NEW TIME! RIVALS UNTO DEATH Book Talk

Sunday, March 26, 2017

7:00 PM
The Depot Building
Lexington Center
Free and open to the public

 

Rick Beyers

Rick Beyer will celebrate the publication of his latest book, tell us how it came to be and the interesting stories he discovered in its writing.

Rivals Unto Death explores the largely unknown three-decade dance that led to their infamous duel. It traces the rivalry back to the earliest days of the American Revolution, when both men, brilliant, restless, and barely twenty years old, elbowed their way onto the staff of General George Washington; follows them as they launch their competitive legal practices in New York City and through the insanity of the election of 1800 when Hamilton threw his support behind Thomas Jefferson in an effort to knock Burr out of the running for president; and takes them finally to the dueling grounds from which just one would emerge.

Rick Beyer is a New York Times best-selling author, an award-winning documentary producer, and a long-time history enthusiast. His new book Rivals Unto Death: Hamilton and Burr will be published in February 2017 by Hachette books. His independent documentary The Ghost Army, premiered on PBS in 2013, and won a CINE Golden Eagle Award. It tells the story of an extraordinary WWII unit that used creativity and illusion to fool the Germans.  He also has co-authored a bestselling book on the unit. Rick has produced numerous other documentaries and is the author of the popular Greatest Stories Never Told series of history books.  He has curated museum exhibits relating to World War II and the American Revolution.  He has also made numerous media appearances, and frequently speaks to audiences on subjects that include innovation, film making, and the quirky tales that make history come alive. He is an adjunct faculty member in the communications department of Lasell College.

 

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Identifying Depression in Children and Youth

 

 

By Alicke Grobler

There are many stereotypes and misconceptions about clinical depression perpetuated by media and pop culture. Although there are some common signs and symptoms of depression that occur in most cases, depression can look very different in everyone. The presentation of depression can also vary significantly across different ages and genders.

Depression is not an uncommon occurrence in adults. Recent research indicates that about 16% of adults experience depression in their lifetime. Depression is significantly more common among women and the elderly. Additionally, approximately 65-75% of people with depression are initially diagnosed in adolescence. This indicates that depression is a chronic disorder and most often develops in the teenage years. Because of this, it is essential to know and be able to identify the signs of depression as early as possible, in order to ensure that your child has access to resources and support and develops coping skills early on in the course of the disorder.

Although rare, it is possible for children younger than adolescence to be diagnosed with depression; according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), approximately 2.5% of young children in the US suffer from depression. Under the age of 12, depression is slightly more common in young boys than young girls. However, once children hit adolescence, the rate of depression jumps up to 11%. This rate is the average for all adolescents between 12-18, but the risk of depression increases substantially for older adolescents. Adolescent girls are 2-3 times more likely to develop depression than boys.

This article is not meant to scare parents, but rather to provide them with information and resources to best help their children who may be struggling. However, because depression can manifest differently in everyone, it can be hard to identify it in teens and children, and to distinguish it from the typical and developmentally normative angst of the teen years. As such, the following information will include ways to recognize depression in children and teens, risk factors to look out for, ways to help your child cope with depression, and resources available to parents and children.

Depression most often presents, across ages, as persistently low mood, hopelessness, fatigue, and lack of enjoyment. However, in children, other symptoms may be more obvious including:

  • Irritability or anger
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in appetite – eating too much or too little
  • Changes in sleep pattern – sleeping too much, not sleeping enough or at all
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • Difficulty functioning and completing day to day tasks at school, with friends, or at home.
  • Physical complaints such as stomach or headache that do not respond to treatment
  • Increased sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Lack of motivation
  • Vocal outbursts or crying
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

In children under 12 years old, irritability or anger, changes in sleep pattern or appetite, vocal outbursts, and physical complaints may be the easiest to identify and the most strongly expressed symptoms. In adolescents, depression looks more like adults, with major changes in mood and functionality. However, all of the symptoms listed above could apply to a child or adolescent suffering from depression, so it is important to be aware of your child’s mood and behaviors. Children will likely display different symptoms in different settings, and most with significant depression will display a noticeable change in academic performance, social activities, and even appearance.

Some children may be at greater risk for depression than others. This is especially true for children who have a parent with depression. Depression has been linked to a genetic predisposition, and tends to run in families. Children whose parents have depression are also more likely to develop depression earlier than children whose parents do not. Other risk factors include substance use. Depression may also lead to substance abuse in older children and adolescents, which is likely to worsen the symptoms. Children may also develop depression based on major life events, loss of loved ones, or biochemical disturbances.
If you notice some of these behaviors in your child, especially if they are persistent for more than two weeks, do not be afraid to consult a mental health professional.

Depression is a cyclic disorder. This means that those who have depression typically go through periods of feeling healthy and functioning well, and periods or episodes of depression. Major Depressive Disorder is diagnosed if an individual has a depressive episode lasting two weeks or more that significantly interferes with their daily functioning. However, depressive episodes often end on their own after a period of time. The end of a depressive episode does not mean that depression has been cured and is no longer a cause for concern; rather, it is highly likely that a depressive episode will recur in the future. Therefore, even if your child is not currently exhibiting the symptoms or signs described, or if the symptoms stop or improve naturally, it is still essential to seek resources and support for your child.

