I just talk as if she weren’t the way she is. I tell her the gossip: Who got married, who got a new job. I talk about her grandchildren, and how fast they’re growing. I talk about the stars she used to know. Today I told her John Travolta was mispronouncing names at the Oscars and that people thought it mattered in the grand scheme of things. She laughed and just let me talk. I do it more for me than for her, though. Pretending she is the same is better than sitting there in silence and telling her my name over and over again, as if it were the first time she’d asked.
“I think coming through Brockton and going to church with my folks … seeing different people from different places gave me a different perspective. In college, I became aware of a variety of things that were happening on campus. I think I became interested in many social justice causes I think because I was aware of myself and the ways that my own ways of viewing the world were really skewed — racist and sexist and heterosexist – I wanted to be honest with myself, and I felt uncomfortable around an openly gay man, and when I recognized I was dehumanizing a woman just because she was a woman, and the ways I assumed the stupidity of a poor person because they were poor, I knew that for my own self preservation and my own self worth I needed to figure out what was going on and how these processes affected society and led to violence and destruction.”
— Will Amado Syldor-Severino, senior fellow with Americorps Mass Promise, working in Great Barrington as a jobs and careers counselor with The Railroad Street Youth Project.
“Ghana is one of the five fastest growing economies in the world. We understand this because of its increase in investors in the region. But in reality it just doesn’t add up. And you can say that about every nation. There are disparities between real growth and national growth. GDP is a measure that fluctuates based on investors and is reflected in national growth, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.”
Mohammed Adawulai, exchange student, commencement speaker and graduate of Simon’s Rock College.
“It’s heart warming to know what this tiny little church meant to people. We received a large donation from a man in memory of his wife. They were married in that church and had raised their children there.”
Adam Acquario, East Nassau trustee and founder of Save the Brainard Bell.
"When you have six kids, you work day and night. … Hard work and honesty are the most important aspects of success. Everything else is just common sense. You have to learn from your mistakes, and I thank God for them. There is no human being that doesn’t make mistakes."
Mike Zabian, former haberdasher, Lee, Mass.
“I am not a scientist. My background is special ed, but I love adventure. I love to learn and I am really excited to bring my experiences back to the kids. …
“I think it’s really important for kids to feel empowered. Sometimes learning about these animals and how they are endangered, it can be depressing. But if they feel empowered – that they can really do something to help – it really can make a difference.”
Melanie Lyte, an elementary school teacher who will take part in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Teachers At Sea program. She will study Right Whales during her time aboard ship.
“It just make me angry — angry and sad – that we had to fight for everything: doctors, insurance. And this (disorder) isn’t rare. This was first discovered in the 1800s, but it’s only been in the past few years that it’s become more recognized as a result of MRI testing. What’s sad for me is that you can still go into a doctors’ office, and they don’t know the symptoms.”
Deb La Due, founder of an organization that raises awareness of Chiari Malformation — a neurological disorder that is believed to occur in 1 of every 1,000 births — and her daughter, Ella Grace.
“Grandmother didn’t have a sub-zero freezer and she didn’t have a food processor. This is where 19th century tradition and 21st century technology can really work together.”
Anna Dawson is a retired home economics teacher and owner of a commercial harvest kitchen, Hometown Foods LLC. Dawson hopes her work to make healthy, convenient frozen meals from local growers’ unused produce will help create a more sustainable food supply and inspire the formation of a network of community-supported kitchens statewide.
“I don’t take this picture lightly … I wanted my parents to understand that I had prepared for what was coming. I went up to a room – there were guest rooms in the Straight — and showered and cleaned from all the exertion and sweat that I’d been involved in that day in securing the building. I’d thrown away most of the garb and took a bedspread and folded it and cut here and here, laced with sheet, gather here and here and laced with sheet, so dad would know when he came that I’d prepared myself.”
Dr. Homer “Skip” Meade, a W.E.B. scholar, a professor at UMass at Amherst, and a demonstrator during the takeover of Willard Straight Hall on the Cornell University campus in 1969
“I see a lot of people who come here who are at a crossroads. They are in crisis and they need to make an inner shift. And what they need is to connect with the spiritual part of themselves. In nature they can feel their oneness, the beauty and the perfection of nature. By being in that energy field it opens them to the work we do together. It expands their experience of the world.”