Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

This blog will expand the reach of these community conversations to the online audience. Add your posts and comments to keep the conversation going! Commit to action by clicking HERE to stay up to date on Salon and social justice news.

For updates on Stowe Center programs and events, sign up for our enews at http://harrietbeecherstowe.org/email.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Re-Abolishing Slavery: Information to Action

Check out our Action items taken right during the Salon! 

- Be a conscientious consumers: know what you are buying, where it comes from and demand changes if it is a product of slavery.
- Look critically at your surroundings; report anything suspicious.
- Domestically we need better services for victims.
- Work to get better international laws to protect victims and prosecute traffickers.
- Reduce the demand for services: educate young people that human trafficking is unacceptable.  
- Get involved: work to help victims; educate yourself and others; learn about the peoples lives that are touching your life.
- Support organizations that work to end poverty, support democratic processes.
- Participate in Free to Walk: March 19 2011 in Farmington, CT.
- Check out slavery map at NotForSale.Org
- Go to a "Not For Sale" Academy
- Become a Backyard Abolitionists for $28/month
- Support the Freedom Store: Do your holiday shopping by supporting goods made by survivors.
- Be passionate.
- Tell other people what you learned tonight.
- Host a screening for Friends and Family. 
- Create hygiene backpacks for victims and survivors.
- Support HR55-75 Bill
- Train Law Enforcement
- Make a commitment to become an abolitionist. 

Information and Ways YOU Can Take Action:

Additional Resources:

Borderland Comics.com

Change.org - Cause: End Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking.org

The International Institute of Connecticut, Inc.

Free to Work


Not For Sale Campaign

The Project to End Human Trafficking

United States Department of Health and Human Services

United States Department of State

Friday, November 19, 2010

Re-Abolishing Slavery

Kathleen Liner, Victim Specialist – FBI – Connecticut

The legal perspective:  The Trafficking Act of 2000 addresses human trafficking – a hidden and under-reported civil rights violation. Every state in the USA has had a least one case of trafficking. 

Karen and Steve, Not for Sale Campaign volunteers (Karen became involved with her daughter, who rescued two boys in Peru.)

Building community awareness is key to combating human trafficking.  NFS – a global organization - partners with law enforcement agencies. 

Be aware - notice possible warning signals - trafficked people are used to produce cheap goods.  For example: a t-shirt selling for less than $4.80 is likely made by an unpaid person.

Watch and get others to watch movies that expose the problem:

Trafficking in Souls, (1913)
The Dark Side of Chocolate (2010)

Audience discussion:

What does NFS do? 
 Advocates locally and nationally:
NFS website rates corporations that eliminate slavery in their supply chains. 
Information can be used by public to pressure businesses enslaving and exploiting people to  make money.  Hold these businesses responsible and getting them to change their practices.

What about sex trafficking? 
 What if someone runs away from home with the intent of selling themselves and someone helps them.  No one under 18 can agree to this so it falls under coercion  

Trafficking is a $32 billion industry. 

How do you know if products are produced without the use of trafficked /unpaid labor?

Look for the Fair Trade sticker. (Audience member reported that of the 60 chocolatiers at the NY Chocolate Show, (many from Cuba and Haiti) , none had that label! 

Google “fair trade” for more information about organizations that qualify for the designation.

Relationship between low wages/poverty and people forced into sex trade?

            People in poverty are at high risk for being victims of trafficking – either for sex or for labor (or both).  Parents have sold their child to an organization/person because they needed the money. 

Pimps force women into sex trafficking

Human Trafficking in CT on 95 corridor – woman (children and adults) are trafficked from CT to NJ.  (Overwhelmingly females.). 

CT Anti-trafficking law of 2004.  Someone does not need to be trafficked over the border.  Things happen all the time over the internet: craigslist and many other sites.   

Air travel:
Airlines need to educate personnel to be more aware of trafficking. 

Tips for Awareness:
            Look critically at your surroundings. 
Take off your blinders!
We are all powerful and can make a difference. 
Be aware of workers at cleaning services, landscaping, agricultural, casinos, housekeeping, nail salons, strip clubs and massage parlors.

Is organize crime involved?
Depends, could be a “corporation” or a “family”
Pimps can use women are used to keep other women in control and/or to “recruit.”. 

What services does the FBI offer to victims? 
            Victim needs assessment (health, medical, basic needs. Life expectancy of a trafficked young woman     
             is seven years.)  

