Friday, October 27, 2017

Unbound Visual Arts: Fifth Anniversary!

You are invited to join Unbound Visual Arts (UVA) to mark its 5th Anniversary! The festive occasion will feature Danielle Legros Georges, the Poet Laureate of Boston. The celebrations will take place on November 9th, 2017 starting at 6:00 pm in the Josephine A. Fiorentino Community Center at the Charlesview Residences, Brighton. It promises to be a memorable evening filled with music, fine art and refreshments!

The Josephine A. Fiorentino Community Center is at the Charlesview Residences, 123 Antwerp St, Brighton, MA 02135. The event is free and open to the public.

Danielle Legros Georges - Photo credit: Priscilla Harmel
More on Danielle Legros Georges, Poet Laureate of Boston, on UVA's website – drawn from the Lesley University website:

"What does it mean to be Poet Laureate of the City of Boston? For Lesley University professor Danielle Legros Georges, the role comes with great responsibility. As a citywide advocate for language and the arts, she’s been charged with "raising the status of poetry" in the minds of Bostonians.

Through public readings and events, she’s pushing the community to connect with poetry in new ways, and to view it as a tool for empowerment. “Poetry is important because it allows us access to other minds, other experiences,” says the Poet Laureate. “It allows for empathy. It carries knowledge, and it’s a space in which one can make the self.”

Danielle's recent publications include City of Notions (2017), an anthology of Boston poems featuring several poets, Letters From Congo, and The Dear Remote Nearness of You.

Letters from Congo (2017) is a powerful collection by Haitian-American poet Danielle Legros Georges, invites readers to journey every air mile traveled by a family trying to survive the perpetual uncertainty of life in exile. In these 13 intimate poems, written as letters, an address, a physical location where someone can be reached, swiftly morphs into a statement about the delicate nature of voicing one’s political opinions under the Duvalier regime. (At UVA, drawn from amazon.com)

The Dear Remote Nearness of You (2016) "speaks [of] poetry's origin in new and startling ways. This is the precise intelligence that knows it must step carefully across the light on the surface of the water... These poems form the contiguous dance of language choosing its own body at will, traveling across light and the dimensions of unarticulated history. This is the word rubbed onto the palimpsest of our being, the careful solo soprano in the space where music ends and poetry moves in to name what is eternal and what is only in the abbreviation of now. What a delightful book from Boston's Poet Laureate."—Afaa Michael Weaver (At UVA)

UVA's Founding Members will be honored at this event. Also performing at the 5th Anniversary Celebration will be April Marion, a twenty-two year-old artist and musician based in Boston. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Berklee College of Music in 2015. Her love for both art and music have since transpired into her passions and profession. She is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, drummer and performer. She has also won multiple awards for her art and her work.

April Marion - Photo credit: aprilmarion.com
Promotional sponsors: 
-UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & People-Centered Development based at Boston University
-Brandeis University's Gender and International Development Initiatives of the Women's Studies Research Center

Visit the Unbound Visual Arts (UVA) website at www.unboundvisualarts.org/fifth-anniversary/ 
for updates!

Flyer design: Susan Loomis-Wing

"Saraswati’s Cow" by Chandana Dey

Saraswati Das lives in the village of Darpashila in the district of Birbhum, in Bengal, India. There are two women named ‘Saraswati’ (the Hindu goddess of learning and culture)- so we’ve always called her ‘Choto Saraswati’ (younger) to distinguish her from the ‘Boro Saraswati’ (elder).

Saraswati lives in a tiny thatched house, which hardly even has a courtyard, let alone any place to dry the hay/straw from the fields. She owns no land of her own, but she works on other’s fields as a manual laborer and takes up any other work that is available. She even leased a small patch of land from a neighbor so she could grow a few vegetables- and this patch was carefully covered with an old mosquito net to prevent marauding chickens and goats!

Saraswati, like most of the other women in this village, never managed to go to school. She married young- had children and acquired a husband who never really did any work at all, although he was quite happy beating Saraswati whenever he felt like it.

Yet, in my two decades in working in Bengali villages, I have rarely come across a more cheerful person. She always has the widest smile and the warmest countenance and on meeting her, one’s own petty problems seem to vanish. When we worked on herbal health, Choto Saraswati became the group head- and she could make, demonstrate, explain the herbal remedies with a clarity that was truly remarkable. I once asked her how she could remember the recipes- and she said, that she had developed a habit of going over the pictures of the herbs and their uses before she went to sleep. Since we worked largely with illiterate women, much of our ‘awareness-raising’ materials were in pictorial form.
 
Photo Credit: Ankita Sharma, Editor, Social Science Press
I recently ‘retired’ from my village development work, but was lucky enough to find a colleague who was willing to continue the work I had started as well as employ certain members of my village-based team. Srikanta Mondal is an agricultural scientist with decades of grassroots experience. He has embarked on an asset building programme where livestock will be provided to women- cows, goats, hens and ducks- and he is confident that in four years time- if the funding can be consistent- the asset worth of the entire village will come up to a consistent and steady level, allowing the women livestock owners sufficient cash for expenses such as their children’s education and other expenditures such as health.

