Friday, July 10, 2015

Breaking News: Ronni Komarow of our Network receives Community Award!

There was great excitement in the Brighton/Allston community the evening of 17 June 2015 when Ronni Komarow was awarded the prestigious Unsung Heroes Award for her selfless commitment to the advancement of Brighton/Allston in a ceremony at Boston College. 

Ronni in accepting the award declared: 
"I certainly feel my fellow Board Members deserve the award too, and that whatever you put into things, you receive so much more in return! ..." 
Here, Ronni was referring to her fellow Board Members of the Brighton/Allston Historical Society (BAHS, a UNESCO/UNITWIN Affiliate), and of the Friends of the Faneuil Branch Library. Ronni was later invited to become a member of Boston Creates, Mayor Walsh's new creative arts initiative. 

Participants at the festivities, and notably at the BAHS and Friends of Faneuil tables, were thrilled to be present at this festive occasion.  

Ronni delivering her acceptance speech. Photo credit: Eric West

As the event's official program stated, Ronni was lauded for her energetic participation at the forefront of the campaign to keep the Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library open. She is an officer of the Board of Directors of the Brighton/Allston Historical Society and a member of its Women's History Initiatives Standing Committee. The nomination papers also cited her work at the Brandeis University Women's Studies Research Center.

Below is the official citation of The State Senate, Commonwealth of Massachusetts recognizing Ronni's contributions. Those of Mayor Marty Walsh, The House of Representatives of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and The Boston City Council, as well as the Award plaque, appear with a flickr set of photos from the event here

Members of the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network from the Boston area and around the globe join in congratulating Ronni. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

'Small World' Connections at the Harvard Ed Portal!

In a program at the Gardner Pilot Academy (GPA) in Allston, a neighborhood of Boston-Massachusetts, the students studied “famous” local people. Pictured below is Marisa in the fifth grade who was assigned to study Brenda McSweeney. Surprisingly, Marisa met up with Brenda at the Harvard Ed Portal opening of the Unbound Visual Arts Exhibition on Community! As part of the Boston Public Schools, GPA's Pilot status gives the school autonomy to offer innovative curricula and a school culture that supports high expectations and achievement.

At right is Marisa pictured here with Brenda and her photographs
of evolving women's roles in the community in West Africa

Marisa is working away at the exhibition's 'Connections' happening! She is connecting her passions to entries of like-minded participants. This activity was designed by Unbound Visual Arts (UVA) President Ruth Rieffanaugh. Also pictured is Marisa's aunt Marcie Laden who is on UVA's Board of Directors (Photo credit: Eric West)

It's possible that Marisa's assignment was inspired by a publication – in which Brenda is one of the Brighton residents featured – called Legendary Locals of Allston-Brighton by Linda Mishkin. Linda is now President of the Brighton-Allston Historical Society, that like UVA is a UNESCO/UNITWIN Affiliate. More on the Legendary Locals volume here: 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Aminata Salamata Kiello's Paper on the Legacy of Enslavement in West Africa now published!

Aminata Salamata Kiello
UNESCO/UNITWIN at WGS/BU is delighted to announce a new publication in our Occasional Paper Series. The author is Aminata Salamata Kiello of Niamey-Niger and Ouagadougou-Burkina Faso who has prepared a paper entitled "The Legacy of Enslavement of Men and Women: Cases from West Africa". Aminata Kiello examines  the gendered impact of historical to modern-day slavery in several countries in West Africa, as well as its impact on the development of African societies. Her paper highlights the stigmas of modern-day slavery, particularly for women, who are subjugated both within the family structure and society at large, and who may be subject to a gender-specific form of slavery known as wahaya. Championing empowerment through education and cultural pride, Kiello argues that combatting the economic, social, and psychological determinants of slavery is key to West African development overall.

As Saniye Gulser Corat, Director of the Division for Gender Equality, UNESCO Paris, writes: "In West Africa, Kiello's case study about the influence of enslavement on modern slavery analyzes how women and men were impacted differently by describing the condition of “wahaya” women, who are stigmatized unofficial wives and slaves, and the brake the practice represents to African societies’ development."

