Bird Week: Birds Ground Us — The Earth and Environmental Equity

The Seattle Public Library is partnering with the Seward Park Audubon Center for Bird Week, April 23-30, in celebration of the center’s tenth anniversary and the National Audubon Society’s 2018 Year of the Bird.

A bird in hand is worth two in the bush. Don’t you think our lush planet is worth far more than two desolate balls of dust light years away?  This good earth is our bird in the hand.

Birds have, long, been our inspiration. They have served as an impetus to move beyond earthly limitations. If they can take to air, plumb watery depths and strut around the breadth and width of this earth like they own it, so can we!

We’ve followed their example in so many ways. We feather our nests, warn our children not to count their chickens before they hatch, put feathers in our caps and flock together. Don’t take my word for it! Check out The Wonder of Birds: What They Tell Us about Ourselves, the World, and a Better Future.

We need birds. Birds do not need us. This is, precisely, the premise of the book Their Fate is Our Fate: How Birds Foretell Threats to Our Health and Our World.

This very day we find Climate Refugees: The Global Human Impact of Climate Change running alongside The Archipelago of Hope: Wisdom and Resilience from the Edge of Climate Change.

Let’s get busy! We have a complicated history to unravel. Some understanding can be gleaned from Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History. Paired with Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States, these two books will provide foundational knowledge and perspective because before us is A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet.

Across the nation citizens are Cultivating Food Justice: Race, Class and Sustainability. Communities are Restoring Layered Landscapes: History, Ecology and Culture. People are tapping into Indigenous Ways of Knowing because we are, still, Standing on Sacred Ground.

Every Day We Live is the Future: Surviving in a City of Disasters is not the title of a feature film coming to a theater near you but a reality we see flashing across multiple screens.

Don’t screen out! Educate yourself! Start with, Sharing the Earth: An International Environmental Justice Reader or The Green Amendment: Securing Our Right to a Healthy Environment. Fortify yourself with Tools for Grassroots Activists: Best Practices for Success in the Environmental Movement.

Gain some perspective with Unlikely Alliances: Native Nations and White Communities Join to Defend Rural Lands. Get wise to The Navajo and the Animal People: Native American Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Ethnozoology.  Learn from The Winona LaDuke Chronicles: Stories from the Front Lines in the Battle for Environmental Justice. Investigate Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage. Get creative! The Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet is just one guide to using the arts towards the healing of the planet.

Check out the resource list Birds Ground Us: The Earth and Environmental Equity for more resources and inspiration.  With our feet firmly planted, we can nurture endless possibilities and opportunities as we do our part to restore the balance of the planet, its peoples and our rich legacy of life.

 ~ posted by Chris


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Bird Week: Tweet Spring! Celebrating Seattle’s Birds

The Seattle Public Library is partnering with the Seward Park Audubon Center for Bird Week, April 23-30, in celebration of the center’s tenth anniversary and the National Audubon Society’s 2018 Year of the Bird.

From the oldest of worlds into the new they flew, heralding dawn, signaling coming night, solitary, in flocks they arrived. Seed carriers, twig bearers, architects of nests.  Water gliders and earth diggers defended territory, courted, raised young, migrated, created shelter and survived. They flitted by the Xachua’bsh (hah-chu-AHBSH) (the Lake People) when the peninsula known as Seward Park was called skEba’kst, a word meaning nose in Lushootseed.

The forested nose of land grew names that clung tightly as vines. Climbing time, each name grasped its moment until the next twist of fate. Graham Peninsula (1863) turned into Bailey Peninsula (1890). Eagles nested atop old growth trees, in 1903, when the Olmsted Brothers proposed that the City of Seattle include the peninsula in its creation of a comprehensive park system and, so, Seward Park (1911) took hold. Over 100 species of birds have been sighted in and around the Magnificent Forest that is primary residence, part of the Pacific Flyway and, for some, a seasonal home.  They hop under our noses, swoop over our heads and, in seconds, wing out and away.

