Monday, December 01, 2008
This tool allows anyone and everyone to post and respond to suggestions -- we hope to use it to better understand our the needs of our audience and to get feedback on the kinds of programs & exhibits you would most like to see. Please take a minute to post a suggestion, or make a comment about someone else's thoughts at http://russell.crowdsound.com/talk.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
All good things must come to an end. And so it was this past Sunday, November 16th, that the Russell Library hosted the sixth and final event in the Weaving the Threads of Justice program series. Featured guests included lifelong social activists & folk music icons Guy and Candie Carawan, documentary filmmaker Heather Carawan, and retired UGA professor Dr. Art Rosenbaum.
Guy and Candie Carawan were a vital part of the Highlander staff during the Civil Rights Movement. Guy, a folk musician and the center’s music director in the late 1950s and early 1960s, introduced, “We Shall Overcome” during a training camp for SNCC workers in 1960, after which it quickly emerged as the anthem of the Movement. They have traveled the world singing folk tunes, and have continued to live and work for justice throughout the South. Now retired and living in New Market,
The program kicked off with brief introductions and a screening of the documentary film, The Telling Takes Me Home, a film which explores the lives of Guy & Candie, through the lens of the director, their daughter Heather Carawan. A question and answer session with all three Carawans followed, with ample time for the crowd to partake in a delicious reception in the lobby. Our afternoon concluded with an informal jam session featuring the musical styling of the elder Carawans and Dr. Rosenbaum. By the end, the whole audience was standing – arm in arm – to the tune of “We Shall Overcome”.
Our final event was jam packed – with more than 60 people in attendance! Both the quality film and performance, as well as the crowd gathered, ended this program series on a high note. We thank all of the individuals and sponsors who made these events possible, and look forward to upcoming events series in the spring of 2009 – stay tuned!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28th marked the final community forum event in the
The deliberation got off to an interesting start, as participants tackled all three approaches at once! But the crowd was quick to pick favorites, and Approach 1 (Reducing our Dependence on Foreign Energy) proved the least popular. Many spoke out about the limited supply of untapped oil in the
Approach 2, which suggests a focus on moving away from use of fossil fuels through investing in alternative sources of energy, received positive if skeptical reviews. While most of the crowd agreed that the research, development, and adoption of other renewable energy sources is an essential step, they also realized that this is an option that will take time. Can we last another 50 years living on oil and coal? Can average Americans afford expensive new technologies? One participant revisited Approach 1 during this conversation, suggesting that tapping US resources now might provide a crutch for Americans to bear down on while other options are investigated and implemented on a large scale. Only one participant seemed to take issue with the adoption of nuclear power as a viable and safe option for the future.
Nearly the entire group favored Approach 3 (Reduce our demand for energy), with a mixture of elements from Approach 2. Everyone recognized the wasteful nature of American culture and that until we find a way to change the habits of individuals, there isn’t much hope for solving the energy problem. Although slight mention was made of using government regulation to curb energy use, more people seemed to believe that the increasing price of gas and other commodities will force people to re-evaluate the way they live. Several older participants in the crowd, who made great contributions to the discussion, repeatedly suggested that solving the energy crisis is the responsibility of younger generations. Younger participants in this group seemed ready to take on this challenge, but also urged their elders to keep pushing for change as well – because it’s the future of their children and grandchildren that is at stake.
The turnout for this forum was solid and the discussion thought provoking – especially some shocking statistics about the size of the carbon footprint created by meat and dairy production alone. A good ending to our fall forum series – and hopefully, we’ll have some returning participants on the next go-round. Stay tuned for updates on other forums from the Russell by visiting our home page or joining our facebook group.
