Adam Rothman Will Talk about “Beyond Freedom’s Reach,” His Compelling Tale of Kidnapped Children of Freed Slaves and One Mother’s Fight to Get Them Back, on Tuesday, June 23 at 6:30 PM
ADAM ROTHMAN, associate professor of history at Georgetown University, will discuss his recent book, Beyond Freedom’s Reach: a Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery on Tuesday, June 23, at 6:30 PM. He will be introduced by South End resident and former municipal court judge, Herb Hershfang.
Rothman, who grew up on West Brookline Street, focuses on the history of the United States from the Revolution to the Civil War as well as the history of slavery and abolition in the Atlantic world. His previous book on the subject was Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South, published in 2005. For Beyond Freedom, he researched the story of Rose Herera, born into slavery in rural Louisiana. She was bought and sold several times before being purchased by the De Hart family of New Orleans. After Union forces captured that city in 1862 during the American Civil War, her former owners fled to Cuba, taking Herera’s three small children with them.
One of the biggest challenges faced by freed slaves after the Civil War was to “reconstruct their families,” says Rothman in a compelling video about that period in American history, linked here. Beyond Freedom’s Reach documents Herera’s battle to rescue her children from bondage. Herera’s perseverance brought the children’s plight to the attention of members of the U.S. Senate and State Department, and turned a domestic conflict into an international scandal.
Rothman was invited to speak at the library by South End residents Jean Gibran and Ann Hershfang. Gibran recently talked at the library about her memoir, Love Made Visible, the story of her marriage to sculptor Kahlil Gibran; Hershfang last year brought you former New York Times reporter and bureau chief, Stephen Kinzer, who gave a riveting presentation of his latest book, The Brothers, an in-depth history of the disastrous Cold War foreign policy decisions made by siblings John Foster and Alan Dulles, secretary of state and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, respectively.
The event is free. Refreshments will be served. The South End library is fully handicapped accessible. Seating is limited, so come early if you don’t want to miss this event.
The Jamaica Plain Library Will Be the First BPL Branch to Include Cutting-edge Looping Technology for Hearing -impaired Library Users When it Reopens in 2017, after its Renovation
When the Jamaica Plain branch goes back on line in 2017 after a –long overdue and hard-won– gut rehab in 2017, it will include so-called looping technology for the hard of hearing. It will be the first looping installation in the BPL system. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America’s Boston chapter (HLAA) web site, a hearing loop is a copper wire that circles a room and is connected to the sound system and microphone. The loop electromagnetically transmits the desired sound (usually referred to as “the signal”) from the microphone over the copper wire. The electromagnetic signal is picked up and received by a small copper coil called a telecoil (or T-coil), a component found in most hearing aids and cochlear implants (see graph below).
“All you have to do is tape down an electric coil in a room which then broadcasts directly into an already existing wire in the hearing aid of a library visitor,” explains Susan Jacoby, a JP resident whose partner has lost significant hearing capacity. Jacoby set the process of looping the JP library into motion when she happened to attend a concert there in April and heard that plans for the new branch did not include looping. A quick phone call to the BPL, and follow-up help from JP District Councilor Matt O’Malley, led to the inclusion of the technology. “Councilor O’Malley was familiar with it, because the council’s public hearing room already has it,” Jacoby said. “He really pushed the BPL.” O’Malley announced shortly thereafter that, when the branch reopens, it will be “fully looped.”
According to Jacoby, looping can be done in small or large areas, such as around a favorite living-room chair, or near a library’s checkout counter, or inside an entire building. It can be a permanent installation or a temporary one, and federal funding may be available for it. “I understand that some Whole Foods stores in Florida have looped coils where the cashiers are,” she said in a recent phone call. Costs vary but she recently received an estimate for looping an area in her home, which came to about $200.
Jacob regrets the limited extent to which the technology is currently used and how few people are familiar with it, including physicians. “My partner saw an audiologist for ten years who never told her about it,” she said, adding that there are likely more people with hearing loss than currently assumed. “People cover up hearing loss problems because they may have a hard time accepting it,” she said. When they blame the noisy restaurant for not being able to hear, they may be displaying symptoms of hearing loss, she suggested.
