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HAITIAN ART AND HANDCRAFT SALE

The Vassar Haiti Project will partner with First Parish having its first Haitian Art and Handcraft Sale on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1st and 2nd. The sale features over 100 pieces of original Haitian art and handcrafts. Affordable prices for unique crafts start at $5 and paintings at $50 make the perfect holiday gift!

Proceeds support a medical clinic, education, reforestation, water access and purification and other programs in the village of Chermaitre and 42 surrounding villages.

The event will be held at FPUUCARL in the Vestry 

Hours are:

11/1   Friday       6pm – 9pm

11/2   Saturday 10am – 4pm

Information: www.thehaitiproject.org or call 845.797.2123

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Meet the New Intern

Hi! I’m Maren Larkin, and I’m a senior at Arlington High School. I’m looking forward to my internship with the Arlington DTG this year. I’m very active in the Arlington First Parish Youth Group, and I hope to utilize the skills I’ve learned there. I have been a member of the leadership committee at my church since freshman year, and I’ve served on both of our service trip planning committees. I am passionate about activism, both through my church and through my school. I’ve participated in a service trip to Pittsburgh centered around food insecurity, and a service trip to West Virginia where we learned about environmental protection and sustainability. My peers and I have been active in protests, most notably the Women’s March, the March for our Lives, and various Climate Strikes. It’s been very exciting for me to see the recent surge of youth-led activism, and I hope to support Arlington youth in their social action efforts.

In my free time, I enjoy creating art. I am the co-founder of an online teen art magazine, called Angelhead magazine. I think that art is a valuable resource in community building, and I hope to incorporate my love of art into a project this year. Some of my other extracurriculars include Mock Trial, Young Democrats, and my job at Butternut Bakehouse.

I can’t wait to get more involved with the DTG. I chose this internship because I feel like it reflects my values and I admire the goals of the group. I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone!

Apple Picking Family and Friends Event

Apple Picking Family and Friends Event AT HONEY POT HILL ORCHARD 

138 Sudbury Road

Stow, Massachusetts

Farm Fun Junior Pack available for $18.00

Saturday, September 21, 2019

10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

A charter bus will be leaving METCO Inc. at 9:00 AM

Please RSVP to your METCO Director Friday, September 13, 2019.

Margaret Thomas –mthomas@arlington.k12.ma.us

True Story Theater

Saturday, October 12, 2019, 7:30pmat the Arlington Center for the Arts, 20 Academy St., 3rd floor. (wheelchair accessible entrance on Maple St.)
“The experience of immigrants in our community: An interactive story-sharing performance.”
What have been the struggles and joys of people who have moved to our community from other countries? Share a story of your experience or of a close connection of someone who has come here. It’s fine if English is not your first language. Come to share… or just to watch and learn. All ages welcome.  Some of the performing cast will include people who have moved here from other countries. 

True Story performs improvisational theater with heart. Audience volunteers tell important moments from their lives. Actors then honor these stories through drama, movement, music, and song. Audiences laugh and cry, build respect and understanding, and gain insights about their lives.
More at: www.TrueStoryTheater.org

COST: $20 regular price, $5+ (pay-what-you can).  
This event is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Meet the New Intern

Hello! My name is Sophie Spink, a senior at Arlington High School. This year I’ll be interning for DTG, and am excited to get involved in Arlington’s larger community.

Outside of my internship, I’m passionate about history and government, and love to read. Some of my favorite books are The Hate U Give, The Color Purple, and The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m the co-president of Arlington High School’s Amnesty International chapter, and am passionate about bringing human rights work to Arlington youth. Additionally, I row for Arlington-Belmont Crew and work at an ice cream parlor. 

I chose DTG as the organization I’d intern with because their mission resonates with me. I am invested in making Arlington a more inclusive community.

In the few meetings I’ve been to, I have been welcomed graciously by all members, and have already found mentors who I greatly admire.  I’m in the process of becoming an active bystander trainer, and am a co-coordinator of a PR project that DTG is embarking on, in which we will explore inclusivity in Arlington through a series of conversations with community members.

I look forward to furthering my involvement with DTG. Look forward to more blog posts and an updated website!

Youth Homelessness in Arlington

 

1200px-Arlington_High_School_MA
Arlington High School

A couple of weeks ago, I attended my first DTG meeting, listening as guest speaker Cindy Sheridan Curran spoke about the homeless in Arlington, and how our schools address the issue. It was difficult to hear. As a senior at Arlington High School, I can not pick out anyone from my school and easily label them as homeless. I suppose that’s a good thing: I’m sure no one struggling with their personal lives would want this known by their classmates.

