Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 2

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Four Freedoms Park Conservancy Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 2
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There’s a wonderful quote by writer Katherine Paterson that summarizes the theme of this month’s newsletter and blog: “Reading can be a road to freedom or a key to a secret garden, which, if tended, will transform all of life.”

Reading provides freedom in many forms, giving the power, skills, and insights to make change. Reading is also an escape. Books lend the ability to transform their readers while creating a sense of magic that transcends the constraints of time and place and gives way to that most peculiar of friendships, those with fictional characters. At the Conservancy, we adore reading, which is why a few weeks ago we created “weekly reading lists” on our blog. Every Friday, you can expect to find a list of articles and essays selected by Conservancy staff that relate, however loosely, to the themes of the Park – history, architecture, design, and of course, the four freedoms. Over the next few weeks, our blog will also feature stories about World War II-era cartoonist Dr. Seuss, designing memorials, and more.  
 
Reading is particularly important to us this month because of two special events hosted at the Park. The first is this coming weekend. On Saturday, May 9 and Sunday, May 10, the Uni Project, a portable, pop-up library will find its home under the shade of our Linden trees. The Uni Project, founded in 2011, brings books for all ages to public spaces. (Read our interview with the Uni Project co-founders here.)
 
Last year, we hosted the Uni Project, and in the middle of its residency, we captured a photo that both surprised and delighted us. A runner, a towel slung round his neck, sat on a small bench next to the 250lbs reading room with a picture book in his lap. (Check out this photo below.)  He was not the type of visitor we initially expected to find at this kind of public event – older, unaccompanied by parents, and indeed, much buffer - but it was this type of juxtaposition between runner and reading room that proves that one is never too old for a trip to the library. We hope to witness many more moments like this, and invite you to stop by and get lost in a book or two this weekend.


The second reading-related event at the Park this month is our upcoming Posters for the People Workshop and Talk on Saturday, May 16, in collaboration with Social Impact Studios. Under FDR’s Works Progress Administration, hundreds of artists were hired to create posters supporting social ideals, the American work ethic, and the New Deal. From 1936-1943, there were an estimated 35,000 posters designed as part of the Federal Art Project. Posters for the People author Ennis Carter and Social Impact Studios amassed more than 1,800 posters and have housed them online here. The book, Posters for the People, is a representative sample of 500 of these posters. (Read our blog post about the project for more details.)
 
At this free event, visitors of all ages can screen-print their own WPA-themed poster, including a limited edition recreation of a poster inspired by FDR's Four Freedoms. Afterwards, Posters for the People author, Ennis Carter, will lead a discussion on the WPA and its lasting legacy, making connections for people of all ages between the struggles and issues of the Great Depression and those we face today. You can register for this event here
 
This letter began with a quote, so it seems only fitting that it should end with one, too. Under Hitler’s regime, thousands of books were burned in an effort to suppress divergent thoughts and beliefs. In response, FDR famously said, "Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man's eternal fight against tyranny. In this war, we know, books are weapons." 
 
As always, please let us know if you have any questions or ideas to make the Park even better, or simply wish to say hello. Thank you for being a part of our community – we look forward to seeing you soon!

All the best,

Sally Minard
President & CEO
Four Freedoms Park Conservancy
Help Support the Park by Becoming a Member

UPCOMING EVENTS & PUBLIC PROGRAMS

Wednesdays - Saturdays
May 6 - August 29

Bring your own mat and join Roosevelt Island teachers for hour-long classes surrounded by the New York City skyline. Suggested donation $5; free for members. No registration required

Wednesdays at 10:15am
Vinyasa class appropriate for all levels.
Thursdays at 4:15pm 
Kids & Family yoga, with caregivers, children ages 4-7.  

Fridays at 6pm 
Hatha class appropriate for all levels. 
Saturdays at 10am
Class focusing on the core, appropriate for all levels. 
Saturday, May 9
11am

Performance by Brooklyn's favorite family folk band. Bring a blanket and get ready to dance on the lawn. Ages 0-8. Free

 

Saturday, May 9 & Sunday, May 10
12-5pm 

The Park will host the Uni Project, a pop-up reading room that creates community in public spaces. Free

Read our Q&A with co-founder of the Uni Project, Leslie Davol. 

Saturday, May 16
Workshop, 1pm; Book talk, 2:30pm

Screen-print your own poster during a hands-on workshop with Social Impact Studios' Director and Posters for the People author, Ennis Carter. In honor of the 80th anniversary of the initial appropriation to the WPA, Carter will also lead a discussion on the impact of the WPA and its lasting legacy. Free - all ages are encouraged to participate. Register here

Read our Q&A with Posters for the People author, Ennis Carter. 

Wednesday, June 3
5-8pm

Join us at our annual fundraising event for a beautiful evening of music and cocktails, surrounded by the New York City skyline, in support of the Park's mission. Music by Peter Duchin and His Orchestra. 

Buy your tickets today!

(Watch for your email invitation this week!)
 

fdr4freedoms.org

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office, a quarter of Americans were out of work. On his inauguration, FDR spoke about this issue, stating "Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously."

With that in mind, FDR created a three-pronged approach to unemployment: direct relief in the form of assistance for food, shelter, and heating; a nationwide public-works program to improve dams, bridges, and hospitals; and large-scale work relief, giving people jobs in "useful projects."

One result of FDR's vision was the creation of libraries - and not just in the form you recognize today. In addition to building libraries across the country and repairing damaged books, the WPA made reading accessible to those without any public library service. Mobile libraries, like the one pictured above, distributed books and magazines to rural towns at designated times. In rural Kentucky, from 1936 to 1943, the WPA created the Pack-Horse Library project, a mobile library that employed local women and men to carry books into mountainous regions in the saddle packs of horses and mules. There, for the first time, areas of the state inaccessible by automobiles, could enjoy the gift of reading. 

Read more about FDR's vision for work relief in fdr4freedoms.org's "Putting People to Work: Job Creation and Work Relief in the New Deal."

 

SUPPORT

 
We could not sustain the Park without your support! There are many ways to give - learn more about support opportunities here, and make sure to save Wednesday, June 3, 2015 for our third annual fundraising event, the Sunset Garden Party!
 
Donate Today
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Cover photo by Mick Hales
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