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
Every time of year is a great time for reading but there is something about summer with it’s longer days, lemonade and lounging that is particularly inviting to curling up with a good book. Here are some of the buzziest books of the season for all sorts of summer fun!
Alex is quiet and studious. Poppy is a wild child. But after sharing a ride home for the summer, the two form a surprising friendship. Every summer the two find their way back to each other for a magical weeklong vacation. Until one trip goes awry, and they lose touch. Now, two years later, Poppy’s in a rut and nothing is making her happy. In fact, the last time she remembers feeling truly happy was on that final, ill-fated Summer Trip. The answer to all her problems is obvious: She needs one last vacation to win back her best friend.
Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits. When tragedy strikes, Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian. Despite having a set of “Guncle Rules” ready to go, Patrick has no idea what to expect. Quickly realizing that parenting–even if temporary–isn’t solved with treats and jokes, Patrick’s eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you’re unfailingly human.
Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer. Shane Hall is a reclusive, award‑winning novelist, who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up in New York. When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising the eyebrows of the Black literati. What no one knows is that fifteen years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. While they may be pretending not to know each other, they can’t deny their chemistry—or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books through the years. Over the next seven days, amidst a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect—but Eva’s wary of the man who broke her heart, and wants him out of the city so her life can return to normal. Before Shane disappears though, she needs a few questions answered..
Best Book for Readers Who like Twists and Turns
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris | print / digital
Young, literary, and ambitious, Nella Rogers has spent the last two years as an editorial assistant at Wagner Books, a premier publishing house, where she’s been the only Black person in the room. She’s excited when she detects another Black girl on her floor: finally, someone else who gets it. And she does, at first. Wagner’s newest editorial assistant, Hazel-May McCall, cool and self-possessed, is quick to befriend Nella, echoing her frustrations with the never-spoken racial politics of their office, encouraging her to speak up. But it doesn’t take long for Nella to realize there’s something off about Hazel, even if she can’t quite put her finger on it.
For years, rumors have swirled about a secret, women-only social club where the elite tastemakers of NYC meet. People in the know whisper all sorts of claims: But no one knows for sure. That is, until journalist Jillian Beckley decides she’s going to get the scoop and break into the club. But the deeper she gets into this new world, the more suspicious Jillian becomes. The women are really into astrology and witchcraft, and their lives are somehow perfect. Too perfect. These women have a secret.
Now that Spring is here, it’s time to get outside! Did you know that with your Bexley Public Library card you can check out telescopes and birding kits?
Two birding kits, one for individuals and one for families, are available for a two-week checkout period. Each pack contains one set of binoculars, a variety of three field guides, two birding activity sheets, and a Birding Quick Start Guide. The family kit includes an extra set of compact binoculars suitable for a child or adult. Check out the borrowing guidelines here.
As the nights get warmer, what better time to borrow a telescope from BPL? Two telescopes are available for patrons to view astronomical events, learn more about our solar system and develop a greater appreciation for the earth’s place in the universe. These telescope kits include EZ Finder Scopes for aiming, instructions, eyepieces for magnification, LED mini red flashlights to help with night vision, and skygazing resources. Check out the borrowing guidelines here.
One of my favorite outdoor activities this spring has been exploring trails, big and small, across Ohio. Recently the Ohio Department of Natural Resources released the DETOUR app which allows you to explore trails systems across the state from your phone. You can explore Columbus & Franklin County Metro Parks, Cleveland Metroparks, Central Ohio Greenways, and so many more!
Whatever you do this spring, make sure to get outside and soak up all of the goodness that Mother Nature has bestowed at our feet!
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
April 2021 marks the 25th annual celebration of National Poetry Month and 51 years of recognizing Earth Day. What better way to honor these two significant milestones than look at how nature has inspired poetry then and now.
An incredible inspiration, nature allowed The Romantics to reflect on the environment’s impact in our daily lives, physically and emotionally…while modern-day ecopoetry focuses more on nature, it’s non-human inhabitants, and examines humans’ impact on the environment.
When I think of nature, my mind immediately goes to my favorite poet John Keats. Whether you’re reading To Autumn, Ode to a Nightingale, or Sonnet VII [O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell], Keats has a way of transporting you into the dreamiest and earthy settings.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease, For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
To Autumn by John Keats via poetryfoundation.org/poems/44484/to-autumn
And while I’m in my happy place reading poetry from The Romantics, I also love diving into modern-day poetry coming from ecopoets!
So, what is ecopoetry exactly?
…an ecopoem needs to be environmental and it needs to be environmentalist. By environmental, I mean first that an ecopoem needs to be about the nonhuman natural world — wholly or partly, in some way or other, but really and not just figuratively. In other words, an ecopoem is a kind of nature poem. But an ecopoem needs more than the vocabulary of nature.
Why Ecopoetry? There’s no Planet B. by John Shoptaw via poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/articles/70299/why-ecopoetry
Whether you’re a fan of Keats, Wordsworth, Shelley, or Blake or you prefer modern day ecopoetry, there is something for every reader at BPL.
Two literary legends, Larry McMurtry and Beverly Cleary, died last Thursday, March 25. Both were prolific and influential, and driven to write books that better reflected their lives than the stories they grew up reading.
Cleary wrote many books about kids and their adventures, but is most famous for her books about Ramona Quimby and her family. She wrote books that realistically portrayed middle class kids, rather than the books she’d grown up with, which tended to be about rich, British children. “I wanted to read funny stories about the sort of children I knew, and I decided that someday when I grew up I would write them.” (New York Times, 3/26/21). Cleary’s books about the Quimbys and other characters from Klickitat Street are available on Libby and Hoopla, including some Spanish translations.
