There's a large number of homeschooling families in the Dallas area, and several are seminary families as well. That's how I got to know the majority of my homeschooling cohorts.
Last fall, I got connected with Stacy, who was a homeschool mom in South Carolina on her way to Dallas. We hit it off, emailing frequently and commenting on each others' blogs. (They finally got here in May!) She was frustrated about not being able to connect with different homeschool groups in the area, and I want to do some other field trips in addition to what my homeschool association plans. We put our keyboards together - we chat regularly through Facebook - and decided to do something about it.
We planned an outing at a local park where the kids could play and fish and the moms could talk about activities we'd like to do together and places we'd like to visit. Last month I hosted a gathering for a group of homeschool moms so we could look over each other's curricula, ask and answer questions, etc., so we started with that basic group and added others to our list as we thought of them.
The big question was not what or when, but where. If you take the two families in our group who live the farthest apart, it's probably an hour difference! Stacy and I threw around a few names of area parks, then I asked Kim about Samuell Farm here in Mesquite. She said it's her boys' favorite park. There are ponds for fishing, a playground, picnic tables scattered here and there under trees, old tractors the kids can climb on, etc. And it's free. We decided to meet there.
Today around noon, nine minivans and a car pulled into the parking lot. We trooped out onto the grounds and searched out a place in the shade to eat lunch. I don't think we had been there 5 minutes when a man with a video camera came walking up to the group, asking if we minded him filming us for a news story. The local CBS affiliate was doing a story on the park because it's part of Dallas Parks and Recreation and is in danger of being shut down. It just so happened that we were there at the same time.
As we were checking with all the moms to make sure there were no objections to filming, a reporter walked out and began asking us why we were out that day and who had been there before. None of us had! Since I was answering most of his questions, he asked if he could interview me for a news segment.
He asked me preview questions, then moved me to a shady spot and had a microphone put on my collar. The cameraman began filming and I answered the reporter's questions. Then he cut the video but kept recording audio while he asked a few more questions. He was fishing for a history angle since the park is part of an old now-non-working farm, so I gave him my best "we love learning about local history" answer. I hope he got a decent sound bite. I'm sure the video will be horrible - me all red-faced and sweating, trying to hide a half-eaten carrot stick in my hand. (Well, he was there during our lunch...)
We only decided to go to Samuell Farm on Tuesday, and I'm pretty certain none of the moms in our group would've alerted the local media for something as simple as what we were doing. Certainly no news station would've sent out a crew to film and interview a bunch of homeschool moms and their kids. It was just providence for the reporter - and the farm's owner - that we just happened to show up there today.
It'll be interesting to see what becomes of Samuell Park, if what we did on a whim will have any influence on the final outcome. In the meantime, you can see me and the rest of our homeschool group on the CBS 11 news.
Update: They didn't use the interview in the story because it didn't fit with the angle they decided to go with - upkeep on the out-of-the-way farm versus the beautiful Samuell Grand Park in the Dallas city limits. They did show footage of our group, though, as background to the main story. Jacob can be seen briefly walking between the swings. His back is to the camera, but he's in a blue shirt. Caleb can be seen even more briefly as he swings past the lens in his bright green shirt. It's easy to miss him, it's so fast. Stacy's boys are the ones fishing. You can see it here.