TT with HD: Neal Kelley and Jameson Tamblyn
HD: Alright, we should be good. Welcome to the teeter totter! Even though I'm not on it.
NK: Thank you!
HD: Okay, with the orange shirt, you are Neal, right?
NK: I am Neal.
HD: And with the striped gray and black you are ...
HD: Are you still basking in the glow of your five-goal performance in the 10-9 victory over Pioneer? [laugh] [Ed. note: The water polo match went to double overtime.]
JT: [laugh] A little bit, yeah.
NK: It's on TV about every day.
JT: Yeah, I know.
NK: It was on last night again.
HD: So, when you say TV you mean ...
NK: I mean like CTN. But oh, they've replayed it at least three or four times.
HD: Do they have actual footage from the game?
JT: They have the whole game.
HD: On CTN, wow! So that was somebody like a parent who shot that, or is that the Huron High School sports department?
JT: I don't know who it was.
NK: They have these analysts and everything that you can hear while you're watching the game but ...
HD: So you're on the team as well?
NK: I'm not. I'm just an average supporter.
JT: He was the cheerleader.
NK: I wanted to go to cheer him on.
HD: So you do you take the ukulele along?
NK: I would love to, yeah!
HD: Because that is the one bit of trivia I found out about you that is floating around the Internet.
NK: Really?? Oh yeah, that I played ukulele in A Thousand Clowns, right. It wasn't my ukulele, and I wanted to take it after the show so I could learn how to play it, but for whatever reason ...
HD: So you have not acquired yourself a ukulele?
NK: I haven't. And it's really sad because I I used to play piano and I've been wanting to play guitar, or ukulele, or something, forever. And I just have never gotten around to it.
HD: So are you at all concerned--you know, enough time is going to pass between--you learned how to play something for this production of A Thousand Clowns, right--and you know you're going to lose that.
NK: I just remember it was called "Yes sir, that's my baby." I don't remember the tune, I don't remember the chords, or anything. I usually just--the guy who did it with me, he usually just led and I kind of ...
HD: ... followed along?
HD: Okay. Okay today's meeting that you're going to convene at noon, how many other people are going to be there, do you figure?
NK: Well, there's 25 members on the Youth Council. A couple of weeks ago we chose our new members, and we only had five spots open and around 35 applicants.
HD: Wow. Was that kind of tough?
JT: It was very tough. Last year we had about 13 spots open, so this was kind of a strange year. We have a lot of seniors right now.
HD: So next year will be an easier selection year?
JT: Next year will be a lot easier.
NK: Next year they'll be a lot more openings.
HD: So to what extent it is it important to have a range of different categories of people represented? I notice you guys are both male and you are both from Huron [High School], right? So is there a conscious effort to say, Okay we've got to have like a gender balance, and we have to have a balance between the two high schools?
NK: Definitely. And that's what we tried to work on this year. We have a new member from Skyline [High School].
HD: Oh that's right, they opened this year, right?
NK: Yeah, exactly. So we had an applicant from Skyline, and also a freshman from Community [High School]. The problem is that sometimes the debates get so heated when we are choosing the members that sometimes we kind of overlook, Okay we've got this person from Huron we don't really need any more Huron people. We've got this person from Community, or Roberto Clemente, or Stone or wherever, and we kind of need to fill those spaces up. But you get lost in that when you are looking at just the applicant as a whole in the interview, trying to disregard their school and age, but you can't always do that.
HD: So this is going to be the first meeting with the new members then?
NK: New member orientation.
HD: So you're not going to try to decide anything as far as allocation of any grant money today?
JT: That will happen later towards December.
NK: Yeah, we have two grant cycles every year, one in December and one in--March?
HD: So have you had like a sneak peek at some of the applications that are starting to come through?
NK: I know there are, I think they are available online now. We have our own website set up where we can review the grants. I haven't reviewed any yet.
