Young poet envisions “a world worth building!”

These days my head has been teeming with images of the many faces of Resistance – mostly the ways in which people of good will have gathered to blend their skills and societal commitment to share truth, experiences and opinions — eventually, to take arms (or voice, or knitting needles, laptop, paint brush, cello, chisel or camera) to oppose – and end – the “sea of troubles” in which the nation is floundering.

The splash this weekend has been news of Amanda Gorman, a young woman whose powerful presence and poetry have taken the nation by storm.  As the first National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda was omnipresent in the media as she spoke out at last weekend’s Social Good Summit.

Learn more about this powerful young woman of words — and listen to her message — here: http://mashable.com/2017/09/17/amanda-gorman-us-youth-poet-laureate-social-good/#ydD41XQL_iqg.  Or read this piece about Amanda and the National Youth Poet Laureate title here: https://www.pw.org/content/amanda_gorman_named_national_youth_poet_laureate

Because Amanda is the first to wear the laurel wreath as National Youth Poet Laureate it’s important to know more about the backstory of the initiative.  The project itself reflects the vision of Urban Word, a “youth literary arts and youth development organization” whose mission is “to elevate the voices of teens while promoting civic engagement and social justice.”  (http://urbanwordnyc.org) The project places youth in “spaces of power” where they can “creatively respond to the litany of social and political factors that impact their cities and their lives.”  https://www.pw.org/content/amanda_gorman_named_national_youth_poet_laureate

Last month, the youthful Poet Laureate met with the Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and staff of the Poetry and Literature Staff of the Library of Congress. The description of that informal gathering, prepared by LC staffer Anne Holmes, offers a thoughtful overview of the Youth Poet Laureate initiative and insights about Amanda’s experience. You’ll feel the flicker of hope springing eternal: https://blogs.loc.gov/catbird/2017/07/amanda-gorman-inaugural-national-youth-poet-laureate/

Reflecting on her experience as a participant in the Social Good Summit, Amanda shared these elegant words with Summit attendees:

With one microphone, we streak/ across the globe like an eclipse. We strike our plans into stone/ and from this we build a summit worth climbing, / a goal worth reaching, / a world worth building.”

 

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LBGT History Month: Robust resources reflect a rich heritage

We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny . . . I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender history is long, often painful, and fractured.  Though time is too short for a thorough delve into the details of that history, it has occurred to me that this may be the reason we now honor both Gay Pride Month in June and LGBT History Month in October.

It’s also the reason it may make sense to begin this MPR-produced video – an introduction to LGBT history the video was the highlight of this year’s Gay Price Month celebration. https://www.mprnews.org/story/2017/06/24/lgbt-pride-month-march-of-progress.  It’s also a good reason to check this extensive calendar of events and commemorations of that history. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LGBT_awareness_days

A Big Picture approach to the complex history absolutely must begin with a review of essential resources prepared by the Library of Congress.  One is this amazingly thorough – and accessible – guide prepared by the Library of Congress.  Do not pass “go” – stop here:  https://www.loc.gov/rr/main/lgbtq/lgbtqgeneralguide/pride-masterlist-exhibition-2017.pdf

You’ll want to keep learning, so move on to this backgrounder on LGBT Month.  And now proceed to some other gems, including an informative backgrounder on the history and purpose of LGBT Month (https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/about/) and a great overview of related resources. (https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/resources/

The National Archives offers a comprehensive overview of the documents and other archival records that trace and preserve the history of LGBT Americans. https://www.archives.gov/news/topics/lgbt-pride-month

No surprise that Wikipedia offers a substantive overview of the background on LGBT History Month which includes a very helpful listing of related resources – another good starting point to further exploration.  The bibliography is excellent.

With all due respect to the National Park Service I admit that I was surprised – and totally awed, to find their excellent series of series about the heritage of the LGBT community.  It is unique and essential!  https://www.nps.gov/subjects/tellingallamericansstories/lgbtqheritage.htm

LGBT History Month will undoubtedly prompt a host of local nonprofits, professional and educational associations, the faith community and corporations to sponsored related events. Watch the mainstream or social media for details.    A couple of local LGBT History Month events have been mentioned briefly in past blog posts.