In large cities, the homeless are strikingly out in the open. The little that they own is propped up against buildings in trash bags; you walk right by them on the sidewalks. When I visited San Francisco this past Christmas, the number of people on the streets shocked me. I was uncomfortable with their presence: I felt an extreme guilt. It was hard to concentrate on the beautiful Nutcracker ballet when I had just walked by crowds of homeless across the street. But in Arlington, it is easy to be ignorant. Arlington is a well-off town, growing increasingly more so. It’s hard to imagine that this issue exists.

It does, however, and in great numbers. There are 112 group home beds for kids in Arlington. These kids are usually above 13 years old, but according to Curran, they’re getting younger, while their mental health issues are growing. The extent of which one is considered “homeless” is also concerning: Curran defined it as not having a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This applies to families who lose their homes and move in with family or friends, those who live in group homes, or those who live on the street.

Understanding the magnitude of this issue, I have an entirely fresh perspective, but am still unsure of how to best respond. After hearing Curran’s presentation, I was instantly reminded of all the various overused, and sadly less effective reminders: “Be grateful for what you have”, and “Be thankful for your education”.  We high schoolers roll our eyes; we complain about our lives like pros, but these sentiments are still very true. Education is extremely valuable, especially for homeless children, as it is often the sole point of stability in their lives. I’m not discounting our struggles, because no one, despite their wealth, can hide from hardship. However, I, and many of my fellow high schoolers are not put at a disadvantage because of our home lives. I can see a successful future for myself. These kids can not say the same.  

After the meeting, armed with all the facts, I couldn’t stop wondering what I could do to help. I know I can not singlehandedly change these people’s home lives. But we can change their lives at school, in the community: when our lives meet. Programs at school are a great start. The Do-Something club has proposed making a school “closet” full of free clothes donated by the student body. Others have mentioned making a pantry of food available as well.

Most of all, awareness brings about action. If you don’t know something exists, you’re not going to do anything about it. And when you do know, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with guilt and privilege. Luckily, there is a lot we can do to help.

https://housingcorparlington.org/support-us/

https://arlingtonfoodpantry.org

http://www.arlington-eats.org

http://horizonschildren.org

Grace Willoughby is a senior at Arlington High School and an intern at Arlington’s Vision2020 Diversity Task Group.

Hello From the New Intern

Grace Willoughby

Hello all! My name is Grace Willoughby and I will be interning with the Arlington DTG until January 2018. Upon hearing that Arlington High offered a course that lets us go out in the world, it was a shock: instead of being trapped inside its walls, the school was giving us the opportunity to work with the larger community.  

So as I sat somewhat nervously in Ms. Konstandakis’ (the teacher who finds us these internships) room, armed with the resolution to find the perfect internship, I listened as she listed my options. Working with the athletic director didn’t seem like the right fit for someone who hardly has an athletic bone in her body. A member of the Girl’s cross country team, I love that there’s no need for me to be coordinated.

Anyway, when Ms. Konstandakis suggested interning at the Arlington DTG, I paused, considering: I hadn’t heard of it. It wasn’t that I assumed so little of Arlington that it wouldn’t support diversity, I just had never stopped to think there would be a group out there focused on it. Thinking back, that mindset seems ridiculous and naive. But I’m afraid I’m not alone in my lack of knowledge. I’m not sure how many other kids (and adults) are aware there is a group behind the scenes, reaching out to all cultures and community members of our town.

I’m excited to be a part of this behind-the-scenes group; to be the voice of my high school; entrusted to help influence Vision2020; that my voice, and all the voices I’ll be representing counts. We are all so globally conscious these days, but in light of recent events, I feel it’s paramount that we become more involved in our town, state, country, and the world. Sometimes, scrolling through my news app can be overwhelming- it’s hard to know where to help. Starting with our town is a great start, and the more people involved, the better. I’d like more people- especially at the high school- to know about this group, and what you’re doing. I’m so excited to meet all of you, and get started becoming a part of the bigger picture!

Grace Willoughby is a senior at Arlington High School and an intern at Arlington’s Vision2020 Diversity Task Group.