There are a variety of effective treatment options for depression, including psychopharmacology and psychotherapy. Mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy have both been shown to be effective in reducing depressive symptoms, and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of relapse of a depressive episode. If you are concerned that your child is depressed, you have a number of options to seek support.

Your pediatrician may be able to help you find suitable antidepressants for your child, and can likely refer you to a psychiatrist and/or therapist.

Your child’s school counselor can connect you to resources both in and out of school.

The Youth and Family Services Social Worker, Kristie Demirev, at the Community Center can work with families on an individual basis to assess their needs and connect them to supports they need. She can be reached at 781 698 4843 and is free to all residents.

The following articles are also helpful for educating yourself about depression in children and adolescents. If you are concerned about your child, please reach out and find support for yourself and your family:

Hankin, B. L., Young, J. F., Abela, J. R., Smolen, A., Jenness, J. L., Gulley, L. D., … & Oppenheimer, C. W. (2015). Depression from childhood into late adolescence: Influence of gender, development, genetic susceptibility, and peer stress. Journal of abnormal psychology, 124(4), 803.

Avenevoli, S., Swendsen, J., He, J. P., Burstein, M., & Merikangas, K. R. (2015). Major depression in the National Comorbidity Survey–Adolescent Supplement: prevalence, correlates, and treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(1), 37-44.


 

Alicke Grobler is a Master of Social Work candidate at Boston College, studying clinical social work with a focus in mental health. She is currently an intern with the Lexington Human Services Department, and aspires to help increase access to and awareness of mental health care for low income families and military families. She can be reached by calling the Human Services Department at (781) 698-4840.

 


Parenting Matters columns are presented to the Lexington community through a collaboration with the Lexington Human Services Department of Youth Services. Information provided in these columns is general in nature and not intended to be a substitute for a personalized clinical evaluation. Please see a professional for any concerns you may have about this topic or any others in a Parenting Matters column. LEXINGTON COMMUNITY CENTER 39 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA 02421. Open Monday – Friday 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

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Healing after Homicide

By Jane Whitehead

 

A TRANSFORMATIVE APPROACH FROM DORCHESTER’S LOUIS D. BROWN PEACE INSTITUTE

On Sunday, October 23, 1:30-3:30 p.m., the Gun Violence Prevention Group of the Follen Church Social Justice Action Team will host a presentation by the Dorchester-based Louis D. Brown Peace Institute (LDBPI) on their transformative approach to supporting families on both sides of murder. Featuring Peace Institute Founder & President, Chaplain Clementina Chéry and staff, the event is free and open to the public, at Follen Church, 755 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington.

Clementina (Tina) Chéry did not set out to be a peace activist or violence prevention leader. In the early 1990s her focus was on making a warm, secure environment for her three children in their Dorchester home. On December 20, 1993 their family life was torn apart when her eldest son, Louis David Brown, 15, was shot and killed blocks from home, caught in the crossfire in a shootout between rival drug dealers. He was on the way to a Christmas party for Teens Against Gang Violence.

From Pain and Anger to Power and Action

“When I was told that Louis was brain dead, I felt like a bomb exploded inside of me – my mind, my heart, and my soul,” Chéry told the congregation at Follen Church in a short, powerful talk on March 13, 2016. “When Louis was killed,” said Chéry, “I needed to find a way of channeling my pain and anger into power and action.” In 1994, she and her family founded the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute as a lasting memorial to her son, and a way of carrying forward his commitment to preventing violence in their community.

Clementina (Tina) Chéry

Clementina (Tina) Chéry

“When Louis was killed, I needed to find a way of channeling my pain and anger into power and action.”

Clementina (Tina) Chéry

Chéry told how in 2000, she reached out to Doris Bogues, the mother of Charles Bogues, the young man accused of killing Louis. “When we met at a local bar,” she said, “there were silent tears and a warm embrace, woman to woman, mother to mother, heart to heart.” In 2010, she met Charles Bogues face to face for the first time, and in 2012 worked with his mother, his support team and community leaders to plan his re-entry into society, as he prepared for his parole hearing. (Now on parole, Bogues works in construction and spoke at the Peace Rally after this year’s Mothers’ Day Walk for Peace, the Peace Institute’s signature annual fund-raiser.)

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Forgiveness and Accountability

Recently, Chéry and the Bogues, mother and son, took part in a restorative justice panel as part of the Peace Institute’s new Intergenerational Justice Program. The program, Chéry told the Follen congregation, supports families on both sides of murder in their journeys to healing, accountability, forgiveness and reconciliation. “I know that extending my hand in forgiveness has saved Mr. Bogues and his family,” said Chéry. “It has also saved my family, and I have been an example to my children.”

In a recent email exchange, Chéry wrote that even in the middle of her grief immediately following the murder, and the pressure on her to step into the public eye, she was determined to focus “on who Louis was, what he believed in, how we raised him, and the values that were instilled in him,” rather than join in heated debates about “guns, gangs, drugs, prison and the death penalty.”

The first public event after Louis’s death was a celebration of his life, on what would have been his sixteenth birthday. The Chéry family asked guests to nominate a young person for the good she or he was doing in the community. “We asked people to focus on the assets of our young people and not on the deficits,” she said, and this continues to be central to the mission of the Peace Institute.

Healing, Teaching, Learning

Twenty-two years later, the LDBPI is a center of healing, teaching and learning for families impacted by murder, committed to helping not only families of victims, but also families of people imprisoned for murder. “Our purpose is to transform society’s response to homicide so that all families are treated with dignity and compassion, regardless of the circumstances,” said Mallory Hanora, LDBPI Communications and Policy Coordinator.

At the core of the Peace Institute’s programs are Survivor Outreach Services (SOS), offering immediate help and guidance to the families of homicide victims, from coordinating family support networks and assisting with funeral planning, to navigating the criminal justice system. According to the LDBPI website, the Institute serves close to 1000 people annually. The Louis D. Brown Peace Curriculum for students K-12 was recognized in 1996 by then-U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno for its contribution to reducing juvenile crime.

The Traveling Memorial Button Project features memorial buttons created by victims' families. COURTESY PHOTO.

The Traveling Memorial Button Project features memorial buttons created by victims’ families. COURTESY PHOTO.

The Traveling Memorial Button Project, which literally puts a face to murder victims by commemorating them in two-and-a-quarter-inch buttons, given out to family and friends and displayed all together on a large banner that travels across the country to conferences and community events, was recently named fifth on a WBUR list of 50 Best Public Artworks in Boston.

“It takes courage to turn a personal tragedy into a public service for good,” said James J. Kelly, the then-president of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in the 2011 citation of Tina Chéry as the organization’s Public Citizen of the Year. “Clementina Chéry is a tireless advocate for peace in struggling neighborhoods, and an inspiration to us all,” he said. Chéry’s other awards include Lady in the Order of St. Gregory the Great, bestowed by Pope John Paul II, the Search for Common Ground 2001 International Service Award, and the American Red Cross 1998 Clara Barton Humanitarian Award.

The Follen Connection

Members of the Follen Church community first met Peace Institute staff in 2010, following the murder of Jaewon Martin, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at the James P. Timilty School in Roxbury, who was shot dead on a Roxbury basketball court. Counselors from the Peace Institute were offering support and counseling to Martin’s schoolmates, who were in a tutoring program run by the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry at the nearby Roxbury Meeting house, in which Follen Church members participated.

“Over the years, we got to know Tina Chéry and her staff, and I and others were in awe of the work of the Institute, founded and staffed entirely by survivors of victims of gun violence,” said Anne Grady, chair of Follen’s Gun Violence Prevention Group, founded in the fall of 2013, who initiated the invitation to Chéry to speak at Follen. “We started sending people to the Mother’s Day Walk for Peace – last year 85 members of our congregation of 300 people walked,” said Grady, noting that for the past two years Follen donations to the Peace Institute through the Walk have been the largest from any faith community.

This year’s Walk, on May 8 2016, marked the event’s 20th anniversary and drew more than 15,000 people from communities throughout the Greater Boston area, starting at Field’s Corner in Dorchester and ending with a Peace Rally at Boston’s City Hall Plaza. PHOTO BY CHRIS LOVETT

This year’s Walk, on May 8 2016, marked the event’s 20th anniversary and drew more than 15,000 people from communities throughout the Greater Boston area, starting at Field’s Corner in Dorchester and ending with a Peace Rally at Boston’s City Hall Plaza. PHOTO BY CHRIS LOVETT

This year’s Walk, on May 8 2016, marked the event’s 20th anniversary and drew more than 15,000 people from communities throughout the Greater Boston area, starting at Field’s Corner in Dorchester and ending with a Peace Rally at Boston’s City Hall Plaza. Among the walkers for the first time this year – the first time she’s found a substitute to take the Sunday service – was Follen Minister Claire Feingold Thoryn, who took part with her husband and daughters, then aged three and six. “To join that moving river of humanity walking through Boston was really incredible, and shows the support that so many people have for making Boston and all of our communities in the surrounding areas safer and more peaceful, ” said Feingold Thoryn.

Recognizing Strength as Well as Struggle

Feingold Thoryn hopes the October 23 event will raise awareness and promote engagement in the wider Lexington community, and deepen Follen’s existing partnerships with the Peace Institute and Urban Ministry. Given that “some of our communities are really devastated by gun violence and others are living in a world of privilege,” it’s particularly important to be “a partner and an ally and not try to create something new when there are already people out there doing really good work,” she said. Grady hopes people will be inspired and empowered by Chéry and her team. “I hope that people in Lexington will understand that there are things you can do to work for peace and help students at risk,” she said. Chéry welcomes the Follen community’s willingness “to bear witness, to listen, to learn, and to participate.” She added: “It’s very important to me that people outside of Boston see the beauty in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan and truly recognize our strengths, not just our struggles.”

Find out more about the work of the Peace Institute at the website: www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org

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Men Paid $1…

Courtesy Photo of the early members of The Lexington Field and Garden Club

Courtesy Photo of the early members of The Lexington Field and Garden Club

By E. ASHLEY ROONEY

The Lexington Field & Garden Club was founded in 1876. It began with men at its helm. They were the community leaders with a heritage of good bloodlines, intellectual superiority, and economic success. Their wives addressed them as “mister,” and most belonged to the mainline Protestant churches.

Lexington was primarily a farming community. It began to prosper when the Lexington and West Cambridge Railroad, later the Boston and Maine Railroad, began its service in 1846
In 1875 as the 2,277 Lexingtonians prepared to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Battle on the Green and welcome Ulysses S. Grant and his cabinet to the festivities, a letter to the relatively new Lexington Minuteman pointed out that the area in front of the railroad depot was most unattractive. It soon became apparent that a permanent association was needed to improve our streets and open spaces, and the Lexington Field & Garden Club (LFGC) was organized. Matthew Merriam was its first president.

In 1876, the club adopted a constitution that stated, “the object of this association shall be the care and protection of trees and shrubs in the streets and public places of Lexington and the improvement of the town by the planting of additional trees and ornamental plants, the study and development of the natural resources of this vicinity, the cultivation of taste in arboriculture and horticulture and the discussion of these and kindred subjects.”

The club was incorporated in 1891, but long before that it was making its mark on the environment. From its inception, the group focused on improving the appearance of the disreputable train and freight area, which dominated the center of the village. By 1886, the Boston & Maine Railroad had opened double tracks to Boston and back and eventually provided train service 22 times a day, each way. Unfortunately, all those trains led to disreputable mess of railroad ties, coal bins, and piles of wood in the center of Lexington.

The LFGC also sought to beautify the islands at Hancock and Bedford Streets, Pleasant and Massachusetts Ave, and Lincoln and Concord Streets. To this day, the LFGC beautifies these and many other islands. In 1887, it was willing to assume care of the Common on condition that the town provide $150/year while the club gave $50/year. Under its authority, the hay-covered Common, often filled with cows, became a beautiful historical park.

Many new technologies, such as commuter trains and trolleys, were improving daily life, yet the increasingly mechanized environment led to social reformers calling for the construction of parks and recommending physical exercise as a way to ward off stress. Enjoying this new focus on leisure, the club members took many field trips to explore their environs. In 1875, 51 members went to a field meeting at Shaker Glen (off Woburn St.). Mrs. G.O. Whiting organized a committee to provide saucers for the ice cream furnished by the club, which also provided lemons and ice to make lemonade. Forty-four members traveled to Franklin Park and Arnold Arboretum in Boston. When they arrived at the park, they boarded four large park carriages to visit the principal points of interest and enjoy the views of Blue Hills.

A 36-year old patent attorney, Frederick L, Emery assumed the presidency of the garden club in 1904. In September of that year, the Club acquired land now known as Hastings Park and raised the funds necessary to grade and adapt it. During his tenure, he began to petition the railroad to sell the land to the town. By late 1921, Boston & Maine agreed to sell it for $20,000. In 1922, the area became known as Depot Square, but after Emery’s death, it was renamed in his honor. In his will he left $5,000 to the town with the income from the bequest to be spent by the garden club to beautify his Lexington.

Initially and until the 1950s, the men paid dues of $1.00 while the women paid only 50¢. Although the club was founded in 1876, it did not have a female president until Mrs. Hollis Webster was elected in 1933, some 57 years after its founding.
Since 1955, all the presidents were women, but they are listed as Mrs…until 1988. Then they became known without any personal title. Today, you see the LFGC women working on the islands, holding the Arbor Day ceremony, or getting ready for their grand plant sale.

Looking around Lexington, you can see many signs of the club’s work: Emery Park, Captain Parker’s statue, The Cary Library Garden, the Hancock-Clark House Herb Garden, the Munroe Tavern Colonial Flowers, St. Brigid’s Mary Garden, and all the many civic gardens. This year the club has been working with the US Post Office to beautify their grounds.

As the twenty-first century progresses, its leaders are looking for a way to involve more newcomers and men, once again, the club and its activities. They are planning a pruning workshop and a program on stone walls to attract men to the club.

For further information, please visit the Lexington Field & Garden Club’s website (www.lexgardenclub.org) or its facebook page.

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LEF Grant Brings Robotics to Elementary School Students

By Varsha Thatte  |  LEF Student Ambassador

The future has arrived at Estabrook Elementary School!! Thanks to the Lexington Education Foundation (LEF), elementary-age students now have the opportunity to learn engineering concepts through hands-on instruction in robotics. The use of robotics to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts is gaining wide-spread popularity in the U.S. as a way to help students develop a passion for STEM subjects, and to teach skills such as problem-solving, goal-setting and logical thinking.

Jeffrey Harris, LHS Mathematics teacher.

Jeffrey Harris, LHS Mathematics teacher.

Jeffrey Harris, a Mathematics Teacher at Lexington High School, received an LEF grant to design and implement an after-school robotics program for elementary school students. The grant funds Lego kits for students and training for the teachers running the program.