Worlds away from this day, an 18th century boy was entranced by the extraordinary presence of “birds of richest feathering.” His early efforts to draw the natural world were encouraged, especially by his father. By the 19th century the boy, with a new name, became immigrant, merchant, slaveholder, hunter, teacher, taxidermist and itinerant artist. By a circuitous route, John James Audubon began to build his life’s work on the study of birds, their habits, anatomy, and terrestrial habitats, thus enabling him to compile a body of work revolutionizing prevailing methods and ideas of ornithology.

Utilizing European, Shawnee and Osage hunting methods, Audubon catalogued, wrote, drew, painted and killed many a specimen in order to depict birds as lifelike as possible. From the plantation south to the north, east and west, Audubon journeyed, on foot, by river, far and wide. He crossed paths with runaway slaves, was eye witness to the ravages of smallpox upon Indian tribes.  Overhead, doves, hawks, multitudes, in every tree a chirp or call sounded while the chronicler perfected his portrait of the avian world. The result of his labors is the masterwork, The Birds of America.  Discover in Birdland: The America of Audubon a resource list the sights and sounds of birds centuries past.

In time, the woodsman began to note their diminishing numbers, how the destruction of habitat made way for farms and towns. Others, too, alarmed at the crass killing of animals for sport and fashion, were stirred to action.

Responding to the mass slaughter of birds, the National Audubon Society was formed, in 1905, with a mandate of conservation and advocacy for wildlife and the environment. 2018 is the Society’s Year of the Bird  and the Seward Park Audubon Society’s 10th anniversary.

We share this world with birds. Bird Week is an opportunity to learn about birds and the important role they play in our lives.  We, also, have a role, as global citizens, in preserving and protecting the environment for generations to come. Check out Shelf Talk for each day’s blog post and resource list featuring useful and fun information and activities about birds. Spring has sprung! From backyard to boulevard, treetop to fencepost the feathered fly low and high! How tweet it is!

~posted by Chris

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Theater in the Library: I Can Get It for You Wholesale

Seattle Jewish Theater Company has been touring productions of classic Jewish theater throughout the Seattle area since 2011. Seattle Public Library has been fortunate to host several of these productions in the past and were excited to continue the tradition this year. Join us in the Microsoft Auditorium at Central Library on Sunday, April 29 at 2pm to catch a rare production of the hit Broadway musical I Can Get It for You Wholesale.

You might know I Can Get It for You Wholesale as Barbra Streisand’s Broadway debut and the show that helped make her a star. Thanks to her amazing audition, the role of 50-something secretary Miss Marmelstein was reworked for 19 year old Streisand. Seattle Jewish Theater Company has an interesting write up of the show’s history, and information about their production. The ever-valuable (unofficial) Barbra Streisand Archives has a detailed entry documenting Streisand’s work on Wholesale, including lots of photos and ephemera. You might also want to watch the film version of Funny Girl, Streisand’s only other Broadway show.

I Can Get It for You Wholesale is set in New York City’s Garment District during the Great Depression. Check out A Perfect Fit: The Garment Industry and American Jewry, 1860-1960 to learn more about the role of American Jews in developing and expanding the national garment industry. Jewish New York: The Remarkable Story of a City and a People covers the broad range of impact Jewish New Yorkers have had in defining and developing the culture, politics, and infrastructure of the city. The book includes information about the garment trade, music, and theater. For more about the role of Jewish composers and lyricists in modern American musicals, watch Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy.

~ posted by Richard V.

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Seattle Rep’s FAMILIAR: Beyond the Theatre

Seattle Repertory Theatre presents FAMILIAR from April 27- May 27, 2018. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this resource list of books, CDs and DVDs to enhance your experience of the show.

We know that a wedding unites more than two people. The couple are not just traveling the distance to complete their vows, their families are traveling the distance with them.  Even when language, food, culture and customs are shared, couples, still, encounter unknown and unexpected ideas and beliefs.

What happens when the first and second generations of an educated Zimbabwean family try to balance identity, religious beliefs, marriage customs, race and language between their native land and their adopted country? Lots!