Monday, October 27, 2008
On Sunday, October 26th the Russell Library hosted, “The South and Appalachia – Linking to the World: The Current Concerns and Initiatives of the Highlander Research and
Guest speaker Susan Williams, coordinator of Highlander’s Education Team as well as the Highlander Library and
Following the film Williams went on to tell the audience about the most recent developments at the Center, including the proposed acquisition of an apple orchard on neighboring property. Highlander is exploring ways to incorporate the orchard into the workshops and programs they offer. Williams noted that far too many people have never picked an apple or even seen one growing on the tree, so this orchard will be a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with the land. She opened the floor up to questions and used audience commentary as starting points for new areas of discussion: How can you make an activist group sustainable? How does a movement attract younger generations committed to the cause? How does a non-profit group build a donor base? In a short time, Williams was able to share just a few secrets of the long lasting success of this incredible institution.
In addition to the regular snacks and coffee offered at the reception, audience members were treated to handpicked apples from Highlander’s orchard! Audience members mingled till nearly 5:15 – a sign that a good time was had by all!
Time has flown by this fall – and our last program in the Weaving the Threads series is nearly upon us! Please join us at the Russell Library on Sunday, November 16th from for “Reflections on Songs, Actions, and Social Justice: Film, Lecture, and Music from Guy & Candi Carawan.” In true Highlander fashion, we will have music, film, discussion…and of course food, for what is sure to be a fantastic closing event. The exhibit gallery will be open to the public during this event. For more information please visit: http://www.libs.uga.edu/russell/exhibits/highlander/events.shtml or call (706) 542-5788.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
This marked both our third trip to Tifton this fall, as well as our third forum on the issue of health care. As in the two previous deliberations held on this topic, at the Carter Presidential Library (9/17/08) and the Russell Library in
Notable Moments in the Deliberation:
- One of the physicians in the crowd described flu shots as something one does for the whole community – an individual action that prevents others from becoming ill. Another participant said that she had always considered flu shots something she did for herself and not for others – but rethought her commitment to the practice after the physicians comment.
- In discussing measures that could be taken to reduce costs in health care, the entire group unanimously agreed that advertisements for prescription drugs should be banned on television. In the end, they felt that tax payer money is paying for these advertisements which only encourage people to self-diagnose and demand unnecessary drugs from their doctors.
- In talks about rapidly advancing medical technology, the group discussed excessive (and expensive) testing that takes place during visits to the doctor. Participants felt that although extra tests are often unnecessary, doctors tend to test more to avoid malpractice suits.
- Many in the crowd expressed that health care was both a right and a responsibility and were in favor of government intervention for changes to the system.
- Several stressed the importance of a focus on end of life decisions that contribute significantly to the rising costs and felt that this was an issue that also needed attention.
- As in other forums, people spoke to the escalating problems due to the shortage of doctors especially those in primary practice or internists. Questions were raised about what kind of incentives might encourage more doctors in this category to be trained, graduate and practice.
- Some were distressed with the complexity of medical records and the difficulties in deciphering the medical paperwork from service providers, insurance companies and others in the system. They suggested a far greater need for clarity and transparency.
- There was considerable understanding that the problems of so many uninsured Americans had consequences that were negative for all. “One way or another those who can pay, will pay.”
Although this was our final stop in Tifton for now, we hope to plan more forums in this part of the state AND to train people in the community to frame and moderate issues. More on that in the coming months.... Our next (and final!) community forum this fall, “The Energy Problem: Choices for an Uncertain Future” will be held on next Tuesday, October 28th from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Richard Russell Library in
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
During the last several years McDermott has conducted extensive interviews with current and former staff members at the
The speaker used a short video describing Highlander’s history as a visual aid, pausing at various points to identify important women on the screen and to expound on the small and large ways that each contributed to the school’s development. They were fundraisers, teachers, and strike organizers. They introduced music and theatrical performance to the school’s regular activities. More than anything they succeeded in bringing a genuine hospitality to this place, contributing to an atmosphere of trust and comfort in tumultuous times. In discussing Highlander’s citizenship school initiative, an effort to promote literacy and therefore voter viability in the South Carolina Sea Islands, McDermott choked up for a moment when recalling the incredible achievements of this female-led education project. She moved from past to present seamlessly, ending with a few words about the current Director of Highlander, Pam McMichael, and the move towards a less hierarchical leadership model at the Center. Following the presentation, McDermott fielded questions from the audience and journeyed to the Russell Library for glimpse at the new exhibit.
