Dear SEEN Community,
The start of the new school year is a time of mixed emotion – especially as we approach a third year of schooling impacted by COVID-19. But at SEEN we ask that you also see this new school year as an opportunity to commit and recommit to our mission.
Commitment means something different for each individual – and in many ways it is a matter of showing up. You are already showing up by opening this email, taking a moment to reflect, and to think. How else will you show up this year? When you do show up – at back to school nights, conferences, school events, school board meetings – can you commit to also showing up for equity? How can you advocate for voices that are typically marginalized?
Last year, in our “A Seat At This Table” series, we centered voices that aren’t often heard. Can we commit to doing our own small part on a regular basis, to making sure that BIPOC student and parent voices are centered and that intersectional identities are represented? When we do this, we help to humanize the experience of members of our community and the debates that take place on the national stage are seen through a lens of friends and neighbors rather than through polarized politics.
For all of our members – parents, faculty and staff, alumni, and community members – the school board is the bridge between us and and the district and, as we saw in the fall, will likely be the centerpiece of the debates around anti-racist policy in SSCSD. Just as you show up in our classrooms and schools, we are challenging each and every one of you to step up to attend a board meeting. Let us continue to let the school board know who they are representing – an engaged and active citizenry who is listening, supporting, challenging, and participating.
- Attend a School Board Meeting. School Board Meetings are back in person and we want to make our presence felt. If you feel comfortable, sign up here to commit to attending one (or more!) meetings this year. Ask others to join you!
- Connect with SSCSD Faculty. Our newsletter for faculty and staff, “The Scene with SEEN,” will be back this school year with monthly editions. Consider reaching out to the faculty members you will engage with this year and ask them to sign up using this survey.
There are a slew of local events coming up and as you read through this email and peruse the offerings, commit to something, show up in a new way!
- Little Free Library Installation. On August 25th at 6pm we will install one of our Little Free Libraries in front of the Franklin Community Center. Come join us as we put the stake in the ground and fill the library with a diverse selection of books!
- #TeachTruth. On August 28th from 10 – Noon, we are collaborating with community partners to host a Teach Truth Pledge Day as part of a nationwide effort through the Zinn History Project. For this family friendly event, we will gather at the plaque honoring Solomon Northup outside the Saratoga Springs Visitor’s Center to learn about the true history of the hero of Twelve Years A Slave. August 28th is also Travers Day and we will take time to recognize the full history of racing and its legacy on communities of color.
- After a brief teach-in, attendees will be invited to engage in public history by designing a memorial to Northup. Teachers, students, parents, and other community members will also be asked to sign onto a pledge to teach and seek truth in the study of history and to write their own pledges of commitment. Please support our unvaccinated children by masking up!
- Save the Date for our Back to School Meet-up. At 10am on both September 18 and September 19, SEEN members will be set up at local playgrounds with some family-friendly activities for a chance to come together in person!
- Storytelling: C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios, MLK Saratoga, and the Saratoga Springs Public Library are collaborating to offer two important programs intended to help reclaim and preserve our collective history.
- The Stories We Live: Storytelling Workshop. August 19
- Erasing Faces and Places: The Legacy of Urban Renewal in Saratoga Springs: A Series of Storytelling and Art Making. August 29, September 19, October 17.
- Rethinking Community. SEEN and C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios ask you to please save the date(s) for an upcoming reading and discussion series for teens and adults on Community and American Politics that will combine reading, discussion, and reflection or processing through art-making. Sponsored by a grant from Humanities NY, we will explore what it means to be a community–to be part of a community–and what community members owe to one another through the lens of Ralph Ellison’s essays. The meetings and discussions are non-contiguous, so if one doesn’t work, please feel free to join us on other dates (5-6:15 p.m., September 27, October 11, October 25, November 8, November 22, and December 6). More details, including the readings, are to come, but you can reserve the text at the public library, buy a digital version through Northshire, or wait to get a hard copy as part of our book club (20% discount at Northshire).
- What does it mean to be a member of the School Board? Read this brochure (also available in Spanish) about running for the board to get a better understanding of the role of the board and its members.
- The Students’ Perspectives. Read this brief article in which a teacher shares student ideas on whether teachers should be able to teach about social justice related topics.
- Debunking myths about racism. In this short TED Talk (available as a podcast episode and as a video), political scientist Candis Watts Smith discusses prominent myths about racism and the onus on all of us to work within our communities to debunk these myths and work toward a post-racist (as opposed to post-racial) society.
We are debuting this new section of our newsletter this week. We will include short and long term opportunities to show up and help in SEEN’s work. If you know of a volunteer opportunity, please send it along!
Short Term/One-Time Opportunities
- Be a part of the organizing team for our #TeachTruth event on August 28th. Email SaratogaEEN@gmail.com for more information.
- Help table on either September 18th or September 19th at our Back to School event. Hang out with some other SEEN folks, make magnets and buttons, and chat with folks who stop by. Email SaratogaEEN@gmail.com if you’re interested.
Long Term/Repeat Opportunities
- Help us with upkeep for our new Little Free Libraries. Once they are installed, we will need some folks to check in on them, keep them cleaned, and make sure they continue to be well stocked. Our first libraries will be located at the Saratoga Recreation Center and the Franklin Community Center. Email SEENlibraries@gmail.com if you’re interested.
~ The SEEN Team