What other organizations are engaged in this issue?
International Institute (CT-based) helps foreign born victims. 

Paul and Lisa Program – and organization to work with victims.  

What about the schools? 
US Department of Education has a fact sheet out about trafficking.
Schools do not include it in their curriculum.  Organizations have to find a way into the school system. 

How much money is made in trafficking?
$32 billion, projected profits world wide. 
One of the fastest growing criminal industries after drug and gun trafficking. 
CT and Chicago see a lot of domestic trafficking.  Texas, Florida see a lot of labor trafficking. 

What is needed?
            Better victim services, broader education and community awareness, and reporting. 
Support businesses in other countries that support their communities. 

United Nations set up a trust fund for trafficked victims. 

Understand that victims are not at fault.

            Work with organizations that support an end to poverty. 

Report! A runaway has about 48 hours before being subject to being trafficked.


HR 5575: federal legislation to increase law enforcement specific to domestic violence and sex trafficking. 

CT State bill:  2007 anti trafficking law.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Featured Guest Bios: Re-Abolishing Slavery

Where does modern-day slavery exist?  What allows one person to “own” and control another?  How do we recognize it and more importantly, how do we stop it? 

This week’s Salons at Stowe featured guests:

Karen Herbert
Co-State Director, “Not For Sale” Campaign

Karen became aware of “Not For Sale” when she visited her daughter in Peru and was shocked at what she saw and the stories she heard. Deciding that something needed to be done, Karen began a ‘Freedom Store’ in her clothing boutique which allows her to talk about “Not For Sale” and give a voice to the voiceless. In 2009, she attending the Global Forum and became passionate to learn and teach others about how they can be a resource to end slavery in our time.

Kathleen Liner
Victim Specialist, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Ms. Liner is responsible for direct services and on-going support to all federal crime victims identified in FBI investigations in Connecticut with priority to crimes against children, violent crimes, and civil rights matters.  Ms. Liner serves on the FBI Human Trafficking Working Group, the Innocence Lost National Initiative, federal task force, and a local coalition to represent and support federal law enforcement in their ongoing efforts to investigate, combat and prevent Trafficking in Persons (TIP).  She has provided training on the global and individual effects of TIP to a variety of local, national and international groups and organizations.

Steve Ferraro
Co-State Director, “Not For Sale” Campaign

Steve is currently a Director of Engineering for a privately owned manufacturer.  During his career he has learned many strategies for creating training materials and training diverse groups of employees. Steve hopes to use these talents to the best of his abilities to further the message of “Not For Sale” in his community and in his state working along side Co-State Director Karen Herbert. Long term Steve would like to find a second career working at fair trade and supply chain compliance. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Engaging Neighbors, Building Communities: Featured Guest Bios

Can one person really make a difference? How does a community become strong and successful? What happens when one person begins to create change?

Our October 14, 2010 Salon with feature the following guest speakers:

Nicola Allen
Community Builder
As a community volunteer, Nicola got her start sweeping city streets and cleaning neighborhood parks. over the years, through the help of Neighborhoods of Hartford Pride Block Initiative, Nicola has created gardens on Burton Street for any neighbor who wanted a garden at no cost. With the support of the Knox Parks Foundation, she has spearheaded two annual beautification days at the Breakthrough Magnet School in Hartford. With the emphasis on spreading blooms, Nicola and a team of over 50 parent volunteers planted more than 1,000 daffodil bulbs that bloom every spring to light up the school's entry. When her retired neighbor living on a fixed income became discouraged about the deteriorating paint on her home, Nicola organized a painting party. Neighborhoods of Hartford paid for the materials, and 14 volunteers and neighbors painting the house in two days, restoring the home's beauty and Victorian charm. Nicola's family moved to the Upper Albany neighborhood from Jamaica in 1981.

Reverend Dr. Edward Hortsmann
Immanuel Congregational Church
Ed is a resident of Hartford, where he lives with his son, Kyle. He has served Immanuel Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, for nearly twelve years as its Senior Pastor. In those twelve years the congregation has experienced growth in a variety of ways, especially through its commitment to mission endeavors that contribute to the well-being of the Greater Hartford Region and beyond. Ed is passionate about urban ministry, and hopeful about the future of Hartford. To maintain balance in his life he plays tennis as much as possible, and by taking long walks, reading, watching movies, and creating art through the use of pastels.

