New Orleans North Brought Sunshine and a Crowd to PPL

Well, it was another marvelous PPL Concert featuring New Orleans North. The eight-piece jazz ensemble broke out all the old-school southern jazz classics and we had a marvelous audience! As I tell so many audiences prior to out musical and theatrical events, the building that houses PPL used to be a theatre (Johnny Cash and Dave Brubeck among the performers to take the stage . . . ask me about the Johnny Cash story if and when you see me), so it feels so right to have music and theatre here again.

Here is another instance where you needed to be there to really appreciate the acoustics of the space, but I did the best I could to capture it on video.

Here are a few clips from theMay 8, New Orleans North set.

New Orleans North is: Chris Paige, trombone; Judy Van Kennen, piano; Jennifer Myers, tenor saxophone; Kyle Flint, trumpet; Tom Baker, banjo; Don Gruneisen, drums; Terry Dubray, bass; Bob Platte, clarinet.

A Poet in Wolf’s Clothing has PPL Crying for More

It’s been a hot minute since any blogs have been posted and I can’t think of a better return to the blogosphere than to share the latest video and a few words about last month’s visit from author, poet, musician and all around renaissance man, Allan Wolf.

Allan found his way into PPL’s Main Reading Room thanks to the good folks organizing this year’s LoKo Arts Festival at SUNY Potsdam . . . And when he got here, well, it was entertainment for all ages!

Spitting poetry at break-neck speed, juggling in time with rhyme, creating joy and laughter and an audience eating out of his hand, you needed to be there to really feel that energy.

Lucky for you, I happened to catch some of it on video . . . because you deserve it. And these library doors will be open to him if ever Allan finds his way to our community again. ~PPL Program Coordinator William Eckert

Come check out Allan’s books at PPL and learn more about Allan, his books, music, schedule and his band, The Dead Poets, at

Local Author, Emma Grace, talks about her debut YA Novel, Match

Seven years in the making, Emma Grace’s debut novel, Match, was started when she was only 13 years old, but has been toiled over with breaks so she could “refine it with a more grown-up mind,” as she worked though college.

At 2PM Saturday, April 15, at the Potsdam Public Library, Emma, a SUNY Potsdam Creative Writing Major, and Hannawa Falls resident, will be reading from Match and and talking about her habits and origins as a writer as well as signing copies of her book, which will also be available for sale.

Writing since the age of eight, Emma discovered her love of fiction writing when she found herself in a writer’s workshop class in school, “which was about 45 minutes a day to work on essentially whatever we wanted,” she said.

“Forty-five minutes didn’t feel like nearly enough for me, so I would snag my mom’s work laptop when she got home in the evening and hammer out some words on a Microsoft Word document,” Emma said. “I was 8 or 9 when I started a story about a boy named Brett (named after my cousin) who lives on an island and has a pet triceratops. It was essentially Pokémon but with dinosaurs, and I think I got about 13 pages done, which is pretty decent for a 3rd grader, in my opinion.”

From the world of books, Emma pulls influence from writers Suzanne Collins (she loves her cliffhangers, she said), as well as the style and imagery of Madeline Miller, and Jon Krakauer’s nonfiction stories about the outdoors.

But it’s actually being in the outdoors that breathes life into Emma’s stories.

In addition to pursuing a B.A. in Creative Writing she is also Minoring in Wilderness Education at SUNY Potsdam.

“I am a huge fan of the outdoors and I love to get outside—I’m a very kinesthetic person and feel my best when I’m doing something physical,” she said. “It may sound strange, but the small degree of bodily suffering that I experience on a long hike is really inspiring. I can head out to the Adirondacks and suffer through a cold, rainy, 10-mile hike and then think okay, how can I use this experience in my writing? Being in touch with my own body allows me to put myself in a character’s shoes and more accurately describe their experiences. Plus, the Adirondacks are simply gorgeous—they’ve inspired more than a few poems.”

