Earthworms’ Castings

With Jean Ponzi


This summer I celebrate a milestone birthday, a good time to acknowledge some major gifts of influence in my life.

The gratitude lineup starts with my Gramma, who I lived with, off and on, until I was four. In those formative years. She was an inadvertent master of reverse psych, telling gregarious little me: “Don’t talk to strangers and don’t be the Life of the Party.” Thank you, Gramma. Right!

My first adult mentor took me in when I mewed on the doorstep of Channel Nine, KETC in St. Louis. I came to be an intern, to work for experience rather than pay, convinced I would beef up Television Talent. Y. Sue Thorpe saw in me – a total space-case Barbie Doll – exciting raw material. She was the first feminist I knew, in the fertile early 70s. Sue prodded me to think for myself, to “Ask Better Questions,” skills I had honed by the time, a decade later, I wandered into radio –a spiffier and kinder venue than TV.
Jeannie Breeze, who continues to shape St. Louis cosmic dimensions, was next to mentor me, under her rainbow wing. I worked and played with Jeannie through my 20s, learning how our thoughts shape the “realities” we perceive – and how, as a deliberately positive thinker, to see a thing from multiple sides and make my reality moves generally beneficial.

The Missouri Botanical Garden – my employer for many recent, productive and amazing years – was first my Personal Sanctuary. Waltzing and chanting around Garden grounds long before our professional affiliation, I fell in love with Plants. In the company of Garden denizens I recognized some of my deepest relations, within the families of Flowers and Trees. I learned to hear their messages, to understand their Eco-Logical ways. I am blessed to now be a Plant World Spokesperson.
My great spiritual teacher – not accidentally a woman – showed me how humans have a Spiritual Duty To Be Happy, as our focus in this world. She encouraged me to dance, with clear intentions, along life’s Beauty Road.

Dave Taylor, a station manager of KDHX, was my Magic of Radio Mentor. He heard and saw in me a Talk Show Host and gave me my longest running job, my weekly environmental program “Earthworms” – along with many other fine on-air times.
Since 1995 and ‘96, respectively, I’ve worked with my EarthWays Center colleagues, Deb Frank and Glenda Abney, who are all at once my friends, my bosses, and points with me of a Flying Wedge, formidable forces aligned for Earth. Glenda demonstrates how no one is expendable yet everyone’s values are important to hear, and Deb instills an ethic to give others, always, The Benefit of the Doubt.

My best friend Sarah Linquist knew my heart. Her artistry in friendship moved me at profoundest junctures. For example, as Best Woman in my wedding, she perceptively steered me through a tough and very personal choice. “Jean,” she said, “I know you don’t like it, but if you wear white this one time, you’ll stand out in all the pictures.”
Sarah and her husband Robert Fishbone, also my beloved friend, intervened when I was waffling on the verge of blowing off True Love. They also helped my future husband learn how to get along with super-independent me: “Sometimes, Dale, just leave her alone.”

Reflecting for this writing on the myriad ways Dale has partnered, supported, admonished and inspired, I have to say what springs to mind is this man, my Best Of Everything, delivering the mentoring message: “PARTICIPATE!” A big personality may need a big nudge.

Last but in no instance least are ways my parents wisely pruned and tended their only daughter, their first-born, me. Mom said, “If you pick your nose, you’ll never be Miss America.” Her foresight enabled this Beauty-Sweetie Wannabe to avoid an unspeakably wrong fate.

And Dad, known for countless pithy phrases, would say, “Stand still long enough and you’re a leader.” Neither he nor I had an inkling of the Green Jean Earth Advocate I would grow to be, but here in the 21st Century, through the changes over the 25 years I’ve been hawking Green so far, my father was right.

Thank you all, and bless you, dear mentors and friends! With thanks in advance for the coming years!

Join Jean Ponzi Mondays 7-8 pm on FM-88 KDHX broadcasts “Earthworms” and Sundays 9-10 a.m. when “Growing Green St. Louis” airs on the Big 550 KTRS-AM.