McMurtry was known for writing “anti-westerns;” his stories were more realistic and based on his experience growing up in Texas, rather than romanticizing the American West. He described himself as “a critic of the myth of the cowboy.” While he may be best known for Lonesome Dove, his Pulitzer Prize winning book and popular mini-series, he wrote more than 30 novels, and many memoirs, essays, nonfiction books, and screenplays. He won an Academy Award for his screenplay ofBrokeback Mountain (based on a Annie Proulx short story), and several of his books became movies, including Horseman, Pass By (Hud), The Last Picture Show, and Terms of Endearment.
If you’re curious about McMurtry, we’re lucky that his prolific catalog is available through BPL not only in print, but on Libby and Hoopla. In fact, Lonesome Dove: The Complete Miniseries, is available on demand through Hoopla. Be sure to check out these titles, available in either print or digital format:
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.
With origins in socialist and communist political movements in the 20th century and second wave feminism in the 1960s, the United Nations recognized March 8 as International Women’s Day in 1977. According to the UN, “it is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.” March is also recognized as Women’s History Month in the United States.
The world has been ravaged by the pandemic since the last International Women’s Day and in the United States, communities which were already underserved have been especially hard-hit by rates of serious illness, death, and economic hardship. Likewise, there have been shocking, but perhaps not surprising, reports of the myriad ways in which the economic collapse brought on by the pandemic has singularly and negatively impacted women. The Brookings Institution released this report which helps summarize the complex range issues now facing working women, stating bluntly, “COVID-19 is hard on women because the U.S. economy is hard on women, and this virus excels at taking existing tensions and ratcheting them up.” A lack of access to childcare, traditional gender roles inside and outside the home, the fact that women are disproportionately represented in low-wage jobs, and a lack of support and critical infrastructure for families and working women are all contributing factors making the impact of COVID-19 especially hard on women.
The dramatic impacts of the pandemic on women in particular highlight how much there is still to address in the United States–and globally–if we hope to achieve gender equity. International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate and reflect on the achievements and struggles of women past and present, and take action for the future.
Here are 6 of my suggestions of books written by women, about women. Enjoy!
Required Reading: Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall | print / digital
From as far back as the movement for women’s suffrage in the United States, mainstream feminism has been plagued by either outright racism and/or the idea that feminism is, can, and should be, a color-blind philosophy. Feminism is bound up with all the other -isms: classism, racism, capitalism, tribalism. They’re inseparable, so talking about them at all can be complicated and overwhelming. Mikki Kendall, however, gets to the point with critical clarity in Hood Feminism stating, “true feminist solidarity across racial lines means being willing to protect each other, speaking up when the missing women are not from your community, and calling out ways that predatory violence can span multiple communities.”
For the History Buff: A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell | print / digital
Viriginia Hall’s story is exceptional in the specifics: she was an intelligent, savvy, single young American woman traveling the world and working for a living in the 1920s and 30s, and eventually became the first British spy in Vichy France, establishing its most essential network of informants, which was critical in winning the Allies the war. Her story, however, is all too familiar in the broad strokes for women in a male-dominated profession. Time and time again, Virginia was underestimated, undervalued, and underappreciated for her hard work, dedication, and skill. Nevertheless, through sheer determination and willpower, Virginia pursued the life she wanted for herself with astonishing results.
A Memoir: In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado | print / digital
According to the publisher’s website, In the Dream House, “is a wrenching, riveting book that explodes our ideas about what a memoir can do and be.” Author Carmen Maria Machado explores her experience of a traumatic relationship with a charming but volatile woman using second-person narrative and painful honesty. NPR’s Gabino Iglesias says in their review, “this book is a scream that ensures visibility, a chronicle of truth that weights more than a thousand theories and all the efforts to erase the reality of abuse in lesbian couples.” This revolutionary memoir is not to be missed.
Essays that Hit Different: Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino | print / digital
The essays from this collection that I think about the most are called, “Always Be Optimizing” and “The Cult of the Difficult Woman.” Jia Tolentino’s adroit, sharp, and witty essays are a critical commentary on our culture made to feel deeply personal. She structures the book around nine different themes, including: being a person on the Internet, deified productivity, pop Feminism, and so forth. Not every essay is entirely relatable for every reader, but if you are an internet-using human, prepare to feel very seen.
The Multigenerational Family Saga:The Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz | print / digital
This debut novel from Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Connie Schultz is centered around a small blue collar town in Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie. To anyone who’s lived in Ohio, Schultz’s novel will immediately feel familiar. The story follows four generations of women in the Anyplace, Ohio town against the backdrop of World Wars and the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 70s, with attention paid to the setting to make it feel uniquely Ohio. All of the characters in Erietown must face dreams deferred, make hard choices, sacrifice for others, and find identity and meaning in their relationships to each other. Readers of historical fiction and those who like generational family stories will enjoy The Daughters of Erietown.
For Fun:My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite | print / digital
Fast paced and darkly comic, Oyinkan Braithwaite tells a story about sisterhood and the struggle – and power – of being a woman through the lens of an embittered Nigerian woman who realizes her beloved and beautiful sister is a serial killer. My Sister turns the classic competitive sister trope on its head. Sure, one sister is always cleaning up the other sister’s messes, but in this case, the messes are murdered boyfriends. The plot intensifies when the murderous sister sets her sights on someone a little too close for comfort. Oyinkan’s style will make your heart pound with equal parts dread and delight.
And be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming BPL Podcast episode, Investing in Women w/ CEO Kelley Griesmer coming out March 12 at 12AM! To honor Women’s History Month, in this episode, Leann sits down with Kelley Griesmer, CEO of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, to talk about the wealth gap, the importance of investing financially in women, and the new Enduring Progress Initiative focused on breaking down barriers to racial and gender equity.