I was very impressed at how scientifically Srikanta Mondal and his organization, Manab Jamin went about their work. In the first three months, village-development Block Officers of the Livestock Department, visited the villages and vaccinated all the cows, goats, hens and chickens in the villages under the Manab Jamin programme. For some villagers, it was the very first time they came into contact with these government officials who are paid (fairly high salaries) to work at the grassroots level.
 
Saraswati & her cow
Photo Credit: Chandana Dey
It was only AFTER this step was taken, that Manab Jamin distributed the livestock. Once again, this was very democratically done. The entire village sat and chose the most deserving recipients. The first animals to be given in each village- were one cow and two goats. An essential part of the livestock development programme is that once the cow has calves the first calf will be given to another person in the village, and the same applies to the baby goats. Each time, the baby calves and kids will be given away, and the decision will be conducted in the same democratic manner.

You can only imagine how delighted I was to learn that the recipient of the first cow given in Darpashila was Choto Saraswati. There could not be a more deserving recipient. I think this decision was unanimous. Saraswati will also learn about how to look after her cow, whom she has named ‘Sonamoni’ (heart’s delight) including growing fodder- perhaps on leased land- and some classes are being conducted on financial literacy so that once the savings begin, these will be deposited in government-aided savings schemes rather than dubious privately run  chit funds that have been so detrimental in destroying poor people’s hard-earned, hard-saved money.
                                                                
                           ~ Chandana “Mamlu” Dey

Chandana relaxing in London - Photo Credit: Tonusree Basu

Chandana Dey is a Founding Member of the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture & People-Centered Development; and Former Editor, Social Science Press, New Delhi

Friday, October 13, 2017

Brighton-Allston Historical Society sponsoring Women & Domestic Service in 19th Century Boston & New England!

We are pleased to announce that our UNESCO/UNITWIN Affiliate the Brighton-Allston Historical Society will be sponsoring an event entitled: "Slaving for Others' Wants: Women & Domestic Service in Nineteenth-Century Boston & New England." The speaker will be Professor Carolyn R. Maibor who has a PhD from Brandeis University and specializes in Early through 19th-century American Literature & Philosophy, and Literary Theory & Gender Studies. She has published numerous books and articles, including on the history and literature of servitude.

Carolyn's talk will take place on Thursday, October 26th, 2017 at 7pm at the Brighton Allston Congregational Church, 404 Washington Street, Brighton Center, Massachusetts 02135. Do spread the word!

See the event flyer with further details below.



Friday, October 6, 2017

Friends of Faneuil Library Newest Affiliate of our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network!

Exciting news: we have a new Affiliate, the Friends of Faneuil Library (FOFL)/Boston Public Library! We're thrilled to have another vibrant educational entity in our midst, one with enormous community outreach and interaction. More at:


A message from the FOFL President, Maria Rodrigues:

As President of the Friends of the Faneuil Branch Library and in the name of the FOFL Executive Board I want to express our excitement about initiating our partnership with the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network. Similar to the members of the Network, the FOFL are committed to promoting cultural and educational opportunities with the goals of fostering community and the value of diversity. We look forward to a long and enriching cooperation.

From the FOFL bylaws:

The Faneuil Library Branch in action:

On the occasion of the annual Funky Auction to support the Faneuil Library's activities:
at left, Maria Rodrigues, President of the Friends of Faneuil Library;
at right, State Senator (and Auctioneer!) Will Brownsberger

At the Funky Auction June 3rd 2017:
at right, Faneuil Branch Librarian, Dorothy Keller;
at left, Ronni Komarow, Faneuil Gallery Coordinator;
at far left, Representative Kevin Honan with Mike O'Hara of the 57 Readers & Writers

For more information on the Friends of the Faneuil Library see:

and for activities of the Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library visit:

Congratulations to Raffi Freedman-Gurspan on her latest award!


On September 28th, 2017 BAGLY honored "the legendary Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the first trans woman to ever work for the White House and alumna of the The Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth."



Left to right: Mason Dunn, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition; Marion Freedman-Gurspan; Raffi Freedman-Gurspan; Carl Sciortino, currently Executive Director of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts; Stan Freedman-Gurspan (photo credit BAGLY, Inc.)

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan of our Boston University WGS community earlier made history as the first openly transgender official at the White House. Raffi served as Senior Associate Director for Public Engagement and Outreach and as Recruitment Director for Presidential Personnel at the White House, with President Barack Obama.

Raffi worked early in her career until mid-2011 as Course and Research Assistant with Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney at BU/WGS (Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program) in the arena of Gender and International Development. Raffi's primary interests over the years have included public policy making, minority and indigenous peoples' rights, and gender equality matters.

More on the BAGLY (Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Youth) ceremony honoring Raffi at: