The beginning of a new week is almost as energizing as the beginning of a new year; a fresh start to all the things for which you have set goals. I’m going to be working a lot at the art center the rest of this month as we prepare for a major fundraiser, and I’m also going to go to another community theatre and audition for a show. This is my time to play on a different stage and not have all the other responsibilities of mounting a show. Even with all that, I am still going to make my goal to write every day.
It’s cold and blustery here today, so I am starting my morning with some hot chocolate. You are welcome to join me.
What I’m reading: Actually, I’m reading two books, one for review and one for fun. The first is Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner’s breast cancer by Woody Weingarten. This is a book of significant importance, and I will do a review in a few weeks, as well as have Woody as my Wednesday’s Guest.
The other book is New Year Island by Paul Draker. I just started reading that one last night and got through the first three chapters without yet getting to the main story. Paul uses the technique of introducing the major players in their own chapter, giving the reader back story on each, so it will be a while before we get to the premise of the story which is what intrigued me about the book when I checked it out – “Ten strangers… marooned on an island for society’s amusement. As they’re picked off one by one, they realize that they have something in common — they’ve each already survived atrocities. But can they live through this twisted mind game?”
If there are seven more chapters before the real story begins, I’m not sure if I will finish the book, as I am not fond of that style at all. Even though each chapter is well written and very dramatic, I prefer to get into the story a lot sooner. What about you?
Celebrating Strong Women: For the new year, I thought I would try something different on Mondays and highlight one woman each week for her significant role, either currently or in history. Today I chose Jane Addams who was born in 1860 and died in 1935. She is recognized as the founder of the social work profession in the United States, and I remember learning that fact when I studied sociology in college. She was also a leader in women’s suffrage and promoting world peace, and in 1931 she was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Jane was born in Cedarville, Illinois, into a prosperous northern Illinois family. Her father, John Addams was a founding memeber of the Illinois Republican Party. He was a state senator from 1855 to 1870 and was friends with Abraham Lincoln, helping Lincoln in his political campaigns. Her mother died when Jane was two years old, and John later married again.
Reading was one of Jane’s favorite pastimes, and she had a desire for higher education, wanting to study medicine. She thought that would be a good way to fulfill her dream of doing something to help people. She attended Rockford Female Seminary, which is now Rockford University, but was never able to finish her medical training due to ill health and family emergencies.
Finally in 1889 Jane was able to act on her dream of helping others, especially women. Along with her college friend and intimate partner Ellen Gates Starr, she founded the Hull House in Chicago. They rented a mansion that had been built by Charles Hull in 1856, but the building was in disrepair. Using her own money, Jane had the repairs done and eventually a number of other wealthy women started offering financial support. Those donors included Helen Culver, who managed her first cousin Charles Hull’s estate. Eventually she allowed them to use the house rent-free.
The Hull House was a center for research, empirical analysis, study, and debate, as well as a pragmatic center for living in and establishing good relations with the neighborhood. Residents of Hull-house conducted investigations on housing, midwifery, fatigue, tuberculosis, typhoid, garbage collection, cocaine, and truancy. Its facilities included a night school for adults, clubs for older children, a public kitchen, an art gallery, a gym, a girls’ club, a bathhouse, a book bindery, a music school, a drama group and a theater.
The focus on arts at Hull House was very important to Jane, wanting to encourage students to think creatively and independently. She challenged the system of industrialized education that focused on training a student for a specific job, and I think that part of her philosophy is still relevant today. We need to challenge the educational system in place today and allow young people more opportunities for creative learning, which is one reason my heart is so entrenched in the Winnsboro Center for the Arts and the programs we offer in all forms of creative expression.