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The Lark: Vol 2, Issue 9, September 2022 Special Edition

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE:

  • RE-DISCOVERING PROVIDENCE AS A PATRON OF THE ARTS: Photo highlights from the Aug 28 walking tour
  • OUR NEW VICE PRESIDENT: Sheila Brush
  • BOOK & MEDIA SUGGESTIONS PREPARED BY LLC'S RACISM, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION (REI) COMMITTEE: Memoirs, Novels, Documentary Film, Children's Books
  • CELEBRATING THE LEGACY OF EDWARD MITCHELL BANNISTER: Sept 15 @ 5:30 PM (sponsored by Downtown Providence Parks Network and Providence Art Club)

Re-Discovering Providence as a Patron of the Arts
August 28, 2022

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RHODE ISLAND HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL

The great walking tour proved that wonderful LLC learning experiences aren't limited to courses.

Lois Kemp

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RIVERWALK REGISTERS

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GUN TOTEM

Very excited to feel like I am on the inside track now knowing the hidden treasures we explored, and the history you shared.

Pamela Flavin

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WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL

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Very grateful to you ALL for the time preparing and for sharing the Providence Parks Art and Memorials! Happily walking, discovering and being together. So happy to be a part of the LLC community!

Pamela Flavin

WORLD WAR I MEMORIAL

 

 

KOREAN WAR MEMORIAL

An experience like the walk matches our class experiences:  a group of people discussing and talking things over, sharing our insights, and creating understanding. This is what's great about LLC.

Lois Kemp

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OUR TOUR GUIDES

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Barbara Barnes with Joe and Bobbi Fisler

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Guides Barbara Zdravesky and Beverly Pettine with Martha Nielsen

Thanks for thoughtfully ending our class at the most wonderful ice cream destination! Perfect day!

Pamela Flavin

Re-Discovering Providence as a Patron of the Arts was a walking tour designed to complement the themes of many LLC classes, webinars and events offered to members in the last two years. Information related to Black history, local history, diversity in every aspect of our lives, inclusion and equity have been emphasized. And those same topics were front and center in the architecture, sculpture, and murals seen during the August 28 walking tour along the Providence Riverwalk and adjacent parks. The walking tour was designed to take walkers out of the classroom and away from books and the internet in order to see and to learn collaboratively in a different way.

PHOTOGRAPHY CREDITS: Tom Backman, Bob Kemp

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Our New Vice President
Sheila Brush

Joe Fisler’s call for people to serve as LLC VP led me to think about what LLC has meant to me, and what others have told me it means to them. Since my husband Dick and I retired in 2015, LLC has given us the opportunity to explore new subjects and challenging current issues and to meet people who have become good friends – and whom we probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. Other LLC members who moved to Rhode Island after retiring have told me that LLC provided a community when they moved here. And when covid hit, LLC kept us all connected and occupied through those long months of isolation. That sense of community and the stimulation of delving into new subjects – both fun and challenging – is what I value in LLC. Working with the many other LLC members to ensure that LLC will continue to play this important role in the future is why I’m so enthusiastic about serving as VP.

Perhaps I value community so strongly because over the years I’ve had the good fortune to experience many supportive communities and explore many different places. I spent four happy years at Middlebury College in Vermont where I majored in American and European History, met my husband-to-be, and established lifelong friendships. Then it was on to Boston and a job with the Federal Community Action Program in the Mission Hill housing projects. There I saw what life was like for people who lived in a very different type of community than I had grown up in, and that experience has stayed with me.

Some of you know my husband Dick Brush from LLC classes. He and I married when he returned from Viet Nam in 1970, and his early years in hotel management took us to one new place after another. Within ten years we moved seven times to different American cities and overseas. I became expert at packing and unpacking and at finding organizations that gave me ways to learn about the very different places in which we lived. In Baltimore, I continued my work in Federally funded community action and training programs. In Teheran, language classes, discussion groups at the American Women’s Club and a museum volunteer group enabled me to delve into Iran’s fascinating history and culture. In Copenhagen, language and culture classes introduced me to Danish life. In Dallas and Houston, I volunteered at museums; and in Georgia I worked for the public library’s local history and genealogy room. In Providence, I studied history and architecture through the Providence Preservation Society and chaired PPS’ Festival of Historic Houses and was sorry to leave when another transfer took us back to Baltimore.

By that time we were no longer just two happy wanderers. Our daughter Cathy had started school and our son Douglas was in nursery school. It was time to settle down. We thought about all the places we had lived and quickly realized that Rhode Island was where we wanted to be, so Dick joined the faculty of Johnson & Wales University, later becoming Dean of the Hospitality College. Thirty-seven years later, we know we made the right choice!