Match is the first in a trilogy following Katie Davis, who “has had her whole life planned out for her since birth. She, along with every other citizen of Carcera, is predestined to marry her perfect Match. She knows that she will eventually have two children, and that none of the citizens will never leave the Border, the wall of stone encircling the city. No one could have predicted, however, the harrowing night that forces Katie and her three best friends to flee for their lives only days after their Matching Ceremony.” ~ From the Match website.

Emma said she has been working on Match since she was 13, seven years from “start to shelf,” she said. She used that time not only for the first book, but the second two as well.

“I wanted to wait until I was pretty much through college to publish, so that I could refine it with a more grown-up mind (whether or not that happened, I’m still not sure, but it did go through many revisions!). I also took breaks for other projects, as well,” she said.

During the journey of the books creation, Emma said she wanted to be sure each of her characters had unique voices, which she said was the biggest challenge, with her protagonist, Katie, mimicking her own inner monologue.

“It was tough to make sure that Noah had his own voice, or that Ava sounded unique. In my head, they’re all very different, but translating that to the page was tough,” she said.

In creating the walled in city of Carcera, Emma said she thought a lot about her fears, with the idea of not being able to explore and travel, and being stuck inside a wall her whole life being “enough to make me weak in the knees. So I wanted to dive into that feeling, so I stuck Katie inside the Border.” 

When thinking about Matching, for the book, Emma said she was referencing a blog post she saw that read, “’wouldn’t it be cool if when you turned 18, you were given a half-heart necklace, and you had to go on a voyage to find the person with the other half?’”

“And I thought well, what if I took that and totally flipped it? And just like the Border, the idea of being Matched is pretty spooky to me—I mean, if I had to marry someone I knew at 16, I would definitely not be thrilled,” she said. “There’s a lot more to be revealed in the future about why, exactly, Carcera implements the Match system, so stay tuned!”

Spark, the sequel to Match, is in the works at the moment, and while Emma doesn’t want to say too much about the road ahead, she revealed that it focuses more heavily on Chris and his experience in Carcera/the Underground.

“We do see plenty more of Katie, don’t worry, but Chris is gonna get some time to shine, which is really exciting,” Emma said. “I’m having a lot of fun getting into Chris’s head right now—I’ve never written from the point of view of a man before, and certainly not one as complicated as Chris, so it’s a fun and interesting challenge. I can’t wait to see the process unfold with this book just like I did with Match.”

Read more about the new novel, Emma, and purchase Match here:

PPL teams up with Institute in Autism Awareness Initiative  

 April is Autism Awareness Month and in recognition a new partnership between the Potsdam Public Library and the Institute for Learning Centered Education is aimed at providing tools to the community in addressing the needs of children with autism.

The partnership, a result of a March program at the library led by Institute for Learning Centered Education Director Don E. Mesibov, where he read from his new book, Mesibov, Schopler, and TEACCH: Changing the World for Parents, and People with Autism; From Refrigerator Mothers to Treating Parents as Partners. 

“The challenge is that there are people on school staff and community organizations who interact daily with people with autism and yet have not the slightest bit of training,” Mr. Mesibov said. “Our Institute has developed a two hour ‘Discussion Session’ that can acquaint people with basic understandings about autism that can be the difference between interacting successfully with people with autism or creating distrust at the first meeting.”

Potsdam Public Library Program Coordinator William T. Eckert said he was impressed with the work Mr. Mesibov was doing and offered the library as a resource in anyway Mr. Mesibov and the institute could use it in furthering their mission.

In launching the new partnership, the library will be releasing a series of videos of Mr. Mesibov explaining the institute’s 18 Tips for School Staff, Parents, and Others, for Addressing the Needs of Children with Autism. They will be posted on the library’s YouTube channel and social media pages. Such tips include understanding how people with autism think, to be cautious using metaphors around people with autism, to understand that their behavior is communicating, and to “create C.A.L.M.: Comfort, Affirm, Love, Model.