  • The East Side Freedom Library will host a special LGBT Month program on September 18. Brian V Xiong Ed.D, Minnesota State University Mankato will lead a discussion of his dissertation in a program entitled “The Experiences of Gay Hmong Men: An Exploratory Study.”  The free and open program is 7:00 PM at ESFL, 1105 Greenbrier Street, St. Paul. (http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/events/the-experiences-of-gay-hmong-men-an-exploratory-study%E2%80%8B/)
  • Beginning October 13 through January 31, 2018 the Tretter Collection Transgender Oral History Project at the U of M will sponsor a major exhibit entitled “In Their Own Words.” The exhibit “highlights the diversity, resilience and creativity of the Trans and Gender Non-conforming community in Minneapolis and throughout the Upper Midwest, through images storytelling, film, and critical conversations.”   One feature of the Project is a special public program set for Thursday, October 19, 5:00-7:30 PM at the Elmer L. Andersen Library, 222 21st Avenue South, on the U of M West Bank.  Free and open; details and reservations here: https://www.continuum.umn.edu/event/words-t ter-collection-transgender-oral-history-project/

Finally, a couple of related resources:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hispanic Heritage Month 2017: Learning vs politics

Perhaps finding out that we carry New World history in our genes will transcend racial checkboxes altogether and enable Latino-Americans to rethink what America is supposed to look like ~ Raquel Cepeda

Today, as never before perhaps, we are eager to learn more about the heritage of our shared New World neighbors.  Midway in the commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we are immersed in a political environment that challenges to us to focus!

For the past half century Hispanic Heritage Month has been commemorated from September 15 to October 15.  September 15 marks the anniversary of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.  Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence during this time period.

The official Hispanic Heritage Month website (https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.org) offers some basic information for those of us who need to refresh our knowledge of the fundamentals – including these:

  • The term “Hispanic” or “Latino” refers to Puerto Rican, South Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.  On the 2010 Census form, people of Spanish, Hispanic and/or Latino origin could identify themselves as Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.
  • Today, 55 million people or 17% of the American Population are of Hispanic or Latino origin. This represents a significant increase from 2000, which registered the Hispanic population at 35.3 million or 13% of the total U.S. population.

Because Hispanic Heritage Month 2017 coincides with political and media focus is on Dreamers, our first challenge is to understand just who the Dreamers are:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/09/07/dreamers-arent-just-coming-from-latin-america/?utm_term=.dc4cb498346b

Having countered that myth, you can proceed to the real facts about Hispanic heritage.  The first place to start is with the Hispanic Heritage Month website cited above (https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.org)  This will lead you directly to this major PBS project which lists several readily-accessible digital resources: http://www.pbs.org/latino-americans/en/watch-videos/#2365075996.

Some additional links of interest:

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Sources of poetry to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month:

Banned Books Week honors a fundamental right

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light. Plato

Given the free flow of and ready access to misinformation and disinformation it would seem that there should be a special category for “lies in print.”  And yet, the defenders of free speech who sponsor Banned Books Week,  (September 24-30, 2017)  would shun the concept – with great justification.  They are more concerned to respect the right to read and their focus is on the reader who decides the quality of a book, aware that some books don’t deserve to be read.

Banned Books Week began in 1982 “in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries.” BBW continues to be sponsored by the Banned Books Week Coalition. (http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/about))  It’s interesting to note that some titles on the list of banned books are perennials, while others reflect the times or the expressed outrage of a few committed censors.  The BBW Coalition website is a great starting point.  Among other tools the site provides free and reproducible graphics, available in multiple formats for digital or print distribution.

Another essential starting point is the American Library Association, an indispensable source for background information, including legislation related to access. The ALA  tabulates and posts each year the “top ten” challenged titles: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10

The site is also the source of eye-catching graphics, http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned  The press kit posted on the ALA site is the key to jumpstarting a BBW campaign.

BBW on Twitter offers another approach to a complex and volatile topic https://twitter.com/BannedBooksWeek?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bannedbooksweek.org%2Fcensorship%2Fbannedbooksthatshapedamerica

The Library of Congress has mounted a wonderful exhibit entitled “Books that Shaped America”,  described as books that “have had a profound effect on American life.” They also created a companion list of books from that exhibit have been banned or challenged….

http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/censorship/bannedbooksthatshapedamerica  LC also sponsors Banned Books online site – which is blessedly sparse just now:  https://catalog.loc.gov/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=13848727

http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/censorship/ offers an abundance of promotional tools, videos, a section on Mapping Censorship and excellent graphics.  A unique feature of this site is a guide to planning a Virtual Read-Out. http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/censorship/

Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us ~   William O. Douglas

Autumnal Options 2017 – Part II

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.      Albert Einstein

Except sometimes it feels as if everything does happen at once…especially in the autumnal burst of energy mentioned in a recent blog post.  So not everything got included that post – nor will it be in this one.  Still, following are some more autumnal options for those whose appetite to learn is wonderfully insatiable.

