The Waltham Committee is pleased to invite you to an exciting tour around Waltham, introducing our community to “Waltham Women, Past and Present.” Former city councilor Sally Collura will guide the tour to Waltham’s historic gems, introducing us to women who helped shape the city. Highlights include Gore Place, Lyman Estate and Paine’s Stonehurst Estate. We will stop at WCAC-TV, where the station’s executive director Maria Sheehan will host a reception with Waltham women who combine their passion for business, art and activism to drive change and make a difference in the city. On our way back we will visit the Watch Factory Museum for a glimpse at the photo exhibit of the factory women workers. Transportation via the Waltham Trolley is generously provided by John Peacock, executive director of Waltham Chamber of Commerce.
Marybeth Duffy, director of Waltham Council on Aging:
I want to thank everyone for the donation to our Meals on Wheels program. It was very kind and generous of you. The senior center has benefited greatly from our relationship with the Women’s Research Center. We have enjoyed all things you have done here.
Marilyn Lee-Tom, Executive Director of the Community Day Center of Waltham:
Thank you, the Waltham Committee and the Scholars for thinking of us during the Giving Season. During the winter we see more people whose primary night-time residence is in a homeless shelter, a warming center, a domestic-violence shelter or other insecure housing situation, Donations like yours help keep our doors open.
We would like to thank everyone who participated in Waltham Committee’s 2013 Holiday Fund Drive by donating to Waltham’s Community Day Center and the Council on Aging! As in previous years, the Waltham Committee continued its efforts to support not-for-profit community aid services in Waltham. In its 2013 fund drive, the Waltham Committee collected $163 in donations. Scholars contributions were directed to Community Day Center of Waltham which provides day shelter and access to services to homeless in the metro-west area, and to Waltham CoA’s Emergency Fund in support of the Meals on Wheels program, where Waltham citizens and retired citizens can volunteer to help prepare or deliver meals to the city’s home bound elders.
Odgerel (Oge) Dashzeveg, Visiting Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center (WSRC), Brandeis University and member of the Waltham Committee presented her talk, “A Beautiful woman by their culture”, at the Waltham Senior Center on Monday, November 4, 2013.
Oge, Visting Scholar, WSRC (standing 4th from L)
Oge talked about women’s beauty practices and rituals that define womanhood across different cultures. Many cultures around the world have beauty traditions that have been forcing women to make physical changes to their bodies and appearance in order to be considered “beautiful” in her culture. These cultural beauty practices reflect values and beliefs about women exist for the benefit of men’s delight. Many of the harmful practices are performed on girls on achieving puberty and they symbolize entrance into womenhood and readiness for marriage. Some practices begin as young as for 3-4 years old girls and lasts until a girl reaches puberty and beyond to adulthood.
In her talk, Oge illustrates how a woman’s body becomes a beauty instrument from head to toe, including traditions of wearing heavy head pieces, shaving the head, etc. and ending with foot binding. A woman who fails to follow these physically and emotionally painful beauty traditions can be seen as unmarriageable, unattractive and dishonored by own community. Women’s beauty practices are unspoken traditions that never been questioned in the context of human morality, women’s human rights and dignity. Many of these traditions are diminishing, however, the existing beauty practices are shifting into global money making business that shows woman as cultural beauty exhibitions.
Members of the Waltham Committee organized an event titled, “Weeding out Fencing” in partnership with the Waltham Land Trust (WLT). Our prior project with the has already been documented and we have continued to pursue furthering our connections with WLT.
Sonja Wadman, Program Director at WLT presented in great detail the work of the organization. The mission of WLT is to create a legacy of land conservation. One of the drives that has been organized by the WLT has been the weeding out of Bittersweet vines in the local community. As an invasive species, it grows and spreads quickly, produce large quantities of easily dispersed seeds, and reproduce vegetatively, all traits that make controlling them a difficult task. These are harmful to the local vegetation, suffocates them as it reproduces and thrives.
While the idea of scouting for the vines was tempting, it was too late in the season. Instead Sonja displayed wreaths already made from vines We hope to be involved in making wreaths late summer-early Fall next year.
Sonja presented the vast array of work that she and WLT are involved in. She works with community members, organizations, government agencies (city officials), neighborhood groups to mobilize change. Currently and really on the day of the event, WLT was petitioning the city officials to save Arrigo Farm which is the oldest farm in Waltham. Since the 1630′s it has been run by three families. With the passing of the last son of Placido Arrigo, John Arrigo in 2011, the farm has not been functioning. Developers have offered the 9 heirs a large sum of money to construct 19 homes.
The WLT is gathering signature to petition the City Council to acquire the farm using Community Preservation Act funds, and lease the land as farmland. In effect the WLT is preserving the open space and historic nature of the property and surrounding land.
Sonja called upon Waltham Committee members to join WLT in this petition so that together we could participate in preserving a local agricultural farm, honor the history of farm working families and generate produce for the present and future inhabitants of Waltham. Scholars at WSRC signed on the petition in support of WLT’s work and to “save Arrigo farm.” The petition read “as Scholars at WSRC, we support retaining this site which is of cultural significance to the Waltham community and its collective memory. We join other members of the Waltham community to demonstrate the power of preservation to contribute to the public good.”
An update from Sonja: “The public hearing of the Community Preservation Committee was fantastic! A dozen folks spoke, including several neighbors who learned about the project only because we canvassed their neighborhood; they were horrified. Two of the heirs spoke. Many people started tearing up at the lectern. It was rather emotional…Finally, they voted, I think unanimously, to approve the project and recommend acquisition to the City Council”
More details to follow. Stay tuned!
As you are aware, the Waltham Committee has partnered with More than Words and supports their work through donating books. At the store, located at 273 Moody Street in Waltham, the youth run an inviting 501(c)3 nonprofit used bookstore featuring a wide array of titles, comfortable seating, and free wi-fi. A coffee bar offers Starbucks coffee, espresso, tea, and other popular café drinks, as well as delicious baked treats. Do give them a visit. On our part the Waltham Committee members thank Scholars for donating books and supporting this local initiative aimed at rehabilitating youth and rebuilding their potential through retail and online book sales. By supporting this social enterprise, WSRC through the Waltham Committee participates in this unique social innovation in action.
The Waltham Committee took its partnership with More than Words to an even newer territory. We invited the youth to visit WSRC gallery which was hosting an exhibit of photos by Vivian Maier. Titled Vivian Maier: A Woman’s Lens, this exhibit was one of its kind since it was being shown for the first time in the Greater Boston area. The photographs are in striking black and white taken by Vivian Maier on streets of Chicago and New York in the 1950′s and 60′s.
This was the first time that the youth from More than Words came to the WSRC gallery. They were accompanied by Kelly Exley-Smith who is the Associate Site Director of Youth Development and Jennifer Pudder from More than Words. Michelle L’Hereux who is the Curator & Director of the Arts at WSRC and Rajashree Ghosh, Resident Scholar and Waltham Committee member welcomed them. Michelle spoke about the artist/photographer whose work has been discovered and displayed posthumously. She explained the history and techniques behind the photos. Each photograph was clear and tells a story and the youth were engaged and had plenty of observations and comments to make. Most of all they enjoyed the space and even tried their hand at the piano in the salon! We feel that this interaction set the tone for continued partnership with More than Words.
In the end Kelly Exley-Smith wrote,
“Thank you so much for having us! We had a great time and the youth couldn’t stop talking about it on the way back. For many of them, it was their first time in a gallery. They really appreciated having the opportunity to try out something new.,,,Thank you again for inviting our youth to your gallery and for giving themthe opportunity to experience something new. I’m really looking forward to continue partnering in this work together.”