Familiar revolves around the weekend gathering of the extended and highly educated Chinyaramwira family as they prepare for the wedding of eldest daughter Tendi to native (and white) Minnesotan Chris. Both are devout Christians, who met and bonded while attending the same church.

Humor pays a major role in offsetting the serious differences between Western values and African customs. Christian and Zimbabwean beliefs, generational conflict, race, natal and foreign languages, assimilation and acculturation.

The play, set in the Chinyaramwira’s living room, reveals the material success and professional accomplishmenst of this immigrant family in integrating itself into American society. Their beautifully decorated home, however, cannot shield its occupants from the unresolved conflicts that have migrated with them.

The main event of the weekend is the rehearsal dinner. Relatives are arriving and introductions are being made. As in any gathering, as each person arrives so arrives the potential for the unexpected comment or unplanned occurrence. Thus, Marvelous is taken aback to learn that Tendi and Chris have invited her sister, Aunt Anne from “Zim” to perform the traditional roora ceremony, a Shona bride price custom as part of the weekend’s festivities.

There may be a Minnesota chill outside the window, but there is much heat beneath the roof of the Chinyaramwira home. Energetic performances fueled with humor and insight bring this tale of a family’s journey to life.

Few Americans are aware that Africans are among the highest educated immigrant groups. Resources that provide context and background information for understanding more about the African migration experience include the video Africans in America and the book Africans in Global Migration.

Tendi and Chris would do well to consult the book Mixed Blessings: A Guide to Multicultural and Multiethnic Relationships for further understanding of the challenges facing interracial and bicultural couples. Parents may be surprised by the impact the marriage of their children will have on the parental relationship, but they can educate themselves with the book, When Your Children Marry: How Marriage Changes Relationships with Sons and Daughters.

The food served during rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception can play a crucial role in uniting the dietary preferences of people of European and African descent. Tendi and Chris’s wedding feast just might have included dishes from The Africa Cookbook and Dishing up Minnesota to get the happy couple, their families and friends off to a satisfying start!

~ posted by Chris

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Money Smart Week: It’s Easy to Get Started Investing for Retirement — Really

Most of us are busy, and it’s easy to put off thinking about something that seems a long way in the future – like retirement. And many of us are also intimidated by investing – it seems so complicated.

But saving and investing when you’re young or even in middle-age can give you a much better chance of being able to retire comfortably in your 60s (or maybe even earlier). And with things like employer-sponsored 401(k) plans and broad-based index funds (rather than buying individual stocks) investing is easy and doesn’t take much time at all.

Here’s an example of what saving and investing when you’re young can do. Let’s say you estimate you’ll need $1 million at age 65 to be able retire. Assuming you can earn a 10 percent rate of return by investing your savings: Continue reading

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The Empty Chair

It’s been two years since I lost my dad and a year since I lost both my grandmothers.

During that time I didn’t know if I was going to end up whole by the end of it and in a way I guess I didn’t, but I’m still here…

Besides my family, friends, and champion of a husband, who proposed during the midst of all this loss, I’ve sought out something that has always been important to me and that’s stories. Through stories I’m in a world where I’m understood, there’s no judgement, and there’s no being “normal”.  So I pass on my therapy to you all, here are some reads to draw attention to that empty chair inside of us and fill it with stories of struggle, of mutual loss, of hope, and everything in between.

You’re not alone. Continue reading

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Book-It Repertory Theatre presents THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO by Junot Díaz, adapted and directed by Elise Thoron, from April 19 to May 6, 2018. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this resource list of books, music and films to enhance your experience of the show.

The history and culture of the Dominican Republic loom large in Junot Díaz’s Pulitzer-prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, about a sweet, awkward and ultimately doomed Dominican geek growing up in New Jersey and his family’s trials in Santo Domingo and the United States.

Many Americans know little about this small but densely populated Caribbean nation and the complex, multifaceted heritage of its people. Here are a few titles in the Library’s collection that will help you learn more about Dominican history, culture and identity and get prepared to see THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO at Book-It Repertory Theatre. Continue reading

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