“As a library, we are here for all of the community,” Mr. Eckert said. “After attending Mr. Mesibov’s March program and listening to a community member with autism and their family members, as well as area educators, what I took away from that meeting was there is an urgent need to educate the public about autism. We are now pleased to be able to assist Mr. Mesibov and the Institute for Learning Centered Education in this mission.”

Events will be posted to the PPL website as they are developed at

For further information contact Don Mesibov at

or William Eckert at

Kid Cross-Country Ski-Program Comes to PPL

The Potsdam Public Library is starting a new long-term cross-country ski rental program for youth! If you would like to participate, please fill out this form. A limited number of skis will be available. The Potsdam Public Library will reach out to families to confirm their participation in the program. Skis will be available as soon as possible and will need to be returned by participants by April 30.

Season-long rentals (November 2023-April 2024) will begin in Fall 2023 and will cost $100 per child. Scholarships will be available to families who qualify for free or reduced cost lunch. The cost to participate for this season will be prorated based on the program’s limited dates during this first year. Sign-up forms are available at the link provided.

The program has been funded by the Town of Potsdam through Potsdam Town Recreation, and is supported by SUNY Potsdam, Grasse River Outfitters in Canton.

Want to try cross-country skiing with your family but not ready to commit to long-term rentals? Nicandri Nature Center has free rentals, and Higley Flow State Park has free rentals for children ($7 for adults). 

Forms will be due by February 24. Contact William Eckert at the Potsdam Public Library with any questions at

Introducing Young Adult (YA) Literature for Older Adults

You don’t have to be young to read young adult literature.

In PPL’s new hour-long program, Young Adult (YA) Literature for Older Adults, brought to the community by the creative and enthusiastic Laura Brown, you’ll be introduced to diverse topics, formats, and styles of writing from a variety of authors, and you’ll get to read and discuss excerpts from some great titles (that you can then check out!).

On Saturday, Oct. 15, at noon, in the Potsdam Public Library North Country Section, come share an hour with Laura where you will get to learn more about all that YA Literature has to offer to readers of ALL ages, focusing on historical fiction.

YA Literature lives in the south eastern corner of PPL, with a reading nook and plants-a-plenty!

Laura is SUNY Potsdam’s Chair / Associate Professor, Secondary English, and Program Coordinator for the Adolescence English Education Program. She teaches Young Adult Literature as well as the MST and undergraduate methods courses, and Intro to Education.

But Laura is also passionate about her community. In developing this program with PPL, Laura talked about her love of working with people.

“(B)ut I especially love working with older adults,” she said. “I think some of that comes from the fact that my dad and I were so close. He was 53 when I was born, and I didn’t get to have him in my life for very long, but that just made the moments we did have together more special.”

Laura said her father was “a born storyteller,” who would make up stories (and different voices for his characters) for her and her brothers, when she was a little girl, . They would huddle together on the bed, mesmerized by their father’s tales.

Sharing stories with others is Laura’s way of recapturing her father’s gift of storytelling.

“I used to volunteer at Maplewood in Canton, and I would read to residents,” she said. “It was such a joy to be able to give that time and those stories to people who really needed and wanted them. When that ended, I spent years trying to figure out how to reconnect, and I wound up doing that through the development of a SOAR (Stimulating Opportunities After Retirement) class with the same name: YA Literature for Older Adults. I love YA Literature, and I love working with older people, so win-win!”

Among the YA Literature stacks can be found renowned science fiction writers Ray Bradbury and Ursula K. LeGuin, as well as Lois Lowry’s The Giver, which was made into a film with Jeff Bridges and Allan Wolf’s historical-fiction novel The Watch That Ends the Night, focusing on the voices of the Titanic.

Young Adult Literature became of specific interest to Laura when she taught high school and was confronted with a closet full of books that were both “amazing” and “disappointing.”