Cary Wheaton
Billings Forge Community Works
Cary is the Executive Director of Billings Forge Community Works, a 501c3 located in Frog Hollow, Hartford aimed at transforming peoples' lives through job creation, improved housing, farm to table programming and arts and enrichment opportunities. Cary oversees Firebox Restaurant, the Kitchen@Billings Forge, The Studio, The Farmers Market, Garden, and residences. Cary has created and owned five award winning restaurants in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Previously, she oversaw Nuestra Culinary Ventures in Boston, a shared use commercial kitchen which was the home to more than sixty start up food businesses. Cary has a long history of consulting to non profits in small business development and operations; specializing in the culinary field. She has made her home in Connecticut since relocating to assist the Melville Charitable Trust in the opening of their farm to table restaurant, Firebox, in 2006.

Can't make our October 14th Salon? Post your questions in the comments section and we'll ask them during the salon for you and post the answers here!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Who Speaks for the Animals?

Featured Guests:
State Representative Annie Hornish, 62nd Assembly District
Carol Pirek and Gabriela Gonzalez-Wong, Hidden Treasures Adoption Center
Pamela Rickenbach and Christina, Blue Star Equiculture

Harriet Beecher Stowe was fond of animals and owned different kinds throughout her life. In Hartford, she used her voice and influence to bring attention to animal issues including protection and improvement for the quality of life. To
day, what is society doing to take care of animals? Nook Farm is home to several feral cats and kittens which are often caught and placed with adoption agencies. What can you do?

Annie Hornish is the founder of the Compassionate Living Project and a State Representative who fights for animal advocacy and the preservation of rural space, including Legislators for Animal Advocacy. Animal advocates face roadblocks because animals are still considered property and being so will always be second interest to the humans in terms of enforcing laws surrounding their protection. There are several laws that people should know about. The Puppy Lemon Law allows reimbursement for animals purchased at a pet shop and get sick shortly after purchase. The Tether Law forbid the use of short and heavy chains, mostly used for guard dogs protecting someone's property. Hornish remarks that these laws are far from perfect, but they are a start and are better than nothing. She also worked on the Exotic Ban in Connecticut but pulled her name because the law was modified and weakened to exclude private owners. Some future legislation to pay attention to is choice dissection in schools, leg hold trap bans, and bull hook bans for elephants.

Representative Hornish holds a bull hook
used on elephants and a leg trap.

Southeastern Connecticut has the third largest egg factory
farm in the US. These battery cages keep 8 birds in a
cage and are stacked 4 high.

Hidden Treasures Adoption Center helps save forgotten or abandoned cats. On Nook Farm alone they have assisted in rescuing four sets of kittens. The number one issue affecting cats today is affording to spray and neuter your cat which can lead to overpopulation if not taken care of. They took a survey of different vets in Connecticut and found that is can cost between $200 - $300 to have this procedure done. To spay a pregnant cat, it can cost around $500. There needs to be more information and education about owning a cat and spaying and neutering them. Contact them for information and list of local vets whose prices are a bit more affordable.

A few of the cats looking for news homes
with Hidden Treasures Adoption Agency

Another eager kitten looking for a home.

Blue Star Equiculture provides retired working horses a sanctuary and homeless working horses the opportunity to positively improve their lives while bringing education, equine awareness, skills and healing to the community and the environment. Currently they care for 30 horses. Education is a big factor in getting adequate care for homeless horses and working horses. Many people are still under the impression that a happy horse is one that is living in the wild, which is not true. Today there are around 30 thousand horses living in the wild. Additionally, there are around 100 thousand horses that are shipped to Canada for human consumption. Working horses have a better future than luxury horses because of the economy. Due to the high cost for an individual to own a horse, during hard economic times, these luxuries are the first to be given up. Horses also provide a more environmentally and economically viable way to deliver goods and items (or people!) between eleven miles, the distance between the typical medieval town.

Staff from Blue Star Equipculture passionately
discuss their desire to work with horse with
HBSC Executive Director, Katherine Kane.

To most in the room, animals are not considered property but are an extension of our families, which led to a very heartfelt conversation about how we care for and treat them. Members of the group asked why it costs so much to bring animals to the vets. This is a big point of frustration for animals lovers and owners all over. There are many low cost vets but they are often difficult to find. Hidden Treasures Adoption Center offered help and is willing to assist and work with pet owners to find suitable vet care. The best thing you can do is work with your local shelter and work together as a community.