Once we settled in Rhode Island, I was able to return to work, and found myself drawn to non-profit organizations that focused on strengthening the physical and social qualities of the place we’d decided to make our home. I served as Director of Development for the Providence Preservation Society and then as educational programming consultant for the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Society, managing the annual statewide Historic Preservation Conference. In 1997, the conference brought together 800 Rhode Islanders working on environmental protection, historic preservation and economic development to talk about our common interest in retaining the unique urban and rural characters of Rhode Island’s cities and towns. Following the conference, I provided operational oversight and strategic planning to the business and non-profit leaders who coalesced to found Grow Smart RI. Under Scott Wolf’s dynamic leadership, Grow Smart has developed into an influential statewide organization. I spent 18 fulfilling years as Director of Programs, working collaboratively with individuals and organizations across Rhode Island to strengthen our state’s affordable housing, preservation, land conservation and food security policies and to train local officials and residents in community planning.

Retirement has given Dick and me the time to enjoy our four lively grandchildren and to travel overseas and explore parts of the United States that we haven’t seen. I continue my interest in community development and well-being by serving on the Boards of Farm Fresh Rhode Island and Preserve Rhode Island and on my town of North Kingstown’s Economic Development Advisory Board.

Coming full circle to where I started, we continue to thoroughly enjoy the classes we take and the people we meet through LLC. We’re grateful to those of you who have participated in the organization’s growth over many years, and I’m looking forward to working with everyone to ensure that LLC continues to offer stimulating classes and programs to an ever-expanding community.

I’ll see you in class!

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BOOK AND MEDIA SUGGESTIONS
prepared by the LLC Racism, Equity, and Inclusion (REI) Committee

MEMOIRS

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Fernea, Elizabeth Warnock, A Street in Marrakech: A Personal View of Urban Women in Morocco (1988) Memoir

The author, an American, describes living in the medina in Marrakech and her struggle to get to know the Muslim women in her neighborhood. Eventually she is accepted and shares in their everyday activities, including weddings, funerals, and women’s rituals. Her account reveals the rich cultural life of these women. A Street in Marrakech is frequently included on reading lists for women’s studies programs.

Joan Hausrath

Wideman, John Edgar, Brothers and Keepers (1984) Memoir

Wideman tells the story of his family, his rise to an award-winning novelist and the path taken by his brother who is incarcerated for robbery and murder. It is a powerful narrative about racism, the prison system, brotherly love, and guilt. Published in 1984, it is still relevant today.

Joan Hausrath

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NOVELS

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Benedict, Marie, and Murray, Victoria Christopher, The Personal Librarian (2021) Novel

Just as the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court has raised the question of “What does it take for a Black woman to succeed in early 21st century America?”, The Personal Librarian raises the same question for the early 20th century. This is the story of Belle de Costa Greene (nee Belle Marion Greener), the daughter of Richard Greener, a well-known advocate for civil rights. Belle’s mother decides the answer to the question is to change their name and pass as white with a Portuguese heritage, thereby causing an irrevocable rift in her marriage. Belle then becomes the personal librarian to J. P. Morgan, and the force that transforms his passion for precious manuscripts into the modern Morgan Library.

Paul Wortman

Brooks, Geraldine, Horse (2022) Historical Fiction

The “horse” of the title is rediscovered as the Civil War era champion named “Lexington” (née “Darley”) through both art and anthropology. But the focus is on race—not just Lexington’s victories, but the treatment of his black groom, Jarrett Lewis, and that of the talented young Black scholar who rediscovered him. It’s a tragic recounting of racism from the 1850’s to today in creative, but nonetheless disturbing, historical fiction. Unlike many authors who move from the past to present in alternating chapters. Brooks cleverly connects them as a form of archeological dig that uncovers the questions raised then and resolved now. Only racism remains as an ongoing horror that forces both the protagonists to flee America, then and now seeming a cancer that has no cure.

Paul Wortman

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Erdrich, Louise, The Night Watchman (2021) Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Novel

Inspired by the author’s grandfather, the book tells the story of a Native American in North Dakota who worked as a night watchman, while at the same time battling with the US government to retain possession of the land legally deeded to the Reservation. The story reveals the richness of Native culture and beliefs, as well as the struggles members of the tribe have in navigating the white world. Beautifully written by an award-winning author.

