Elizabeth McMaster

Elizabeth McMaster lived a short life that was filled with music and art, and she brought two beautiful daughters into the world. She was born in Atlanta, Georgia cc. 1897 and died there in October, 1931. At the time of her death, her daughter Betty was 12 and her daughter Catherine was 10.

Elizabeth was a talented singer. Among her favorites were “Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life” and “Charmaine.” She also painted in oils (see first photo below).

In 1917(?), she married Charles Whitfield Holloway in Atlanta. He was two years younger. Betty was born while they lived there. The family then moved to Chattanooga, where Catherine was born. Charles’s sister Pauline and her mother lived with the family there after her father died. They then moved to Lakeland, Florida, and later to Richmond, Virginia, then back to Atlanta, where they first lived in an apartment on Ponce de Leon street. These moves were due to Charles’s work as a salesman for the B. F. Goodrich Rubber Co.

Elizabeth’s mother felt that Charles was too young and wouldn’t amount to much. Because of this, Charles and Elizabeth had eloped. Despite the estrangement of Charles and her mother, Elizabeth and her daughters kept in close touch with her. However, they didn’t hear from her again after Elizabeth’s funeral.

Elizabeth suffered from nocturnal epilepsy. It was her daughters who discovered her death. Catherine was asked to go outside while others removed the body. After her death, Betty and Catherine went to live with Charles’s brother Emmett and his wife in an apartment in Decatur, Georgia. After a few months they all moved to a house in Atlanta.

Charles then married Eva Lassiter (aka Sugy) and was chosen to manage a Goodrich store in Augusta, where the family moved next. Betty and Catherine were then in high school. He later proved his mother-in-law wrong with the building of the very successful Holloway Tire Co., which sold tires and recapped truck tires. He was also a partner with Ralph Snow in Southeastern Rubber Manufacturing Co. Near the end of the War or possibly shortly afterwards, they went to Washington and received an allotment of rubber and started a company to make camelback for tire recapping (or retreading). Eventually the Holloways built a house at 2727 Hillcrest Avenue and moved there for the remainder of the lives of Charles and Eva.

See more on the Hall and Holloway families.

Visual literacy in the information age

ching-chiu1Ching-Chiu Lin is a founding member of the Youth Community Informatics project. Her work with Timnah, Lisa, and Karen at the Urbana Middle School integrated art, music, story-telling, cultural heritage, and multimedia in an after-school program. That’s one of the models for our current work.

michoacanChing-Chiu’s dissertation, A qualitative study of three secondary art teachers’ conceptualizations of visual literacy as manifested through their teaching with electronic technologies, analyzed similar arts and new media projects in three schools. I’ve learned a little while ago that it was awarded second place for the 2008 Eisner Doctoral Research award. This was officially announced at the National Art Education Association (NAEA) convention in Minneapolis this month.

Congratulations, Ching-Chiu!

Fondation Connaissance et Liberté (FOKAL)

accueil_biblio1 I was very fortunate to hear Elizabeth Pierre-Louis speak yesterday.

Elizabeth was on campus to accept the 2008 Young Humanitarian Award. As Director of the Library Program at Fondasyon Konesans Ak Libète (FOKAL) in Haiti, she helped to set up 45 community libraries across the country. She coordinates the training and management of these libraries, which are improving the quality of live for the people there. Elizabeth described a wide variety of programs of FOKAL, including projects on supplying running water, developing basic literacy, supporting the visual arts, dance and music, debate, and economic education.

Throughout these many programs, there is an emphasis on participatory democracy, including organization and responsibility of citizens, leadership, financial and technical management, resolving conflicts, and collective decision making. Elizabeth’s work is just part of an amazing organization helping people work together toward common purposes.

The photo, of the Monique Calixte Library in FOKAL’s Cultural Center, and this text below are from the FOKAL site.

The Fondation Connaissance et Liberté / Fondasyon Konesans Ak Libète (FOKAL) Cultural Center, built in 2003 in the center of Port-au-Prince thanks to funding from the Open Society Institute (OSI) and support from George Soros, is designed for meetings, training, reading, debates, recreation and discovery.