Here is the link to the 'opens like a book' version of Aminata's Paper: 

The PDF version of the paper can be found at:

Both begin with the original French version authored by Aminata Salamata Kiello, and conclude with an English summary by Cassandra Fox.

Photos: Brenda Gael McSweeney

A First Publication in Our Network Collection in an African Language!

We're happy to announce that a first publication in Moore on women's empowerment in Burkina is available in our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network collection! An article on lightening African women's workloads and freeing up time for educational and lucrative activities has been translated from French into Moore by Adama Jacques Sibalo. Moore is an official language in Burkina Faso, and Adama has published a series of books in Moore since 2002. The article that he translated in June 2015 is "Burkina's Women Shape Progress" by Brenda Gael McSweeney and Scholastique Kompaoré (the French version called Les femmes du Burkina façonnent le progrès was translated from the English by Tshali Kabanga Charlie). The Moore translation was made possible thanks to Professor Emeritus John Hutchison of BU's African Studies Center and Coordinator of The African Language Materials Archive (ALMA) at Michigan State University. More on this story at:

Translator Adama Jacques Sibalo

Photo courtesy of Adama Jacques Sibalo

Friday, May 29, 2015

BAHS Rocks with Nick Racheotes & John Broderick!

From left, all from the Brighton-Allston Historical Society Board of Directors: Richard Salvucci, Presenter John Broderick, Joe Caniglia and Fran Gardinowhile BAHS VP Charlie Vasiliades converses with guests.

Brighton Center was alive on Thursday May 28 with a presentation by BAHS Executive Committee Officer and Webmaster John Broderick, and Board of Directors Member Dr. Nick Racheotes. This multimedia event was hosted at the Brighton-Allston Congregational Church for an audience that spanned the generations. John and Nick gave first-hand accounts of their interactions with the key musical players of the epoch. This they complemented with poignant photographs from the time, and music clips that had everyone swaying in their seats!

During their talk, John and Nick shared a glimpse of the evolving roles of women in the music scene in Greater Boston and beyond. These ranged from back-up singers and accompanying pianists to lead stars.

One of the local hit records discussed was "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby” by the Tune Weavers.  It was written by the founding member of the group, Margo Sylvia.  “Margo was the first and only Cape Verdean woman ever to write and record a hit song,” said John Sylvia, Margo’s husband and fellow band member.  “No one else has yet to do that again.” First released in 1957, the record went on to sell over two million copies and was later covered by Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton.

For more of John and Nick's stories, watch this space!

 In this slide, two of the four group members are women!
At left is presenter Nick Racheotes, sharing more ideas after the event with  BAHS Member Bruce Kline.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"Oak Square: A Walk Back in Time" features Women of Vision!

Brighton Allston Historical Society Vice President, Charlie Vasiliades, and Wilma Wetterstrom, BAHS Board Member Emerita, led an evening journey through Oak Square, Brighton over time  an event hosted and co-sponsored by the Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library. Charlie's presentation highlighted one of the town's Women of Vision: Mary Faneuil Bethune.

As announced by BAHS,

BAHS presentation in the Art Deco Faneuil Library reading room
"Ever wonder what the Oak Square area USED to look like? Join Charlie Vasiliades and Wilma Wetterstrom as they present a program showcasing over 70 historic photographs from the collection of the Brighton-Allston Historical Society, taking you back in time for an imaginary walk through Oak Square and its surrounding streets and hills. You will see a landscape that changed from a rural New England scene to the vibrant neighborhood of today  a fascinating journey!"

Charlie explained to the assembled audience that Mary Faneuil Bethune was credited with saving the magnificent Faneuil estate from destruction through her intervention with General George Washington. The Faneuil Gatekeeper's House survives to this day, and is featured as Stop 17 on the Brighton Allston Women's Heritage bus tours and in the Trail Guide, the latter available at the Brighton Allston Heritage Museum and in an e-version at this link on the website.

