SEEN Weekly Update – It’s Our Birthday!

Dear SEEN Community,

The end of the school year is always a time for reflection, and this week we’re also thinking about where SEEN started, what we’ve accomplished, and where we are going. The Steering Committee met this past Sunday to work through some of that, and to develop actionable plans for the next year. But first, we celebrate! SEEN is turning one! Will you join us to celebrate?

This Saturday, June 12th, SEEN will be set up outside of Ben & Jerry’s in Saratoga Springs. We are looking forward to this as one of our first opportunities to gather in-person in the year since we started. Join us for button- and magnet-making, friendly chats, and ice cream! Ben & Jerry’s has graciously offered to donate 25% of their sales that day to SEEN. The donation will be used to buy and build the first of our Little Free Libraries. We’re planning to put these together at another event this summer.

We’re also asking people to bring a gently-loved or new book with diverse characters, works by authors or illustrators from historically-marginalized communities, or that share experiences and affirm our intersectional identities – whatever that means to you. Northshire Saratoga has put together a display of relevant books in the Children’s Department, and up there you can access an abbreviated wish list. The books on this list are culled from the 200+ books SEEN members recommended, along with additional recommendations from the booksellers.

The common refrain about shopping local to benefit communities reverberates here: support local businesses (Ben & Jerry’s and Northshire) this weekend, and you support SEEN, promote equity in our schools, and support the students and families in our community. A win-win if there ever was one.


Actions

  • Board of Education Meeting. The SSCSD Board of Education is meeting on Thursday, June 10 at 7 p.m., and it will be streamed on the district website. The agenda includes the second reading of the district’s equity regulation (0105-R), which is expected to be up for vote. Thursday’s meeting is a critical juncture for our district’s progress on equity.
  • Contact Your Reps. There is still time to advocate for LGBTQ+ students in New York. The legislative session ends June 10th.
  • See You Saturday! Members of SEEN will be outside Ben & Jerry’s 1-8 p.m., collecting books and chatting equity. Come see us, donate a book, and enjoy a cone, dish, shake, or even a cake! The Ben & Jerry’s donation is based on the day’s sales, so please still stop by if you’re busy during the daytime hours. They’re open until 10 p.m.
  • C.R.E.A.T.E. Art in the Park. If you were able to join C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studio’s art-making event commemorating George Floyd’s life, you felt the way the community coming together after a year away is itself a powerful act. On June 19th, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., there will be a community event open to all to learn about and celebrate “Juneteenth.” There will be opportunities for art-making, community gathering, and conversations about racial justice. Food, music, and art making are open to all.
  • Affinity Groups. In collaboration with C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios, SEEN is hoping to create a local affinity group for young people ages 10 and up. C.R.E.A.T.E.’s Juneteenth event will be an opportunity for young members of our community to come together in the spirit of racial justice and to learn more about affinity groups. Please spread the word.

Resources

In the spirit of our birthday and books, we’re sharing resources related to children’s, middle-grade, and young adult books. Find more on our Facebook page throughout the week.

  • Collaborative Children’s Book Center. The School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison tracks diversity and representation in children’s literature (board book to YA) through the Collaborative Children’s Book Center, and has for 35 years. Dig into their data, their recommended book lists, and even their preliminary thoughts on 2020’s new publications. CCBC will release their statistics and analysis of 2020 in the coming weeks.
  • Grace Lin. This 2016 episode of The Longest Shortest Time is a delight for the ears and eyes. Raised in upstate New York (near Utica) by Taiwanese immigrants, Grace Lin was the only Asian kid in her class, drawing white princesses in line with the heroines and damsels she saw in books, movies, and on television. She never thought to draw or write about girls who looked like her because she didn’t see them. And then, one day she stopped trying to be something else. Rather than an archetypal story about traveling and then coming into one’s own, this one is about continually learning who you are, raising multiethnic kids, and depicting these complicated, layered identities.
  • This is Story Pirates. Story Pirates is a NYC-based nonprofit and performance group that encourages elementary students’ imaginations and love of storytelling. The performance troupe works from stories written by kids and performs them on a weekly podcast, often with special guests. Last year, they shared an older episode, “One Little Pink Rose,” about the need to stand up, take action, and make our voices heard. As they do each episode, they closed this one with a “story spark” that is evergreen for writers young and old: “Write about a community that is facing a problem and a leader who shows people how to make things better. What is the leader’s plan? Why does it succeed?” Story Pirates has also aggregated resources for adults to talk to kids about racial equity.
  • Thinking through “Representation.” In this think-piece for Vulture, writer Lauren Michele Jackson reflects on the limitations of rallying cries like “Representation Matters,” and why we need to look at some of the systemic issues around publishing, not just recast main characters as people who have been historically-marginalized. Representation of whom, by whom, and for whom?

~ The SEEN Team

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