It was brought up that many people are still in the dark about working horses. The folks at Blue Star Equiculture shared information about working horses and the horses want for work if they are cared for. The NYC carriage horses are probably the most popular working horses in the United States. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding these horses and some calling for a ban. The Hell's Kitchen stables, where most of these workers live, were built in the early 1900's. The stables have been updated and while it seems cruel, it should be pointed out that since automotive transportation, we have really forgotten how horses live. In many places, horses get 2 months vacation for every month they work.

Information to Action:
- Learn more about the compassionate living project
- Recognize individual worth of animals, don't view them as property
- Support dissection choice in schools
- Work to ban bull hooks, battery cages, and leg traps
- Spay and neuter your pets
- Horses are not disposable. The future of the working horses is much more certain than a luxury horse.
- Horse drawn labor can be more environmentally friendly, efficient and cost less.
- Fox Memorial Clinic offers reduced cost care for pets.
- Build back up the spay/neuter fund.
- Stop euthanizing for "behavioral" issues.
- Oppose horse slaughter
- Support sanctuaries, rescue societies, and politicians that work for these issues.

Additional resources for more information and ways YOU can take action:

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Blue Star Equiculture

Change.org - Animals

Connecticut Humane Society

Connecticut Votes for Animals

Hidden Treasures Adoption Center

Mercy for Animals - Events

Representative Maryanne "Annie" Hornish

USDA - Animal Welfare Information Center

Monday, September 27, 2010

Who Speaks for the Animals?: Guest Bios

Harriet Beecher Stowe owned lots of animals including dogs, cats and birds. During the years that Harriet Beecher Stowe lived in Hartford, she used her voice and influence to protect and improve the quality of life for animals. What is society doing today to address animal welfare?

Our September 30th Salon will feature the following guest speakers;

Gabirela Gonzalez-Wong
A foster care giver at Hidden Treasures Adoption Center
Gabirela specializes in socializing cats that have been traumatized by conditions and abuse. She joined Hidden Treasures in 2008 because of their volunteer work and their initiative to help reduce animal overpopulation.

Representative Annie Hornish
D-CT 62nd District
Represents Barkhamsted, Granby, East Granby, and New Hartford. She serves on the Commerce, Education and Environment committees. She is Founder and Co-Chair of Legislators for Animal Advocacy and Co-Chair of the Rural Caucus. She is a healthcare professional with a bS degree from UCONN College of Agriculture and Certification in Cytotechnology from the UNCONN Health Center and an MBA from Western New England College.

Carol Pirek
Hidden Treasures Adoption Center
Carol started volunteering with Hidden Treasures about 3 years ago and has now fostered dozens of cats. Away from cats, she works as a commercial banker.

Pamela Rickenbach
Blue Star Equiculture
Pamela grew up in Peru and in Bolivia, returning to the US in 1990. She studied organic horticulture and began working with draft horses. She founded Blue Star Equiculture with Christina Hansen. It is a sanctuary for homeless working horses which brings equine awareness to the community.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Banned Books: Who Decides?

Featured Guests:
Sonya Green, Program Coordinator, Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
Ramona Harten, Director, Cheshire Public Library
Craig Hotchkiss, Coordinator of Education, Mark Twain House & Museum

Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, has been banned since it was first published in 1852, but for different reasons over the years: too political; too offensive; too vulgar. Stowe herself sought to address those who challenged the work in A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853) but the controversy continues today. So, who decides what we can read and why? What is offensive to one person may not be to another, but once a book is banned, the opportunity for individuals to decide for themselves vanishes.

Craig Hotchkiss deals with challenges surrounding Twain's Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, which has also been banned since first published. Racial epithets and the characterization of Jim are the leading reasons that schools put it on the banned list today. Actively working with schools, Hotchkiss provides teachers with strategies to discuss the book in class and how to recognize if students are ready to handle the content.

Sonya Green stressed the necessity of safe places to have conversations around difficult subjects such as this. Using Stowe's words to emphasize the danger of denying access to material that may be viewed as challenging, Green reminded the group that while the truth is not always pretty, there is a real danger is denying its existence.

Ramona Harten noted that the vast majority of challenges comes from people wanting to protect children. 95% of these challenges are unsuccessful, but some succeed and the book is removed from circulation. There is no one particular type of book that is banned, or one particular type of person that challenges a book. Every piece of information is offensive to someone and Harten listed some recent titles to comes under scrutiny from Webster's Dictionary to Harry Potter.