 

Four Books to Raise One’s Awareness

I’ve recently read four books that are at once instructive and painful, hard to put down yet demanding of deep attention and feeling. Two novels address slavery and its long term consequences, and two ethnographic accounts explore poverty, the working class, culture, and race. The four books taken together inform one another in ways I discovered as I read.

underground-railroad

Colin Whitehead’s Underground Railroad follows a slave who escapes her plantation and, helped by “station masters” and “conductors,” strives to remain free.  She is pursued by a determined slave catcher who, like Ahab and the Whale, obsessively seeks to capture his adversary.  At each “station” along the way, new aspects of the struggles, cruelties, and prejudices of past and current times are revealed – as are the courage and dedication of those willing to help a slave and the fierce will of the slave to remain free and become free of the trauma of slavery. Often surreal, as if time has bent in some way, the story makes us aware of the treatment of Black people through hundreds of years in America.

 

“Often surreal, as if time has bent in some way, the story makes us aware of the treatment of Black people through hundreds of years in America.”

homegoingYaa Gyasi’s Homecoming follows two branches of a Ghanian family through seven generations. One branch of the family remains in Ghana, often complicit in the slave trade and embroiled in wars and the struggle for independence as a country. The other branch emerges from slavery on a Georgia plantation and moves through the Civil War and Great Migration toward present day hopes for real freedom in America. The importance of family and community, knowing where one came from, and confronting traumas passed down through three hundred years weave through this book. I found the chapters so rich and moving, I often needed to stop for a while and let all I had taken in settle and inform me at a deep level. The book is beautifully written, often lyrical.

“I found the chapters so rich and moving, I often needed to stop for a while and let all I had taken in settle and inform me at a deep level.” 

I was glad that I read Railroad first, as it is a story that maintains gnawing tension from beginning to end. It is probably not a read for the faint-hearted – but should be. Together, the two novels are powerful instruction about the long lasting effects of the slave trade and the exploitation of people stolen from their homelands and families.

And now for a different, but in some ways related theme.

hillbillyJ.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis is a first person account of what it is like to try to escape the traumas of the Appalachian culture and struggle with the demands of a middle class life in a poor rustbelt town. Vance describes the migration of hillbillies from Appalachia to the north and west to seek jobs that would sustain their families. Vance says hillbillies and their ethos and culture have spread everywhere in America  — reminiscent in some ways of the Great Migration of Blacks from the South seeking jobs and a better life. He wants the reader to understand what it feels like for the White working class to struggle with cultural and class issues and what the long term consequences are for individuals and families. Looking critically at both the hillbillies and the “system,” he challenges the reader to think more broadly and deeply about the obstacles and despair experienced by those who want to raise the standard of living for themselves and their children. He points to the vital importance of extended family and formal and informal community support for working class people who are trying to do more than survive. At this time in our country, this is an important read.

“He wants the reader to understand what it feels like for the White working class to struggle with cultural and class issues and what the long term consequences are for individuals and families. ” 

'Evicted' reviewMatthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is at once a moving and disturbing tale of eight Milwaukee families facing evictions and a scholarly discussion of eviction and how eviction is at the root of poverty and inequality. Notes for each chapter detail research and evidence for Desmond’s comments and his recommendations for changes. Desmond takes us inside the lives of Black and White individuals and families that struggle to find and maintain stable residences and lives. We see their courage and grit, their hopes and concerns – come to care about them and grimace at some of their choices.  He introduces us to several landlords and shows us both the compassion and the greed of these people. The stories illustrate the effects of eviction on children and their education, on the ability of people to continue at their workplace while seeking new housing, and on the psychological demands on families. They reveal the interrelatedness of factors contributing to inequity and poverty. To understand the lives of people living at the poverty level, Desmond lived in housing in poor areas and shadowed his subjects as they lived their lives. He supports his observations with data gathered from his extensive research studies of eviction in Milwaukee.

All books are available at Robbins Library/Minuteman Network; however, there are wait lists for them. More information on the Robbins Library Website here.

Blog post by Mary Harrison

Ottoson Inside Out Project: Perspectives of a Middle School Survivor

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Being a senior at Arlington High School, middle school was only 4 years ago for me, and it seems like just yesterday I roamed the halls of Ottoson. There is an expression that “kids are cruel”, and in my years at Ottoson I found this to be immensely true. Not a day passed when someone didn’t cry in the bathrooms or get called to the principal’s office, and horrible things were written on the stall walls.

“Being a senior at Arlington High School, middle school was only 4 years ago for me, and it seems like just yesterday I roamed the halls of Ottoson.”

