Photo: CNN
Garbage collectors in Ankara, Turkey, created a library from abandoned books.

This story seems to go with the one about the homeless man in South Africa who sells used books to passersby. The books in the CNN article, however, are not only used — they have been thrown in the trash or abandoned.

Garbage collectors in Ankara thought it was a shame that so many salvageable books should be landfilled when there are people who would appreciate access to them.

Here’s the report from Spencer Feingold and Hande Atay Alamat.

“Garbage collectors in the Turkish capital have opened a public library composed entirely of books once destined for the landfills. The library, located in the Çankaya district of Ankara, was founded after sanitation workers started collecting discarded books.

As word of the collection spread, residents also began donating books directly.

“Initially, the books were only for employees and their families to borrow. But as the collection grew and interest spread throughout the community, the library was eventually opened to the public in September of last year.

” ‘We started to discuss the idea of creating a library from these books. And when everyone supported it, this project happened,’ said Çankaya Mayor Alper Tasdelen, whose local government oversaw the opening of the library.

“Today, the library has over 6,000 books ranging from literature to nonfiction. There is also a popular kid’s section with comic books and an entire section for scientific research. Books in English and French are also available for bilingual visitors.

“The library is housed in a previously vacant brick factory at the sanitation department headquarters. With an aged brick façade and long corridors, the space was ideal for a library. …

” ‘On one hand, there were those who were leaving these books on the streets. On the other hand others were looking for these books,’ Tasdelen said.

“The collection grew so large the library now loans the salvaged books to schools, educational programs, and even prisons.

” ‘Village schoolteachers from all over Turkey are requesting books,’ Tasdelen said. The city government also hired a full-time employee to manage the library. …

“The library is especially popular with cyclists who bike in the nearby valley and break for a quick read and cup of tea.” More here.

You know what I love best about this? It shows how a good idea attracts people of good will as fast as honey attracts flies.

Photo: Good News Network
Philani Dladla, once homeless, now serves others with the money he gets selling used books he reviews.

Terry Turner reported recently on a South African man who went through a period of homelessness and, while relying on the kindness of strangers, gave a lot of thought to how he might give back. He started providing book reviews for used books he sold and using the proceeds to help others.

Turner’s Good News Network piece begins, “Called the ‘Pavement Bookworm,’ he may look like a roadside panhandler, but this once homeless man is actually running a reading foundation. …

“Philani Dladla credits his love of books, specifically motivational ones, with breaking his drug habit. Now that he’s clean, he has dedicated his life to being of service to others.

“Today, he can be found selling used books to passing motorists — but only after he’s read them first. That way, he can give passersby a book review and set the price accordingly; from a dollar for books he doesn’t like, to six dollars for real page-turners.

“While still homeless himself, Dladla began using the money to buy other homeless people soup and bread every day.

“ ‘Seeing their smiles motivated me to keep using the little I had to spread happiness,’ Dladla said. …

“No longer homeless, he still feeds those on the streets, and even started a ‘Pavement Bookworm’ Book Readers’ Club in a local park where kids can hang out and read until their parents come home from work.

“He has also set up a website where people in Johannesburg, South Africa, can donate books or support a child in the reading club.”

Read more at Good News Network, here.

I’m pretty clueless about how to interact with someone who is homeless, although I’ve learned to smile since Suzanne told me that smiling was Mother Teresa’s advice.

And I’m getting to know the woman who spends the winter in one of the two ladies room cubicles at the Porter Square T station. She tends to rant, but her rants sometimes make sense. I think it’s a kindness that the T lets her stay on cold nights. She doesn’t seem to be doing any harm. Of course, it’s an outrage that anyone is without a home in this country.














Today I thought I’d start my picture roundup with Lynn’s photo from Florida. Lynn says she was first introduced to trumpet lilies when she toured Africa with her cabaret show. I definitely don’t have any trumpet lilies growing outside my house today.

What I do have is ice, snow, and shadows. Here goes. The icicles were shot back in January. The tulips were a little joke in February (I got them in the store and planted them before the snow). The other photos don’t need much explanation. You know I love shadows.

The moose is waiting for the mail lady.




















































Photo: Carter Burden Gallery
The Carter Burden Gallery in Chelsea shows works by artists who are at least 60 years old.

I’m always happy to see that older people are still appreciated in some quarters — in this case, at a New York gallery that features only artists over 60. Susan Stamberg has the story at National Public Radio (NPR).

“Some artists in New York may be wishing to get older faster. A gallery there caters to artists age 60 and older. No kids allowed.

