Community Pop-Up Programs

banner

In the wake of the events and tragic violence over the weekend of August 12 JMRL has decided to create Pop-Up Programs at the Central Library in downtown Charlottesville to create space for the community to come together and facilitate discussion and healing. Below is the schedule of events. We will list programs as we confirm them. All programs are free and do not require registration. We hope you will join us to begin moving forward together.

 

Past Programs

Music On The Steps
August 17, 2017 at 12pm

Drop by for a Pop-up Music on the Library Steps with Bob Bennetta and Friends featuring the legendary Pianist with Susanna Rosen on Vocal, Tom Mix on Clarinet and Lesly Gourdet on Contrebasse focusing primarily on the great American songbooks and Jazz standards flavored by a few New Orleans swing.

Coloring 
August 19, 2017 all day, while supplies last

Come practice your mindfulness with some peaceful coloring. All coloring sheets and colored pencils will be provided.

SPCA’s Pawsitive Pet Therapy Team
August 19, 2017 at 2-4pm

Join us in the children’s area and let your little ones hang out and pet the very large, very fluffy, Philemone the dog.

Active Bystander Intervention Training – Northside Library
August 24, 2017 at 2pm

Lexie Huston, Prevention Educator at the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA) presents nonviolent deescalation techniques for intervening when community members face threats and harassment.

Meditation
August 24, 2017 at 6pm

Join Gerry Gorman, long time meditator, for this deep and engaging meditation workshop. During this workshop he will talk about the journey of finding lasting peace, happiness and a greater sense of well-being. Gerry will share a simple technique of meditation that can help achieve a lasting state of peace and happiness not found through any outer experience.

Meet with a Counselor
JMRL has partnered with Resilient Charlottesville to offer counseling in response to the events of August 12. Drop by the Central Library during the following times to speak with a professional counselor.

August 19, 2017 from 9am-4:30pm
August 21, 2017 from 9am-12pm and 5pm-9pm
August 22, 2017 from 9am-9pm
August 23, 2017 from 9am-9pm
August 24, 2017 from 9am-6pm
August 25, 2017 from 9am-5pm
August 26, 2017 from 9am-3pm

Music On The Steps
August 25, 2017 from 12-1pm

Drop by for a Pop-up Music on the Library Steps with CASE (Charlottesville Albemarle Saxophone Ensemble) featuring Robert LaRue, soprano sax and alto sax; Glenn Lankford, alto sax; Brian Hamshar, baritone sax; and David Moody, tenor sax.

Poem In Your Pocket
August 25, 2017 from 12:30-1:30pm

Join us for a special Poem In Your Pocket event where we’ll be distributing poems on civil rights, unity, and healing. Look for volunteers handing on poems on the Downtown Mall or pick one up at the Central Library.

Active Bystander Intervention Training – Central Library
August 28, 2017 at 6:30pm

Lexie Huston, Prevention Educator at the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA) presents nonviolent deescalation techniques for intervening when community members face threats and harassment.

Relieving Stress in Children
August 30, 2017 at 6pm

Judy Henry, author of Corey’s Peaceful Heart, will hold a workshop focusing on how parents and caregivers can relieve stress and anxiety in children. The workshop will also teach the HeartMath coherence process that also strengthens positive feelings and coping skills in children and adults.

Reading Lists

Now is the time to read about diversity, unity, and community. Check out our Booksite List and Overdrive for titles that highlight equality and encourage understanding. Learn about our history and work to honor our community. Our friends at OverDrive also donated this collection on tolerance.

“Now that I am dead, I know everything.”

coverBooks on Tap read The Penelopiad  by Margaret Atwood at  Champion Brewery on July 6. Written as part of the Canongate Myth series, the novel is narrated by Penelope, who describes not only her life in Ithaca while Odysseus was away for 20 years, but also her childhood and existence in the afterlife. The universal reaction was that we all enjoyed this  humorous, satirical take. We had all read at least one other title by Atwood, but no one at the table had seen the adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu . Also, it turns out that while we had all read The Odyssey, our recall of its details was less than the average 10th-grader who had just studied it.

As we often do, we discussed the reliability of the narrator. Penelope cannot believe that Odysseus is still renowned because in her time he was a known liar. However, Penelope also outs herself as unreliable, especially in assigning blame for the murder of the 12 maids. Myths and other narratives can only approximate the truth, with various details forgotten or left out for political reasons. Penelope offers multiple reasons for why her father tried to drown her but chooses to believe the one that doesn’t paint him as a monster. Similarly, she discounts nasty gossip about Odysseus (he fought a one-eyed bouncer) in favor of more heroic stories (he out-witted a cyclops).She also dismisses his predicaments as beyond his control, whether the gods interfere or not.  Frankly, we didn’t think that Penelope cared all that much about Odysseus’ adventures. She married at 15, and while she enjoyed listening to his stories, she doesn’t seem to pine for him when Odysseus first leaves. She allows Eurycleia, Odysseus’ former nurse, to raise their son. However, as time goes on, she does build up power: improving farming, using the maids and other slaves as spies and managing her husband’s return.

Helen of Troy appears over and over again, both physically and as Penelope’s bête noire.  Penelope is jealous of Helen’s popularity (she bathes in the underworld, despite not having a body, and in part to thrill her equally-dead suitors) and is enraged at both Helen and the men she charms with her looks. Helen is both an enemy of smart women by using her sexuality against men and a threat; playing a zero sum game where the winner becomes queen and the losers are the thousands of people who die in the wars she induces. Helen shows little to no remorse for the deaths. Penelope, complicit in the deaths of her 12 loyal maids, struggles to explain away her guilt, but is both literally and metaphorically haunted by their deaths.  

