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Building understanding one book at a time

24 Oct

Back in 2009, oral historian Anne Marie Pois interviewed three of the founders of Reading to End Racism (RER), a non-profit group in Boulder County that sends trained readers into the schools to read specially chosen books to students that stimulate conversations about discrimination and overcoming it. 

This week we release “Reading to End Racism: Building understanding one book at a time,” an “MROHP Short” produced by Jenna Woods, that distills that interview into an engaging and inspiring introduction to the program.

This video features founders Ghada Elturk, Jean Gore, and Daniel Escalante talking about efforts to make Boulder “a racism-free zone,” experiences in their own lives that sensitized them to issues of racism, what it means to become an ally of those who experience discrimination, and how RER creates change through its effect on both readers and students.

As Daniel Escalante says,

It’s through stories that we can begin to learn about each other, understand each other, begin to have compassion for each other. It’s hard to discriminate against somebody that you care about.

Watch “Reading to End Racism: Building understanding one book at a time” here or on YouTube.

116 Years of Local Food…FAST

5 Apr

Saturday morning of this week inaugurates the first Boulder County Farmers’ Market of the year. The weather should be grand and the produce will be FRESH!

Whet your appetite for a visit to the famers’ market with this latest in our “History in a Minute” series: an excerpt from Ulla Merz’ interview with Bob Munson in which he tells the story of the local food movement in Boulder from 1859 to 1975 faster than you can whip up a spring salad!

“Mapleton School just about won World War I”

21 Dec

Beloved Boulder, Colorado, resident Dee Demmon  passed away on December 10, 2012, at the age of 102. Straight through her nineties, Dee could tell you in astonishing detail about her days as a student at Mapleton Elementary School in Boulder during the  early years of the  twentieth century, about teaching in a one-room school in the Boulder foothills, and about many, many other aspects of small town life that have disappeared along with Dee.

Fortunately, our oral history program has seven interviews conducted with Dee over many years, so you can still hear her tell her stories in her delightful and delighted voice.

In this first of a new series, “HISTORY IN A MINUTE,” you can listen to Dee as she tells about being an elementary school student during World War I and “helping the war effort.” It only takes a minute!

To hear more interviews with Elizabeth (Dee) Demmon, visit our archive at boulderlibrary.org/oralhistory.

History as a Living Thing

1 Jun

Maeve Conran’s story about the Maria Rogers Oral HistoryProgram aired on KGNU on May 31, 2012. Conran, Co-Director of News for the Boulder public radio station begins her story like this: 

“The Carnegie Library in Boulder feels more like a museum. Housed in an historic building on Pine Street, there’s that hushed silence that harks back to libraries of days gone by…. The library says the archive preserves the community’s memory for future generations. It’s a fitting location for the home of the oral history program.”

Conran interviewed oral history program director Susan Becker last month. For this radio piece, she intercut Becker’s commentary–about the value of oral history in general and the specifics of how Boulder’s Maria Rogers Oral History Program serves its community–with a wide arrayof interview excerpts. The excerpts range from the topics of Rocky Flats to the Fourmile Canyon Fire, from the 1918 flu epidemic to political upheaval in 1970s Boulder and more.

(Thanks to interviewers Dorothy Ciarlo, Hannah Nordhaus, Marty Dick, Caitlin McKenna, Sally Bell, Wendy Hall, Tim Plass, and Anne Dyni, whose interviews are featured. And to our other interviewers, some of whose work also is mentioned, plus the videographers, transcribers, and archivists who help make all the interviews available.)

Maeve Conran told us she received a lot of positive listener comments about the program. If you missed it, you can hear it here:

Or visit www.kgnu.org to listen to the program, which aired May 31, 2012, on “Morning Magazine” and is available in the archives section of the KGNU web site.

We think of our customers as friends

6 Apr

The Boulder County Farmers’ Market opens for the season on 13th Street in Boulder tomorrow! Richard and Betty Stevens first sold their produce at the  farmers’ market on the courthouse lawn in 1978 and continued selling for many years at the 13th Street location. Whet your appetite (so to speak) for a trip to the farmers’ market this weekend by watching this five-minute video of them reminiscing about what the market has meant to them.

Watch for a special collection of interviews on our digital archive in the coming months about the Boulder County Farmers Market. This collection will feature interviews by Ulla Merz with people instrumental in creating the market and in making it what it is today.

Dale Johnson and the Flatiron “C”

16 Mar

Noted Boulder climber  Dale Johnson died recently. In 1949, as a college freshman at CU, he famously got in trouble for climbing the Third Flatiron and painting a big white “C” on it with some friends.

In 2002, he told oral history program interviewer Gerry Caplan the story of this escapade, a story complete with the drama of a night climb under a full moon, being tied to a tree when he came down, confessing to the sheriff, and the meting out of small-town justice in a more innocent time. He related the story with a freshness that belied it having happened a half-century ago, in part through the reading of a vivid letter that he wrote to his parents at that time.

Although Dale has left us, you can see him come alive and tell this rollicking story here or on Vimeo.

You can listen to Dale Johnson’s entire interview, including the story of his trailblazing company, Frostline Kits, on the MROHP digital archive.

Windy Enough for You?

24 Feb

Bill Callahan, Boulder's weather historian

Boulder experienced 93 mile per hour winds this week. It was crazy–and scary–out there! Was it a record? Bill Callahan can tell you. Bill Callahan, known as Boulder’s weather historian, publishes a monthly column in the Daily Camera that recaps the month’s weather and puts it into historical perspective. He also published The Boulder Weather Log in 1986, which examines Boulder weather back to  1894.

In an oral history interview, conducted by Joyce Gordon in 2004, Bill recalled coming to Boulder from the east coast:

The first year that I was in Boulder, in 1969, there was 8.66 inches of rain and wide-spread flooding in May, a trace of snow and 123 mile per hour winds in June, record-setting heat in August, 49.3 inches of snow and record-setting cold in October, 122 mile an hour winds in January, 57 inches of snow in March and a record-setting heat again in May. And that was just in my first year in Boulder.  I was totally unprepared for the wide swings and unpredictability; you just never knew when things were going to happen and how severe they were going to be and how out of season they could be…. Boulder has had winds clocked as high as 147 miles per hour. 

You can hear the entire interview with Bill Callahan on the library’s oral history web site here.

And, of course, weather history is still being made here. As Bill says in his interview, “I find it impossible to believe that there is someone here in Boulder who ISN”T interested in the weather, because it’s quite a laboratory we have out there.” 

If you have a Boulder wind storm story, tell us about it in the comments section for this post!

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