Faneuil Gatekeeper's House - Stop 17, Brighton-Allston Women's Heritage Trail Guide

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Harvard Ed Art Gallery Opening Reception for UVA Exhibition: The Context of Community!

                                                Photo: Courtesy Karen Smigliani, UVA Council of Advisors

Unbound Visual Arts is delighted to announce that an exhibition titled The Context of Community, is being hosted at the new Harvard Ed Portal Gallery. Curated by Julia Ryan, the exhibit features work of members of UVA's Board of Directors and Council of Advisors: Tsun Ming Chmielinski, Heidi Lee, Susan Loomis, Francis Gardino, Ruth Rieffanaugh, Brenda Gael McSweeney and Sarah Berry and UVA members Marian Dioguardi and Sarah Smigliani. The exhibit will show at the Harvard gallery throughout June 2015.

Below are some photographs taken at the full-to-capacity opening!

Also, see here a set of photographs by Eric West:

Pictured are l. to r.: Curator Julia Ryan, UVA Founding Council of Advisors Member Brenda Gael McSweeney, and Guest Majid Bensellam hailing from Meknes, Morocco; displayed are Brenda's 'Community' photographs taken in Burkina Faso in the mid-1970s and 7 years ago.
Brighton Allston Historical Society (BAHS) Board Members came out in force to participate at the opening events: at left, BAHS Co-Treasurer Mary Regan, speaking with BAHS Board Member Sharon Cayley. Displayed are the oil painting 'Time to Come Home' by Marian Dioguardi and an acrylic on canvas titled 'Together' by Sarah Smigliani.
Eminent Massachusetts politicians joined to support the work of UVA - above center is State Senator Will Brownsberger pictured with State Representative Kevin Honan, enjoying the art and culture festivities with other guests.
UVA's President, artist Ruth Rieffanaugh explains her work to photographer Eric West.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

UNITWIN Affiliate Member Turns to Educational Books for Children

                             Photo: Andrew Werner
 Mina Mauerstein-Bail, affiliated with our network through the Sirleaf Market Women's Fund, has now branched out her educational initiatives to include authoring a series of children's books set in European and other countries that carry a message of tolerance and accepting diversity. 

The first volume of this series is set in Ferney-Voltaire, where Mina lived and worked with the United Nations for a number of years. It was there that she met Max and Voltaire, the main "characters" in her first book. 

Mina writes of her most recent work:

"Many years ago I was asked, “What is the best gift one can give to a child?”  I thought about this for a long time. I have come to the conclusion that the best gift would be to instill a sense of curiosity and kindness in children -curiosity about people and the world we live in and kindness, a virtue and a value that can turn despair into hope. The touching and humorous adventures of Max and Voltaire and their furry pals challenge us to think about how  embracing both the familiar and the different can make our lives interesting and rewarding and that no matter how bad a situation is, how it can change for the better."

She is contemplating Max and Voltaire "traveling" to Italy, where she was born, and to Dakar, Senegal, where she served with the United Nations Development Programme for several years. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Photography Exhibition on India just launched at the Faneuil Library!

An art exhibit on India was launched by photographer Richard Wood at the Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library on 8 March 2015 - International Women’s Day. Richard’s exhibit consists of several dozen magnificent color photos taken across India. Appropriately enough, a number of the photographs capture the daunting workloads that Indian women carry out daily, headloading water, making dung patties for fuel, and crushing and carrying gravel for road construction. Many others capture an insightful glimpse of daily life and often reflect Richard’s keen sense of humor.

The exhibit was hosted by the Faneuil Librarian Dorothy Keller and organized by Ronni Komarow, Board Member of the Friends of Faneuil, also of the Brighton Allston Historical Society, our UNESCO/UNITWIN Affiliate.

Here is the photographer’s statement for the India exhibition:

In December 2011 my wife and I went to India, to see, to listen and hopefully to learn something about an ancient culture and over a billion people who live on the other side of our planet.