HD: Now when you say "a website", you are talking about a place where everybody can go and put in their comments ...
NK: ... exactly. We have ratings like four stars or five stars. You write your comments. And next week actually, next weekend we have a retreat at the Chelsea Friends Center. And that's kind of where we do a mock grant slate to get the new members oriented with the process ...
HD: ... so this is a process with like fake grants?
NK: Exactly. Or grants that we have had in the past and we are just reusing. And that was--I was a new member last year, and that was a really useful kind of tool to kind of help people.
HD: And were you also a new member last year?
JT: No, I have been on Youth Council since freshman year.
HD: So you're providing some continuity to the organization.
NK: He's a veteran.
JT: [laugh] Yeah.
HD: So from year to year if you want to continue, is that an automatic deal, or do you have to sort of be confirmed by the other members?
JT: No, once you're on, you are on. You don't have to go through the interview process again or anything or the application process. We just take on new members every year.
HD: So how much money is there to allocate this year? Do you know that, or a ballpark idea?
NK: Usually it's around 60-70 thousand dollars. We are in the process of a $75,000 grant over three years to the Neutral Zone right now. So that's $25,000 each year.
HD: Is the second year of the grant then?
JT: This is the third year.
HD: So that will finish.
NK: Right that will finish this year.
HD: So what are they doing with the money?
JT: It's for new programming needs--anything they feel they want to do with it as far as just programs within the Neutral Zone.
NK: And a lot of it was when they moved into their new building, to start up getting them the resources they needed, whether it was computers ...
HD: ... tables, lamps ...
NK: ... exactly.
HD: Just the stuff you don't even think about, but that somebody actually has to pay for. So is it the Youth Council's expectation that the Ozone House would then come back and say, Here's exactly how we spent the money? Is that in some kind of contractual agreement at that level ...?
NK: ... to a certain extent we have an evaluation committee that we try to go visit every site we granted money to. I went last year--we granted money to something called Girls Group, which is a bunch of high school girls meeting together during lunch at a school in Ypsilanti and talking about issues among teen girls. So that was really nice to see what they were using the money for. We don't require them necessarily to tell us what they are using it for. But when they apply for the grant they have a rough estimate of what they're going to use it for.
JT: Like Neal said, we try to do site visits as much as possible and see what's going on with the grants and how the money is being used.
HD: So basically you don't say, for example, you can't use Youth Council money for operational stuff as opposed to purchasing physical items--a nondurable versus durable distinction or something? Because I know a lot of grants they do say, Look, we're interested in paying for stuff, we're not interested in paying for operational things like salary.
JT: We can't really explicitly tell them what they can spend their money on, but we can strongly urge them to spend it in one area, or however we see fit. But we can't straight-out tell them you have to spend the money this way.
NK: And benefiting the whole program as opposed to benefiting individuals within the program.
HD: So is there any bias in your granting philosophy towards trying to fund things that are just starting that don't exist yet, as opposed to say keeping something going along?
NK: I think certain grants are really appealing. Last year we had a grant--I guess I am a little biased because I go to Huron--but they wanted to start up a kind of communications program at Huron with a radio station and a TV station run by students and a TV program. And I was just starting up and we granted several thousand dollars to that. But there are grants that keep coming back like the Neutral Zone and the Ozone House. We don't just say, Oh, well, we have granted them in the past they are definitely going to get one. But they are always interesting to look at.
JT: There is definitely a need to grant the new projects just because the Neutral Zone's at one point were one of the new projects. And we are always looking for things like that that can be extremely successful in the future.
HD: So after the meeting, you guys got Sunday afternoon plans?
NK: A lot of homework and college applications.
JT: College apps.
HD: Oh, so college applications aren't done already?? I sort of figured that in this day and age, that you would have those done by the time you start in the fall.
NK: Honestly, I told myself that I would have everything done by the summer. It didn't happen. I have finished all the apps, I just have to finish the essays. That's the hardest part.