The Jamaica Plain branch renovation (the plans are linked here) will add 3,000 square feet to the library building, which was reconstructed after a fire in 1909. It is located next to Curtis Hall, where it began as a ‘reading room’ in 1876. It will include a graceful glass addition accessible from a Center Street entrance. Under Mayor Marty Walsh’s administration, the proposed $8.5 million budget was increased to $10 million, thanks to the advocacy of, among others, Councilor Matt O’Malley. Two previous renovation plans for the cramped branch were terminated in the last decade before the current one was approved, thanks to the unrelenting advocacy by Don Haber and Gretchen Grozier, co-chairs of the JP Library Friends group. The branch will close for the renovation in August of this year, and is not expected to reopen until sometime in 2017.
You’re Invited to a Gallery Walk (and Talk) by Photographer Jennifer Coplon of her New Exhibit, “Discovering Blackstone Square: Inside and Out,” at the SE Branch on Wednesday, June 17, at 6:30 PM
The South End Landmarks Commission Approves the Light Well Installations of Public Art for Library Park; Commissioners Say They’d Like to “See Them in All Parks” (But Would it Fly on Beacon Hill?)
The South End Landmark Commission last week enthusiastically approved the request by a small group of designers interested in sustainable architecture to place two public art installations, called Light Wells, in Library Park. Two areas in Library Park have been outlined for DigSafe to make sure there are no dangerous impediments in these locations. The project could be completed by the time the South End Garden Tour takes place. The Light Well project was one of the winners of the Walsh administration’s Public Space Invitational competition held last year, for which there were 70 submissions and nine winners. The proposal was submitted in the Random Awesome Design category by Michelle Laboy, assistant professor of architecture and urban planning at Northeastern University, and two associates, Seth Wiseman and Joshua Fiedler.
Laboy, a Chester Square resident, says the LED-powered Light Well inspires many interpretations, including an art object, a seat, a planter, a light fixture, and a vegetated dry well for storm-water infiltration. The installation will light up at night as a softly glowing art object with the energy collected by solar receptors during the day. According to Laboy, the Landmark Commissioners were excited by the project and commented they’d like to see light wells in every park.
South End Library staff and neighborhood association board members were approached to consider the idea for this installation by City Hall’s New Urban Mechanics group in February 2015. The Light Well project lends itself well to small parks in areas with groundwater recharge issues, according to Kris Carter, from the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. The group, which included the Parks Department’s chief landscape architect Liza Meyer, met with library staff, a member of the library Friends group, and the Rutland Square Association during the winter, after which it was decided to install two light wells inside Library Park: one near the corner of the library building and the alley behind it; the other on the opposite side of the park, close to the intersection of Rutland Square and Tremont Street.
James Hohmann, of Mahoney’s Garden Center, who last year generously planted perennials and grasses in three areas of Library Park as part of the South End Garden Tour, has expressed interest in working with the Light Well design team to provide additional plantings appropriate for the installations. The Public Space Invitational is a project of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. Proponents were asked to “dream of new ways to bring function and wonderment to civic spaces within a budget of $4,500.”
Photographer/Social Worker Jennifer Kane Coplon, Returns to the South End Library With a New Exhibit, “Discovering Blackstone Square: Inside and Out,” on Wednesday, June 17, at 6:30 PM
South End resident Jennifer Kane Coplon, whose previous photo exhibit of Ugandan Elders was shown at the South End library a few years ago, will have a new exhibit there starting Wednesday, June 17, called Discovering Blackstone Square: Inside and Out. The historic parks of Blackstone at Shawmut Avenue and West Newton Street, and its twin across the way at Washington Street, had been laid out as a unified green space, to be called Columbia Park, by Charles Bullfinch in the 19th century. The Olmsted brothers, John Charles and Frederic Law, “improved” it at the beginning of the 20th century by dividing into two, one park on either side of Washington Street..
In words and images, Coplon’s earlier work focused on homeless elders in Boston, grandparents in Uganda, and senior housing residents in Israel. As a social worker, she is particularly interested in how the urban environment supports—or hinders—those with fewer resources. She is currently photographing neighborhood parks as places where all are welcome to take advantage of urban green space.
The Blackstone Square photographs were taken from many points of view, at different times of day and in a range of weather conditions. “The park represents for me the pulse of my neighborhood,” Coplon said. “I am drawn by its intrigue and mystery. Park railings no longer keep me out but rather beckon me to come inside. Blackstone Square is never the same. The light and park drama continuously change. The dynamism is hypnotic through the lens of a camera that captures ever-new perspectives.”
The exhibit will run through July during regular library hours. There will be a presentation of Blackstone Square’s history on the exhibit’s opening day, Wednesday, June 17, from 6:30 PM till 7:45 PM. This event is free and open to the public. For additional information about Blackstone Square, click on this link.