The film screened during this presentation is currently on view at the Russell Library, as part of the exhibition Weaving the Threads of Justice: Highlander Center, 1932-2007 . The exhibit is free and open to the public Monday-Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm, through November 30, 2008.
As we near the end of October, we have ONLY two more events in the Weaving program series: “The South and Appalachia – Linking to the World: The Current Concerns and Initiatives of the Highlander Research and
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
On the road again…the Russell Forum for CivicLife in
The night’s discussion was varied, but continually turned back to the blurring of lines between news, media, and propaganda. Comments frequently expressed a fear that many Americans don’t differentiate between television personalities who express opinions versus viable newspapers and nightly news programs which report facts. Even then, the crowd drew distinctions between local and national news sources – feeling that they could count on their local newspaper much more than many national sources which tend to reflect left or right-leaning biases. Although this crowd had a lively discussion with differing perspectives, they expressed a shared concern for this problem, especially in light of the recent economic crisis – this is a time when Americans need to be able to trust in their new sources. They favored Approach 3 (get citizens involved), and the idea that it is up to citizens to “use the off button” and develop alternative news sources until the main stream media responds to an increasing demand for honest, solid reporting of events.
Carter Presidential Library in
A kick-off question from the moderator: Before reading any of the literature provided at the forum, what would you have said should be the mission of our public schools? Some responded that we should return to an emphasis on basic skills (reading, writing, and arithmetic) which serve as the building blocks for everything else. Others favored helping students to become good citizens, infusing the classroom with global perspective, or focusing on the skills that would prove useful in the workplace. The varied responses to this initial question set the tone for a great deliberation. Highlights from this discussion:
- In discussing Approach 1 (preparing students for the workplace) many suggested that we can’t anticipate what the workplace will be forty years from now – so how would we decide what skills to teach now?
- Some favored the idea of incorporating more technology and felt that this approach is a way of infusing what is learned inside the classroom with applicability to the real world – something that might help students stay focused and engaged.
- Feelings on Approach 2 (preparing students to be thoughtful citizens) were mixed. While many expressed that they liked this model the best, they wrestled with how it could be implemented effectively into a curriculum without being too overt.
- One very thoughtful comment was that teaching citizenship in schools doesn’t replace what is learned at home – but it does reinforce those ideas and shows kids other examples of respect and civic engagement in their teachers and peers.
- When comments turned to the promises of presidential candidates, one participant relayed dismay that the refrain “the children are our future” has become nothing more than a good sound byte. Lightening the mood, another participant added that maybe can always just “drill baby drill” for more children. This exchange conveyed the frustration many people are feeling about a long presidential race and debates filled with unanswered questions.
- Approach 3 (help students discover and develop individual talents) received mixed reviews – participants favored the notion of smaller class size and greater community involvement, but worried that public schools are not a place to specialize. Attendees suggested that it is important for a student to know what he or she is good at – but equally significant to know their weaknesses and learn to cope with more difficult subjects and concepts.
Two more successful forums for civic engagement! For those in
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Excitement was in the air last night as over 80 people
packed into every nook and cranny of the Russell Library’s auditorium to watch the second Presidential Debate. Dr. Paul Gurian, Professor of Political Science at UGA and an expert on campaign strategy, kicked off the program at 8:30 pm with a brief introduction to characteristics of the town hall style debate and an overview of the goals that he expected each candidate to set for their respective performances. Gurian also shared some statistics on the impact high-stakes presidential debates have made historically on potential voters. Just before 9:00pm everyone found a seat (in a chair, on the ground, or even in the lobby), grabbed drinks and snacks, and settled in for the night. Following the debate Dr. Gurian fielded general questions and comments from the crowd, many of whom suggested what sound bytes the media might focus on in the coming days.