The program, designed for fourth and fifth graders, has been extremely well-received at Estabrook Elementary School, where it was implemented. “The first six-week session started in the fall and the class got filled quickly. There were 25-30 kids signed up for the whole series. I myself taught robotics for a group of fourth graders. Kids at Estabrook wanted to get involved and were really excited about it,” stated Mark Taggart, a 4th grade teacher at Estabrook.

Jeffrey Harris explains one reason for the program’s warm reception, “Elementary kids did not have the opportunity to learn about robotics until LEF helped us to establish the program at Estabrook. The LEF grant has had a huge impact on the elementary kids. It gave us an opportunity to teach robotics, which will spark their interest in engineering at an early age.”

lego1lego4
The curriculum is divided into six sessions. Each session is structured as a conceptual presentation for 10 minutes, followed by a challenge period to be done in small groups. The introduction session starts with brief explanation about Lego and how robotics work. This session is then followed by hardware and software sessions. The hardware session teaches concepts such as using sensors and motors. The software session covers programming objectives and the programming languages used to program the Lego Mindstorms robotics kits.

Mark Taggart, with Lego robots, at Estabrook Elementary School.

Mark Taggart, with Lego robots, at Estabrook Elementary School.

The fifth session tests students’ abilities through an advanced challenge, which incorporates the hardware, software, and engineering concepts from the earlier sessions. The last session is a free build session, which runs like a robotics science fair. During the final session, students think up, design and build a robot of their own, and then present their creation to the entire class.

Kevin Le, a student at Lexington High School who helped to create the curriculum for the robotics program said, “The curriculum we made gives a huge exposure to engineering. Kids will gain problem-solving skills and creative decision-making capabilities.” Also, completing these hands-on projects builds concept understanding and reinforces students’ confidence in their own abilities.

Mark Taggart mentioned that they received many thank you notes from parents, saying their kids learned a lot of interesting, fun, and useful concepts. A parent at Estabrook said, “It was the absolute best after-school program we’ve ever participated in. Thank you so much for bringing that program. It taught my son that he absolutely loves computer programming, which is a big deal for me, since he doesn’t seem to like anything but watching TV! Thank you, LEF.”

Mark’s vision is to take this initiative to greater heights, explaining, “Our next goal is to bring robotics into the regular classrooms, make it a part of the curriculum officially, and extend it to the five other elementary schools.”

 

The Lexington Education Foundation (LEF) was founded in 1989 to support “better schools, brighter futures” for Lexington Public School students. LEF funds faculty-initiated grants that help address emerging issues and priorities in the district. LEF grants often fund pilot programs that point the district towards the most effective ways to address challenges and improve achievement for all students.Lexington Education Foundation (LEF) is an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization.  LEF is not affiliated with the Lexington Public Schools. For more information go to www.lexedfoundation.org or find us Facebook.

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Lexington Remembers

Remembers Committee members (left to right) Francine Edwards, Mary Gillespie, and Bob Edwards . Photo by Digney Fignus.

Remembers Committee members (left to right) Francine Edwards, Mary Gillespie, and Bob Edwards . Photo by Digney Fignus.

LOCAL CABLE SHOW CHRONICLES THE HISTORY OF LEXINGTON FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

By Digney Fignus

“Know what’s under your feet.”  It’s the familiar mantra of Mary Gillespie, the driving force and Chair of the Committee for the long-running Lexington Remembers television series.  One of the staples of LexMedia’s local programming, the show documents an oral history of the Lexington community.  Mary recalls what inspired the project: “I was a Social Studies Specialist at the Harrington School.  I was surprised to find that many of my students didn’t know anything about the history of their own neighborhoods.  One day I brought members of the Busa family in to talk about their farm and personal history with the town.  What was supposed to be a one-hour talk ended up lasting the whole morning.  The Busas went home for lunch and then came back and spent the rest of the afternoon talking with the children.”  The school program was an instant success.  At the time, Mary was also involved with the Lexington Historical Society.  After enthusiastic responses to the program at a number of other Lexington Elementary Schools she felt a real need to create a more permanent record of this unwritten history.  The die was cast when Mary approached LexMedia with the idea of putting on a show about the “people behind the woodwork.”  As Mary says, “to preserve the contributions of the people who served our community and helped to make it what it is.”

Mary began to gather together a small team to produce what she thought would be “just a few shows.”  The project was seeded with a $500.00 grant from the Lexington Friends of the Council on Aging to purchase equipment and supplies.  Everyone involved in the project is a volunteer.  The shows don’t need a fancy sound stage.  Most of the interviews are shot right in front of Mary’s big white brick fireplace.

Bob and Francine Edwards are the show’s production team.  Bob is a retired Electrical Engineer who worked at Raytheon and helped to father the technology that led to the invention of the microwave oven. Bob heard about Mary’s idea for a community access show through the Council on Aging.  Being an engineer, Bob liked the idea of learning a new technical skill.  Francine was very involved in the Girl Scouts in Lexington.  Her outstanding work as a leader had earned her a “Wonder Woman Grant.”  As part of the prestigious award she attended a seminar about how to study and record woman’s oral history.  Francine recalls, “I only came to the first meeting to give a talk about what I had leaned from the seminar.” She laughs, “They roped me in.”