The center is comprised of a public library, with a membership of over 5,000 where children and youths from the poor neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince have access to reading materials in optimal conditions, a small auditorium, a café-terrasse and a cybercafé. The UNESCO auditorium is a hall designed for conferences, debates, meetings, audio-visual presentations, films, concerts and theatre. The center also includes a large atrium where one can discover the works of both Haitian and foreign painters, writers, and sculptors; and a sound and video production studio, a training hall and gardens…

FOKAL’s cultural center offers a place, eminently rare in Haiti, where peasants, women, children and youths from poor neighborhoods have a chance to interact with each other and with representatives of all sectors of society on subjects which concern education, the environment, culture, and democracy…

Yale Russian Chorus tours Quebec

My son, Stephen, writes this about the Yale Russian Chorus tour in Quebec:

In March 2009 the Yale Russian Chorus went on tour to Quebec. We sang at a variety of venues, including Laval University in Quebec City and both Francophone and Anglophone retirement homes in Montreal. The contacts we had made with the Russian Orthodox community in Montreal allowed us to end our tour with an exciting concert at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral. We stayed for most of the tour at the house of Paul and Sandy Gauthier, whom my family had met on our sabbatical to China.

To publicize these events, we had the privilege of appearing on Radio-Canada twice. The first was an interview I did over the phone to advertise our first concert, at St. Elizabeth Catholic church in North Hatley.

Halfway through our stay in Montreal, we drove to the CBC/Radio-Canada building in Montreal to appear on the morning show “C’est bien meilleur le matin”. After discussing the history of the Russian Chorus with the host, Franco Nuovo (and surmising possible connections to the CIA), I rejoined the group to sing our version of the Russian folk song “Po moriam, po volnam” (Across the seas, across the waves)

Radoslav Lorković

radoslav11radoslav2We attended a wonderful concert at the Estabrooks’ house last Friday. Radoslav Lorković performed a wide variety of vocal and instrumental (piano and accordion) pieces, with a theme of life along the river.

His selections included songs by Tom Waits, Randy Newman, Joe Price, and George Gershwin, as well as many of Radoslav’s own compositions. I especially liked “Blues in C Minor” from his album, Clear and Cold and also a Croatian song about a fisherman mending his nets on the Dalmatian coast.

Drawing from a multitude of influences ranging from elegant classical and jazz styles to the rawest, most basic blues, country and soul, Radoslav Lorković has taken on an unusually broad musical spectrum and refined it into his distinctive piano style. His tenure on the R&B and folk circuits has culminated in five critically acclaimed solo recordings and numerous appearances on the recordings of and performances with artists including Odetta, Jimmy LaFave, Ribbon of Highway Woody Guthrie Tribute, Greg Brown, Richard Shindell, Ellis Paul, Dave Moore, Andy White and Bo Ramsey. His twenty year touring career has led him from the taverns of the upper Mississippi River to the castles of Italy, The Canary Islands, The Yup’ik villages of Alaska and Carnegie Hall.

radoslav31

via Radoslav Lorkovic – Personal Profile.

[photos by Leigh Estabrook]

Children’s House (Çocuklar Evi) in Çanakkale, Turkey

On Monday, I was invited by Ebru Aktan Kerem, an early childhood teacher/researcher at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart Üniversitesi (in Turkey), to visit Çocuklar Evi, or Children’s House. Ebru’s innovative research contributes to a wonderful, university-based school for children, ages 3-6, and a site for learning for teachers and researchers.

The Principal, Derya Bedir, and the teachers use persona dolls to help develop understanding across differences. They promote art, music, science, and healthy interaction in the spirit of Reggio Emilia or the University (of Illinois) Primary School.

Some visitors apparently observe for an hour, have tea, and then leave. They come away with a rich picture of an outstanding school. But I was captivated by the children and the creative activities led by the teachers. I hope I didn’t overstay my welcome. I joined in on the Turkish songs and taught the children “Skidamarinkadinkadink.” They helped me with my Turkish. One activity led to another, then lunch, and then interesting art projects after lunch. I kept up reasonably well, but was reminded that preschool children can get up and down much faster than I can!

Click once on a photo to enlarge it; click again to enlarge it further.

first Youth Community Informatics Forum

In the Youth Community Informatics Forum held June 27-28, 2008, about 40 young people and youth leaders came to Champaign from a variety of economically disadvantaged, mostly minority communities throughout the state.

There was a youth media festival on Friday. Then on Saturday, participants spent the morning working in one of four small groups to investigate “information spaces” in the community. These included the Center for Children’s Books, Champaign Public Library, the Independent Media Center, Espresso Royale, Native House, Cafe Paradiso, Transit Plaza, Illini Union, and bronze plaques around campus. The group leader introduced a staff member from the center to the students for a small tour and helped them use a Flip video camera and a GPS receiver to record their observations.