HD: Back when I was applying there was no--well, I guess some schools had essays--but there were a lot of schools that didn't require an essay to get in. They just said, Oh, you seem bright enough to take our classes, you're in.
NK: But with the U of M you have to write three.
HD: So it's different topics every year, right, I would guess?
NK: Usually, yeah.
JT: I think the last two years it's been the same.
NK: Yeah, this year it's about diversity and your experiences with diversity and how you would bring that to the university.
HD: So you gonna talk about the ukulele?
NK: Yeah, exactly. It always comes full circle.
HD: So are you pursuing a sort of shotgun strategy applying to a whole bunch of different schools, or are you being more sort of targeted?
NK: I am applying to six schools. I'm applying to two early. And at the U of M, I'm applying to the theater school, and my audition is not until January, but my application is due the first of November, so it's kind of like applying early.
HD: So for the audition, are they going to make you sing, and act, and do a dance?
NK: Hopefully not sing. I'm not much of a singer. But I have to do to monologues--a contemporary one and a classical one.
HD: So have you chosen those?
NK: I have chosen my contemporary one. They won't let you do Shakespeare, so I have to find a classical one that's not Shakespeare, which is kind of odd.
HD: So what do they have against Shakespeare? Maybe they've just heard all that before?
NK: I don't know, all they say is they "strongly discourage" Shakespeare.
HD: Oh, so you could if you wanted?
NK: I could, but I would like to get in.
HD: Yeah, that would probably count against you, I'm sure. So what counts as the classical tradition that is not Shakespeare--I mean, are they going all the way back to the Greeks?
NK: Yeah, which is interesting because we are taking a humanities course at Huron and we're reading Oedipus the King right now, and I've been trying to look for one. I think there's one that he has that I might look at. But even some even with Checkoff, some say Checkoff is classical, some say he is contemporary I might look at one of those.
HD: So are you also applying to colleges?
JT: Yeah, yeah. I am applying right now, I have about four or five. But I'm really kind of hoping for Michigan as my number one ...
NK: ... me, too ...
JT: But if not I have like my own Miami of Ohio, possibly Indiana, ...
HD: ... Indiana University?
HD: Bloomington Indiana is a nice place to be.
NK: My older sister goes there. I've never been there but I want to visit, so we might go down and visit sometime.
HD: There's way worse places to spend time than Bloomington, Indiana--that I can tell you. Well, listen is there anything else you guys really want to get off your chest here on the teeter totter? [Ed. note: A siren from a Huron Valley ambulance forces a pause in the conversation.] That's a little weird. What I'm puzzled by--I guess maybe they were parked over there where they were stationed.
NK: I saw them when I was walking over your I saw the guy sipping on some Starbucks and going the other way.
HD: Well, I know that their strategy is to park out in the communities somewhere so that they are geographically distributed so they have less distance to go. I'm sorry, I interrupted somebody.
NK: I don't know. This might be the last time I'm ever on a teeter totter, so ...
HD: ... no, see actually one of the perks of being on an alum of the teeter totter is--and I can give you the address of where totter classic lives, the one that is permanently mounted in my backyard--you know, you're welcome to come over and just take a ride. If I am there I can balance the other side for you, or if you want to bring your own teeter totter partner, that's fine as well.
NK: Sweet. I just think this is really cool.
JT: It's a great idea.
HD: Well, thanks.
NK: I've heard you've done one with Bill Clinton?
HD: Have you had a look at Bill Clinton interview?
NK: I did, yeah.
HD: What did you think of that?
NK: You know what, I thought you did a very good job with the questions you were asking. I thought the one when you ask him about his presidency was really good--it seem like he had a tough time with it.
HD: Well you know always nice in an interview when you can control not only the questions you are asking, but also what they say back to you. Alright, thanks for coming! And have a good meeting.
NK: Thank you.
JT: Thank you.