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Posts Tagged ‘roxbury’


I had an awfully nice lunch yesterday, and I’d like to tell you about it. It involved two nonprofits — the mostly Caucasian conservation group Trustees of Reservations and the mostly African American community-outreach enterprise called Haley House.

The trustees had a really great idea recently to do meaningful art installations on a couple of their properties and chose one next to the Old Manse in Concord. The Old Manse is most often associated with 19th Century novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, but the grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson was also a resident and saw the historic events unfold at the North Bridge on April 19, 1775.

Artist Sam Durant wanted to draw attention to the presence of slaves in the early days of Concord and launch a discussion, so he constructed a kind of big-tent meeting house, with a floor made of the kinds of materials that might have been in slave buildings.

The Trustees conferred with him on a series of “lyceums” that might bring races together at the site. They decided that at the first one, they would encourage races to break bread together and talk about food traditions.

From Haley House in Roxbury, they brought in a chef, a beautiful meal, and singer/educator/retired-nurse Fulani Haynes.

I ate a vegan burger, sweet-potato mash, very spicey collard greens and wonderful corn muffins. Also available were salad and chicken.

Haynes sang a bit and talked about the origins of Haley House, how it helps low-income people and ex-offenders and local children, teaching cooking and nutrition and gardening, among other things. She invited attendees to tell food stories from their early years, and several brave spirits stood up.

That participatory aspect of the activities helped to reduce the impression that African Americans were making entertainments for a mostly white audience (art, food, music entertainments).

I loved the whole thing and learned a lot. (For example, Grandpa Emerson had slaves living upstairs, and “the embattled farmers” who “fired the shot heard ’round the world” were able to go marching off because slaves were working the farms. I really didn’t know.)

African American artifacts are on display next door at the Old Manse. The art installation will be up until the end of October 2016.

More here.

Photos: Artist Sam Durant offers the crowd a new lens on history. The chef from Haley House keeps an eye on the African American cuisine. Fulani Haynes demonstrates how a food can become an instrument.

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081316-Haley-House-chef-and-corn-muffins

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Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., is well known as a hub for entrepreneurship. So the school was the logical place to help start-ups offering farmers distribution services, marketing, and the like learn how to grow their business. A training was held at Babson at the end of December, and the New York Times covered it.

Stephanie Strom writes, “In spite of the surging demand for locally and regionally grown foods over the last few years, there is a chasm separating small and midsize farmers from their local markets.

“But a growing number of small businesses are springing up to provide local farmers and their customers with marketing, transportation, logistics and other services, like the Fresh Connection, a trucking business providing services to help farms around New York City make deliveries. …

“The Fair Food Network, a nonprofit organized to improve access to better food, recently held a second ‘business boot camp’ in Wellesley, Mass., for tiny companies working to increase ties between communities and local farmers, which culminated in a contest to win some $10,000. …

“For farmers selling products to a number of customers, there are so-called food hubs like Red Tomato, which connects its network of farms to existing wholesale distribution systems to make deliveries of locally grown fruits and vegetables to groceries, produce distributors, restaurants and schools in the Northeast. …

“Not all ways of improving consumer access to local and regional farm production involve distribution, however. Blue Ox Malthouse, for instance, is making malt from barley grown in Maine as a cover crop. Normally, farmers plow barley under or sell it cheaply for animal feed.  Blue Ox has given them a new and more lucrative market, though, buying up barley and turning it into malt in hopes of selling it to Maine’s thriving craft beer businesses. …

“It’s good for the farmers, who get a better price for a product they often just plowed under, and it’s good for the craft beer business, where brewers are always looking for points of distinction,” [founder Joel] Alex said.”

Read about some other great services for small farms here.

Photo: Michael Appleton for The New York Times
Mark Jaffe of the Fresh Connection picks up fresh eggs from a farmer’s stand in Union Square, Manhattan. He will make deliveries to restaurants and groceries.

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Unless you are going to the Danforth Museum of Art, I do not recommend ever going to Framingham (traffic issues, strip mall issues).

But I am very glad I finally made it to the Danforth today because it is a lovely museum with a community outreach effort that I admire.

The exhibit I went to see was described in the Boston Globe by by Sebastian Smee.

“One of the things you notice first in ‘Eternal Presence,’ a terrific career survey of John Wilson at the Danforth Museum of Art, is how attentive Wilson is to the faces of children. From his earliest days sketching his brother to his most recent large-scale drawings in charcoal, the impulse has remained the same: It is an impulse toward clarity, toward truth. He doesn’t sentimentalize or caricature children. …

“What you notice later is the high number of pictures showing children in the arms of adult men and women. … Wilson is after something elemental and profound. But the resulting image is not just another mother and child, or dad with young kid. There is instead, each time, something tender and hard-won about what you are looking at. A hope, a promise, a lament all in one.

“Wilson, 90, is one of Boston’s most esteemed and accomplished artists. He was born in Roxbury, the son of parents from British Guiana (now the nation of Guyana), was admitted to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 1939 after developing a natural aptitude for art at the Roxbury Boys Club, where he attended classes taught by SMFA students.”

Smee goes on to describe Wilson’s long career, including a stint in France, his interest in the Mexican muralists, and his sculptures of Martin Luther King Jr. (one is in the Capitol rotunda).

Amazing that the artist is around and will be giving a talk at the museum. Try to go. The show is up until March 24. And you may enjoy as much as I did the African American sculptures by Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller from the permanent collection and the joyful Harlem watercolors of Richard Yarde.

More at the Globe.

Lithograph by John Wilson

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