At each site, the youth asked questions such as:

  1. What do we see in this information center? How do we like it?
  2. What is this center about?
  3. What do we want people to know about the center?
  4. How can we give others a clear idea about the center through watching/hearing our report?

In the afternoon, they created a Google map with their videos, text, and GPS coordinates. They also added music (an innovation we hadn’t planned on, but perfectly appropriate). They then shared their findings in a public presentation.

The activity was conceived in terms of an Inquiry Cycle:

Inquiry cycle

Inquiry cycle

  • Ask: What are the information spaces in the community?
  • Investigate: Visit, listen, explore, video, determine geo-coordinates.
  • Create: Make a GIS site with video, music, text.
  • Discuss: Share the product and the findings with others.
  • Reflect: Think about issues of journalism, democracy, careers, technologies, etc.

We found that the students learned technology skills, problem solving, cooperative work, writing, public presentation, specific information spaces, community journalism, university life, and much more.

Although the June activity made use of diverse new technologies, it is important to note that the focus was on learning about the community, asking questions, and sharing findings with others, not on the technologies per se. The most effective use of these technologies in libraries and similar settings would likely involve embedding that use in a larger, purposeful context. That context in turn could be a way to help connect youth with other resources, such as books and structured activities.

We’re now planning a similar activity in October with the Mortenson Center Associates, a group of visiting, international librarians. This will be the first day of a two- or three-day event. The longer time will allow for discussion about how the information spaces might differ in different countries, what technologies are available in different contexts, how valuable the activity would be for youth in their libraries, and so on. Students from the Community Informatics (LEEP) course would lead the investigation of the local-area information centers.

Both youth leaders and young people said they enjoyed the Forum, learned a lot, and hope for more. One youth leader said that next year he’d like to bring a much larger group. Another wrote,

I believe, in the not too distant future, that this conference will be seen as a landmark in developing a new perspective as part of the partnership between those marginalized sectors of civil society and the university in bridging the digital divide.

As Myles Horton might say, that’s a long haul, but at least there was good spirit of cooperation in learning, which I hope will carry over to continuing work in these communities.

[Cross-posted on social issues]

Community as Intellectual Space: Aesthetics as Resistance

CIS flyer The 4th Annual Community as Intellectual Space symposium is being held this week at Paseo Boricua in Chicago, June 13-15. Events will start at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC), 2739/41 W. Division (near corner of Division and California).

This year, the focus is on Aesthetics as Resistance: The Act of Community Building. There will be artist-led tours of the beautiful murals found throughout the neighborhood, the annual People’s Parade, a delicious Puerto Rican dinner, workshops on community-education activities as diverse as urban agriculture and computer programming for children using Squeak, meetings with local Humboldt Park/Paseo Boricua community and government leaders, including Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Rep. Cynthia Soto, and panels on liberatory education. [Click to enlarge the poster or follow the link above for more details.]

Aesthetics as Resistance promises an active dialogue on art, identity, and cross-cultural community building with community leaders, artists, educators, librarians, activists, students, and residents. It expresses the PRCC’s vision to build community grounded in cultural practice, including murals, poetry, music, and the People’s Parade. These practices are both creative and political acts to develop community out of local funds of knowledge.

Paseo Boricua has a motto: ‘Live and help others to live.’ It is known for its multigenerational and holistic community activism around human rights and social change. Education is structured around the belief that ‘the community is the curriculum,’ reflecting the ideas of Paulo Freire and providing a contemporary version of Hull House.

With its many academic partnerships, Paseo Boricua also provides an outstanding example of university-community collaboration in research, teaching and public engagement. For example, last year the community hosted a tour and visit for the John Dewey Society. This furthered dialogue around how the community answers Dewey’s call for critical, socially-engaged citizens, for an active public, and for education as lived experience.

[This announcement is also posted on the John Dewey Society Social Issues blog.]

Africa Day, Dublin

May 25 was Africa Day, the commemoration of the founding in 1963 of the Organisation of African Unity, which later became the African Union. In honor of that, the Irish Aid organized a wonderful set of Africa Day events, held at the Irish Film Institute, the National Botanical Gardens, and other venues. We went to those at Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty Library.

There were musical performances and dance, lectures, storytelling sessions, photography exhibits, arts and crafts, and food from many regions and cultures of Africa.

A notice prior to the event advised bringing suncreen and umbrellas for the rain, which was a good indication of the variability in the weather this time of year in Dublin. But the weather turned out to be friendly and helped make it a worthwhile day all around. By mid-afternoon there was a line to get in to the Dublin Castle grounds. I hope this becomes an annual event.