“Most of the books were older and were not really geared toward young adults. It’s not that they were bad books, but I remembered reading a number of them myself as a teenager. Wasn’t there anything new?” she said. “Also, I was working at a school that had a significant population of struggling readers from very diverse backgrounds, and I needed books that would draw them in and let them see themselves in the pages. Honestly, I wasn’t sure where to start.”

She began buying books geared towards young adults from used book stores and started her own classroom library. In reading as many as she could, she said she found the writing “every bit as strong as some of the classics we were ‘supposed’ to read.”

“(A)nd students were more drawn to the characters and the topics because they were more relevant,” she said. “When I decided to go to graduate school and, eventually, to get my PhD, I put my focus on YA Literature and how it can help students better understand the world around them and their place in it.”

And that is where the PPL Program YA Literature for Older Adults comes in: examining a stigma of reading YA Literature, Laura said.

“I have had some parents come to me upset that their kids are ‘only’ reading YA Literature, as if it’s a bad thing. For me, reading is an essential skill, and if young people are reading at all, then that should be celebrated!” Laura said. “Also, YA Literature is not ‘less than’ other literature. YA authors are often more innovative, inclusive, and risky in their writing, as they have a tough audience! Plus, YA Literature can teach us more about adolescents themselves, and there’s a lot to learn!”

Come cozy up with a good book by a window at PPL and see what YA Literature has to offer you.

In working with the library on this program, Laura said she has had a love of libraries since she was a preteen, walking to her local library with a backpack and check out as many books as she was able, (which she believed to be 10 books at that time).

“The library, to me, is a magical place, but I think because we can just open our computers and get books online, the library has faded into the background a bit,” Laura said. “Don’t get me wrong, access is important – if people are buying books online and reading, then yay! – but I really want to draw people back to the library as a community space to talk about books, to share ideas, to have conversations about what we read. There is nothing like holding a book in your hand and turning the pages. And there is nothing like sitting around a table with other people and hearing their perspectives on different stories.

“Reading is often seen as a solitary event, something we do silently in bed at night or at our desks in school, but I would argue that it can also be a shared experience,” she said. “And that’s what I’m hoping to create with this, and hopefully, future events. I want to read with people, to get them excited about new books, to hear stories and perspectives, and build a new (old) community of readers.”

To sign up for this Saturday’s Young Adult Literature for Older Adults, visit:

Village Writers Guild presents . . . 

The Village Writers Guild returns this fall to the Potsdam Public Library. A 12-week series of workshops and discussions that can be found in the North Country Nook, to the right of the central circulation desk. 

Its first meeting is September 3rd, Saturday from 10am to 12pm. Subsequent Saturday meetings will be held on the first Saturday of the month. Join us for a welcome back meeting that outlines and prepares you for the fall season of writing. It is not necessary that you bring writing to share on the first day! Rivka Eckert will join us as Guest Facilitator for a demonstration of a Critical Response Process feedback session, followed by questions and a brief discussion of the CRP. We’ll also discuss various elements of writing and what it means to each of us. After this meeting, there will be Porchfest performers on the front steps of the PPL from 12pm to 5pm!

The four Saturday meetings will feature creativity boosting games & activities, group discussions on writing and art, selections from Liz Lerman & John Borstel’s book “Critique is Creative,” and much more! 

Then, the Village Writers Guild will convene for two workshops, on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. In September, we will meet on the 12th and 26th, from 6pm to 7:30 pm. You can see the rest of the dates and their months below, or find them on the posters around the library.

SeptemberSat 3rd, 10am-12pmMon 12th, 6-7:30pmMon 26th, 6-7:30pm
OctoberSat 1st, 10am-12pmMon 10th, 6-7:30pmMon 24th, 6-7:30pm
NovemberSat 5th, 10am-12pmMon 14th, 6-7:30pmMon 28th, 6-7:30pm
DecemberSat 3rd, 10am-12pmMon 12th, 6-7:30pmMon 19th, 6-7:30pm

Artists will be sorted into two groups; A & B. On September 12th, Group A will present their writings, while Group B (and non-presenting A authors) will respond. Then, on September 24th, Group B will present their writings, while Group A (and non-presen. B authors) will respond. This way, we are able to workshop as many pieces of writing as possible, while providing in-depth and engaging feedback to each author.

