Marty as Talent Show MC at Life is Good, 2007

The Full discussion is archived on the Unschooling Discussion list (at google groups, so it was still there in 2021), but below are the highlights of reports on Marty's doings at Mary Gold's Life is Good conference in Corvallis, Oregon in April, 2007:

Sandra Dodd:

Marty (18) has been gone for over a week, and won't be back for many more days. I'm starting to miss him. He called me from the runway in Seattle to say he had arrived, I got an e-mail from Diana with a photo of him the next morning (a very sweet mom-to-mom gesture), and I talked to him yesterday. He was excited to have seen a big crab in the wild, on a post at the beach. He didn't get to hold it because he couldn't reach it.

That was it, until I got a note from one of the moms who'd been at the Life is Good conference (below). As it was just e-mail to me I won't say who (though if she's here and wants to claim it that's fine), but it was SO wonderfully sweet to read it made my whole week better. I hope people don't mind my sharing this. Some is motherly pride, and some is an unschooling-results report (on more than just Marty).

I just wanted to tell you how delightful it was to have Marty at the Life is Good conference. He was funny, sweet, thoughtful and modest and made an excellent MC for the talent show. I talked to him afterward (Mercedes and Madelyn’s room was directly across the hall from our room, so I had a chance to accost him) about his ability to treat the littlest of kids with respect and kindness. He said he was really nervous and unsure, but that never came across to me.

He was a total treat to have there. All the teens were shining examples of how unschooling works. I think it gave newbies (and the rest of us) hope for the future.

Thanks, Sandra. You have not only enriched your kids’ lives, but enriched ours. Having Marty there was just one more way all of our lives were touched…

Karen Tucker:
That's nice. It was a surprise to see Marty at LIFE is Good—didn't know he was coming. But I tell you, he was the best unschoolers Talent Show host I have ever seen. And he was the biggest Duck, Duck, Goose player, too! :)

You really should be very proud, Sandra.

Erica Iwamura:
I loved reading this. As a new unschooler (about a month into the journey), the worry still creeps in. I love hearing about how Marty treats and respects the little ones because of how he was treated and respected himself. My boys are 7 and 5 and I am just looking forward to their relationship improving as we grow WITH each other everyday.

Thank you for sharing this, Sandra!


Diana Jenner:
On 4/27/07, Karen Tucker wrote:
And he was the biggest Duck, Duck, Goose player, too! :)

You really should be very proud, Sandra.

When I walked into the room where this was happening, I got to see a wee girl chasing big ol' Marty round the circle who happily stumbled and fell to incite the crowd with his sweetness - it worked! He barely made it to his spot in time and the little girl was just beaming at having *almost* caught him!
~diana :)

Christy Mahoney:
Marty did a really great job at the talent show. Our trip was worth it just for the talent show! He called my daughter's name early on, and she said she wasn't ready yet. He was very gracious, and she really appreciated it when he introduced her later and thanked herfor being patient because she was super nervous.

He was just very genial and always seemed to be smiling. He lit up the room and really made the conference more enjoyable - I am glad that he was there.

-Christy Mahoney

Robin Bentley:
And you should have heard Christy's Darcy sing a capella! What a lovely, clear voice! I think she sang Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" (I'm not totally up on CA's song titles 🙂). It was definitely worth the wait.

Oh, and Darcy did something that you learn in public speaking classes usually somewhat later in life - she acknowledged her nervousness up front. It's a technique to help you relax and go on. I was really impressed when she did that, too.

Robin B.

Mary King:
When my daughter went up on stage to do improv comedy, she got nervous and really just ended up talking to the crowd. Marty graciously eased her to give him back the microphone when she told us she wasn't sure what to do next. He made this situation comfortable for her when it really could have made her upset. He really is a great kid.

Mary King

...even in a world full of unschooled people, I don't think very many people are like Marty. He really seems interested in people, and he was the only teen that I met at the conference that exhibited this quality.

Jill Parmer:
I liked that the conf. wasn't so big and had the chance to chat longer and laugh with Marty, and others. The day after the conf, we went to the beach and took Hayden with us. The conversation of the kids just whirled around, but seemed to be telling of how unschooling works in their confidence and pure joy and intense seriousness... Luke and Hayden both 8; this part of the conversation was about teenagers.