September 15–October 15 – National Hispanic Heritage Month – https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.govDetails in separate post

September 16. 3:00 PM – Pangea World Theatre and Mizna present “History and Theater: How do we tell the stories that have been silenced? http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/events/history-and-theater-how-do-we-tell-the-stories-that-have-been-silenced/

September 19, 7:00 p.m. –  The Experiences of Gay Hmong Men: An Exploratory Study: Dr. Brian V. Xiong will discuss his dissertation research. http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/events/history-and-theater-how-do-we-tell-the-stories-that-have-been-silenced/

September 23 9:00 AM-12:30 PM. Tour of St. Anthony of Padua Church, 813 NE Main Street, Minneapolis.  Sponsored by the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.  Registration fee.  Contact Kristin Anderson anderso3@augsburg.edu or leave a message at 612 330 1285

September 24-30 – Banned Books Weekhttp://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks Details re programs and banned titles in separate post.

October–LGBT History Month https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_HistoryMonth  – Details in separate post

October 13-January 31.  “In Their Own Words”: The Tretter Transgender Oral History Project.  Elmer L. Andersen Library Gallery, University of Minnesota.  Thursday, October 19 5:00 p.m. Celebration of the Project and the collections, featuring international recording artist, Venus Demars.  https://www.lib.umn.edu/tretter/transgender-oral-history-project

And the list goes on…

September 23, 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM.  Northeast religious space: Diversity in cultures and architecture.  Minnesota chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.  Tours of ethic churches in NE Minneapolis.  Reservations due September 18  – free.  Details and reservations  at http://www.mnsah.org

October 4, 7:00 PM. Author Kathleen Norris will discuss “how spiritual grounding and practice can hep us in this hectic era of fake news and the manipulation of fear for political Ends.”   St Catherine University,  The O’Shaughnessy.  Free and open.  Reserve tickets  –  https://www.stkate.edu/news-and-events/events/kathleen-norris-2017

October 5, 5:00 PM. Writers Workshop: Overcoming Writer’s Block and Growing from Criticism. Jackson Flats, 901 18 1/2 Avenue NE, Minneapolis.No fee, monetary contributions support the Jac Flats honeybees and pollinator garden. http://www.facebook.com/groups/NorthEastMplsWriters/?sw_933460904&fbr_t=…

 

 

 

Awesome Autumn Options – A brief sampling

Ah, yes, autumn, when the trees blush at the thought of stripping naked in public. ~Robert Brault,

You might want to squelch that image as you ponder this sampler of more uplifting opportunities to learn and engage with some of these fall programs.  Bear in mind, this is the proverbial tip of the iceberg, just enough to prompt you to get out and enjoy the world before we hunker down for the season that is to come.

Ongoing:  Though the American Craft Council Library Salon Series began earlier this week there are three more to follow in the months to come.  The fall series follows up with these offerings.  Details of each presentation are posted online (http://craftcouncil.org/education/library-salon-series

  • October 18 – Inside Scoop, feature Sali Sandler
  • November 8 – Take a Walk in Amara Hark-Weber’s Shores
  • December 2 – Holiday Craft Up.

If  you can’t get to the live sessions, know that the video interviews with past Salon presenters may be found on the Library Salon Series Playlist. http://craftcouncil.org/education/library-salon-series

Saturday, September 16 is a busy day!!!

  • The Minnesota Independent Scholars’ Forum invites lifelong learners of every intellectual persuasion to join them for their monthly meeting. Virgil Johnson, professor emeritus of Northwestern University, designed the costumes for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Henry IV.  Details here: https://www.meetup.com/es/Minnesota-Independent-Scholars-Forum/events/242895268/
  • The Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville will host its annual Wild Rice Festival, 10 AM-4PM. It’s a family-friendly celebration of wild rice, the harvest season and Native American culture.  Find an excellent description of the purpose and activities of the Wild Rice Festival here: http://wildricefestival.org.
  • The professional musicians of Border CrosSing will offer their Premier Concert, 8 PM at Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Paul.   “Latin America: A Miracle of Faith” explores the “complexity of religious faith in Latin America” as they sing the history of Latin America sacred music from the 17th Century to the present, “from colonial oppression to El Grito de Dolores! Tickets available online at bordercrossingmn.org or at the door – “no one will be turned away for lack of funds.”
  • Silverwood Park in Northeast Minneapolis will host this fall’s Minneapolis Craft Market. It’s a day of “hands-on fun, nature, and performances for all ages.”  Enjoy new sculpture and poetry installation along the trails or rent a canoe or kayak to the lake.  At the Field trip Market you’ll meet Minnesota makers who design and make candles and soaps, jewelry and art.  Enjoy area authors and musicians or treats from food trucks and Insight Brewing.
  • The Lit Crawl is a moveable feast, 3PM-10PM. Things will be happening t Bryant-Lake Bowl, and at Barbette there will be competitive storytelling as well as readings from local poets.  Details at litcrawlmn.com
  • It’s Senior Surf Day, 10 AM-Noon at Minneapolis Central Library. Registration required:https://hclib.bibliocommons.com/events/search/fq=branch_location_id:(BD)/event/5702d1d3414af7d2590649fe

