Last week, I was delighted to attend an awards ceremony for my friend Sally Van Vleck, the recipient of this year’s Sara Hardy Humanitarian Award by the Traverse City Human Rights Commission.
Many of us on the Old Mission Peninsula know Sally as the longtime owner of the Neahtawanta Inn Bed & Breakfast, built in the late 1800s and opening in 1906 as the Sunrise Inn with Mary (Kroupa) Atherton at the helm.
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Sally has also spent her life working for peace and justice, community resilience, non-violent communication, anti-racism, and environmental sustainability.
Sally is also one of the founders of the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC), and with her late husband Bob Russell, founded the Neahtawanta Research and Education Center (NREC).
In her awards speech, Sally not only gave an inspiring message about why we should all keep pressing forward on these important issues – including one of my favorite causes, saving trees – but she also noted that, as previously announced on the NREC website, the Board of Directors and herself as executive director have been in the process of folding up the NREC tent and handing the reins over to the newly-formed organization Title Track, organized by local musician, activist and community organizer Seth Bernard.
“After 31 years, the Neahtawanta Research & Education Center (NREC) has decided to close up shop,” said Sally. “The board of directors and I have decided to cede our assets, wisdom, blessings and non-profit status to the new organization, Title Track, which will focus on clean water, racial equity and youth empowerment. Thanks to everyone who came out for this celebration. I accepted the award on behalf of ALL the activists in our region who are protecting land, water, human rights and promoting PEACE.”
On a personal note, Sally is not only my dear friend, but also my yoga teacher for the past 15 years. Yoga is a treasured tool in my “emotional and physical health toolbox” that helps to keep me grounded in this crazy world.
If you’d like to do yoga with Sally at the Neahtawanta Inn (and me, if you sign up for the Wednesday night sessions), click here for more info. The Spring 2019 session is starting soon.