Francine and Bob Edwards filming at Hancock-Clarke House. After Francine and Bob were "roped in" to the project, they took a production class at LexMedia and they have been the production team on Lexington Remembers ever since.

Francine and Bob Edwards filming at Hancock-Clarke House. After Francine and Bob were “roped in” to the project, they took a production class at LexMedia and they have been the production team on Lexington Remembers ever since.

Francine and Bob both took a production class at LexMedia to learn how to operate the cameras and run the editing programs. That was nearly ten years ago.  What started out to be “just a few shows” has grown to a collection of 43 episodes.  Bob and Francine have been working with Mary since the beginning of the project and have shot and edited most of the current catalog.  They make four copies of each show, one for broadcast at LexMedia, and one each for the Council on Aging, Lexington Historical Society, and the Cary Library.  For the Edwards it’s a true labor of love.  Between shooting the show (yes, Bob and Francine each run a camera, set up the lighting, and do the sound recording), formatting, synchronizing, editing, laying the sound track, and making copies, it takes nearly 10 hours of effort to produce each hour of the show.  Their hard work really paid off when in 2010 they were presented with LexMedia’s Producer of the Year award.

Part of the shows longevity and success has to be attributed to the incredible team that Mary was able to assemble at the start of the project. One of the first recruits was longtime resident and Lexington Town Meeting member Dan Fenn.  Dan grew up in Lexington and has had a storied career.  Nationally known, Dan was an advisor to JFK, taught at Harvard University, and was former head of the Kennedy Library.  Dan brings a wealth of experience to the project and is one of the shows principle interviewers.  Almost everyone working on the show has lived in Lexington for years. All in all, they are a testimonial to the adage: you’re never too old to learn.  Most of the current crew is over 80.  Nonagenarians Bob and Dan are 92.

Dan Fenn (right) with Sam Doran appearing on-camera for a Lexington Remembers segment. Dan was one of the first recruits for the Lexington Remembers team.

Dan Fenn (right) with Sam Doran appearing on-camera for a Lexington Remembers segment. Dan was one of the first recruits for the Lexington Remembers team.

The story behind the show should be enough to inspire you, but the lasting value of these first-hand recollections of life in Lexington are priceless.  Any researcher would give their eye teeth to have access to this kind of information.  Yes, it’s community television.  There is nothing slick about it, no fancy special effects, just real people talking about their life and times. But isn’t that the point?

I binge-watched over a dozen Lexington Remembers episodes in between Patriot’s games and the World Series.  As I watched, I couldn’t help reminisce about my own experiences growing up in Lexington.  I remember bouncing rocks off the water tower and scrounging for a baby carriage wheel in the Lincoln Street dump just as one of the “Leading Ladies of Lexington,” long-time Town Meeting Member Shirley Stoltz, did when she was a kid growing up near the Stone Store on Mass Ave.  I recall graduating from a Sinker to a Pollywog at the town pool just as Helen Millican did as she recounted her days as a swimming instructor in Lexington.

The shows cover a range of topics and have no rigid time restrictions.  Some of them are as short as 15 minutes, some are just over an hour.  Some are already tremendously important because the people who were interviewed, like Dr. Winthrop Harrington, have since passed away.  Dr. Harrington is a direct descendant of the Harrington family who fought in the Battle of Lexington.  He was also an avid bird watcher.  Bob and Francine joked that this made the show particularly hard to edit because all he wanted to talk about was birds and not his family’s history.

One of my favorite shows was the piece on Lexington Gardens.  The Millican brothers, Harold and John Hall, told the remarkable story of how their father had lost the family’s 70-acre Lexington farm during the 1929 crash.  Never the type to give up, the family turned its fortune around when their dad was able to purchase the land that eventually became Lexington Gardens from a Harvard professor who had been using it to grow exotic plants for his Botany classes.  The brothers recount how they were able to get started for “$50.00, some furniture, and an old truck.”  It’s an inspiring story of success and hard work.  Lexington Gardens became famous as the home of the “Victory Garden” show that ran for many seasons on public television.

Over the years, Mary and her Committee have been able to secure interviews with some of Lexington’s most prominent citizens.  How refreshing is it to see Bill Dailey, former Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, take us back to a time when Lexington was primarily a farm community.  His family originally came to Lexington in 1828.  What a treasure to hear him talk with pride about the “Dailey Wall” that his family built on Waltham Street and his experience as a pinsetter in the bowling alley that still exists under the floorboards of one of the downtown shops.  He grew up in a Lexington where Carroll’s cows would stop traffic on Waltham Street to cross to the lower pasture where a golf driving range now exists.

Bill Dailey, former Chairman of the Board of Selectmen (center) with Father Colletti and Lillian McArthur at one of Bill's "East Lexington Reunions" held at the Dailey Farm on Marrett Road.

Bill Dailey, former Chairman of the Board of Selectmen (center) with Father Colletti and Lillian McArthur at one of Bill’s “East Lexington Reunions” held at the Dailey Farm on Marrett Road.