Thanks to everyone who made this event such a success! We encourage you to tune in for the third Presidential debate, scheduled for next Wednesday, October 15th at 9:00pm (EST). And to all those in the Athens area, we hope to see you at the Russell’s next community forum, “Making Ends Meet: Is There a Way to Help Working Americans” on Thursday, October 16th from 7:00-9:00 PM at the Oconee Public Library, 1080 Experiment Station Road, Watkinsville, GA. This event is free and open to the public -- light snacks will be provided – thoughtful discussion expected!
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Demosthenian Hall, the fourth oldest building on the UGA campus (ca. 1824), provided a distinguished setting for this discussion of racial politics in the South. Jill Severn, head of access and outreach for the Russell Library, provided brief introductions to the topic and speaker and extended thanks to the audience of students and faculty for their attendance. Craig Breaden, head of Media and Oral History at the Russell Library, proceeded with a well-written talk in which he described they ways white segregationists used propaganda techniques to link the Civil Rights Movement to Communism, in the hopes of undermining the efforts of the former with the notorious reputation of the latter. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of was a film created by Ed Friend and produced by the Georgia Commission of Education, which depicts interracial activities at the
The presentation concluded at 4:15, leaving ample time for attendees to partake of some delicious treats and reflective discussion in the downstairs hall. We look forward to seeing everyone at the next Weaving program, “The Untold Story of Women’s Leadership at the Highlander Research and
The deliberation got off to a fast start when moderators asked the crowd what came to into the mind of an average American when someone mentioned the “energy crisis”. High gas prices seemed to resonate with most people, though the majority of this group seemed far more concerned with the environmental impacts of drilling and the increased risks posed by global warming. Throughout the afternoon’s discussion, the audience voiced that although increasing costs are an important concern for all Americans, it is important to keep the big picture and long-term impact of our dependence on oil in the forefront of this discussion.
Notable Comments from this discussion:
- Where is the breaking point? Several attendees mentioned that we don’t yet know what it will take to decrease oil consumption in the
. As prices continue to climb, people are cutting back, but what will it take for people to stop relying on gas? US
- The crowd found numerous problems with Approach 1 – which suggested a focus on reducing
’s dependence on foreign oil. Most attendees agreed that even if the US tapped its oil reserves, this supply would go into a global market and could be exported to a higher bidder overseas – leaving Americans high and dry. America
- In discussion of Approach 2 – investigating alternative fuel sources – the point was made that there is no truly benign energy source available. Many took issue with the suggestion that nuclear power is a viable alternative and discussed the negative impacts of this energy source.
- Partisan speech played a role in discussing Approach 3 – reducing energy consumption with government regulation. Some attendees looked forward, mentioning the proposed energy platforms of the current Presidential candidates. Others made frequent references to the policy decisions of the Cater and Reagan administrations. It seemed that no politicians have (or had) all the answers.
- One great (and hopeful) comparison was drawn in a brief discussion of the drought in
. Since residents have been forced to restrict their water usage during this period they have managed by employing various conservation measures. Now, people brag about the ways they save on water. If similar restrictions were placed on energy, might we see a similar result? Georgia
- The final point made in the deliberation was this: when people are pushed to the edge, they will revert back to the basics to survive. But, as a culture we have to think more about each other and our environment and less about our own preferences and energy needs. We need to consider how we got to this place in our history and use that analysis as a starting point to make changes for the future.
The turnout in
Monday, October 06, 2008
Dedicated volunteers Dr. Margaret Holt and Sharon Gibson served as co-moderators for the forum. Holt, a retired UGA professor, is a longtime associate of the National Issues Forums Institute and has moderated numerous forums in communities across the country. This fall, she has comoderated several forums as part of the Georgia Deliberations initiative by the Russell Library, the Jimmy Carter Library, and partners around the state.. Meanwhile Gibson, a University of
The topic of this forum hit close to home, especially in light of this week’s news from Wall Street, and inspired some great discussion. In recent decades the South has been transformed by increased wealth and population, but the region is still grappling with how to manage that growth and what these changes mean for the future of individual communities.
