Speaking of history to celebrate as per the previous post about the good visitor from Allentown.
More fertile thoughts from the panel after Festival UnBound’s “Poets, Troubadours, and Troublemakers” event.
We have the National Museum of Industrial History, but Geoff Gehman sees a resource much more specific filling a void in historical knowledge about Bethlehem Steel and providing a valuable educational tool.
“One of the things I’d like to see is a dedicated museum.”
“Having a dedicated museum that talks about the Steel as a community that was integrated workwise and segregated socially.”
“. . . integrate that into the curriculum of the schools.”
“Not a bad way to start getting kids early and then hopefully influencing the parents and other generations too.”
“I feel that there’s a huge void about the history of the Steel.”
Gadfly’s video ran out, but Jennie Gilrain’s comments at the “Poets, Troubadours, and Troublemakers” event that we just posted spurred a thoughtful five minutes of related comment from four audience members that he was able to capture on audio.
“We need to keep our young people here”
Interesting question. How many of us have children over 20? And how many of those children are still living in Bethlehem?
“We have a whole bunch of landlords who live in New Jersey
who are slum lords”
We have people living in poverty situations in apartments that cost a fortune, so they can’t save enough to buy a house, forcing them to live in multi-family situations. Part of that is the result of being a college town. We’ve made it unaffordable for people to live here and live a decent life.
“But people in my age bracket, they’ve already committed to the notion of a starter home and a next home, and the next home isn’t in Bethlehem”
It was never a question when I got married that we would live in Bethlehem. My parents never had to leave their house. But there is a push to keep up with the Joneses and move further away in the younger age-bracket.
“[Low-interest, down payment loans] that’s the sort of thing
that could be arranged”
See the example of Chicago partnering with Loyola University. Some people are trying to do this, like TD Bank on the Southside. We must find ways for people to buy homes and not rent from the landlords from New Jersey.
Unfortunately, Gadfly doesn’t have it on video, but there is a moment while Festival UnBound’s Jennie Gilrain (director of “The Secret”) is doing moderator duty after the “Hidden Seed” play in which she bounds, bounces, twirls, flies from one side of the stage to the other.
Her body dances.
Her mind does too.
Her opening anecdote here will fix your attention on something rather profound.
What do you think about her question?
It’s about more than just our Southside.
“Where do you live?”
“I’m used to being asked where are you from.”
“Deeply ingrained in our American psyche is this idea that where you live defines your status.”
“People keep trying to move farther and farther away from each other.”
“What is it about moving away from the center of town?
“Why do we keep wanting more space, bigger, bigger yards?”
“Why do we have to keep building houses in the fields, as John Gorka says.” ***
“Why don’t people want to come live on the Southside?”
“Why don’t people want to come back and be crowded and close together?”
“That’s a real question and not a judgment.”
*** Jennie refers to Gorka’s “Houses in the Fields,” performed here recently and here in original video. Gorka attended Moravian and started his folk singing career at Godfrey Daniels. “Houses” is said to be about his family home on Freemansburg Avenue.
After that discussion of “place” in Bethlehem, Sharon Brown guided the denizens of Godfrey Daniels after the Festival UnBound’s “Poets, Troubadours, and Troublemakers” performance to the topic of “race” with this startling statement:
“There’s not really a place where people of color who look like me gather in this town.”
“It’s important to have a presence.”
“If you don’t have a presence, you can’t make a change, and nobody is going to invite you to the table to have a conversation.”
I’m continuing to think about as we look into the future how do we engage and make our world a truly more inclusive community.”
“How do I and others and other allies help to get folks to develop a critical consciousness, so that when you are doing a program you are making sure that you are including The Other and whoever that Other is at the table in the performance.”
“We have to do better.”
“After being here all these years, it is still a majority community governed by majority people, and all the Arts are still majority dominated and don’t engage other voices to be at the table.”
“It’s as though there’s this invisibility that occurs.”
“Where are the people who look like me?”
“Since we have this conversation, remember that there is a level of invisibility that exists throughout the entire Lehigh Valley but especially in Bethlehem no matter what side you are on.”
The audience went quiet for a bit, as if in thought.
“I have a question . . . do you think this is a city of two cities?
And thus began in earnest the discussion after “Poets, Troubadours, and Troublemakers.”
The room got right to the question of identity that we sometimes seem unable to settle.
Are we the tale of two cities?
Are we the wail of two cities?
Northside and Southside–
And the conversation jumped quickly to an even greater multiplicity of cities within our city!
