In Loving Memory of Ellen Leonard
Dear AllTogetherNow! community,
It is with heavy hearts we report that Ellen Leonard, the co-founder of ATN! and director of the ATN preschool, passed away on November 29, 2022 from a struggle with cancer. As you know, she was a creative, vivacious, generous, caring, adventurous, and talented human being who celebrated life and community to the fullest. We are so immensely grateful for all the love and inspiration she gave to our community. She won the hearts of so many! We are grieving the loss of her, and send our prayers of healing to her family and loved ones.
The Ellen Leonard memorial fund will be used to purchase a portrait of Ellen painted by a local artist, and to install a carved stone in our Earth Calendar on the land. Our fundraising goal to cover all costs is approximately $2,750. After costs are met, any additional donations received will be invested into ATN's Summer Camp Scholarship Fund.
AllTogetherNow! commissioned a local artist, Bernadette Hood, to create apainting this photo of Ellen blowing a conch at All Species Day. It was completed in the fall of 2023 and now hands in the entrance of ATN Community Arts Center.We are so grateful for your contribution to help create this beautiful tribute to her memory. Contributors received a small reprint of the painting.
Earth Calendar Stone Circle Memorial Stone
We've purchased a standing stone to be carved and placed in the Earth Calendar Stone Circle to memorialize Ellen's contribution to the creation of this magical place. The stone will be carved by local artisans with an image and phrase co-created with Ellen before her passing. We are continuing to raise funds to pay for the carving and labor.
If you're interested in helping us move the stone into place, please get in touch! We need lots of hands!
Below is a mock up of the design.
Dorothy Tod wrote the following obituary of Ellen published in the Times Argus on January 7, 2023.
How we will miss you, your warm beautiful smile, your strong incredible grace. Let me count the ways: musician, teacher, mentor, performer, collaborator, dancer, community organizer, leader, adventurer, dreamer, quester, mother, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, and friend. November 29, 2022, Ellen Gilbert Leonard 61, passed peacefully in her East Montpelier, VT home, held by her family and friends in a nest of love and song.
She was born in 1961 to R. Webb Leonard and Betty McGee Leonard in Belleville, NJ. The youngest of 4 children, she attended The Vershire School and graduated from Skidmore College. Early on, she made her own way in the world, and the giving of joy and spirit through music was at the heart of her way. At age 19 she gave birth to Aaron in a lean-to built for the occasion by husband George Jones on Martha’s Vineyard. Soon after, she moved to Vermont to continue her education, which had at its core a lifetime practice of meditation. She taught Aaron to meditate at 3 years old and that is still a big part of his daily practice. Ellen’s mother was an initiate of Kirpal Singh and being on the Path was important to her, especially when Aaron was young. She used to get up early everyday to meditate and Aaron still has a strict vegetarian diet because of being raised on the "path". In 1985, she married James LaPaglia and soon after that Sophia and Aliza were born at home with help from midwife Judy Luce.
At that time, another midwife, Katra Kindar, started teaching an Afro Cuban prenatal dance class, with live drumming by Stuart Paton. For more than 35 years Ellen would sing, dance and teach the life sustaining songs and rhythms of the Afro Caribbean traditions. Also, for more than 17 years, she sang and danced as part of Midnight Capers, a Morris dance troupe. Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s Ellen taught music, singing, and almost any instrument, in Central Vermont schools, including Cabot and Waterbury. Ellen also taught private music lessons and Music Together to families with children ages infants to 5 years. Her collaboration with Janice Walrafen included leading the song and dance for All Species Day, Enchanted Forest, Ice on Fire, First Night Montpelier and more. She collaborated and performed with Emily Lanxner on many projects. She performed with Dragon Dance Theater.
In the words of one of the music students she mentored, Katie Trautz,” She was a rock star”. And, in fact, she was a rock star, having been a touring member of the rock band, Uproot. In 1995, Ellen had a handfasting ceremony with Chris Miksic. Aaron, Sophia and Aliza would grow up with Chris’ 3 children, Erin, Galen and Amber in Plainfield through to 2003. In 1999 Ellen opened the AllTogetherNow! Preschool as her part of a vision she and Janice had been dreaming up. The five star All Together Now! Preschool has 3 guiding Principles of Peace: Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Gentle. Ellen and Janice had been teaching, organizing summer camps and hosting seasonal celebrations for years and together they founded the AllTogetherNow! Community Art Center which moved from Plainfield to East Montpelier in 2004.
For over 30 years, AllTogetherNow!, has been a place of celebration and creative learning for everyone. It is home to the preschools, art classes, permaculture workshops, and popular summer camps. The seasonal offerings have planted the seeds of song and spirit in generations of Central Vermont children. But Ellen always found a way to break free. There was Prescott, then a horse, a motorcycle, a sailboat. When she turned 50, she traveled alone around Europe on a motorcycle and for the past 10 years, she has kept a sailboat moored ready to go on Lake Champlain. In 2016 she went on a bus to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation with Aro Veno at the peak of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Guided by her dreams, she worked for many decades with North of Eden Archetypal Dreamwork, offering Dreamwork, and co-facilitating North of Eden workshops in this country and abroad. She is survived by her children: Rev. Aaron Webster Leonard Jones and partner Rachel Houseman, MA, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC, Santa Fe NM; Sophia LaPaglia and fiancé Andy Cofino, Los Angeles, CA; Aliza LaPaglia; her sister Dr. Randi Leonard Holmes and brother-in-law Dr. Doug Holmes of Raleigh, NC; sister Leigh Leonard Stallings, Saratoga Springs, NY; brother Mark Leonard and sister-in-law Ginger Leonard of Princeton, NJ; her stepsisters, Heather Lund and Holly M Leonard Ingersoll, of St. Paul, MN and a huge number of cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles who extend across the country, cherished friends, and her beloved dog Lily.
She was predeceased by both of her birth parents, as well as her stepmother, Joan Leonard and stepfather, Dr. Philip West. She was also predeceased by her half brother Justin, who was disabled, living in a nursing facility in Argyle, NY. Nearing the end of his life, Ellen retrieved him and moved him to her property in Vermont where she tended him until he passed. This experience pointed Ellen in a new direction and she was actively thinking about becoming a death doula. She noted with irony that instead of becoming a death doula she would need one herself. She was tended by Aliza for the last 9 months of her life. The burial and memorial celebration happened on December 2 in East Calais. Ellen had a green burial, wrapped in a shroud and laid to rest in the Robinson Cemetery.