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Calendar preview: A Season for Change


In a normal year, September is the month of big change. Our brief Rochester summer transitions into a beautiful Rochester fall, bringing students back to school and renewing the arts and cultural season. But 2020 is certainly not a normal year, and Rochester’s current place in the national spotlight is a clear sign this is not just a season of change. This is a season for change.

The urgency for change is a daily call to our streets, with protests and demonstrations seeking to correct stark inequities, to say the least, that still persist. A problem, of course, is that not everyone sees any problem at all. Whether for a gap in knowledge, or a lapse of compassion, Central Library has a fine resource to stay educated: Understanding Black Experiences. The massive, evolving reference is a portal to rich artistic contributions, lesser-known historical accounts, anti-racist resources, and more, so people who can’t take to the streets with signs can take to their minds and learn.

Don’t forget the kids in all this. On Saturday, at 10 a.m.: Black Kids Matter. Nicolette Ferguson, a Rochester-based movement instructor and former dancer with Garth Fagan Dance, has organized an inspiring morning in the outdoor setting of Penfield’s Harris Whalen Park. An active drum and dance circle will settle into story times that feature such affirming titles as “Black Heroes,” “M is for Melanin,” and Taye Diggs’ “Chocolate Me!,” after which all will be synthesized into sign-making and a mini-march. Remember to bring water and wear a mask.

Saturday also offers a choice among events looking to history. The Suffragist City Parade will march an entirely virtual route, with “floats” of shared images and videos with themes such as “Hope, Courage, and Change,” “Sheroes,” and “Black Lives Matter: Taking an Anti-Racist Stance.” The parade launches online at 10:30 a.m. Feel free to toss bonbons.

The Suffrage and Temperance movements a century ago were strongly linked, and Haudenosaunee women played an integral role in them both. At 1 p.m. on Saturday, Central Library presents Thomas Lappas of Nazareth College’s History department with his online lecture, “Native American Women in the Suffrage and Temperance Movements.” Registration is required.

As we continue celebrating a century of women’s suffrage, we have the opportunity to reflect on its more complicated aspects. The provocatively titled “Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Racism within the Suffrage Movement,” is a live talk by Laura Free of Hobart & William Smith College’s History department on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Granger Homestead in Canandaigua. The presentation will be filmed and available on the 1819 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse website at a later date.

On Sunday, the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester presents the timely Brave Spaces: Rochester’s Summit to End Hate, from noon to 5 p.m. This free online conference features breakout sessions specific to local history and action, such as “Redlining, Racist Policy, and Resistance in Rochester,” “Rochester: a Tale of Two Cities,” and “Driving Out Hate: What We Can Learn from Chili and Pittsford.” The topics are difficult, of course, but they’re fortified with hopeful strategies, including “Anger as a Voice for Change” and “Overview of Restorative Practices: A Collaborative Framework to End Hate.” This is a fine opportunity to connect and to help. Registration is required.

A Rochester non sequitur follows, also on Sunday: Elvis. Elvis is a hero to most, immortalized with impersonations by tribute artists to this day. 14-year-old Nathan Pittorf, along with Dutch Reddy and Dave Weaver, swivel and strum for the Elvis & Friends Tribute Show: Spring with the King, on Saturday, 7 p.m., at the Moose Lodge in Churchville. The title suits this time capsule, an event rescheduled from spring 2020 to what seems like 60-plus years later.

The coming days kick off some newly-styled (virtual, that is) Rochester standards: the M&T Bank Clothesline Online Festival, Turtle Hill Folk Festival, and, starting Tuesday: the KeyBank Rochester Fringe Festival. Some classics remain live and in-person, but with limited space, such as the Rochester Birding Association’s Field Trips. Their season resumes on Sunday, starting with a trip to Durand Eastman Park. Registration is required for all trips, and it’s helpful to come prepared with all-weather clothes and shoes, water, and binoculars.

Next week also marks the launch of some new series. Tuesdays with BOA Editions is a collaborative reading series with Writers & Books, featuring conversations with local authors on select Tuesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. through October 13. Also next week, the popular series, “Architecture in the Wild” returns. For three consecutive Wednesday evenings, the Landmark Society’s Young Urban Preservationists team up with the Rochester Brainery to present two-hour tours through city neighborhoods: NOTA, East Avenue, and Park Avenue (September 16), Maplewood (September 23), and the South Wedge (September 30). Tours begin at 5:45 p.m., and early registration is recommended due to limited space ($25 per tour).

There are lots of ways to engage in global change through local involvement. Stay safe out there.

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