“There are three sides of town: Northside, Southside, and Lehigh.”
“There’s the Eastside . . . another neighborhood that everybody forgets.”
“In any town, there are many towns . . . for any town, any community to go forward, it has to recognize it’s a good thing and a bad thing that there are more than one town in that town . . . It can be diversity and opportunity if we recognize and try to bring those communities together and take strength from that rather than trouble.”
Ahhh, this is a rich subject that you must have some feelings about.
Gadfly is first setting these panels up for you and then will come back for closer looks.
PT&T at the intimate Godfrey Daniels on 4th St. was an hour or so of original music by local folk singers and composers that was followed by a like amount of time for a panel with audience participation.
Panel members were Bill George (Touchstone wizard), Bob Watts (poet, Lehigh U English Department), Paul Walsh (Charter Arts Artistic Director), Geoff Gehman (arts journalist), and Anne Hills (folk singer).
In setting up the first two panels, we’ve heard shorthand descriptions of the guiding purpose of the entire Festival as generating “a sense of ‘we’ that we have never accomplished before” and envisioning “how we move forward as people committed to building a better Bethlehem.”
Here Bill George frames once again the first principles and principal motivation for the massive 10-day Festival.
“The purpose is to use our art as a way of bringing us together to express our feelings and thoughts about who we are as individuals and as a community and somehow where we’re going and to help it generate conversation among ourselves as to what kind of community we really want.”
“Like Stephanie’s [Stephanie Watts] novel, nobody’s coming to save us.”
“This music . . . calls us to understand that we have a job if we want this town, that we want our community, we’re going to have to fight for it, and the fight isn’t really with other people, it’s with ourselves not just to sit back and let it go.”
There was lots and lots of entertainment during the 10 days of Touchstone Theatre’s “Festival UnBound,” which closed last Sunday night. There were plays, there were poets, there was a marching band, there was joyful noise.
But there was also lots and lots of conversation on the future of Bethlehem.
Even the entertainment was that conversation in a sense.
But there were formal conversations.
Conversations at lunch at the Cafe the Lodge, late night conversations at the Cabaret, and several panel conversations.
It was the panels on which the Gadfly focused (deftly avoiding ending with a preposition): the panel after “Prometheus / Redux,” after the “The Secret,” and after “Poets, Troubadours, and Troublemakers.”
Gadfly, you know, lives to enable us to hear our real voices — our public participation — without filter.
So yesterday Gadfly laid out for you the panel of 8 women moderated by Jennie Gilrain tied to the H. D. play “The Secret.” Today let’s lay out the panel after “Prometheus / Redux.” Tomorrow perhaps we’ll do the one after “Poets, Troubadours, and Troublemakers.”
Gadfly’s purpose will first be to simply present the panels, to enable you to “attend” them or attend them again, to provide — you know this is Gadfly’s modus operandi — the primary sources on which to base your own responses (there’s that grammatical deftness again) before he makes comment.
The “Prometheus / Redux” panel was moderated by Councilman Willie Reynolds.
Here Willie describes the general purpose of the 10-person panel to discuss “how we move forward as people committed to building a better Bethlehem,” and the panel members do short introductions: Gerald Stropnicky, Bob Drake, Matthew Turk, Bob George, Alicia Miller Karner, Dave Amelio, Olga Negron, Guellermo Lopez, Jr.
Willie kicks off the discussion by asking the panel “what was that thing you saw today [at the “Prometheus / Redux” play] that going forward — it could be an idea, a theme, it could be a spirit — that kinda going forward that you think is the most important thing for our community.”
Touchstone Theatre wizard and star of “Prometheus / Redux” Bill George took the mic for a few minutes to articulate in impromptu fashion what Gadfly posted earlier as a good, concise statement of the theme of the Festival — constructing “a sense of ‘we’ that we have never accomplished before” — and turns to the panel with the question “How are we going to get to where we need to go? . . . What do we need to do?”
Audience member Margot Pullman provocatively adds to Bill’s question: “As we’re looking at progress, making progress, how do we do that in a way that includes the whole community without leaving people behind. It’s really easy to build the luxury apartments . . . how do we do that [make progress] without leaving Prometheus behind, all the Prometheuses?”
Willie brings discussion to a close asking the panel “in the spirit of what we just did, what is the soft work that each one of you guys is going to leave here to do a little more or what’s the kind of self-reflection that you guys might leave here thinking the play made me think a little bit more of doing this or this is what I’m going to take on as my responsibility?”
