Plugging stuff: UREC, FFAPL gala

The 8th annual Literary Legends Gala will be held on October 16th at the APL Pine Hills Branch.

URECOccasionally, I would plug items for organizations that I was fond of/involved with on these pages. Then I cut back because they tended to be Albany-based organizations. Most of the readers of this blog are not from around here.

So I tended to plug happenings at my church, et al. on my Times Union blog. But now, I have no TU blog.

At the same time, I didn’t have all that much TO advocate for. And what I DID have to note was on Zoom, and except for sharing the home-grown music concerts of my niece during the pandemic, I just couldn’t muster the energy to get all that involved.

But now that I’m not so melancholy, I’ve rethought this. For instance, I should be promoting the Underground Railroad Education Center’s FreedomCon 2021 Zoom Series – Freedom Road: the Struggle for Justice Continues, especially since I’m one of the sponsors. The event has been going on since February.

Coming up these Saturdays at 3 pm, Eastern time:
Jul 24 Racist Violence is as American as Cherry Pie
Aug 21 Food Justice: Hunger, Child Poverty and Farming while Black
Sept 25 Destined to engage and collaborate: Examining the Social/Political Dynamics of Native Americans and African Americans in the United States
Oct 23 Building Community through Free Black Migration before the Civil War
Nov 27 Native American Lives Matter
It’s $10 per session.

Oh, and before that: the  July 4 Oration is back in person at The Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence, 194 Livingston Avenue, Albany, NY 12210. But NOTE: it is on Saturday, JULY 3 beginning at 11 a.m. It features “an enriching presentation by Rev. Roxanne Booth on The Third Reconstruction.” I’ve heard her speak before, and she’s quite good.

The talk will be followed by light refreshments. Bring a chair and a dish to share if you like. Oh, and “this program will be live-streamed for those unable to join in-person. Details will be available on or before July 1.”

Library types know how to party!

literary legends 2021The 8th annual Literary Legends Gala will be held on October 16th at the Pine Hills Branch APL.2021 Literary Legends Tickets on sale NOW. Support the Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library and join us as we celebrate this year’s honorees, Lydia Davis and Eugene Mirabelli.

“Last year’s gala was virtual and we are navigating the new normal and learning what will make our honorees and guests comfortable. Like you, we are figuring things out as the post-pandemic situation changes each week. Some things we do not yet know: there may or may not be a buffet, or a live jazz band. But there will be food, and there will be music! And our silent auction is back this year! Get your ticket and join the party!

“The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library provide critical financial support to the Albany Public Library in order to help the Library provide education, literacy, career development, cultural enrichment, and lifelong learning. We can’t wait to party with you at the library!”

Buy general tickets here or purchase Honorary Committee tickets here. Purchase your Honorary Committee ticket by August 6th to be listed on the invitation card. You may also buy an ad at either link. If you are interested in donating food or a silent auction item, please use the link here.

Openish in the liminal space

standing on the threshold between two realities

liminalI went to two events recently which made me feel more OK mentally than I’ve felt in a long, long, long while.

This is not to say that I hadn’t felt glimpses of this before. Eating lunch on April 6 with friends Carol, Karen, Bill – all of whom I’ve known since kindergarten. Also, Michael, who I only met 35 years ago. This was 13 days after my second vaccine shot, so I was still feeling tentative.

On May 1, I had a date day with my wife, seeing the tulips in Washington Park, visiting Peebles Park, and eating indoors for the first time in 15 months, which made me a tad wary.

The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library had a small reception for our Literary Legends for 2021 this month. The accomplished Lydia Davis signed my copy of her collected works back in 2013. I knew Gene Mirabelli 30 years ago as a mentor of other writers, in addition to his own prodigious output, and, remarkably, he looks about the same.

I got to chat with both and their families and later introduce the authors. This felt… normal. In another time, this might have been No Big Deal. But in light of the last 15 months, it felt like, to quote Joe Biden when the Affordable Care Act was passed nearly a dozen years ago, a BFD.

It helped that the day was PERFECT. Not hot and humid, or chilly and raw, or rainy, since the event was held in the garden of the Bach branch of the APL.

Then I had a delightful conversation with the two librarians, Christina and Deanna, about why I play my CDs in birthday order, which, because they are librarians, made sense to them. It’s SO good to be understood.

Church

Then on Father’s Day, my wife and I attended church in person, as opposed to on Facebook. We were asked if we felt ill (ill and well sound the same with a mask) and were seated n socially-distanced “pods”. But it was in the building. No one could sing except the soloist; I discovered at least one other person besides me moving their arm as though they were singing the individual notes. Hearing Trevor on the organ in that space was a vast improvement over listening to it on the laptop.

In the sermon, the pastor used a word I had heard only on a single occasion before. The same pastor talked about liminal space.

From here: “The word ‘liminal’ comes from the Latin root, limen, which means ‘threshold.’ The liminal space is the ‘crossing over’ space – a space where you have left something behind, yet you are not yet fully in something else.” An example would be “that time in the early morning when you are floating in and out of sleep.”

Or from here: “In certain spaces under certain circumstances, you’ll experience a feeling of things being slightly off. An altered reality, if you will.”

So we are in a liminal time. Not quite back to “normal”, as much as some folks want like to believe. Vaccine reluctance in some parts of the country could – strike that; probably will – bring on a surge in the Delta variant of COVID-19. We need to protect the children who haven’t had the opportunity to get the vaccine, which is why APL still requires masks indoors.