Notable moments in the deliberation with Tifton residents:
- Moderators began by asking the group what, if anything made the South a distinct place. Responses ranged from descriptions of small-town living to comments about poverty, rural life, and the high rate of illiteracy
- The crowd largely criticized Approach 1. Comments suggested that before employing a “trickle-down” approach by bringing more jobs to the area, you have to combat poverty and illiteracy in the region. You have to create a strong work force before attracting the right kind of businesses.
- One citizen astutely commented that before you can pick out a path to prosperity, you have to decide what prosperity means to your community. He noted that it isn’t always about money, but about the quality of life in a place.
- The crowd seemed to favor Approach 2, investing in people first. The suggestion was made to establish more informal, community-based education opportunities rather than depending solely on the public school system.
- Everyone favored taking a smart approach to managing growth, citing the results of poorly managed growth in nearby cities and recognizing that good zoning and public-private partnerships would most benefit Tifton.
The next public forum, The Energy Problem: Choices for an Uncertain Future,will be held on this Thursday, October 2nd from 3:00-5:00pm at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library For more information on this, and other upcoming public forums, please visit Russell Library homepage or call (706) 542-5788.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Guest speaker Dr. Randy Patton, Professor of History at Kennesaw State University, began the program by setting the scene for the audience – describing the climate of southern liberalism from the decade of Highlander’s founding (1930s) and into the Civil Rights Movement.
Noted historian Dr. Jim Lorence followed, using Dr. Patton’s talk as the backdrop for a more focused discussion on Don West, the lesser-known co-founder of the
A Hard Journey: The Life of Don West, expounds on the long and varied life of West – a highly controversial social activist. Following the program, audience members mingled with the speakers at an informal reception and Dr. Lorence generously signed copies of his book.
Another successful event -- Thanks to everyone who attended! Next on the agenda, "Seeing Red in Black: White Southern Leaders Fight Desegregation" – a multimedia presentation by Jill Severn & Craig Breaden of the Russell Library – this coming Sunday, October 5th from 3-5pm at the Demosthenian Hall, North Campus,
Mingling at the Reception....
Friday, September 26, 2008
Notable Moments in the Deliberation:
- One returning participant, a retired government manager for unemployment insurance, suggested that businesses should play a larger role in coverage costs for employees.
- An extended discussion regarding the need for increased preventative care led to a series of questions about the rising cost of medical services and the declining number of general practitioners. When asked why basic medical services cost so much, the crowd was largely silent and pensive.
- Several participants heavily favored the approach championing universal health care, emphasizing that all Americans should have access to a basic level of health care.
- At the evening’s conclusion a few attendees remarked that the current economic crisis will put health care on the back burner in the coming elections, but inevitably there will have to be changes in the system
The next public forum, “Pathways to Prosperity: Choosing a Future for Your Community” will be held on next Tuesday, September 30th from 7:00-9:00pm at the Agirama in
Friday, September 19, 2008
The forum at the Carter library drew a crowd of almost sixty people who turned out to deliberate this issue on a rainy Wednesday afternoon—a sure sign of the issue’s growing significance. Tony Clark, of the Jimmy Carter Library, welcomed the enthusiastic group and Jill Severn, who manages civic engagement and outreach work for the Russell Library shared some details about the national forum initiative and the nine upcoming forums in Atlanta, Athens, Albany, and Tifton. Dr. Margaret Holt, who is retired from the UGA faculty, and Matt Garrett, who works in student affairs at Emory, co-moderated the forum. Jill Severn served as the scribe-recorder for the event and Matt Brandenburgh, a senior physics major at UGA served as the official observer. Jan Levinson, Assistant Outreach Archivist at the Russell Library also attended the forum and oriented participants as they arrived.