While most people challenge a book out of a sincere concern, it is still motivated by an individual's opinion. If people are free and open to a variety of viewpoints and ideas, ultimately they will make the right decision and have the opportunity to choose for themselves what they read, or choose not to.

The group discussion focused on the danger of one person's opinion affecting what the majority could read or have access to. Different viewpoints were shared and while the group overall was opposed to the idea of banning it was noted that everyone had a flash point. Each of us views things differently and has something that we feel might not be good for others to be exposed to - fear of promoting hate, dangerous behavior, and providing platforms for criminals were mentioned as reasons some might consider challenging a book.

It was noted that the mere act of challenging or banning a book often increases interest in the book. Might this be a ploy for publishers to utilize, one participant wondered. Hotchkiss shared that Twain acknowledged those that challenged his works, thanking them for ensuing their success.

One member of the audience called attention to the fact that sometimes censorship affects what content is even published, noting that Texas, the biggest market for textbooks, controls the entire textbook market. If Texas won't buy it, then it won't be published. This impacts curriculum, limits viewpoints and denies some historic truths.

There is no definitive list of banned books in Connecticut. Decisions are made at the town level and libraries and schools differ in what they ban or challenge. There are resources and groups one can consult for assistance with reinstating a banned book or opposing a challenge. (See Information to Action list below) One member of the group said, the remedy to expressioni that is found distasteful is not suppression, but more speech and discussion.

Information to Action:
These action ideas were captured during the group discussion:
- There is no typical person that challenges books. All different types of people challenge for all different reasons.
- We all have the right to receive information. The 1st Amendment allows you to ban books and demand the right to choose what you read for yourself.
- Changing communities impacts library selections.
- Question textbooks. What will sell determines what people will write and publish.
- Create settings and environments where difficult subjects can be discussed. Create readiness.
- Monitor local situations. Pay attention and get involved.
- Join the Friends group at your local library.
- Get on your local library board.
- Vote - elected officials advocate on your behalf.

Additional resources for more information and ways YOU can take action:

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

American Civil Liberties Union

American Library Association

Banned Books Online exhibition

Cheshire Public Library

Controversial Banned Books

Freedom to Read Foundation

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

Hartford Public Library

List of Banned Books by Governments

Mark Twain House and Museum

National Coalition Again Censorship

Monday, September 13, 2010

Banned Books: Guest Biographies

The Fall Salons at Stowe series kicks-off on September 16, 2010 with a discussion of banned books in anticipation of Banned Book Week, September 25 - October 2. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin which is still banned in some places today. When books are banned, how does a community explore challenging topics? Who is in charge of what you read?

Featured speakers include;

Ramona Harten
Director of the Cheshire Public Library
Ramona has worked in public and academic libraries in New England for twenty years. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Yale University, and a Master's Degree in Library Science from Southern Connecticut State University. In 2009 was faced with opposition by local residents for purchasing a controversial book about the 2007 murders of the Petit family.

Craig Hotchkiss
Education Program Manager for the Mark Twain House since 2007
Prior to his time at the MTH he taught History at South Windsor High School (CT) for 33 years. He holds a B.A. in American History from Bates College, an M.A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut, a sixth-year certificate in World History, and an M.A. in American Studies, both from Trinity College.

Sonya Green
Program Coordinator for the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
A member of the Education and Visitor Services team and her work at the Stowe Center is focused in the areas of public programming and community outreach. Sonya is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, CT and worked in fields of ministry and in both public and independent schools before joining the Stowe Center staff in 2007.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Salons at Stowe!

Since 2008, Salons at Stowe, a program of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, has become a forum for lively discussion on important contemporary topics that concerned Harriet Beecher Stowe.  The parlor conversations are designed to inspire you to move from dialogue and debate to action on current social justice issues.

With every seasonal series, new topics are introduced and past topics explored in more detail. 
Past topics have included:
  • Poverty
  • Health Care
  • Hunger
  • Adult Literacy
  • Human Trafficking
  • Race, Gender & Politics
  • Social Justice Advocacy
  • Single-sex Education
Salons take place on Thursdays at the Stowe Center in Hartford, CT.  This blog will allow you to follow along and participate even if you can't make it to Hartford!