“All Dogs Are Perfect; People Need Help,” Says Monica Collins, a.k.a. The Dog Lady, Who Will Be at the South End Library, Tuesday, May 31, 6:30 PM
Ask Dog Lady by Monica Collins is one of the many unique columns that our distinguished neighborhood rag, the South End News, has launched since it first began publishing in the mid-1980s. There was the Area D4 Police Blotter, penned by its Poet Laureate, Police Officer John Sacco, widely known for his usual tart conclusion that “the scoundrel was arrested on the spot.” Then we had food writer Lydia Walshin’s delectable series, called The South End Cooks, and Alison Barnet’s South End Character, the iconic reporting on the ebb and flow of the South End’s culture of artists, immigrants, yuppies, washashores and, now, millionaires and billionaires. The South End News began to publish Ask Dog Lady in 2002 as a humor/lifestyle column about dogs, life and love when Collins was a media columnist and TV critic for USA Today, TV Guide and the Boston Herald. It has since become widely distributed in media outlets all over the country. On Tuesday, May 31 at 6:30 PM, Collins will be at the South End library to talk about her credo, All Pets Are Perfect; People Need Help.
Collins says on her web site that she changed her journalistic focus from TV critic to lifestyle columnist after she acquired a West Highland white terrier. She realized how much a pet can transform relationships and shake up daily routines for the better; over the years, she has answered pet owners’ most confounding questions involving relationships, dog park etiquette, divorce, custody complications, and whether the dog belongs in your marital (or single) bed. Collins produces and sells her own column and has written various profiles for USA Weekend magazine, including a cover piece on CNN‘s Anderson Cooper. She has contributed her work to Vogue, Boston Magazine, Town & Country, and Forbes/Life and she has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, The O’Reilly Factor, Inside Edition, and been a guest on NPR’s All Things Considered. Collins also writes and coaches writers for non-profit organizations, and consults on media strategy. She lives in Belmont with her husband, a comedy writer, and is working on a book, of which she will read one chapter. She promises “it won’t be boring.”
The South End library is fully handicapped accessible. The event is free. Seating is limited. We serve refreshments. This is the last talk of the 2015-16 season, which will resume in September.
In a Bow to Public Demand for a Change in BPL’s Staid Culture, the Library Board’s Nine Trustees Appoint Jill Bourne as President, a Veteran Librarian Who Honed her Collaborative and Outreach Skills in Three West Coast Libraries
After a lengthy search process for a new BPL president that for the first time included numerous sessions with the public and staff, the BPL’s Library Board choose the candidate they said would represent a change to a more inclusive, collaborative and transparent management culture. BPL’s interim-President, David Leonard, and the Director of Libraries of San Jose, CA, Jill Bourne, each made their case on Saturday, May 21 in front of the nine BPL trustees and a surprisingly large audience of members of Friends groups, library employees and patrons. The two were the only ones left standing out of an initial group of 200; a third candidate opted out at the last minute. While the trustees repeatedly praised Leonard during his presentation for the outstanding job he had done stabilizing the BPL after last summer’s raucous disintegration of the previous BPL leadership, it was clear from some of their questions during the interview, and comments after both candidates had spoken, that the “outsider” would win out over the “insider.”
Trustee questions about Leonard’s take on “lessons learned” from all that went wrong when he worked under the last BPL president, Amy Ryan, were an early indicator of what one trustee described as the “incumbency penalty” that would be hard to overcome, despite Leonard’s strong and, at times, moving presentation. In her interview, Bourne focused on the many ways in which she said she had worked at increasing library services in poor and immigrant communities in Seattle and San Francisco, expanded library hours and staffing, and created beneficial partnerships with Silicone tech companies in the city of San Jose which, she explained, did not have a strong tradition of philanthropy. In choosing the outsider over the insider in less than twenty minutes, the Library Board cast aside the obvious advantages Leonard would have brought, having held senior positions for more than nine years at the BPL in administration, finance, technology and project management. “We are at an inflection point,” commented trustee Carol Fulpe, who added that Bourne represented “a new way of thinking” and “a breath of fresh air.” “I believe it won’t take Jill long to start working,” assured trustee Byron Rushing.
Bourne gained the bulk of her librarian’s experience in the innovative and forward-looking libraries of Seattle and San Francisco. Seattle renovated its entire library system within ten years by means of a $200 million dollar bond issue, called Libraries For All, that voters approved by almost 70 percent in the 1990s. (The average time it takes to plan and renovate one library in Boston is ten years.) The Seattle renovation included a stellar new downtown library and 26 branches redone in whole or in part, including three that combined affordable housing and libraries, according to a report on this project. Bourne worked on a number of them.
In San Francisco, the public library was the first in the nation to hire social workers on its staff, in 2009, to assist and manage their large homeless population, a venture that has since expanded to include the formerly homeless, and has been featured on PBS. A moving and path-breaking photo exhibit of homeless patrons at the San Francisco downtown library, moreover, called Acknowledged, also described the many ways in which those showcased in the exhibit had become homeless. One of them was a descendant of President Abe Lincoln. In 2015, Acknowledged moved to the MLK library in San Jose, where Jill Bourne was in charge as its director.
