grotto Pizza and Valero stepped up. WDEL helped. In June Governor Ruth Ann Minner declared July 4 Delaware Boots on the Ground Day.

In less than a year, Boots has raised about $60,000. Terri Preston of Bear calls Boots “a great source of support.” Her son, Sgt. Shawn M. Riccelli, is serving in Iraq.

“If I have any questions or concerns, I know all I have to do is make a phone call and Boots is there for us,” Preston says. “It’s such a comfort, especially when your loved one is so very far away.”

Both of Brooks’ sons recently came home. Yet holidays are still bittersweet.

“I helped start Boots because I wanted to be part of my sons’ deployments,” she says. “Now I’m meeting moms and dads whose soldiers won’t be home for the holidays. I know what that feels like.”

To learn more, visit debotg.org.  

—Maria Hess
 

Page 6: Walking the Talk

 

Walking the Talk

In tiny Delaware, talk radio is a big deal. But despite the prominence of WDEL and WILM Newsradio upstate and WGMD-FM downstate, no traditional station can claim a statewide audience. Dave Burris’ can.

Burris, with Randy Nelson, Maria Evans and Mike Matthews, heads Delaware’s first Internet-only radio station, delawaretalkradio.com, which streams Delaware news not only statewide, but worldwide.

“We do feel like there’s a good built-in market here in Delaware,” Burris says. “You have talk radio stations upstate and you have talk radio stations downstate, but nothing really makes it across the whole state. So we’re trying to focus on being the statewide operation.”

The station launched in September with Burris, a political blogger and former Sussex County Republican chairman, anchoring the station’s daily program, with Nelson, a former Emmy-winning television producer who hit the airwaves with WGMD in Lewes. The two teamed at a studio in Milton, though additional offices exist in Dover and Wilmington.

Matthews, a political gadfly and creator of the popular blog downwithabsolutes.com, takes over in the afternoons. Evans, a former communications director for Bill Lee’s 2008 gubernatorial campaign, mans the morning show.

“We’re not ‘Hannity & Colmes,’” Burris says. “I’m a Republican. Randy is a Democrat. Mike is a Democrat and Maria’s a Republican. This is going to be very balanced. And given our political backgrounds, we’re all well versed on the issues.”

In November, the station added former WDEL talk personality Gerry Fulcher and longtime lobbyist-watchdog John Flaherty to the team. Burris hopes to attract national experts to the show.

“It won’t be one long infomercial,” Burris says. “We’ll get into the issues and what’s going on in our state.” 

  —Matt Amis

 

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