But we’re getting there.

Mini-campaign to raise $ for Wifi expansion at APL

connectivity in Albany

The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library has launched a mini-campaign to raise $8000-$10000 this weekend for Wifi expansion at Albany Public Library. Have you stopped outside an APL branch this year, expecting to use get onto the WiFi?

The FFFAPL of APL is helping to make that WiFi signal available! This is vitally important in this continuing period of COVID-19, with many schools and offices remaining closed.

“The Albany Public Library (APL) is the key provider of broadband for those without a reliable internet connection at home. It will cost approximately $2,000 per branch for hardware and wiring. We aim to raise $8000, or enough for four branches, by Monday, October 19th.”

Information about the campaign may be found here .

This will be the organization’s first TEXT TO GIVE campaign. Please share the message:

Text “WIFI” to 518-547-1005 to donate!

with friends and colleagues tonight and tomorrow. Or send them

the link http://weblink.donorperfect.com/outdoor-wifi

to submit payment. 

Vote for Albany (NY) library, school board candidates by mail

ACSD Board of Education adopted a $261.6 million budget proposal.

voteAlbany voters will have a safe way to vote for Albany Public Library trustees, the Albany City School District board, and the ACSD budget. It is being conducted entirely by absentee ballot.

Ballots will be mailed on May 26 to qualified voters and are due by June 9 at 5 p.m. This is NOT a postmark deadline. At that time, the district will begin the process of counting the votes to determine the results.

Since the APL trustees did not request an increase in the library budget for 2020-2021, no vote is required. There are eight candidates on the ballot for two open APL trustee seats in the election. There are two seats, both carrying full five-year terms, open.

The candidates were placed on the ballot in alphabetical order:

(1) Jessica Balarin of Partridge St.

(2) Kewsi Burgess of Catherine St.

(3) Donna Dixon of Fleetwood Ave.

(4) Jeffrey Keller of Walter St.

(5) Thomas McCarthy Jr. of Stueben St.

(6) Katharine McNamara of Cardinal Ave.

(7) James Munro of Glendale Ave.

(8) Brigette Pryor of Myrtle Ave.

The library will publish candidate biographical information on its website by May 26. APL will be hosting a virtual meet-the-candidate forum on Tuesday, May 26 at 6 pm. It will be live-streamed on YouTube and recorded for later viewing.

School budget

Per the ACSD website: “The ballot also will include Proposition #2, a proposal to purchase a piece of property adjacent to Delaware Community School for $13,300 using funds from the capital reserve. The property would be used for additional recreational space for students. Proposition #2 would have no impact on taxes.

“In addition to the school budget and proposition votes, three candidates are running for one open board seat: Victor Cain, Hassan Elminyawi, and Edith Leet. The board appointed Elminyawi last summer to serve the remainder of a vacant position; that term expires June 30.

See if you’re registered to vote for the library and school board candidates, and the school budget HERE. If you do not receive a ballot by the end of May, contact the school board clerk – Tanya Bowie (518 475-6015, tbowie@albany.k12.ny.us) – who will verify your registration status.

Note: The Presidential, State and Local Primaries will take place on June 23, 2020. Contact the Albany County Board of Elections for more details.

Author Jeff Sharlet at APL April 22

born in Schenectady County, NY

Sharlet, Jeff_credit_JuliaRabig“Why do we sometimes gravitate toward the unknown when we feel alone? The writing in Jeff Sharlet’s gorgeous new book, ‘This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers,’ takes place between lonely traumas: his father’s heart attack and his own, two years later. As a magazine writer and the author of several books, Sharlet has made a long career of telling stories, but after his heart attack he started to re-evaluate the kinds he thought were worthwhile.”

That’s the opening of the stellar review in the New York Times of Sharlet’s seventh book. “He turned to posting snapshots on Instagram. These were not solipsistic selfies but images of strangers and their lives.” It’s a book framed by insomnia, late-night driving and “the companionship of other darkness-dwellers: night bakers and last-call drinkers, frightened people and frightening people, the homeless and the lost (or merely disoriented), addicts and people on the margins.”

Jeff, who was born in Schenectady County, notes that while most of the book is reported, every now and then, it returns to the personal. He says it’s a very upstate book. Three chapters take place in Schenectady, including the longest narrative text-image sequence and the penultimate scene. There are a few other bits of the Capital District, too. It also takes place in L.A., Moscow, Dublin, and Vermont, but there’s a Schenectady sensibility throughout, he believes.

The Family

The acclaimed author and journalist is noted for The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, his bestselling 2008 book. It explores the most powerful and most weirdly secretive Christian conservative organization in Washington. The book was adapted to a 2019 five-part Netflix documentary series, THE FAMILY.

Jeff Sharlet is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Dartmouth College. His work has earned numerous awards, including the National Magazine Award and the Outspoken Award.

Please join The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library for the National Library Week Distinguished Author Dinner and Lecture on Wednesday, April 22th with author Jeff Sharlet. The dinner begins at five o’clock p.m. at the University Club, 141 Washington Avenue in Albany and costs $30 per person. If you wish to attend, please purchase tickets online.

The lecture by Mr. Sharlet begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington Avenue Branch, 161 Washington Avenue. It is free and open to the public.