Sunday, January 7, 2018

West Family New Year Letter, January 2018

Dear Friends and Family, We have not prepared a letter for some years, so we want to catch up a bit here.

Tom finished his third book this past year. It mostly consists of stories and what he has learned from some of the extraordinarily interesting people he has met during his travels in the US and to 19 countries over more that 25 years (this includes strong visual thinkers and those with dyslexia or Asperger syndrome). The book title is Seeing What Others Cannot See: The Hidden Advantages of Visual Thinkers and Differently Wired Brains. Once again his publisher is Prometheus Books, now distributed by Penguin Random House. The reception of the new book has been slower and quieter than his earlier books and new editions -- not an unwelcome pace as he will be 75 years of age this year. However, he has been getting some high-quality interest: talks at two national conferences and at the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, small book launch gatherings in New York City and on Martha’s Vineyard, as well as appearing in a short film designed to promote a longer film now being developed by a group in Boston -- and, remarkably, participation in a high-level meeting on digital diplomacy in Tallinn, Estonia. More recently, he has received invitations to speak at a May gathering of medical researchers at the New York State Wadsworth Center and a June retreat for heads of 75 independent schools. Tom now looks forward to having more time to work on promoting his parents’ art at the West Gallery in Centreville, Maryland, as well as on the net and elsewhere. He now considers them to be among “The Last of the American Impressionists,” with paintings of rural and river scenes from the Chesapeake Bay area, Martha’s Vineyard Island and Pennsylvania’s Bucks County.

Ben and Susannah have just returned to Washington, DC, after five years in New York City. While there, Susannah ran programs at the Museum of Modern Art and at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum -- and Ben ran education and job training programs for underprivileged youth, trained recently in the Orton-Gillingham teaching method, and launched an organization providing teaching and support for adult dyslexics.

Jonathan has been visiting the East Coast more often in the past year after many years of living and working in Los Angeles. In California, Jon worked on public display architecture projects, sold art and architecture books to actors and producers in Hollywood, worked as a manager in an online bicycle business while also helping to manage a small non-profit. Making the switch to back to the Washington area, he has begun to work on projects for a local architect while also enjoying helping his parents with some of their many ongoing projects.

During 2016 and 2017, Margaret has participated in many activities relating to Wales, most with the newly reinvigorated “Washington DC Welsh.” She wrote a scholarly paper that was published in the Welsh Legal History Society Journal on US Supreme Court Justices Charles Evans Hughes and Owen Roberts. This volume and the full journal series were presented to the Library of Congress with a lecture and luncheon. In June 2016, Tom and Margaret were staying with London friends at the time of the Brexit vote and then went on to a reunion of Margaret’s law school class in Aberystwyth. Later, all the Wests gathered in September to attend the big country wedding in mid-Wales for Margaret’s nephew Alun Hughes and Rhiannon Lewis. In 2017 Donald Trump became President, a source of disgrace and great sadness, but also of renewed political activity, starting with Margaret’s participation in the Women’s March. In February, Margaret went with Jonathan to fix up her cottage in Rhayader, her hometown in Wales. During unusually cold weather, they were grateful to have many visits with family. The house had been off the market but the activity of their visit brought renewed interest by a local couple who shortly thereafter came through with an offer. In October, Tom and Margaret attended Diane Rehm’s National Cathedral wedding, a stunning 81year-old marrying a good and handsome man, a happy highlight. This year and last we have lost some of our very dearest friends. Along with book clubs, the Quaker men’s group, the Dyslexic Advantage, the Washington DC Welsh, and our IOM investment club, friendships are more important than ever.

We send much love to all, Tom, Margaret, Ben and Jonathan

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