Being in a big public school by nature can make a 12 year old feel a lack of individuality and give one the overwhelming need to conform. The general mantra in these years was “fit in to survive”. Just act like everyone else for 3 years and then things will get better in high school. Most kids fell into one of three categories; bully, victim, or everyday bystander. In middle school I felt I needed to hide what made me different, and being straight and white I did this with ease, but it wasn’t so easy for other kids. Most of this discrimination happened beneath the radar of the administration, and when it was brought to their attention it was dealt with simply by a call to the office and a ring home to the parents. The larger problem however was never spoken of or even addressed. For me, this made my time at Ottoson a dark stain on my memory, and when I walk by the ominous building, I turn away.

“The general mantra in these years was “fit in to survive.”

Last Sunday, October 22, however, I did not turn away, but instead stared in awe. I was told that the Ottoson would be participating in the Inside Out project in reaction to recent incidents of racism in the school but I had no idea how actually seeing it would effect me. On the side of this bland building I had grown to dread, was plastered dozens of smiling faces of current middle schoolers. It was truly a beautiful work of art and what it represented was even more beautiful to me. The school had noticed the problems within the student body and acted out to address them. What the students and teachers had created together was amazing and in the moment really struck me. The walls of the school itself that to me always symbolized oppression were celebrating students and their differences and it was magnificent. I know something as little as this will not fix all of the problems of racism or discrimination immediately but it is most definitely a step in the right direction.

“The walls of the school itself that to me always symbolized oppression were celebrating students and their differences and it was magnificent”.

Not only does it celebrate diversity but it also shows the students that the school cares and wants every voice to be heard, recognized and valued. Seeing this powerful project taken on by the Ottoson not only made me proud to have attended but also gave me immense hope for the future generations to pass through its’ doors.

Blog post by Sorrel Galantowicz

Sorrel Galantowicz is an intern for the Arlington Diversity Task Group as well as a student at Arlington High School.

The Arlington International Film Festival is On!

2016 Arlington International Film Festival
2016 Arlington International Film Festival

Yesterday evening, it only took me a 10-minute drive to experience world-class cinema. The Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF) premiered last night at the Capitol Theater in East Arlington with the showing of the short movie Stereotypes and the documentary Jiaolin [Coach], which received the AIFF Jury Award for “Best Feature Documentary”.

In all honesty, I didn’t attend the festival in a couple of years even though each edition showcased an impressive selection of international movies. I always found good reasons: too cold, too dark outside, or no babysitter. Last year, Arlington lost its festival when the organizers, April and Alberto Guzman, were invited to host the event at the Kendall Square Theater in Cambridge. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone, right? This year, the festival is back in town and I pledged to brave the elements and support this local institution. So I went to the Capitol Theater and joined other adventurers who also ignored the rain and the colder temperatures, premises of our New England winter.

Yesterday evening, it only took me a 10-minute drive to experience world-class cinema.

In this deleterious election season, Stereotypes felt like getting a flu shot: seasonal, must-have for some, and “nah” for others. The movie tells the story behind the art project by photographer Kevin J. Briggs, who Arlington Diversity Task Group invited last March to host his exhibit Stereotypes: A Conscious Look at Race, Faith, Gender and Sexual Orientation at the Arlington Center for Arts. The project is a series of portraits which invites viewers to experience the power of discriminatory words on individuals. Since the beginning of the 2016 Presidential campaign, all sorts of insults were thrown at minority communities based on race, faith, or identity. I can’t wait for this election to end, but I wonder how people will heal and come together afterward. Even though the Stereotypes project started way before the campaign season, it could be a platform to dialog and find a way forward.

In this deleterious election season, Stereotypes felt like getting a flu shot.

The second movie, Jiaolin [Coach], is an eye-opening documentary on basketball in China. Not a basketball fan? Me neither. However, I found myself captivated by the story of Norman Da Silva, an American assistant coach from the Boston area who ended up leading a team of the CBA, the major men’s basketball league in China. This is the magic of the Arlington International Film Festival: it brings original stories to light and invites me to see the world through bigger lenses…here, right in my backyard! The director, Esteban Arguello, and Norman Da Silva himself, who know works for the Philadelphia 76ers were there to answer questions from the public. Is it not neat?

The AIFF brings original stories to light and invites me to see the world through bigger lenses…here, right in my backyard!

The Arlington International Film Festival lasts through Sunday night. It will present more movies from around the world and more stories from people who surprisingly you have more in common than you think. Don’t miss it this year!

For tickets and more information, visit www.aiffest.org

Blog post by Yawa Degboe

Yawa Degboe is co-chair of the Arlington Diversity Task Groups. She lives in Arlington with her husband and her daughter.