Juneteenth – also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day – is a holiday that celebrates the emancipation of those who were enslaved in the United States. It originated in Galveston, Texas, recognizing the anniversary of the June 19, 1865 announcement of General Order No. 3. This order freed the remaining enslaved people in the state via President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
To celebrate this historic day, Bexley Public Library, in partnership with The City of Bexley, Bexley Chamber of Commerce, Capital University, Transit Arts, and Bexley Community Foundation, will host a Juneteenth Community Observance. The day will feature a marketplace of Bexley and central Ohio black owned businesses, artists and service providers. Attendees will enjoy music, poetry, art and dance workshops and activities led by community art engagement group, Transit Arts. Bexley Public Library staff will also lead family book reads! The day’s event will conclude with a concert, Songs of Freedom, with Ohio State Senator Herschel Craig will provide the keynote presentation. The celebration will run from 12 PM – 5 PM, on Saturday, June 19 on Capital University’s Main Street Lawn.
And check out the small media list below, with books, music, and films to go along with your Juneteenth celebration! These – and so much more – are always available to you free of charge with your Bexley Library card!
“This is a book about man’s war against nature, and because man is part of nature it is also inevitably a book about man’s war against himself.”
The above quote from Carson can be found in the opening to Mark Bittman’s latest book, Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal. In his book, Bittman traces the history of agriculture from its earliest post-hunter gatherer/small-scale farming to our modern (i.e. “Western”) system which is overwhelmingly industrial, corporate and monopolized. In telling this history, Bittman demonstrates how agriculture systems were (and in many ways, still are) drivers of slavery, colonialism, and famine. And today, this food system is responsible for intensifying climate change, deteriorating the planet, and exacerbating diet-related, chronic diseases. (After all, we can’t ultimately distinguish environmental destruction from human destruction, as Carson’s quote illustrates.)
This history takes up about the first three-quarters of the book. Admittedly, it is a hard-hitting, oftentimes depressing, and exasperating read. But it’s also fascinating, thought-provoking and incredibly important. Rather than repeating that history here, however, I recommend picking up a copy of Bittman’s book yourself. And check out an upcoming program on a very similar topic! “Diet for a Large Planet”, presented by OSU History Professor Chris Otter, will look at the history of how our modern diets – diets largely reliant on red meat, white bread and sugar – developed.
The last quarter of Bittman’s book, thankfully, is much more optimistic and uplifting. After discussing all the ways our current food system is destructive and unsustainable, Bittman highlights efforts both here and abroad to create new types of food systems: fights to raise wages and improve working conditions for workers throughout our food systems, creating more local and regional food networks, transitions to farming that is less reliant of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and national school-lunch programs that use locally sourced ingredients. And while the scale of the problem will require collective and systemic changes, Bittman offers readers ways to make changes in their own individual consumption: changing your eating habits, supporting initiatives to protect the rights of workers in the food and farm industry, and buying food from small-scale farms that use sustainable and holistic farming practices. On the topic of changing eating habits, be sure to attend our virtual program on July 14, “Eating Plants“, where Bexley residents Dr. Andrew Mills and Dr. Jessica Garrett-Mills discuss the practice and philosophy of veganism.
Bittman ends his book with the following: “We are all eaters. Providing the food we need to sustain ourselves and flourish is the single most fundamental and important human occupation. How we do it defines our present and determines our future.” With this in mind, I’m grateful to be a part of the BPL community, which offers invaluable resources and educational materials on such important topics to help learners navigate and understand the world we live in. And I’m grateful for Bittman’s book, which is such a transformative and profound read.
While we have many excellent virtual programs to attend, I’d like to highlight a few animal advocacy groups to get you thinking about what you can do to help our friends in need.
Colony Cats & Dogs is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose primary mission is to address cat overpopulation in central Ohio through public awareness and spay/neuter efforts. Since 2002, their organization has facilitated spay/neuter of nearly 19,000 cats and dogs, and placed more than 15,000 pets in homes.