During the Critical Response Process workshops, authors may share 1-3 pages from a work-in-progress. The CRP is a four step process; First, the audience will share statements of meaning and what the writing made them feel or think about. Second, the author will ask questions of the audience about their work. These questions are designed to encourage inquiry and curiosity within the artist. Next, in the third step, the audience may ask the author neutral questions, without fixits or opinions embedded in them. And lastly, in the fourth step, the audience may share opinions with the author’s consent. 

Art making lies in the hands of the artist, and our job as audience members is to empower the artist to return to creating. 

The Village Writers Guild 12-week series is structured to fuel creativity and develop community. Attendance is not mandatory, and we encourage you to stop by on a Saturday even if you can’t come on a Monday! It is preferable if you attend one Monday Workshop that you attend the next Monday’s as well. Then, you will get to present art and respond to art! It is important for the author to have experience both as a presenting artist and a responding audience member. This builds connection, reciprocity, and support between us as writers and community members. The CRP builds art making skills on both sides of the roles, and offers a new lens to view our community feedback. 

Also, stay on the lookout for a Poetry Night at the end of October. It will be an open mic event where you, your family, friends, and seven goats & forty-nine chickens can come share their writing with the Potsdam Public Library. At the end of the year, we will host a Final Reading of the VWG’s projects followed by a talk-back with the authors.

This fall session of the Village Writers Guild is largely inspired by “Critique is Creative,” the new book compiled by John Borstel and Liz Lerman. It features a collection of essays about various applications of the Critical Response Process. It is available in the Potsdam Library’s stacks for user check-out. Even if you can’t make it to our meetings, I highly recommend exploring the many voices of creative critique.

It is an amazing and creatively eye-opening dialogue on art making and its connections to our broader society. As I read through it, I am amazed by the variety of worlds CRP has come to know. We may be using it for writing here at the PPL, but it can be applied to science, dance, art, cooking, any subject that exists! It’s a simple system that can be adapted for any niche. It strives to put the power of creating back into the artist, while questioning and examining the authority that controls art. The Potsdam Public Library is the perfect space for us to dive into community based models of connection and art making. I do hope you are able to join!
Have questions or want to know more? Email

PPL on the Outside: Supporting our Supporters – The ADK Mountain Club’s Laurentian Chapter

Blair led a beginner snowshoe trip at Lampson Falls during February 2021. He has given many a chance to fall in love with winter in the north country by exploring nature in the snow.

Greetings to all you PPL on the Outsiders, new and journeyed. The spring and summer have brought us a busy schedule, with lots of new indoor programs, as well as conflicts and life events that has prevented some newer outdoor events as part of PPL on the Outside, but stay tuned . . .

That said, many of our previous programs have been led by our friend and neighbor, Blair Madore, a math professor at SUNY Potsdam, and the vice chair, education of the Adirondack Mountain Club Laurentian Chapter, though which he is the Red Sandstone Trail Coordinator.

Blair has been a partner and real asset to our program and while he and other members of the ADK Mountain Club’s Laurentian Chapter have been supportive of us, we want to remind our community of the support we can all show for them: below are the summer events that they ensure keep us outside, in the wild, and become at home in nature.

Dr. Blair Madore, during a history and nature hike on the Red Sandstone Trail, often stopped to talk about the many natural wonders we can find in our backyards, encouraging kids to engage with their surroundings.

To paraphrase something Blair always says: while we all get great benefit from being outside on these hikes and journeys together, it’s the people we meet and the conversations we have on them that make them so valuable.

