DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

September 2016

Sep 30 2016

Farming in the City? Why Not?

by Dea Anne M

The traditional image of a farm is one of huge tracts of vegetables and fruits, usually laid out in geometric patterns, and tended by people, men most often, operating large machine – or possibly, and old-fashioned, animal pulled plow. Always though, a farm is something that we tend to think of as a strictly rural phenomenon and only possible in the country because, after all, where on earth would you put a farm in the city?

Well, you might try looking up…to the roof, that is.  Rooftop gardening is taking off in cities such as New York and Chicago which don’t necessarily boast a lot of unused land. These are actual soil based gardens too – engineered via rooftopcontainer systems or other methods for holding the growing medium in place in areas often subject to wind and snow. Often, these gardens have the size and variety to bear the tag of farm. One such is the multiple site farm operated by Brooklyn Grange which includes organic vegetables as wells as apiaries for honey. Windy City Harvest, which is part of the Chicago Botanic Garden, runs many farm programs and working farms throughout the Chicago area including the very impressive farm atop the McCormick Place convention center. If you’d like to learn more about rooftop gardening or farming – and keep in mind that many rooftops won’t be suitable for such a project – check out The Rooftop Growing Guide: how to transform your roof into a vegetable garden or farm by Annie Novak. Novak is the director of Growing Chefs and is a co-founder (and farmer) of Eagle Street Rooftop Farms in  the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn, New York.

farmAnd if you can’t go up…well, why not find some space and reclaim it for food? That’s just what Novella Carpenter did when she found an abandoned lot next to her Oakland, California house set in a neighborhood that had definitely seen better days. Today, Ghost Town Farm is still alive and thriving. You can read all about it in Carpenter’s very entertaining memoir, Farm City: the education of an urban farmer

Of course, no voice in the urban farming movement is quite as powerful as that of Will Allen. Arevolution former professional basketball player (and the first African-American to play basketball for the University of Miami), Allen ultimately left a career in marketing in 1993 and purchased an old plant nursery in Milwaukee as well as a 100-acre farm in nearby Oak Creek. Since then, Allen’s Growing Power farming project has led the way in urban farming throughout the world. In particular, Allen has pioneered non-invasive methods of composting and aquaponics that aid in producing large yields in small areas of land. You can sample Allen’s unique voice and experience his passion for universal food security in his book The Good Food Revolution: growing healthy food, people and communitiesThe son of South Carolina sharecroppers, Allen shares much of his own story here and it is fascinating.

If you have your own dreams of farming, remember that you can start anywhere – even with a pot of parsley outside your back door. And as you plan for the growing season ahead, don’t forget about DCPL and our DIGG Seed Library, the first of its kind in Metropolitan Atlanta.  You can check out seeds from the library with your library card – all for free! As you plan for your spring planting, please be aware that the  Seed Library will close, temporarily, on September 30th, so that we can replenish and restock in preparation for the new planting season starting January 16th. In the meantime, happy gardening dreams!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sep 28 2016

Carla Hayden Breaks New Ground

by Joseph M

locThe Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, as well as the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. This venerable institution recently made history with the confirmation and swearing-in of Dr. Carla Hayden, the first woman and first African American to serve in the role.

Dr. Hayden is the 14th Librarian of Congress, and is the first professionally trained librarian to hold the position in nearly five decades; her predecessors were largely historians. Hayden has plenty of experience as a library administrator, having served as a president of the American Library Association, chief executive of the Enoch Pratt Free Library system in Baltimore, and chief librarian of the Chicago Public library System.

A transcript of her acceptance speech is available here.

Interested in learning more about the Library of Congress? DCPL has a number of books on the topic. Take a look at this catalog listing for more information.

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Sep 6 2016

Taking Good Care

by Dea Anne M

I find myself thinking this week of the many hotels in which I’ve stayed and it might come as no surprise that a few have been notable for reasons that would give pause to any but the grittiest and most optimistic of publicity teams. I’m remembering especially a place I stayed in Chicago years ago. We’ll call it the Bismarck Hotel since, basically, that was its name. My friend and I were there for the weekend, for a swanky formal wedding which was taking place in the hotel on Saturday night. The Art Deco splendor of the lobby and the banquet hall was rivaled only by the utter weirdness of the guest rooms. You might remember Twin Peaks from when  it premiered on television in 1990, or you may be one of the people who discovered the series after the DVD’s appeared on the market in 2007. For those of you who don’t know the show, Twin Peaks was auteur director David Lynch’s serial drama which, along with its quirky dialogue and incredibly convoluted plot, remains notable chiefly for its unrelenting, almost sledge-hammer-like,  hallucinatory quality. Our room at the Bismarck was like that. Like that show. Each corner of the room seemed to exist inside its own dimension of time and space. Looking at each of the four walls gave you the unsettling sensation that you could walk toward it and never reach it. It didn’t help that each wall was covered with a different wallpaper and that the wall closest to the bathroom boasted a painted portrait of a Holstein cow in profile. When people who have stayed in my guest room declare, as they have on occasion, that the experience is “Just like staying in a hotel!” all I can think is “Not like the Bismarck, I hope.”

The actual reason that I’ve been thinking about hotels and hospitality is that I will have houseguests this week. I actually quite enjoy having people come to stay with me, although perhaps not on the same scale as that known to hosts during the Regency, Victorian and Edwardian eras when guests often stayed for a fortnight (i.e. 14 days) or longer and needed to be provided with meals and entertainment and private rooms until their departure. While I don’t possess a billiards room and I can’t promise guests a fox hunt, I certainly do what I can. Some of the entertaining advice one encounters on lifestyle websites and in magazines are a bit over the top in my opinion (“Have the maid put fresh flowers in each guest’s room along with a tiny silver bell to summon the butler!” “Tie up guest towels with twill ribbons to make a pretty package but first make sure that you’ve had each towel custom monogrammed with your guest’s initials!”) while some guidelines for guests are… basic (“Don’t stay too long.” “Don’t steal.”) For me, the rules for hosting remain fairly simple – make sure the guest’s room is clean and comfortable, find out ahead of time about any food allergies or strong food preferences, participate willingly in conversation and other group activities. Most of all, I want my guests to feel comfortable and cared for – just as they would in a good hotel except maybe even more so.

If you feel like you could use some help with your own entertaining, or if you simply find the topic as fascinating as I do, let me recommend the following resources from DCPL.

Letitia Baldrige’s New Manners for Modern Times by Letitia Baldrigebasic

The New Basic Black: home training for modern times by Karen Grigsby Bates and Karen Elyse Hudson

Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin

Emily Post’s Etiquette (17th edition) by Peggy Post

What about you? What do you like to do with and for your guests? As a guest, how do you like to be treated?

 

 

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