There you have the Prometheus panel. Listen in. Lots to chew on here . . .
Gadfly’s not done with coverage of Touchstone Theatre’s “Festival UnBound” — not by a longshot. He will be featuring several of the panels that convened during the 10-days, panels where important conversations were occurring.
Listen to your high-achieving fellow townswomen talk about their lives.
What can we learn?
“Who will follow the music?”
WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP: Inspirations and Obstacles
after a performance of “The Secret”
moderated by Jennie Gilrain
The Secret begins one day, in late nineteenth century Bethlehem, when sixteen year-old, Helen Wolle, mother of H.D., entered a Moravian Seminary classroom to rehearse a song she looked forward to performing. Much to her shock and, in fact, trauma, she was roughly told to be quiet, to end “this dreadful noise.” by her pastor grandfather, Papalie. And Helen, who loved to sing so much and so well, would never sing again in public.
The focus of the panel will be on women in leadership. We will connect the panel to the play via a question that Mamalie (Hilda’s maternal grandmother) asks Hilda in the beginning of the play, and H.D. asks the audience at the end of the play: “Who will follow the music?’
Moderator Jennie Gilrain, who also directed the play, here frames the panel:
And here introduces the panelists: Phyllis Alexander, Yalitza Corcino-Davis, Abriana Ferrari, Mary C. Foltz, Nancy Matos Gonzalez, Margaret Kavanagh, Emily Santana, Dr. Paige Van Wirt. See here for short biographies.
Here is the full panel discussion, broken into two parts. Gadfly will return shortly with edited video of each panelist, enabling a better focus on individual stories.
The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council
Kathy Fox is a member of the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council, a co-chair of the Northampton County Council of Democratic Women’s Environmental Committee, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Bethlehem Food Co-op. Kathy involves herself in positive organizations and activities that foster community, environmental awareness, education, and good health.
There were so many wonderful experiences to be had during Festival UnBound. I wish I could have done them all. I wanted to highlight one event that was meaningful to me personally. Touchstone Theatre’s Festival Unbound was about having a conversation about where Bethlehem is going as a community from this time forward. The festival included a Sustainability Forum for high schools students. Students attending Freedom, Liberty, Bethlehem Catholic, Charter Arts, and Moravian Academy had an opportunity to tell the City their opinion on how to make Bethlehem a more sustainable community. 178 students submitted essays, which outlined their individual opinions on the most important way for Bethlehem to be more sustainable.
All of the essays were read by Paul Pierpoint, then the students were invited to attend the Saturday afternoon Sustainability Forum at Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University. Community leaders involved in sustainability and environmental projects were asked to help by facilitating small groups of students, where each student presented his or her idea to their group. Their ideas were summarized on a white board, and the students in each group voted on the one idea their group would present to everyone at the concluding session. The attending parents and interested citizens from Bethlehem were allowed to walk around and visit each group to hear the discussion.
It was an amazing experience for me to listen to the well thought-out, researched, and heartfelt opinions of these young people. Our future depends on us older citizens listening to them and using our decision-making abilities and positions of influence to make effective change to sustain our world for the future generations.
The 178 essays will be bound and given to Mayor Donchez and City Council for them to read, digest, and understand what our city’s youth feel will make our community a better, more sustainable place.
It was an honor to participate as a facilitator at the Forum along with notable and passionately involved members of our community. The other facilitators were Willie Reynolds (City Councilman), Steve Samuelson (PA State Representative), Darlene Heller City Director of Planning), Don Miles (Sierra Club-Lehigh Valley Chapter and environmental attorney), Bruce Wilson (Lehigh Valley Green Builders), and Karen Beck Pooley (Board member of the Bethlehem Area School District). I was very happy to represent the Bethlehem Food Co-op and the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council.
Anne Hills and Reese, a young songwriter from Emmaus High School, started us out and ended our day with original music they composed and sang.
I apologize for not mentioning a couple of key people involved because I cannot remember everyone’s names.
I am grateful every day for the good in Bethlehem.
And thank you Touchstone Theatre for everything you do for the community.
The Festival is over, but Gadfly will be posting for a while on the panels and other activities that were part of the Festival. Yes, thank you Touchstone Theatre for everything you do for the community.
Last night the Payrow Plaza parapet became an altar.
An altar on which Festival participants made a vow to the future.
It’s the lunch hour as Gadfly posts this message and perhaps as you receive it.