To learn more about the Laurentian Chapter, Adirondack Mountain Club, and to find other events, contacts, and how to become a member, visit

ADK Laurentian Summer Outings:

July Weekly Walk, (July 14, 21, 28) Clarkson Munter Trails Thursdays 6:00pm. We will walk the roads for approximately 2 miles, 1 hour round trip. Meet at 6:00pm near the parking lot behind the Clarkson Walker Arena and Hantz Field off Clarkson Ave (CR59 “Back Hannawa Road”). Leaders for each week will vary. Contact Marianne Hebert,, 315-265-0756 for information. 

Saturday July 16 – ADK Anniversary Celebration at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park. As US/Canada border considerations still pose problems for some, we’re holding a local celebration north of the St. Lawrence. The organized event will be a social gathering and picnic to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Adirondack Mountain Club and the 50th anniversary of the Laurentian Chapter. There are excellent possibilities of self-organized hiking, paddling, and cycling trips as well as swimming available. All from both sides of the border are welcome. Contact John Barron, (613) 828-2296 or

July 24, 2022 50th Anniversary Celebration at Sandstoner Park 2:00-8:00PM.

Outing choices for our celebration:

Greg Smith & Cindy Glover Paddling the Log Driver’s Trail in Potsdam. 2:00PM departure from Sandstoner Park beach. Join us for an easy 3 mile scenic paddling tour of attractive islands in the Raquette river and a view of downtown Potsdam below the dam.

John & Susan Omohondro: The hike will mix nature observation with some history of the Raquette River. We’ll start walking at 2:00, from the Mill St trailhead (across from the Hannawa Fire Department), We’ll amble north along the river shore for an hour or so, then retrace our steps. Wear sturdy walking shoes and bring some water. adknwoutings@gmail.

Tom Ortmeyer:Upper and Lower Lakes Bicycle Tour.  We’ll start at 1pm from the Grass River Boat Launch on Rte. 68, and bike around the perimeter of the Upper and Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area.  This will be a leisurely ride with multiple stops, including the Indian Creek Nature Center.  16 to 18 miles total.  Level 3.  Contact Tom Ortmeyer for details (315-244-3707,

Monday, July 25: Huckleberry Lake Hike. 4.4 mile round-trip hike to Huckleberry Lake in Wolf Lake State Forest from the west parking area on Ames Road in Talcville.  This will be a leisurely out and back hike with a lengthy lunch at the lean-to, so you might bring something special to share.  Trails in Wolf Lake State Forest have little elevation gain but sometimes rough or wet footing, suggesting hiking boots and poles. The forest is geologically part of the Laurentian Shield of Canada, so the terrain and plant life are as seen in the paintings of Tom Thompson and the Group of Seven at the National Gallery in Ottawa.  Contact Dick Mooers at  315.854.4186

Sunday, July 31: Joint Laurentian/Black River Chapter Bicycle Outing to Kring Point State Park. We will start near Oak Point on the St. Lawrence, and take an inland route upstream to Kring Point State Park, where we’ll have a leisurely lunch break with perhaps a stop for ice cream when leaving the park.  We’ll ride at a relaxed pace and enjoy the views.  Our return will be along the river, and we expect to have a nice tailwind.  Total distance: 31 miles.  Level 3-4 depending on conditions.  Contact Tom Ortmeyer to sign up and for details (, 315-244-3707)

August Weekly Walk, (Aug. 4, 11, 18, 25) Bayside Cemetery Thursdays 6:00pm. We will walk the roads for approximately 2 miles, 1 hour round trip. Meet at the entrance to Bayside Cemetery (730 CR59 “Back Hannawa Road”). Leaders for each week will vary. Contact Marianne Hebert,, 315-265-0756 for information. 

Wednesday August 3 ‐ Evening paddle on Hannawa Pond.  We’ll meet at 5:00pm at the cartop launch at the junction of Lenny Road and Browns Bridge Road, and paddle Hannawa Pond.  We’ll stop for a picnic along the way.  Contact Tom Ortmeyer 315- 244-3707 for details. Life jackets required.  