I came to Lexington in the ‘50s and I still remember that world: a world where you could buy a nice house in Lexington for $12,500 and tuition at Tufts University was a whopping $250.00 (Harvard was only $500.00).  A recurring theme almost everyone interviewed talks about is how Lexington was so much more a blue-collar community then.  My father and his father were bus drivers for the Boston Elevated, and later the MTA, and then the MBTA.  My granddad had a house on Waltham Street with an upstairs apartment that I lived in as a toddler with my mom and dad.  My grandfather, who had been born in England, kept a pigeon coop in the backyard.  The pigeons are long gone, but some of our family still lives there today.

Lexington was typical small-town America not that long ago.  My dad’s sister Eleanor married Morris Bloomberg who owned Morris Motors that was just a few blocks down Waltham Street at Four Corners.  My cousin Barbara married Larry Carroll, one of the Carroll boys whose farm was a short walk down the street in the opposite direction.  Middleby Road was a just a dirt road in the mid-50s when my dad and mom saved up enough money to get their own little house.  There was no Bridge School.  There was an open meadow with a hollowed out crab apple tree we hid in during games of “52 Scatter.”  The two big chestnut trees near the current entrance to the school were our jungle gyms and just off the path were patches of blackberries, raspberries, and wild grapes.  For me, watching the Lexington Remembers episodes was not only nostalgic, it was informative.  Even though I’m related to the Carroll’s, I didn’t know that the Carroll family was once recognized as “The National Catholic Farm Family of America.”

Lexington was a place where it was not uncommon for a family to have roots that ran back multiple generations.  The show “A Conversation with Dick Michelson” traces that family back five generations.  Michelson’s Shoes was opened in 1919 by Dick’s grandfather who originally came to Lexington because the town needed a harness repairman.  From harness repair, to mending boots, to selling and stocking custom-fit shoes, Michelson’s has been a landmark in Lexington Center for almost 100 years.  Even today it is run as a successful family business.  I happened into the shop this last Halloween to take a photo or two.  Not only were three generations of Michelson’s working that day, they were celebrating Dick’s 82nd birthday.

Michelson’s has been a landmark in Lexington Center for almost 100 years. Three generations of Michelsons: (left to right) Mark Solomon, Dick Michelson, Barbara Michelson, Andrea Michelson, and Jerry Michelson. Photo by Digney Fignus.

Michelson’s has been a landmark in Lexington Center for almost 100 years. Three generations of Michelsons: (left to right) Mark Solomon, Dick Michelson, Barbara Michelson, Andrea Michelson, and Jerry Michelson. Photo by Digney Fignus.

Besides the archived copies, most of the Lexington Remembers shows are currently available for viewing On Demand at the LexMedia website.  From the history of the Boy Scouts, the Police and Fire Departments, and the Daughters of the American Revolution, to recollections of town leaders, and the inspiring stories of well-known families like the Busas and Dorans, there is bound to be something of interest to anyone with a Lexington connection.  The shows are always informative and have a genuine historic value.  The episodes are first-and-foremost entertaining.  How can you not chuckle when Mickey Khazam deadpans the “catchy title” of one of the Friends of the Council on Aging upcoming lectures: “New Neurons in the Adult Brain, Stem Cell Surprises.”

As they approach their 50th show, the Lexington Remembers Committee is putting out the call for more people to get involved.  Mary Gillespie has certainly realized her vision of a program “not only historical, but to honor some of the people who have made a difference in the community.”  In the last ten years Mary and her exceptional seniors didn’t just hit the mark, they struck a bull’s-eye and had lots of fun in the process.

The editing suite at LexMedia where Lexington Remembers is produced.

The editing suite at LexMedia where Lexington Remembers is produced.

If you are interested in volunteering, learning more, or contributing to this important non-profit project please contact:

Lexington Remembers Committee Chair Mary Gillespie 781-862-9166

LexMedia –  www.lexmedia.org 781-862-5388

Lexington Friends of the Council on Aging – www.friendsoftheCOA.org

 

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To view episodes of Lexington Remembers visit the LexMedia Website at www.LexMedia.org and search Lexington Remembers in the On Demand section.

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“Parenting Is Not Art”

Kimberly Hackett, LMHC, is a Family-Focused Therapist, Parent Coach and writer.

Kimberly Hackett, LMHC, is a Family-Focused Therapist, Parent Coach and writer.

By Kimberly Hackett, LMHC

Parenting is not art. It’s not a roster of must learn skills. It’s not something to conquer or something you can completely ignore. It’s not a vocation or way of life, a movement, mission or religion. You don’t need training or schooling or even the best possible childhood to “parent.”
And when it happens, there is no turning back but there is turning away and turning towards or standing stock still. Parenting is a happening that permanently changes you – no matter which direction you choose – or don’t.

To parent is to choose, however cavalierly or intensely, or somewhere in between, to let your child belong to you and for you to belong to your child, to commit to the unfolding before you. And in you. It is the only relationship that never ends.