The forum focused on weighing the pros and cons and the tradeoffs and tensions associated with three approaches for addressing the problems associated with the current U.S. healthcare system. “Considering how divisive the issue of health care has been in the past and currently, the comments from forum participants were remarkably non-partisan,” commented moderator Margaret Holt. Participants expressed diverse opinions to the approaches, but invested great energy in listening to one another and remaining open to changing their perspectives. At the close of the meeting, many in the group remarked that they felt a real energy among the participants to begin to tackle component problems associated with health care as first steps in dealing with the issue as a whole. The tenor of the discussion and the great turnout also made many hopeful that civil civic life was alive and well in Atlanta. Indeed, many participants expressed plans to return to the Carter Library for the two upcoming forums (energy challenges, Thursday, October 2nd at 3 p.m. and the future mission of education, Monday, October 13th at 3 p.m.) or even to venture to one of the other forums that will be held in Athens and Tifton throughout this fall. After wrapping things up around 5:00 pm, the moderating team celebrated success with a good meal at Manuel’s Tavern – and then headed home to Athens just before dark.
The next public forum in the series, “Coping with the Cost of Healthcare” will be held at the Russell Library next Thursday, September 25th from 7:00-9:00pm. For more information on this, and other public forums, please visit http://www.libs.uga.edu/russell/exhibits/deliberations.shtml or call (706) 542-5788.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The event was a great success! And we look forward to seeing everyone at our next program, Highlander Folk School & the Southern Front: Worker Education & the Civil Rights Movement on Sunday, September 28th at the Athens Regional Public Library.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Job Title: Assistant Outreach Archivist
Joined Russell Staff: July 2008
I coordinate the development of thematic exhibits and public programs that explore the mission and collections of the library.
Other work experience:
Curatorial Assistant, Historic Columbia Foundation,
Research Assistant, Teaching American History in
Intern, Office of Architectural History and Historic Preservation, Smithsonian Institution
B.A. in History,
M.A. in Public History,
American Association of Museums
South Eastern Museums Conference
South Eastern Registrars Association
Most Enjoyable Aspect of Your Job:
The opportunity to think creatively. I think that public institutions have the opportunity and the obligation to act as agents of change in their surrounding communities. I'm excited to play a role in developing exhibit spaces and public programs that flesh out historical themes, connect those themes to current issues, and foster thoughtful discussions and activities.
Alternate Career Path if not in Museums or Archives:
I'd love to run a cool (and affordable!) vintage shop and call it "The Museum” or to explore work in the field of Historic Preservation.
Listening to NPR's "This American Life", reading the newest installments of the Frugal Traveler on nytimes.com, checking out new bands at local shows.
Comments on the profession today:
Museums and Libraries are at a turning point and are constantly working to extend their levels of access and outreach while working with increasingly limited resources. These challenges make for an exciting time in the field when all institutions are pushed to think outside of the box. We're in for a time of change and lots of new and inventive strategies for reaching out to visitors and making them comfortable in museum and archive spaces.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
1. Walt Lardner Collection of Jimmy Carter Editorial Cartoons
2. Martin J. Hillenbrand Papers
3. Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection
4. Harold P. Henderson, Sr. Oral History Collection: Series I. Ellis Arnall
5. Clifford Baldowski Editorial Cartoons
6. Clifford Hodges Brewton Collection of Lester G. Maddox Speech/Press Files
7. Herman E. Talmadge Collection
8. Harold P. Henderson, Sr. Oral History Collection: Series II. Ernest Vandiver
9. Dean Rusk Personal Papers
10. Dean Rusk Oral History Project
Thursday, May 22, 2008
"I found out about the extensive collections at the Russell Library when I began working here as a student researcher in December of 2006.
Since then, I have spent countless hours working with the collections as both an employee and as a student. I have based three papers off of the Russell collections. My experiences with the collection and staff have been top-notch. After doing extensive archival research across six states, I can genuinely say that the Russell Library is one of the best archives in the nation. It speaks to the friendliness and accessibility of the RBRL that undergraduate students regularly come here grudgingly for class assignments requiring primary source research and leave talking excitedly about their experiences."
Published in Beyond the Pages, Volume 7, Spring 2008