SEEN Weekly Email – Back to School!

Dear SEEN Community,

Welcome back to a new year! May it be a sweet new year—double so if you celebrated Rosh Hashanah last week!

There is a lot going on in our community and across the country in the quest for anti-racism. At SEEN we have a focused mission on equity and anti-racism in our schools, but none of this work is done in a vacuum. We acknowledge the struggle of local Black Lives Matter activists and invite you to follow Saratoga BLM on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on recent developments in the cases of these activists.

With so much going on, we are using the first weekly email of the 2021-2022 school year to secure some spaces on your calendars:

  • September 19. SEEN will be set up at the West Side Rec (10am-Noon) and East Side Rec (1-3 pm). Join us for conversation, button making, and an ongoing project envisioning what antiracist education could look like. Let’s launch into this new year making connections!
  • September 19. C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios will be hosting the second in a series of events, “Erasing Spaces and Faces”, about Saratoga’s history of urban renewal and razing Black and immigrant neighborhoods, predominantly on the West Side. The open mic, family-friendly program will take place at the Frederick Allen Elks Lodge, 69 Beekman Street, from 2-4 pm on Sunday, September 19, and features the Arch Stanton Quartet, a NYS-based jazz ensemble that will be performing its piece, “Shadow and Act,” a tribute and exploration of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man; the title is pulled from Ellison’s 1964 collection of the same name.
  • September 21. The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 21, at 7pm at Caroline Street Elementary School. For the first semester, Trustees are rotating through neighborhood elementary schools and finishing their District tour at Maple Avenue Middle School on January 6. All meetings will stream on YouTube (link through the District website). Public comment requires that you come in person. SEEN members will be taking minutes at each meeting to alert members to any relevant issues before the Board, but we are asking that more people sign up to attend – to just see what the Board does – and also to take minutes. If they’ll be at your local elementary school, it’s an easy entry. Remember, this is to help Trustees know the District, its constituents and their concerns, and for all of us to have a better sense of how the District and Administration work. You can sign up to let us know you’ll be attending a meeting, and you can review the latest minutes from the back-to-school meeting on September 9.
  • September 27. Arch Stanton Quartet’s performance on Sept 19th will serve as a perfect launchpad for “American Politics and Community Today,” a reading, discussion, and community art-making series co-facilitated by C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios and SEEN. We’ll be reading selections from Ralph Ellison: Essays, edited by John Callahan, starting on Sept 27th with “On Bird, Bird-Watching and Jazz,” and “Blues People,” to explore contemporary issues of identity, community, and American democracy – what makes a citizen? What makes a community? And what do community members or Americans owe one another? – within the context of Saratoga Springs. Books are available at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, in SEEN’s Little Free Libraries, and for sale at Northshire (w/ a book club discount). This program is supported by Humanities NY, MLK Saratoga, Saratoga Arts, Saratoga Springs Public Library, and SEEN. Join our Facebook Group “Ellison Saratoga” to follow along, join in discussion, and more. Additional dates are 10/11, 10/25, 11/08, 11/22, and 12/06. All meetings will take place 5-6:15 pm.
  • September 29. Youth2–Youth Helping Youth and Caffe Lena are hosting Scott Cook for a concert and interview, “Songs for Social Action,” from 7-9 pm at Caffe Lena. Proof of vaccination is required to attend.
  • September 30. Northshire Bookstore is hosting a virtual event with Christopher Emdin in celebration of his new book, Ratchetdemic (2021), which proposes an educational model that encourages educators to create spaces in which students can be their full selves and still demonstrate academic acumen. Too often, we know and are told, schooling requires students to adopt behavioral whiteness, and devalues other cultures and behaviors as low-brow or anti-intellectual, when they’re really just not white. The virtual program will begin at 6:00 pm, with reserve tickets (free, pay-as-you-wish, or with books), and Emdin will be outside Northshire from 3:30-4:30 pm signing books.

A few celebrations on the SEEN front!

  • At the end of August we were able to install two Little Free Libraries, fully stocked with diverse and inclusive books. The first at the Franklin Community Center is already in use. We also agreed to partner with the Saratoga Peace Alliance, Saratoga Coffee Traders, and the Frederick Allen Elks Lodge to launch another Little Free Library dedicated to the celebration of Black History and Culture outside the Lodge (69 Beekman St). Stay tuned!
  • Our #TeachTruth event on August 28 attracted a committed group of supporters, and grew our network of people committing to this work, to seeking and teaching truth, and to advancing truth and equity in Saratoga Springs. Many thanks to all who contributed, including Rachel Seligman and Sunny Ra (Tang Museum), Julie Lewis and C.R.E.A.T.E. Community Studios, MLK Saratoga, the National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, and each and every person who contributed to our resource document. If you missed the event, the document and resources remain live and will be updated. These resources include videos, documents, sites, walking tours, and more for families, lifelong learners, and teachers. Let’s continue to #TeachTruth in Saratoga County (and beyond).

~ The SEEN Team

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