A pause in the day.
A good time to renew the vow you made or reflect on one you will now make.
How will you help make this a better community?
“Know that you are not powerless.”
“Now we are going to have an opportunity to light our candles.”
“And this is an opportunity for you to make a promise to yourself and to this community about what physical actual step you are going to take in this next year.”
“Maybe it’s inviting your neighbor over for dinner.”
“Maybe it’s making sure everybody votes.”
“Maybe it’s helping in a soup kitchen.”
“It’s whatever moves you that you know will help make this a better community.”
“And once you have thought about what your step is going to be . . . we invite you to come over and look at the City of Bethlehem, South Bethlehem, raise your candle high, make your promise, make your promise to the future, and then plant your candle in the sand.”
Eagles game over! Time to roll on up, down, or over to Payrow Plaza at 5:30 for the Closing Ceremony!
If you don’t, you are missing something truly historic.
Your grandkids’ grandkids are going to want to know you were there.
What is the phenomenally ambitious Festival UnBound trying to accomplish? People have been asking the Gadfly that all week. Here’s Festival Wizard Bill George taking on that topic impromptu-fashion addressing the panel after a performance of “Prometheus / Redux.”
“There were three primary themes to this Festival. One is the interconnectedness of all things. The second is diversity and the promise and challenge of diversity. The third is the importance of our youth.”
“And this piece [“Prometheus / Redux”] was intended to land in the center of the problem of the fact that we are much more aware how everything is connected.”
“So whether you’re talking about planning, land use, agriculture, and apartment costs, and the effect on race, and gentrification, racism, or the thing that’s happening between men and women in our community — this churning, churning, churning that’s going on, and we’re aware that everything’s connected to everything else.”
“All of those conversations I had, everyone was aware that our institutions seemed to be inadequate to deal with the challenges that we were facing — that our politics is based on competition, who gets to beat the other guy, and then you win, winner takes all, instead of cooperation. Our economics based on bottom line, and if it doesn’t make money, you know, pow, short-term very often.”
“How are we going to get to where we need to go?”
“I don’t think we really can answer that in any definitive way, other than, in the play . . . stand close to each other, which is what we are doing now, and then share, take the time to listen, have that meal, believe, just like Olga was saying, the Mayor’s not going to do it for us.”
“You know, nobody’s coming to save us, which is a beautiful novel by Stephanie Powell Watts, nobody is coming to save us. We’re going to have to do this.”
“We in a sense of ‘we’ that we have never accomplished before.”
For “Poets, Troubadours, and Troublemakers,” songwriter Anne Hills, a Bethlehem native, led bi-weekly songwriting workshops at Godfrey Daniels started in January and featured master classes on a broad diversity of styles from hip-hop to ballads.
The classes included visits by artists including John Gorka, Erin McKeown, Suzzy and Lucy Wainwright Roche, Tish Hinojosa and David Roth. Participants also had workshops with Lehigh Valley artists Alex Radus, Dierdre Van Walters and Jack Murray.
The songwriters — Amanda Penecale, Andrew Dunn, Katherine Rondeau and Rhys Williams — along with Hills and Radus recorded a CD of their original songs that will be sold at the concerts.
“Since I moved to Bethlehem 32 years ago, I have found love and support from our artistic community,” Hills says. “Festival Unbound’s Poets, Troubadours & Troublemakers has offered me another great chance to create, collaborate and celebrate this vibrant community.”
Original songs will be featured in the closing ceremonies of Festival UnBound at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 13 at Payrow Plaza.
Friday, October 11 – 8:00-9:30p (@ Godfrey Daniels | 7 E. Fourth Street, Bethlehem, PA) *Panel discussion follows performance
Godfrey Daniels | 7 E. Fourth Street, Bethlehem, PA
PRICE: $15; limited amount of Pay What You Will tickets for purchase; please call 610-867-1689 to order.
Gadfly followers, can you clap while you brush your teeth??? Well, that’s what you’ll try to do while listening to this wake-up call from the pop-up singers on the Greenway at the Festival opening last Friday! Keep the rousing spirit of the opening alive as we head into the finale weekend!
We mustn’t abandon the promise of unity, We mustn’t abandon the promise of the hidden seed . . . The hidden seed is planted in every generation because those who want justice keep it alive . . . We did it . . . and now we are here to pass it on.
Gadfly suspects that the panel discussion after the performance tonight
will focus on the flowering of the hidden seed
in our day . . .