Joan Hausrath

Erdrich, Louise, The Sentence (2021) Novel

The story takes us to the author’s bookstore, Birchbark Books, in contemporary Minneapolis where one of her employees, a native American woman named Tookie, is haunted by the ghost of a recently deceased customer. Here the past stalks the present, as it does for all of us, as Tookie tries to exorcise the ghost of her past. Tookie must confront the trials of her ancestors as we also must along with her. For her there is no Thanksgiving, but only “Thankstaking.” Like Dickens’ "Ghost of Christmas Past”, we all must look in the mirror of history to find the truth of who we are and what we’ve done.

Paul Wortman

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Mustafah, Sahar, The Beauty of your Face (2020) Novel

The author tells the story of Afaf, the daughter of a Palestinian immigrant, who is the principal of a Muslim girl’s school in Chicago. One day a shooter terrorizes the school. The incident triggers Afaf’s recollections of her struggles to come of age in a country where she routinely faced hateful bigotry. The book also deals with the struggles that members of her family had in adjusting, or not adjusting, to life in the US.

Joan Hausrath

Richardson, Kim Michele, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (2019) Novel

Cussy Mary Carter is the 19-year-old, coal miner’s daughter who is The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. As part of a New Deal Pack Horse Library Project, Cussy’s job is to deliver books into the remote hollows and mountains of eastern Kentucky’s Appalachia during the height of the Great Depression. She suffers from a rare genetic blood disorder that turns her skin blue, and as a result she is treated as “Colored.” In her journeys delivering books she encounters bigotry, brutality, cruelty, crushing poverty, exploitation, and death, but also compassion, hope, and finally love. As Michelin says, “It’s worth the journey.”

Paul Wortman

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Zhang, Jenny Tingul, Four Treasures of the Sky (2022) Novel

In this grim, haunting, but lyrical, novel, Zhang tells a number of stories that become formed into one. This is the story of a young Chinese girl, named Lin Daiyu after a mythic deity, who is in search of her true identity. This is also the story of a young Chinese girl named Lin Daiyu who masters calligraphy, and then is kidnapped and sold into sex slavery in a San Francisco brothel. This is also the story of a girl named Lin Daiyu who, disguised as a boy, escapes to Idaho, only to encounter the horrors of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Paul Wortman

DOCMENTARY FILM

Director: Eric Neudel, Lives Worth Living (2011) PBS, Independent Lens, Documentary

The film documents the history of the disability rights movement post WWII up to the passage of the Americans Disabilities Act in 1990. It uses moving archival footage and in-person interviews with activists, including Fred Fay, I. King Jordan, Judi Chamberlin, and Judith Heumann. It also shows the horrible conditions in state hospitals that led to deinstitutionalization. Available on YouTube.

Joan Hausrath

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CHILDREN'S BOOKS

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de Angeli, Marguerite, Bright April (1946)

This is the beautifully written story of a young Black girl in 1946 Philadelphia and her encounter with racial prejudice. This is especially the story of April’s tenth birthday, which brought the best surprise she could have ever imagined. Originally published in 1946, Bright April was the first children's book written in the United States concerning racial prejudice. No matter their ethnicity, de Angeli felt that all children should be treated the same. Her editors initially resisted the idea of a book on this subject but eventually relented. The book was banned in some Southern states, and De Angeli received some hate mail.

Diana Grady

Eady, Antwan, Nigel and the Moon (2020) Ages 4 - 8

The theme is relevant to feeling pride in ourselves and where we come from. The main character is a young black boy who feels out of place with his classmates. From debut author Antwan Eady and artist Gracey Zhang comes a glowing tale about the young dreaming big. A perfect story to demonstrate how pride in where we come from can bring a shining confidence.

Diana Grady

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REMINDER
September 15th @ 5:30 pm
Celebrating the Legacy of Edward Mitchell Bannister

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About this event

Join the Downtown Providence Parks Network and the Providence Art Club on September 15 for an evening at Market Square discussing the legacy of painter, abolitionist and Art Club founder Edward Mitchell Bannister. Together, we'll look back at Bannister's life and legacy, while attendees learn more about the planned installation of a Bannister sculpture in Market Square. The event will include a visual representation of the statue, as well as remarks from the statue artist, Gage Prentiss, along with other speakers.

Speaker List

Cliff Wood, Executive Director of the Providence Foundation
Lorraine Hynes, Vice President of the Providence Art Club
Nancy Gaucher-Thomas, Artist, Co-Chair, Bannister Community Art Project
Ray Rickman, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Stages of Freedom
Wendy Nilsson, Superintendent of the Providence Department of Parks + Recreation
Gage Prentiss, Sculptor of the Edward M. Bannister sculpture
Daniel Mechnig, art collector and former President of the Providence Art Club

Click here to register for this event.

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