We were immediately engulfed and entranced by a surfeit of colors, sounds, smells and contradictions – unbearable poverty, unimaginable wealth. Life everywhere amidst extraordinary celebrations of death.

We came home sated and spellbound, incapable of intelligently commenting on the political or socio/economic structures of India, but knowing that somehow there are such things as calm intensity and ordered chaos.

“Most governments are run by people, mine is run by the gods” – 
Anil Dwivedi 

Richard Wood, Photographer, Brighton, MA 

Do stop by the Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library at 419 Faneuil Street in Oak Square, Brighton to visit this photography exhibition on India throughout the month of March.

Speakers' Bios: March 19th GaIDI Panel on "Letters to Adopted and Fostered Youth: A Global Perspective" - (Event details below the bios)

Ming Foxweldon was adopted from Kunming, China in 1994 at age three and a half. Raised mainly in New England, she majored in Chinese and minored in Anthropology at the University of Vermont. Her interest in adoption-related topics has grown through college-oriented activities and her involvement with adoptee-run organizations, such as China's Children International, Land of Gazillion Adoptees, and The Anya Project, among others. She responded to the call for submissions by the Anya Project for the Dear Wonderful You anthology and was elated to have been included as a contributor. She felt free to express herself and was able to connect with others who walk a similar path, thus expanding her horizons on adoption-related issues and finding support to continue on her life journey. 

Olivia Lunardo is an undergrad nursing student at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. They identify as genderqueer and use they/them/their pronouns. They were adopted from Hunan, China a little over the age of 2. Since then, they grew up in Massachusetts their whole life. Although most of their time is dedicated to studying, they like to occasionally get involved with other projects such as participating in plays, LGBTQIA+ advocacy work, panel discussions, and research. 

Raymond Pillidge, LICSW, MSW, Boston University, MA in Social Policy, Heller School, Brandeis University, is a Social Worker and Child Welfare Administrator. His professional interests are in organizational development and change, and in restorative justice practices in Child Welfare. Former Adjunct at Salem State where he taught ‘Community Practice and Social Change,’ Ray has also taught in the Urban Leadership Program at Simmons College School of Social Work. Ray was born and adopted in New Zealand at a time when all adoption records were closed. After a search he reunited with his birth family 30 years ago. He is interested in policy and justice issues for people separated from their families and countries of origin and in adopted people’s complex identities. 

Tien Ung, LICSW, PhD is an Assistant Professor at Simmons School of Social Work and Director of the Urban Leadership Program. Dr. Ung teaches courses on research, leadership, trauma, and social work practice. As a practitioner-scholar, Dr. Ung works with clients, trains practitioners, and provides organizational consultation in child and family settings with specific expertise in child protection, adoption, forensic social work, child and family trauma, and immigrant and refugee mental health. Consequently, Dr. Ung’s research is broadly focused in the field of transnationalism, with particular attention to the effects of culture and intercultural dynamics on identity, mental health, and family well-being. 

Mei-Mei Ellerman, PhD, was adopted at the age of 7 months in a closed adoption in NYC. A former academic, she is now a resident scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center where she focuses on memoir writing and social activism She has both spoken and written on adoption-related issues, based on her life journey and her two decade-long search for her origins as well as her adoptive family’s history - she is working on two memoirs. Founding director emerita of Polaris, leading anti-trafficking and modern day slavery NGO, Mei–Mei is committed to addressing the growing industry of transnational trafficking in adoptions. She is also a passionate advocate for legislation granting all adoptees free access to their original birth certificates. A board director since 2006 of Chinese Adoptee Links International and co-founder of Global Generations, she regularly contributes to the One World, blog. Recent publications as Co-founder of the An-Ya Project with Diane René Christian include: Perpetual Child, Dismantling the Stereotype, an Adult Adoptee Anthology and Dear Wonderful You, Letters to Adopted and Fostered Youth, which Mei-Mei also co-edited.