“Some 200 artists have exhibited at the Carter Burden Gallery since it opened nine years ago in Chelsea. Business is good, and works sell from $200 to $9,000. It’s a lot like hundreds of other galleries in New York — except for one important thing: The Carter Burden has an age limit. Why?

” ‘Older adults do not stop being who they are because they hit a particular age,’ said gallery director Marlena Vaccaro. ‘Professional artists never stop doing what we do, and in many cases we get better at it as we go along.’

“What does change is the art market. With rare exceptions, artists who were hot when they started out found that galleries, and certainly museums, cooled to them as years passed. They kept making art, but weren’t being shown or bought. Carter Burden’s mission is to give them a wall, ‘because walls are the thing we need,’ Vaccaro said.

“According to Vaccaro, very few galleries represent older professional artists, unless they’re really famous. ‘And I get that,’ she said. “Galleries are a business. They need to show artists that are going to bring in big bucks.’

“Carter Burden is different. It’s a nonprofit, supported by a board, a corporate sponsor and philanthropists. …

“Artist Nieves Saah, 67, originally from Bilbao, Spain, has painted all her life. ‘My first show was in SoHo in ’85,’ she said. ‘And I had like 28 paintings there. I sold a few, and then from that I got many shows. I think that year I was in like 15 shows.’

“Then things slowed down. There wasn’t much interest for 10 years. Saah kept on painting her figures and fantasies in vividly colored, cheerful oils. One day she heard about Carter Burden and decided to apply online. ‘I was in a show one month after I sent the application,’ she recalled. …

“Werner Bargsten, a newbie, had his first show this past October. It consisted of stunning, powerful sculptured wall hangings made with clay and copper tubing, and formed into what look like wrapped packages. …

“At 69, Bargsten is glad to be part of the Carter Burden over-60 crowd. ‘I mean, look, it’s always harder to get out of bed the older you get, but most of the artists that I’ve met here seemed like they missed that memo that they were getting old. Most of them have the brains of a 20-year-old or a 30-year-old or something. So they haven’t really aged in terms of their spirit.’ ”

More at NPR, here.

Photo: Carter Burden Gallery
“Under the Stars,” by Nieves Saah, an 0ver-60 artist who shows her work at the Carter Burden Gallery in New York.

Photo: Richard Vogel/AP
A statue of Gene Autry and Champion at the entrance to the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles. The museum opened in 1988

My family had one of the early televisions because my father was writing a story about Dumont for Fortune. It was a clunky little thing, showing black and white only, of course, but we loved it, and all the kids in the neighborhood came to watch.

My hero was Gene Autry, the singing cowboy. (Want me to sing the opening number for you, the one Autry sang when he rode Champion up close to the camera and reined him in with a little bounce?)

Recently I learned that in 1988, Autry founded a museum in Los Angeles about the American West. Here’s an Associated Press report by John Rogers at US News on the museum’s 2016 expansion.

“The Autry Museum of the American West [is expanding] to include a garden of native Western flora, as well as new galleries showcasing hundreds of Native American works, some from present day, others centuries old, many never seen publicly.

“The expansion, named California Continued, adds 20,000 square feet of gallery and garden space to the museum that, with its red-tiled courtyard and distinctive beige bell tower, evokes images of an 18th century, Spanish-styled California mission . …

“Museum officials say visitors will now see one of the largest collections of Native American artifacts found anywhere. Also included will be more than 70 plants native to California — many medicinal and some endangered — as well as new displays that include Western mixed-media paintings and interactive works showing such sights as California from the highest point in the continental United States (Mount Whitney in the state’s midsection) to its lowest (Death Valley on the Nevada border).

“Because it’s the Autry Museum, visitors also will still see such venerable Hollywood artifacts as the Singin’ Cowboy’s Martin guitar, TV Lone Ranger Clayton Moore’s mask and a wealth of silent cowboy star Tom Mix memorabilia. …

“[Autry] died at age 91 in 1998, just a few years before … its 2003 merger with Los Angeles’ Southwest Museum of the American Indian. …

” ‘This collection that is now in the Autry Museum is a native collection of the very same rank, and in some quarters even better, than the Smithsonian’s,’ said [the museum’s president, W. Richard West Jr.,] who was founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

“Some of the best of the collection on display is contained in the exhibition ‘The Life and Work of Mabel McKay,’ a Pomo Indian basket weaver, healer, civil rights activist and person believed to be the last speaker of her tribal language when she died in 1993. Her intricately woven, often colorful baskets are accompanied by a recreation of her workroom, narration by her son and other works. …

“The garden contains native plants that caretaker Nicholas Hummingbird hopes will make people realize there is more to Western flora than cactus and sagebrush.”

