Thursday, October 12, 2017

Newsletter preview round 2

September Links and Things from Tegan

Welcome to Links and Things from Tegan! This is the inaugural “issue,” and I hope you enjoy it. Most months it will be email-only, so please subscribe here if you haven't already! I'll never sell or trade your information.

In General

I've been reading the blog Ask a Manager regularly for maybe a year now, and it’s one of my favorite blogs. It’s a daily advice column about work situations … hiring, firing, being hired/fired, fights over the office microwave, really anything that can come up. Some posts are very straightforward and useful, and others have a lot of human drama in them, as people who write in share some extreme things that have happened in their workplaces. The thing that makes it special is that the columnist, Alison Green, is really great at looking at many perspectives on an issue, and helping people figure out what they can change in their workplace, what they can influence, and what they need to figure out whether they can live with. The other thing is that this is one of the few places on the internet where you do want to read the comments -- things get heated sometimes, but often, the commenters can be as insightful and witty as Alison herself.

In Greater BostonA close-up of a spinning wheel.

On Sunday, September 24, the Fairbanks House museum in Dedham will have its second annual Fall Festival. I went last year was impressed with what they offered for their first time. The festival includes demonstrations of historic crafts such as tin-smithing and weaving, historical reenactors, crafts available for purchase from local artisans, and this year some alpacas will be paying a visit. The festival is free and family-friendly, and runs 12 pm to 5 pm on September 24. It’s about 30 minutes from downtown Boston by car, 1 hour by public transit.

Beyond Boston

Mid-September through mid-October, you’ll find Oktoberfest celebrations in Germany and all over the world, especially in places with a history of immigration from Bavaria, such as Cincinnati. While the festival is known for including a *lot* of beer, the authentic, Munich version did originally center around beer. In many places, it’s now a celebration of German or Bavarian heritage, although with an emphasis on alcohol rivaled only by that celebration of Irish heritage, St. Paddy’s day. In case you’re near any of these cities, or if you just want to do some armchair tourism, this Fodor’s article shows off some of the highlights of American Oktoberfests (note that it’s from 2014, so the dates aren’t accurate for this year). Personally, I might try for a taste of Bavaria with this recipe for apple cake -- I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ll let you know what I think.

For History Lovers
I just learned about a new memorial project I think is interesting, called Stopping Stones. Each simple marker will acknowledge the life of an enslaved person in American history. They’re not necessarily famous people, but people whose name and place they were held in slavery are in the historical record. The project, created by Vermont-based artist Paul Growald, aims to get people to stop and remember the personal impact of the system of slavery. It’s inspired by Gunter Demnig’s Stolpersteine, similar memorials which recognize victims of Nazi atrocities throughout Europe. The first Stopping Stone is in Medford, MA, outside of the Royall House and Slave Quarters museum. It recognizes Belinda Sutton, enslaved there in the 18th century.

The cover of Visual Shock, which has the Washington Monument and a tall, thin scuplture.
For Museum and Public History People, (you’ll see that this category is rarely exclusively for such people!)

It’s been several years since I read Michel Kammen’s “Visual Shock: A History of Art Controversies in American Culture,” so this is me recommending it to you but also reminding myself that I may want to re-read it. While it focuses on works of art (usually created by one artist or a small group, representing their own views) it also has a chapter on “Monuments, Memorials, and Americanism” which looks at controversies around pieces designed specifically to serve as public or official commemorations of events or people. It’s very useful background to have when looking at today’s controversies around Confederate monuments and other monuments closely tied to slavery, oppression, or genocide. The history of these controversies shows that monuments are never apolitical, even if that’s sometimes the intent.

Civics Corner

Voting rights, and access to polling places, is one of those issues that should be non-partisan, but the more partisan and messed up the politics in our country get, the more people start considering it a partisan issue. We need to change that. Here are some of the organizations doing great work around voting issues that you can get involved in:
  • Common Cause focuses on open, accountable government.
  • Let America Vote is focused on voting rights.
  • VoteRiders helps people navigate changing voter ID laws, and helps people overcome financial and bureaucratic barriers to getting voter ID. 
  • Voting access, and civic engagement more generally, are part of the NAACP’s key issues.
  • The League of Women Voters (which hasn’t been just for women for a long time) focuses on voting rights, engaging and educating voters, getting money out of politics, and several other issues.

The “Me” Section

Here’s my recent post “The Good, the Bad, and the Cringeworthy at the Commonwealth Museum” over at my blog A Catalog of Curiosity.

My work is participating in a big experiment -- a festival of Boston innovation in shipping containers on City Hall Plaza. Check out our exhibit on anesthesia past, present and future October 12-15.

Rehearsals are in full swing for Tomes of Terror: Lenore!, a suite of three staged radio plays. It includes my adaptation of Poe’s The Premature Burial, and I’ll be doing live Foley sound effects for another of the shows. There will be six performances October 20 to 21 and 26 to 28, in Davis Square, Somerville, MA.

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