Any adult can attest to the challenges of being an adolescent. Because we’ve all been there. We might remember or choose to forget the intense highs and lows, the awesome curiosity and the constant state of high alert. We might remember the feeling of not knowing who we were, what we were about, or how to get where we thought we should be going.

Adolescence is chaotic but it is also the definition of creativity. “Creativity takes courage,” says Henri Matisse. It’s not a stretch to say, adolescence takes courage. There’s nothing more creative than giving form and meaning to the blank canvas of adolescence, that starting point of defining and shaping identity.

When children enter puberty, they begin leaving the protective cloak of their family identity to seek their own. They leave the sureness of childhood bodies and the security of imaginary play to ponder, explore and experiment with the greatest question of all – “Who am I?” This mighty question ignites the flame inspiring each of us to become artists of our own lives.

Each stage of development presents a crisis which demands resolution. Psychologist Erik Erikson identified the psychosocial work of the adolescent stage as Role Confusion and Identity Formation. The work of adolescence is to trial test new selves while negotiating a rapidly expanding inner world. If adolescents resolve the “crisis” of identity, they develop fidelity, the ability to attach themselves faithfully through intimacy and connection to ones self and to another. If unable to successfully do the work of adolescence, we might feel lost, confused, unmoored.

Adolescence is primarily social and emotional. And so, teens need social and emotional mentors and teachers. This is a challenge since our children spend most of their days in schools that are decidedly left brain and tend to throw their hands up when it comes to the inner lives of their students.
As a result, parents carry the weight of their child’s social and emotional education, the “heart” work of their development. And all that at a time when adolescents are trying to create their own identity separate from their parents.

Social and emotional development and learning is the conscious building of interpersonal (awareness of other’s feelings) and intrapersonal (self-awareness) intelligences necessary for living an connected, engaged life.

Parents can support their child’s social and emotional growth in many ways. Here are eight tips for parents to support their child’s social emotional development.

1. Active Listening – How a parent listens to an adolescent child can positively aid in the work of identity formation. Parents help their children explore the “who am I?” question of adolescence by listening without judgment or fear. Listening with an open heart helps adolescents make sense of their world and their changing selves as they begin the process of taking responsibility for who they are at that moment and who they want to be.
2. Self-Reflection – Where does self-reflection, the foundation of self-knowledge, fit into an adolescent’s busy schedule? Parents can promote this critical developmental need at home in creative ways – conversation around the dinner table or even watching a movie together. Self-reflection needs time to develop and practice to come naturally.

3. Model Authenticity – Adolescents are keen observers of human behavior, especially of their parent’s behavior. They constantly question truth and reality as they experiment with new ways of being. Parents support their child’s search for emotional courage and honesty by living it themselves – or at least by putting ones best effort forward. A good starting place for parents is to not pretend to have all the answers.

4. Promote Creativity – The adolescent work of creating an identity means stepping into the unknown. Like artists, adolescents enter an empty canvas and experiment with colors and materials as a way to accept or reject new ways of being. Creativity gives adolescents freedom to experiment and create themselves in safe and constructive ways. This can be achieved through art, writing, dance, sports, clothing, theatre and music. Parents validate their child’s creative endeavors when expressing their own curiosity with real questions and interest.

5. Celebrate Mistakes – Mistakes mean your child is taking risks and ultimately learning from their experiences. Mistakes are an essential part of growing. Physicist David Bohm writes: “From early childhood, one is taught to maintain the image of “self” or “ego” as essentially perfect. Each mistake seems to reveal that one is an inferior sort of being, who will therefore, in some way, not be fully accepted by others.” This is unfortunate because “all learning is trying something and seeing what happens.”

6. Parallel Process – Parallel process is learning and growing alongside your child. With each moment of your child’s growth, parents are reminded of their own experiences at that age. Simultaneously, perspective is necessary for parents even when they feel there is none. Adolescence joins parent and child in the human journey of self-discovery.

7. The Struggle is Important – Parents often want to pick their child up after they fall down. It is important to recognize that resilience is linked to learned self-reliance. Adolescents need to learn and accept difficulty as part of life and living. They learn what they are made of when they go through something on their own. Parents need to support the important work of struggle as a developmental imperative.

8. Integrating The Dark Side – It can be frightening to witness a once sunny, “problem-free” child transform overnight into a gloomy, irritable adolescent. Some parents find the emerging darker side (self-doubt, anger, fear, self-consciousness) difficult to accept and send the message that the harder stuff of growing up is not accepted. Parents need to integrate the highs and lows, the good and the bad, to support balance and self-acceptance.

Parenting is not art. It’s a relationship that is social and emotional in nature. It is is constant and changing, and demands that we grow alongside our children.


Kimberly Hackett, LMHC, is a Family-Focused Therapist, Parent Coach and writer. She specializes in struggling adolescents and their families. She helps parents focus on relationship, attachment and connection and helps teens achieve greater developmental well-being.
She is writing a book that explores 21st century parenting. Kimberly is married with four kids and divides her time between her private practice in Arlington and Vermont.
Find out more and read her blog at KimberlyHackett.com. Kimberly can be reached at Hackett.kimberly@gmail.com.

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