Do You Have Any Audio Recordings, Tape Decks, CDs, Records or Tapes to Donate to Library Staffer Matt Krug? He Needs Them for Audio Collages and Sound Art Projects…
The BPL has some amazing staff members, including at the South End library, where music aficionado Matt Krug, formerly from the East Boston branch, is dedicated to, among other things, creating sound art. He uses anything that is already recorded, including conversations, to make “sound loops” for the electronic music he likes to create. He cites composers John Cage and David Tudor as some of his muses, and the musical group Kluster. He needs your help: Please donate any audio recordings you might have laying about, and tape decks, too. They will not be returned.
Experimental music is a personal hobby of Krug’s, which dates from when he was a child, and recorded everything all the time. He also had a radio show called Live At Dinner Tonight. “You have to get out of the realm of traditional music” to enjoy the experimental side, says Krug, who enhances the sound loops he makes with key board or bass, even though he is not a trained musician.
Krug organizes the themed movie series on Fridays for the South End library, and he is planning to hold a sale of records and CDs in Library park sometime soon. Stay tuned.
Ross Terrill’s Lens on China Past and Present Tells Him The “Tightening Up” by President Xi Jinping Reflects a Real Clash Between U.S. and the People’s Republic’s Interests Over the Question, “Can There Be Economic Freedom Without Political Freedom?”
The distinguished China expert, Ross Terrill, began his talk at the South End library on April 26 by hanging a large map on the wall that left no doubt about China’s size. “China has fourteen contiguous borders with other countries,” Terrill said. “Most of them are not friendly, and neither is Japan, located just across the water. This is quite different from the United States, which is surrounded by two oceans and two relatively friendly neighbors. It affects many things,” Terrill said. “The Europeans and the Americans believe in the idea of the international community,” he cited as an example. “China does not. They are nationalists.” Some of China’s neighbors are largely Muslim, Terrill pointed out which always brings up the question of loyalty for the People’s Republic. He added. “The tension that exists now in China revolves around the question of whether China can have economic freedom without political freedom. The grip it has over the economy is inseparable from its one-party system.” He said he doubts there will be an evolutionary path to political change and expects, rather, more of a “big bang.”
Australian-born Terrill, currently a Research Associate at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and the author of nine critically acclaimed books, had traveled to India as a graduate student at the suggestion of his Melbourne professors who thought that, as a democracy, India would be of more interest than its authoritarian neighbor, China. But Terrill did not take to what he called the moralism of its Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, or India’s grinding poverty, and decided China could not be worse. To get a visa, Terrill in vain badgered Chinese embassies all over Eastern Europe until, after one day accusing the Chinese embassy in Warsaw of “not wanting to let anyone know anything about China,” he learned the next day that a visa to China was ready and waiting for him. It was 1964. There was not a single US diplomat in Beijing. At the time, there were 980,000 American troops stationed in a semi-circle around China and the political gap with the U.S. was deep. For the U.S., Taiwan was the legitimate government of China.
Terrill sent a report he wrote about his first experience in China to his fellow Australian Rupert Murdoch, who still edited his own newspapers at the time; Murdoch published the work in six installments. Shortly thereafter, Terrill assisted another up-and-coming Australian, Labor Party leader, Gough Whitlam, to visit China and meet with Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of the People’s Republic. As it turned out, Henry Kissinger was in China at the same time to lay the groundwork for the visit by Richard Nixon. The China trip catapulted Whitlam into political prominence as Australia’s Prime Minister in 1972. Terrill, in the meantime, earned his PhD in political science at Harvard in 1970 and his thesis, which was published as Socialism As Fellowship, won the prestigious Sumner Prize. “People were hungry for information about China,” Terrill told the audience at the South End library. For the rest of his career, he visited China annually, became an award-winning contributing editor to The Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, Newsday, the Chicago Tribune, the Miami Herald and the Washington Post, as well as a special commentator about China to many other media outlets.
The South End Library Window Take-over Project Will Continue With A Window Filled With Little Dresses Inspired by Children’s Books Like “Eloise,” “Make Way For Ducklings” and “Alice in Wonderland;” June Sale Proceeds Will Help Raise Funds for “Reading Is Fundamental” Campaign
will soon be showcasing a local small business, Smiling Button. The shop’s owner, Caroline Leed, takes children’s books as the inspiration for the products she sells –young girls’ dresses– and at the same time helps support the campaign for Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s largest children’s literacy organization. Smiling Button will donate 10 percent of its June revenue to RIF.
The current Take-over installation, by local wire sculptor Will Corcoran, based on themes from Edgar Allan Poe and the Brothers Grimm tales, will end on May 5. Fifty percent of the sale of Corcoran’s sculptures will benefit the South End library and its programs. Corcoran’s show was preceded by an installation of whimsical kites.
Among the planned installations later this year are a collaboration between the South End’s Children’s Art Center, radio host Ray Brown’s Talkin’Birds show and the Boston Nature Center, an Audubon bird sanctuary in Mattapan. Stay tuned.