Specialized help for feral, stray and abandoned cats is a core element of our programs. We assist compassionate caregivers who are feeding and watching over homeless cats by providing TNR (trap-neuter-return) and other support services including food, shelter, vaccines and additional vet care for injuries/illness, as well as educational resources.
Spay & Neuter Abandoned Cats & Kittens, Inc. (SNACK) is an all volunteer organization formed in 2011. SNACK’s mission is to humanely reduce the overpopulation of homeless cats and kittens by conducting, promoting, and supporting trap, neuter, return (TNR) programs and low-cost spay/neuter programs.
Cause for Canines is a 501(c)(3) volunteer-based, all-breed dog rescue founded in Central Ohio, who’s committed to the rescue of homeless dogs, dogs given up by their owners due to difficult circumstances or those in danger of abuse or neglect, and dogs in shelters that are at risk of euthanasia.
Our mission is to find safe, loving, committed and permanent homes for the dogs we take into rescue. All of our dogs are placed in foster care and receive any necessary medical care and treatments and are spayed/neutered and microchipped, while waiting for their forever homes. Applicants are put through an extensive adoption process to ensure our dogs are placed in the best homes possible. We also provide education to prospective adopters to ensure they have the tools necessary to provide appropriate pet care for their new forever friend.
SPEAK! for the Unspoken is a registered 501(c)(3) pet rescue located in the Columbus, Ohio area devoted to special needs animal rescue and education.
We focus our rescue efforts on special needs dogs and cats, double merle dogs born with vision and/or hearing deficits due to poor breeding practices. We believe special needs dogs can live happy and healthy lives, and until the careless breeding stops, we will continue to find these special dogs the homes they deserve. We see possibilities, not disabilities. We adopted our motto “special needs and good deeds” to incorporate all the animals outside of the ‘special needs’ category that we are able to help. We are a foster based rescue so all of the animals in our program are living and cared for in a loving home.
Sunrise Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that provides a loving and permanent shelter for over 170 formerly abused, neglected, disabled, or unwanted farm and companion animals.
We at Sunrise Sanctuary encourage more humane and compassionate behaviors and believe that each living creature has value and deserves to live free of suffering and exploitation.
Whether you’re new to animal advocacy or a lifelong defender, we can all do our part to help creatures great and small. Check out these books to see how you can help animals in your community and across the world:
Voices from the Ape House by Beth Armstrong | print
Happily Ever Esther by Steve Jenkins & Derek Walter | print
War time rationing of the food supply combined with shortages in production found many front yards across Bexley converted into vegetable gardens. These Victory Gardens that first appeared during World War I were encouraged during World War II by the Bexley Garden Club.
Experiencing demand for ground to plant gardens, the garden club acquired undeveloped land, rent free, from the Berwick Corporation. Located on the south side of Livingston Avenue, the ten acre tract was divided into forty by fifty foot plots, plowed and fertilized, and offered to anyone desiring to plant a garden of vegetables to aid the war effort.
In March of 1943, Bexley residents lined up at the Bexley Garden Club headquarters, at Bexley Public Library, and registered for over two hundred plots. During a meeting at the Montrose school building, a specialist in vegetable gardening from The Ohio State University provided advice and for two hours daily, a garden clinic was held at the library to distribute literature.
Victory Gardens were not entirely without problems. Soon after their planting the city began to enforce “an almost forgotten ordinance” to prevent dogs, who were feeding on the gardens, from roaming the streets. Emboldened by the dog quarantine, rats became a problem and by June complaints of rats eating the produce poured into city hall.
Despite losses of crops, the amount of produce grown in Victory Gardens across the United States during the Second World War was estimated to be equal to commercial production. After the war, such mass production in gardens waned, but renewed efforts to promote Victory Gardens emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Victory over Virus Gardens” promoted by the Ohio State Extension and Ohio Department of Agriculture during the fall of 2020, produced carrots, kale, beets, radishes, lettuce, and herbs, much of which were donated to community food pantries. The Bexley Community Gardens were included in the “pilot gardens” across the state.
To learn more about Bexley’s Community Gardens and the history and architecture of the homes on this year’s Bexley Women’s Club House & Garden Tour, join us for a virtual program via Zoom at 7 PM on Thursday, May 20. Registration is required.