Sunday Aug. 14 Wellesley Island State Park. This is an ADK Laurentian Loony Loop Challenge hike. The trail passes through a variety of habitats and offers spectacular views of “The Narrows” and Eel Bay along the St. Lawrence River. The climb to the overlook is fairly steep and rocky. State Park day use fees may apply.  3.5 miles RT, 180 ft. elevation gain. Level 2, Fairly easy. Contact Marianne Hebert,, 315-265-0756 for information. 

Saturday, August 20, 2022: Hike in the 5-mile conservation easement to the West Branch of the St. Regis River and Moose’s Pond.

We will hike a 4-mile loop trail with stops at the West Branch of the St. Regis River and Moose’s Pond, in the D.E.C. 5-mile conservation easement.  Learn where to hike, paddling opportunities and how a D.E.C. conservation easement works.  We will also see the entrance to the proposed D.E.C. Kildare conservation easement.

Just on the dirt road drive in, I have seen deer, ruffed grouse, spruce grouse and wild turkey.  On the hike, we may see a Barred Owl, beaver or Red-shouldered hawk.

Contact Greg Nye Smith at

September Weekly Walk (Sept. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29)  Clarkson Munter Trails Thursdays 6:00pm. We will walk the roads for approximately 2 miles, 1 hour round trip. Meet at 6:00pm near the parking lot behind the Clarkson Walker Arena and Hantz Field off Clarkson Ave (CR59 “Back Hannawa Road”). Leaders for each week will vary. Contact Marianne Hebert,, 315-265-0756 for information. 

Saturday September 17 – Arkon Loop in Frontenac Provincial Park. Rugged trails in Canadian Shield country. 11km, Level 3-4. A Loony Loops Challenge destination. Contact John Barron, (613) 828-2296 or

Saturday, Sept. 24. Lost Pond Loop (Cranberry Lake). This is an ADK Laurentian Loony Loop Challenge hike. A lovely trail through an open pine forest to a boreal pond.  2 miles RT, no significant elevation gain. Level 1. Easy. Contact Marianne Hebert,, 315-265-0756 for information. 

Potsdam Summerfest Theatre Series at PPL

Theatre continues to make a home of PPL’s Main Reading Room during this year’s Potsdam Summer Festival, themed Small Town, Bright Lights.

While Market Street, and the surrounding downtown area will be a flurry of activity, from two stages of live music on Market Street as well as the music at the gazebo in Ives Park, a cornhole tournament, a beer, wine, and cider tent, laser tag and family fun, to food trucks and local vendors, fireworks and more, PPL will be hosting three days of theatre and readings, beginning Thursday July 14 and ending Saturday July 16, with each production created and curated by local artists.

Additionally, PPL’s Family Literacy Specialist, the Marvelous Maria Morrison, will be over at Fall Island, Friday July 15, doing storytimes.

Below you can find the full schedule of PPL events during Summerfest. We hope to see you out enjoying what PPL and Potsdam, as a whole, has to offer! Checkout the hyperlink above to see the full Summerfest schedule, or visit:

Thursday, July 14:

5:30PM: Two 10-minute plays with musical interludes by guitarist Tom Baker.

Play One: The Book Stealer  by Betsy Kepes – starring Maria Morrison, Art Johnson, Ester Katz, Eros Samnarine. An old time minister tries  to rid the library of ‘immoral’ books. Could the library become  ‘one flew over the cuckoo’s nest?

Play Two: Allowed by Kim Bouchard  starring Morgan Hastings and Karen Wells. Edith, the Librarian,  frowns upon William reading out loud in the Library. But, William can only read out loud. O, Pioneer! Will it be allowed?

