JMRL How-To Festival Call for Participation

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JMRL’s 2019 How-To Festival takes place on Saturday, May 4th from 10-2 at the Central Library. The How-To Festival is a drop-in Library takeover event with 15 minute presentations and demos on a variety of topics. The festival coincides with Free Comic Book Day at JMRL and attracts a diverse, growing crowd each year.

JMRL invites community members, businesses, and nonprofits to participate.

Share your knowledge/skills/services and promote your business, organization or cause.

Topics of interest include:

  • Technology
  • Arts + Crafts
  • Food + Drink
  • Repairs
  • Outdoors + Environment
  • Health + Wellness
  • Community Resources

Check here for a list of previous participants and sessions.

Guidelines for submissions:
Deadline for submission is Friday, April 5th, 2019 at 5pm.
Click this link to submit a request to participate for 2019.

Important dates:
Responses will be given by Wednesday, April 10th, 2019.
Final schedule will be ready by Friday, April 26th, 2019.

For any inquiries regarding the event, please email Heather Pehnec at volunteer@jmrl.org

We look forward to seeing you at the 2019 How-To Festival!

“Times have changed. But not times only.”

29939353The Brown Baggers met at the Central Library on February 21 to discuss Kathleen Rooney’s novel, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk.

The novel takes readers on a journey around Manhattan in starting in the 1930s and ending in the 1980s. Lillian Boxfish is a “devout walker” in her 80s, walking around Manhattan on New Year’s Eve in a mink coat, and reminiscing about her past. Along her walk, she meets and talks with several interesting characters and thinks about how much the city has changed. Boxfish was an accomplished poet when she was younger, and was notably the highest-paid woman in advertising in the 1930s. But her career was cut short when she married and became a mother.

The Brown Baggers loved this book! Many said that they identified with the main character and found her behavior very relatable. Others commented on the witty dialogue and how Boxfish described people in interesting ways. They also liked how strict Boxfish was with manners and that she was such a strong and engaging character. They commented that she had a supportive best friend and a great social life, all while having a career, not just a job, which was unusual for women during that time period.

Readers also liked that the novel was set during New Year’s Eve- a time for reflection. The only negative comments mentioned about the book were that the main character’s breakdown didn’t seem as realistic as the rest of the novel. But readers understood why she may have been depressed and thought that her husband did not challenge her, some even wondered why she married him. Brown Baggers also liked that the novel was based on a real person, Margaret Fishback, and appreciated that Rooney did so much research for the book.

Links:
About the author
About Margaret Fishback
Review from the Chicago Tribune
Review from Kirkus Reviews

Mentions:
Fried Green Tomatoes- movie and book
Groundhog Day
Margaret Fishback Poetry at UVa

The Brown Baggers will meet again on Thursday, March 14 at noon to discuss Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

“I had Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi, the four of us sharing the weight of growing up Girl in Brooklyn, as though it was a bag of stones we passed among ourselves saying, Here. Help me carry this.”

27213163Books on Tap read Another Brooklyn  by Jacqueline Woodson at  Champion Brewery on February 7. Woodson, the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and previous Young People’s Poet Laureate and National Book Award winner, is best known for her works for children and teens, often in verse. This novel is only one of two that she has written for adults. It follows August as she moves from Tennessee to Brooklyn with her father and brother, making friends with three girls and navigating black girlhood and New York in the 1970s. It too is written in verse, which struck one reader as genius to fit this complex story in in a concise, moving package. The format allows Woodson to be indirect, especially when addressing suicide, childhood sexual abuse and religion. Those of us who listened to the audiobook didn’t notice the format as much as those who read the print edition. One reader wondered if the dialog was italicized to emphasize that it was only reported to us through August’s memory.

We first discussed the title: what are these other Brooklyns? August and her brother are confined to their apartment when they first move in, and can only observed life on the street below. During the novel, she reflects on the Brooklyn she remembers and the one that her brother still lives in. There’s also the Brooklyns that become home to immigrants from all over the world.

Woodson herself grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness and August’s father introduces Nation of Islam to the family. August appreciates the order that the women of the Nation bring to the apartment but it is her brother who embraces the tenets and uses it to organize his life. August, in reaction to her mother’s suicide and the silence around it, becomes an anthropologist who studies death practices around the world. Despite their differences, the siblings remain realistically respectful as adults.

August’s mother’s death is itself a ghost in the novel. As a child she tells herself and her brother that their mother will return any moment. Her father tells her she knows what is in the urn in the house but never declares it is her mother’s ashes. As a teenager, she loses her voice. We disagreed if this was a literal lack of voice but either way, she begins to see a therapist. This is around the same time that her friend Gigi commits suicide, about which August feels guilt for not being a closer friend. We agreed that these events inspired August to study anthropology.

The book is specifically about black girlhood, but can be used as a lens to look at girlhood universally. The four girls describe their friendship as a forcefield against harassment and danger. Together, they say things to men and boys that we could never say as individuals. They protect and soothe each other and share joyous experiences. Despite her mother’s warning against female friendship, it is the thing that made August’s Brooklyn what it was. Gigi’s suicide, Sylvia’s teen pregnancy and Angela’s mother’s murder break the quartet apart. Years later as an adult August sees Sylvia on the subway but chooses to get off before they can speak. We were divided on the lasting strength of childhood friendships in our own lives, but it’s clear that these relationships were formative (and not often seen in fiction).

More Information:
About the author
About the book
Other works
Interviews with the author

Read Alikes:
Kwame Alexander
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Mislaid by Nell Zink
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Books on Tap Information:

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