Jane's Walks, 2022
Jane Jacobs (1916–2006) was a journalist, essayist, and author of many books about urban planning, including her most well-known The Death and Life of Great American Cities. She was an inquisitive and observant urban activist who championed the possibilities for cities and their neighborhoods during the last half of the 20th century. She is credited with saving her own Greenwich Village neighborhood in New York when many parts of it were threatened with demolition to provide access to a new highway in the 1960s.
According to www.janeswalk.org in Toronto, Canada (where Jane and her family lived for many years after leaving New York in 1968) she “upended the ideas of modernist city planning and building, and offered a new vision of diverse, fine-grained cities made for and by ordinary people.”
Jane encouraged everyone to walk in cities and to be aware of what was seen, heard and felt. She suggested asking: What buildings are there? Are there green spaces and places for people to sit and to meet? Is there a sense of safety? Is it lively? Who is there and what are they doing? Would you want to be a part of the life that you see?
Since 2007, there has been an annual festival of free walking tours worldwide (the first full weekend of May) to celebrate and to commemorate Jane Jacobs’ work. People just like you from neighborhoods in London, New York, Chicago, Toronto and Providence volunteer to lead these walking tours to share what they know and feel about the cities in which they live. In Providence, tours will be held on May 6, 7, 8 this year.
Would you like to attend a tour? As soon as planning in Providence is complete, we will be able to share a web site with LLC members that will list all tours, their themes, dates and times. Plan to attend one tour or many during that first weekend in May.
Tutoring at Veazie Street School Is a Challenge and a Joy
After taking a course in tutoring through LLC and weathering concerns about COVID-19, eight Lifelong Learning Collaborative members are tutoring students from second through fifth grades at Veazie Street School in Providence.
The eight tutors (Janet Bralove, Diane Costa, Rosalind Kurzer, Ken Nordstrom, Kathleen O’Kula, Judy Ortman, Harriet Magen and Norma Rossi Mead) are helping with math and reading skills (tutors decide which skill they teach and work with the literacy coach who coordinates assignments with teachers.)
The school is a welcoming, attractive place with the mask mandate for all. Here are some of the reactions to tutoring from some of our group to help people decide if this is an interest to pursue.
Did you have any concerns before taking on this project and what have you experienced?
- Judy Ortman described how she had questioned her ability to teach and wondered about her energy and patience in spending an hour with children she did not know. Several factors encouraged her to push through her concern: she loves being with her grandkids and exploring and learning with them; she welcomes taking on challenges that keep her brain and body engaged; and she sees where the children benefit from the positive attention and she’s happy that she has the time and resources to provide that.
- Kathleen (Kate) O’Kula said that the school can be a puzzle from the outside and parking is tight at this time, but soon you learn the official entrance and find that there is an elevator in the building though usually she negotiates three flights of stairs during her time at the school. She has learned to work with the various levels and interests of her students and to address the phenomenon that if one student wants to use the bathroom–they soon all will. She has sought out extra materials that interest her students and finds that her enjoyment with the kids sparks their enjoyment and participation.
- Ken Nordstrom found Barnes & Noble an excellent source for math books to broaden his understanding of assignments for his third graders–he teaches five at a time and uses the white board in the tutoring room to help them see concepts. He enjoys the energy and engagement his students show–reminding him of his own student days.
- Janet Bralove is working with students whose English is very limited and she has used her valuable experience in the Montessori system to create materials and find resources to enrich her time with her students. Also, like all of us–she shares her knowledge with the rest of the tutors. The Literacy Coach and the principal have noticed her results and called them, “outstanding.”
Kate O’Kula sums it up with this observation: “You will go home exhausted, and hopefully with a lot of smiles and chuckles at what you experienced, and maybe learned during your time with the kids.”
If you would like to join this tutoring experience, please email Norma Rossi Mead at email@example.com.
Do You Enjoy Reading to Kids? Please respond by April 4. The Theme is Color the World with Kindness.
Here’s an opportunity at Veazie Street Elementary School, 211 Veazie Street, (zip 02904–near downtown) to take a turn at reading to the primary school students during Reading Week, April 11–14. The school is looking for readers to read to classes any time between 8:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. The teacher will be in the classroom during the session. To volunteer, email the Literacy Coach, Heather Pascale at this email firstname.lastname@example.org and answer the following questions:
- Your name and email address
- The time and date you are available
- Whether you are reading your own book or would like the school to provide the book
Grade level preferred (the school includes K-5th grade)
“Spotlight” will feature the work of the wonderful LLC courses, starting with a piece from the Memoir Writing class, coordinated by Deborah Chorney and Pat Nickles. A special edition of The Lark at the end of March will feature more selections from the Memoir Class.
Personal Impact of COVID
by Lorraine Kaul
The American pandemic became personal when I lost my best friend, Nellie Martin to the COVID virus in June 2020. Nellie was a beautiful human being who struggled through poverty, maltreatment and perpetual misfortune in the backwoods of southern Appalachia to journey north to become a prevalent fabric artist, quilter, and weaver. One whose generosity and positivity was unrivaled. Nellie considered her life an American dream.
As I listened to a barrage of newscasts, spouting case numbers, hospitalizations, mask and vaccination statistics, taking all recommended safety precautions, this was no longer statistical data, it became personal! This hydra-headed monster that blooms from the ill-sown seeds of fear and ignorance known as COVID flourished through political greed, exploitation, deceit and power seize. The president of that time and his political allies touted fake news, continually ignored science and discredited renowned medical professionals. This atrocious behavior, for me, became the real disease. The ones responsible for taking Nellie’s life and thousands of others. Grief stricken and angry at this American nightmare. I realized for the first time in my life, being an American became an appalling embarrassment.
It is easy for a virus or disease to overwhelm, immobilize, and victimize an organism, human or other. Finding a personal antidote to a disease of leadership character would require personal resistance and resilience. I decided to mobilize in search of relief from both COVID news and political pomposity. I, with my husband and two teen age grandkids, in our small camper headed to the forest. It seemed the forest would offer us safe haven and respite.
We Immersed ourselves in nature: hiking, collecting cool rocks, wading in creeks, the catch and release of crawdads, accepting both sun and breeze on our sweaty faces at different intervals. I particularly noticed the unity and cooperation in an ant colony as they worked to build a better world. For a moment I reflected on the “if only” fantasy: If only America could follow the lead of these ants… if only.
And for me, even the bickering of the teens brought a smile to my face; at least they are healthy and safe. In nature, I learned from the best leaders; kids, creatures, creation, and crawdads. I am no longer immobilized by grief and anger or victim to circumstances beyond my control. I still listen to COVID statistics and political rhetoric and allow myself to feel sad. I then turn the channel of my mind to counting… counting my blessings. I now feel empowered to look for opportunities to influence positive change. I feel the memory of Nellie’s positive outlook and generosity will strengthen and guide me. I now realize that America is not a dream or a nightmare. America has a disease, America needs care. America is beautiful.
Upcoming at the Bristol Historical and Preservation Society Rhode Island
“Roger Williams Had a Wife: Writing Mary Williams Back into History”
March 28 at 7 pm via Zoom
Who was Mary Williams? For this year’s Annual Derwent (Derry) Riding Lecture, Dr. Charlotte Carrington-Farmer, Associate Professor at Roger Williams University, will explore the multiple ways of discovering more about Mary Williams and the lives of seventeenth-century women. The lecture is free and open to the public. Go to the society’s website to register.
Reminder: Dorcas International Institute Website
If you would like to help Afghan refugees, you can go to the website for Dorcas International House. You will be able to see how you can support the effort to help the new arrivals. That website will always lead to the updated information on how to help.