7PM: Spirit Whispers on the Grasse, by local playwrights Mary Egan, Art Johnson and Elaine Kuracina. (50 minute Monologues)

Starring Carole Berard, Jennifer Berbrich,  John Berbrich,  Jeanne Blake, Derrick Conway, Art Johnson, Esther Katz, Mia Kostka-Hickey,  Elaine Kuracina, Aubrey Slaterpryce, Steven Sauter, David Weissbard, Karen Wells .

The true stories of the people who lived at the Canton County home  1880-1950.

Friday, July 15:

10AM: PPL Storytime with Mrs. Morrison at Fall Island.

11AM: PPL Storytime with Mrs. Morrison at Fall Island.

NOON: PPL Storytime with Mrs. Morrison at Fall Island.

1PM: PPL Storytime with Mrs. Morrison at Fall Island.

1PM: Spirit Whispers on the Grasse.

3PM: Two 10-minute plays with musical interludes by guitarist Tom Baker.

5:30PM: Celebrating the Cantos of Dante’s Divine Comedy (30 minute reading).

Memorable lines from Dante’s Comedy (The Inferno) – year of first edition, 1472 AD, using the new English translation by Potsdam resident and retired Professor of Italian Literature Walter Nobile. The audience will hear voices  from 700 years ago!! Has anything changed? Accompanied by projections of art from the Divine Comedy. 

Saturday, July 16:

1PM: Spirit Whispers on the Grasse.

3PM: Two 10-minute plays with musical interludes by guitarist Tom Baker.

5:30PM: Celebrating the Cantos of Dante’s Divine Comedy. 

Finding Financial Wellness at PPL

Financial Wellness is something that everyone can benefit from, whether it is finding out regardless of income, saving is still possible, learning how to build a credit score, or how to become a homeowner. That’s why, starting this Thursday, PPL will begin hosting a series of discussions led by our newest partner, Key Bank’s Personal Banker Alene Dishman.

At 3:30PM, Thursday, May 12, in the PPL mezzanine classroom, Ms. Dishman and Key Bank Branch Manager Richard Gum will facilitate Introduction to Financial Wellness, and hour-long, free discussion group that will address the question, what is financial wellness, and outline the importance and impact it has on individuals and all aspects and members of their lives.

Registration is free and can be done at

This discussion will be focused on defining financial wellness for the everyday individual no matter where they find themselves personally, professionally or financially, as well as sharing and developing some best practices and methods of thinking. For this discussion Alene will come prepared with information on Key Bank’s checking, savings and credit products as these are typically the foundational products to developing financial wellbeing.

Since starting at the Potsdam branch of Key Bank, located at 17 Elm Street, Alene said she has been driven to get the word out about Key Bank’s mission to help communities develop Financial Wellbeing and to teach the practices and skills that can make this possible for every individual. 

“The most common objective I face from clients on a daily basis is ‘I don’t make enough money to save,’” Alene said. “This simply is not the case. I want to help open the door to the possibility of financial stability for all members of our community but also to the understanding that financial wellness is based on consistent decisions rather than flow or amount of income.”

Thursday’s discussion group is going to be a platform to continue bringing community members together to discuss other aspects of financial wellbeing. Alene said the range of potential future discussion groups is wide, but that she wants to allow it to be created by the needs of community members. She is currently developing future talks on:

  • Credit and How to Build It, 
  • Banking Products (Checking, Savings, CD’s, Lines of Credit, Credit Cards, Personal Loans, Mortgages, HELOCS, Auto Loans, etc.) their uses, the environment currently surrounding them, and how to know the right product for you, 
  • Fraud Prevention, and
  • Steps to Becoming a Homeowner.

“I want to help simplify it and make it understandable, less intimidating and more manageable for the everyday person, no matter what their financial situation is,” she said. “I’ve always had a deep passion for inspiring and empowering individuals to do and be more, whatever that means for them.

“My experience with clients has taught that I am far from the only adult in our geographical area that was unprepared for the unforgiving nature of the long term commitments we can be lured into entering adulthood,” she added. “I have this knowledge now of the financial industry and if it can help someone I just want to be proactive in sharing it.”