These mental gymnastics, a reflection of her husband’s notorious slipperiness, are the legacy of Penelope’s mother, a nyad, who, in her limited interactions with her daughter, told Penelope to “be like water.” And she does adapt — to her father attempting to kill her, to icy relations in Ithaca, to her husband’s absence and return. These cycles continue in the afterlife. While Penelope choses to stay in the Asphodel Meadows, Odysseus reincarnates again and again.   

Few of us could remember the 12 hanged maids from the original poem. Through Penelope, counter to The Odyssey, the maids are heard. They form a chorus which interrupts Penelope’s narrative with various songs (sea shanty, love song, lament), a court trial and an anthropology lecture, each growing in sophistication.  It is this lecture that we talked about the most. We didn’t reach a consensus on its seriousness – did Atwood believe in these counter-interpretations? – but did agree that it grounded and expanded the maids’ plight.  One interpretation of the maids role in The Penelopiad is their quest for narrative justice. We agreed that despite Penelope’s concern for the women, they do not receive justice in the afterlife or in this book. Plus ça change.

More Information:
About the author
About the book
Stage play
Atwood’s sources

Books on Tap Information:

  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (August 3)  Other formats available.
  • The Sellout by Paul Beatty (September 7)  Other formats available.
  • House of Stone by Anthony Shadid (October 5)  Available in other formats and as a Book Kit
  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (November 2)  Other formats available.
  • Ten Thousand Things by Maria Dermoût (December 7)  Other formats available.

 

Have a suggestion for future titles? Add them to this list.

Previous titles

“Vanishing into books, I felt held.”

famBooks on Tap read Family Life  by Akhil Sharma at  Champion Brewery on May 4.  This highly-autobiographical novel describes the aftermath of an elder son’s accident shortly after the family migrates from India to suburban New Jersey in the 1970s. Birju, the teenaged son, nearly drowns and remains in a vegetative state for decades. To cope, his mother seeks out religious healers while his father slips deeper into alcohol abuse. His younger brother Ajay, the narrator, focuses on his academic success and turns to writing as a way to both escape his current circumstances and to create order in his own world.

While none of us quite understood why this novel won multiple awards, we were intrigued by its structure. Some found it stilted, while others thought that it accurately reflected Ajay’s personality. Sharma, who took over 12 years to finish the book and produced 7,000 pages, ultimately removed extra sensory description, what he called the “sensorium issue,” partially influenced by his early obsession with Ernest Hemingway. The tightness of the prose in the 224 page novel propels the reader along in what is essentially a plot-less story. While the lives of all the family members are defined by Birju’s accident, the story explores the full range of human emotion, not just sadness, isolation and anger.

The family had high expectations for their lives in America and Birju had just been accepted into a prestigious exam high school when he was found at the bottom of a pool. While the family’s expectations of may have been met if Birju hadn’t gone swimming that day, the parents may have divorced and Ajay may not have pushed himself so hard academically. Instead, the family narrowly focuses on Birju’s immense physical needs, bringing him home after he’s neglected in a nursing home early on. Providing in-home care was seen as a means of control, a expression of love, a reflection of shame and a type of trust in the family unit by readers. It also allowed the mother to deny Birju’s brain damage by referring to him as “sleeping,” inviting other Indian migrants in to venerate him and to bring  in various religious healers. While religion is frequently referred to, we readers didn’t get a full sense of what that entailed. While the mother can be compared to a Catholic martyr, one reader pointed out that in a crisis you do what you must day after day to survive but you don’t see how it shapes your life until the years have passed. We compared the scene in which the family, still living in India, receives their plane tickets to America to the isolated life that is their reality in New Jersey.  The entire community celebrated their migration, with constant visits and well-wishes. After Birju’s accident, their visitors are holy men or parents who bring their children to see Birju as a warning. The family not only made a leap in space, but also in time, coming from rural India to suburban America. The family, like other immigrants mostly knew about the United States from American films, which over-promised a perfect life.

Both the accident and the isolation leave Ajay as the second best son, and he has no close adults to mentor him or offer respite. He tells lies to gain attention and escape reality. On Christmas, he complains that “this shouldn’t be his life” and that he at least deserves a pizza. However, the teasing way Ajay talks to his brother shows real affection.

The book ends with Ajay thinking “I got happier and happier . . . That’s when I knew I had a problem.”  Earlier in the novel, his father stares out the window at snowfall, saying  “I’m so happy.”  While we believe both men were happy at the time, we wonder if they don’t know how to deal with happiness. It seems that Ajay has never been happy before and may have survivor’s guilt. We think he can, now that he realizes he can and has created sense of self.

The author wanted to make a “useful” book, so we discussed bibliotherapy. Some members of our group shared that reading a specific book helped shed light on their personal issues. Some found that they had no use for a book upon first reading but found solace in it when they came back to it years later. At the library, we strive to put the right book in the hands of the right person  at the right time. Test us out with JMRL’s personalized recommendation service.  

More Information:
About the author
Other works

Interviews with the author:
Irish Times
The Guardian

Recommendations
Lion(film) – place a hold on JMRL’s copy or come see it at Central in June
Green Revolution in India
The Reivers by William Faulkner  

Similarities to Birju’s care can be seen in the Audrey Santo case.

Books on Tap Information:

Have a suggestion for future titles? Add them to this list.

Previous titles