More at US News, here.














“My hair was over in the grass/ My naked ears heard the day pass.”

These bent-over bushes, usually so tall, look resentful to me: “How can you keep letting this happen?”

“Well,” I respond, “I can’t control the weather.”

And then it occurs to me that I am actually relieved there are still things humans can’t control.

One thing we can control, usually anyway, is our decision making. I often think about how hard it is to make a decision with incomplete information and, when you look back at what you ended up doing, how obvious the choice seems.

Usually I spend two nights in Providence at Suzanne and Erik’s so I can volunteer in a couple Rhode Island ESL classes. But early Monday I had to decide where to spend my blizzard. One report quoted a manageable 2-4 inches. Others said 6-12. I even heard 18 inches was a possibility in places.

Without complete information about the amount of snowfall projected, the time that the blizzard would hit, and the likelihood of classes being canceled, I struggled to decide whether to stay in Providence or go back to Massachusetts.

Another wrinkle: I had promised to take an Eritrean refugee to a parking garage to see if there were any job openings, and I knew that if I left Providence late, I could hit heavy Boston traffic and might have to drive in the dark, which I have been avoiding lately.

In the end, I took The Eritrean student to the garage. The man in charge wasn’t exactly friendly to her, but she was thrilled to have practiced asking for work and to have received a URL for making an online application. She told me she hadn’t had any ideas about how to get started.

A very independent woman, the student insisted on taking the bus home, and I headed north.

As it happened, I was going to be on my own whether in Providence or at home, and today being at home seems so obvious I wonder why I was anxious about making the right choice. At home, my car is sheltered, there’s a greater possibility of someone checking on me, and a reduced likelihood of power failures. (The town has a municipal light plant, and outages are both rare and quickly fixed if they do occur.)

What was your last many-moving-parts decision? Doesn’t it seem obvious to you now?

Bushes to homeowner: “Seriously?”


Photo: L’Artisan Café and Bakery
This Providence eatery, founded by immigrants, has created jobs in two Rhode Island cities. I especially love the tea at l’Artisan and the takeout food.

The idea that most immigrants take jobs away from other people in this country makes no sense to me. Some immigrants may take some jobs, but when you consider all the immigrant-founded companies, large and small, that create jobs for Americans, there is no comparison.

Here is an op-ed from an immigrant who, as an economist, has studied the issue in depth.

Dany Bahar writes at The Hill that calling the thousands of immigrants who, like him, have come here via the diversity visa lottery “the worst of the worst” shows a lack of understanding of the facts.

“I’ve been privileged enough to have accomplished many things since winning a green card, such as having completed doctoral studies at Harvard and joining a highly respected think tank. I did all of this while paying my fair share of taxes.

“My story is not unique, and, as a researcher on the economics benefits of migration, I can say that most other migrants actually are good people, work hard, pay taxes and often create jobs even at a higher rate than natives.

“Take David Tran, who in 1978 arrived in California as a refugee from Vietnam. Two years later, he founded Huy Fong, a company that produces and exports a highly popular version of Sriracha sauce.

“Huy Fong, named after the refugee vessel on which Tran came to the U.S., earns millions in sales year and employs hundreds. Tran’s tale is just one of many that illustrate how first- or second-generation migrants have shaped the U.S. economy. …

“For the most part, migrants (low- and high-skilled) compete with other incumbent migrants, not with natives. In fact, [one] study shows that, between 1990 and 2006, immigration had a small positive effect on the wages of American-born workers, as the presence of migrants encourage natives to specialize in better jobs. …

“Migrants are highly entrepreneurial and create jobs. While immigrants represent about 15 percent of the general U.S. workforce, they account for around a quarter of this country’s entrepreneurs and a quarter of inventors. …

“Immigration and diversity foster economic growth. More diverse countries perform better economically and migrants create business networks with their home countries that foster trade and investment. …

“Subsequent generations of migrants contribute considerably to the economy, thus offsetting the cost of absorbing first-time migrants. While the average fiscal burden of each immigrant is about $1,600, second- and third-generation migrants create a net positive fiscal contribution of $1,700 and $1,300, respectively.

“In addition, migrants and their families also eat, wear clothes, consume housing and all sorts of other goods and services, which contributes to economic growth.”

I know I’m biased. My daughter-in-law’s parents were immigrants from Egypt years ago, and my son-in-law is an immigrant who now holds citizenship in both the United States and his home country, Sweden. My husband and I feel lucky.

More at The Hill.