Did you know that May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month? During the month of May, we recognize the contributions and achievements of Asian American and Pacific Islander Americans in history, culture, science and beyond. Celebrate with us this May (and every month) by reading, watching, and listening to the multitude of AAPI authors and artists available to you through the Bexley Public Library and the CLC consortium! See the small collection of films, musical albums and books below to get started.
And be sure to register for this month’s BPL Virtual Book Club, where we’ll be discussing Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise, winner of the 2019 National Book Award. Provoking conversations about fiction and truth, friendships and loyalties, Trust Exercise is sure to inspire a lively discussion. The discussion will take place on Wednesday May 5 at 7pm on Zoom. Hope to see you there!
The Farewell; Written and directed by LuLu Wang | DVD
Lucky Grandma; Directed by Sasie Sealy, Written by Angela Cheng and Sasie Sealy | DVD / digital
Last week we had Sharon Udoh on the BPL Podcast where she spoke with adult services librarian Jeff about her professional career as an Enrollment Coordinator at ACPA (The Arts & College Preparatory Academy) and diversity in education. While we got to know about what she does in the daytime, Udoh is an enigmatic figure that has multiple layers to her artistry.
Sharon Udoh is a person known well throughout the art and music scene of Columbus for her various ventures as a musical performer. She is best known for the work in her band Counterfeit Madison, where she has put out two records and several EPs and singles. (available through the CLC or bandcamp). On the podcast she discussed a third album, stating “…when I recorded my third album, which hasn’t been released yet and I don’t know if it ever will be” with laughter. Despite the purgatory state of new Counterfeit Madison material, Udoh has still kept busy with other projects in the musical landscape.
Udoh has also appeared on experimental hip hop group Clipping’s record, There Existed an Addiction to Blood, on the song “All In Your Head”. As the song crescendos, Udoh’s sings her beautiful gospel over the drones and buzzes within the song’s production, showcasing her diverse range of musical identity.
There’s no way to box Sharon Udoh. Much like her eclectic professional career (wherein she has bounced from C++ coder to dancer instructor), her exploration in music is boundless. Her musical identity is reflective of the legacy of Black performance.
Sharon Udoh has recently collaborated with Chamber Brews, composing a piece entitled “Dig”, which can be found the Johnstone Fund for Music’s facebook page.
For more more on Black artistry, be sure to check out our Black Performance in America: A Celebrationprogram with speakers Hanif Abdurraqib, Dionne Custer Edwards, Dr. Mark Lomax II, and Paisha Thomas on Thursday, April 8, 7:00pm – 8:00pm.
One of Bexley’s oldest businesses, Rubino’s, was established in 1954 by Ruben Cohen, who adapted his Jewish name to sound more Italian as the name of his pizzeria and spaghetti restaurant. There were only ten places in Columbus for pizza at the time, and Cohen made Rubino’s special for its thin crispy crust and “fairly secret” sauce recipe.
When the red brick building was sold in 1983, over five hundred Bexley citizens signed a petition while others picketed outside of city hall to save Rubino’s. The city denied the new owner’s request for a zoning variance that would convert the restaurant into a meat market, and Rubino’s renegotiated its lease.
In 1988, Cohen sold the restaurant to employees Frank Marchese and Tommy Culley. Operated today by Marchese’s children, little of the atmosphere, neon signs, and dining room have changed: only the competition along Main Street.
Bexley Pizza Plus was established in 1980 by Don Schmitt. It was originally located in the 2500 block of E Main Street, and relocated next door to Rubino’s in 2006. Brad Rocco, a graduate of Bexley High School, started as a delivery driver at Bexley Pizza Plus, and went on to become the co-owner in 1994. They gained national and international attention in pizza competitions, like competing two years with the U.S Pizza Team, and winning the International Pizza Challenge in 2014.
Read more about the history of pizza in Columbus, Ohio in Jim Ellison’s new book, Columbus Pizza: A Slice of History, available now at BPL and Gramercy Books in Bexley.