Hayden: I don't EVEN want to know how smart I'll be when I'm a teenager.

Luke: Why?

Hayden: Because I'm so smart now.

Luke: I want to be like Marty when I'm a teenager.

Hayden: Everyone wants to be like Marty.

~Jill P in Colo. (Addi 12, Luke 8)

the discussion scattered out a bit there and much is left out here, so seeming references might be to things I left out; sorry
You can let him know too that my husband was impressed with him too. His almost exact words were, "Marty was one of the best talents in the talent show. He has a great people and stage presence."

That came out of the blue at the talent show from a guy who's met very few IRL unschoolers, other than his own children. When he said that, I told him it was your son, since he is familiar with your name. It was nice to be around so many other families that treated their children with kindness. That had a nice impact.

"The Coordinator of Cool working the talent show"
caption and photo from "Post Conference Glow" on Zenmomma's Garden

During the Life is Good talent show my 5-y.o. daughter was outwardly self-assured when going to the mic, but started to forget the words to her song ("Itsy Bitsy Spider", for anyone there), and Marty and the entire audience helped her out. It was very sweet, and she came back to her seat shining and wanting to go back up again for another song. I didn't get to stay for the whole thing, but the Talent Show was one of the neatest things I've seen - so many supportive people, ready to support any kid who had the interest to get up there. Definitely a highlight for our family.

Another Marty vignette that's really more of a Robin Coburn vignette is that I was chatting a bit with Kelly and Robin about my son having difficulty connecting with other kids sometimes (something that likely bothers me more than him unless it's an immediately frustrating thing to him like not being able to negotiate a ride on a scooter...). Anyway, Robin said (in her Aussie accent), "Have you met Muddy Dog? He's really good with younger boys - maybe he can give you a hand". I replied that I hadn't, so she turned me around to introduce me to (as I read on the nametag) Marty Dodd ;-) So Sandra, your (I'm sure) carefully-named son will forever be, in my mind (and Robin's accent) ... Muddy Dog ;-)

And Christy, your younger daughter made the conference very enjoyable for my daughter - she's still talking about playing together, and every time she talks about singing at the talent show (which is frequent) she talks about your daughter's whistling "Row Row Row Your Boat" and dance poses, too.


Alyson, there's a really sweet photo of Marty and your daughter in the talent show at Mary's blog (photo placed up above) And Brenna had just as much fun with your daughter!


I had to go and look too. That pic is frame worthy! Adorable. You can see in his eyes how much he loves children!


Diana's recount of Marty being chased by a little girl was priceless...and the tears are streaming down my face! That little girl was one of my 4 year old twins! She was completely smitten with Marty, and so excited that he chose her to be Goose!

Once we were home and browsing through our photos, there was one of Marty kneeling down and whispering something into the twins' ears on stage at the talent show! Viola piped up "I like that boy, he said 'You were awesome!'" They were beaming with their memories of Marty and how kind and gentle he was with them!

My 11 year old unbenownst to me also spent quite a bit of time with Marty over the weekend.

Wow. Thanks so much for sharing him with us at Life is Good! Life really IS Good! :)

Shonna (Canadian mamma to 5 (newly) happily unschooled kidlets! :)

Marty was a *huge* part of the conference - at one point Craig commented that everywhere he went there were Marty and Madeleine helping somebody out or doing something useful. If you watch the conference movie, M (or M or both) are in every second shot I think. Marty participated up to his eyeballs, and it would not have been the same conference without him.

Robyn Coburn:
[quoting]:Marty participated up to his eyeballs, and it would not have been the same conference without him.

This is true.

More of Marty as MC:

mandaroo/472683778/in/pool-lifeisgoodconference/(and a few after that one)

More Life is Good photos (links that were still good in 2023; Marty briefly in each):


LIFE is Good with Djembe, Flute, and Dance

LIFE is Good Singing a Special Song 1 of 2

LIFE is Good Singing a Special Song 2 of 2

More Marty Dodd
and his super-hero myspace (Above Average Joe) and his regular myspace: Myspace is gone; here's his Facebook page, years later

This has a photo of Marty in his "Above Average Joe" costume (in blue cape, on the right). The other guy is Brett Henry, in his "creepy guy" outfit.