October 1:  “Snap, Crackle, and Stop”,  a benefit for the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (http://www.mapm.org)  will gather this year at the Black Dog Café, 308 East Price Street in St. Paul (www.blackdogstpaul.com) Gerald Ganann, Steve Gates and Larry Johnson use storytelling, music and art to explore  the power of nonviolent fore to stop injustice. The evening includes Armistice Bell Ringing by Veterans for Pace and a cameo appearance by Steve McKeown who will explain “why Kellogg Boulevard has absolutely to connection to cereal that talks.”  Happy hour specials 3-7 PM; the Benefit is 6-8 PM – show up early for happy hour specials.

October 5:  “Talk of the Stacks”, the free author series featuring today’s literary voices, is also at Minneapolis Central Library.  On October 5 health care expert will discuss his new book, Real Food, Fake Food: Why you don’t know what you’re eating & and what you can do about it.  On Thursday, November 2, the speaker is music critic Chris Riemenschneider. Both at 7:00 PM.  Free and open.

October 7:  As you settle down for winter living you might want to know more about the house in which you’ll be spending the duration.  Registration is now open for the next series of “Researching the History of Your Minneapolis Home” classes, sponsored by the Hennepin County Library.  Fall classes to come will be 10:30-11:30 AM on Saturday, October7 at Sumner Library and November 4 at Northeast Library.  Check the HCL calendar for updates and to register; library card not required.

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NOTE: This random mix of possibilities is posted just to whet your appetite and jumpstart the fall season – more to follow about the myriad possibilities!   The idea is that, if you get a good running start now — when winter winds slow your pace, you’ll be at the ready to stay in the learning mode.

 

 

Weaponization of information-Can truth survive?

Long ago and far away a library educator friend published an early info age book that promoted and explained the role of the library as an access point to information useful to the citizen activist.  Her intent was positive, to explain to activists the potential of reliable, authoritative, timely information that would affirm and validate a proposed action.  When her publisher suggested the title “Armed for action” she objected to the militaristic tone….

Now I realize that my friend was prematurely wise to eschew the “armed” image.  In this age information has morphed into the transportable  “weapon of choice”  to foment political action.  Though weaponizing information is usually attributed the Russians it is important to acknowledge that Putin’s tactics are not unique…

To be certain of the implicit evil of weaponized information, I checked with Merriam-Webster to affirm that use of the word “weapon” definitely connotes negative intent: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weapon

In truth, information is simply a resource, the user determines the use… My friend’s benevolent theme may seem naïve now – though just when information deserves no blame for the fact that it’s been weaponized.  Though history is replete with lies, the digital age opens the floodgates to their unfettered flow and proliferation.

And so we are drowning in a flood of commentaries on the weaponization of information; a smattering of opinion pieces are listed below.

Okay, information can be used as a weapon.  And yet the essential power lies in the receiver of information who is challenged to think and act according to the content and source of the information.  The “armor” we need today rests with the individual or institution that will take or resist  action based on the weaponized information.

As a society, we are called upon to grapple with the challenge to make “critical thinking skills” the norm—or in today’s parlance, how do we “normalize” critical thinking…  I prefer, and frequently quote,  my good friend Ruth Myers who would often ask, How do we inoculate learners with a healthy dose of “perceptive paranoia?”

The Founders, influenced by Jefferson,  envisioned a democracy founded on citizen access to and wise assessment of information.  Knowing this, we should focus not so much on the weaponry as on how we harness the power of good information (aka truth) to support this democracy.  In a word, how do we sustain a political system based on truth, and arm “we the people” with the power to recognize bald-faced lies when they are aimed at us with malicious intent.

RELATED READ: Social Media Helped Trump Win By ‘Dumbing Down the World,’ Twitter Founder Says  https://www.printfriendly.com/print?url_s=uGGCF_~_PdN_~_PcS_~_PcSJJJmpBzzBAqErnzFmBEt_~_PcSArJF_~_PcS