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.

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