Spanish-English Wellness Club comes to PPL

Native Spanish speakers and those interested in honing their Spanish speaking skills can now come together in PPL’s two newest clubs: Bienestar en casa and Well-being at Town.

Beginning in May, each group is for people who want to interact with Spanish speakers and learn the Spanish language by talking about wellness topics. 

Psychologist Mildred Elizabeth Pedraza, the creator and leader of the clubs, said people do not need to speak Spanish to participate. They just need a genuine interest in the language and wellness topics. It is also a good way to do mental exercises by improving or learning a new language spoken by many people in this hemisphere, she added.

The first Bienestar en Casa Club meets Sunday, May 5. The subject:  Habilidades Interpersonales en el lugar de trabajo… el CI no es suficiente / People Skills in the Workplace… IQ is not enough

The first Well-being at Town Club will meet Sunday May 19. The Subject: The four agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and Happiness / Los cuatro acuerdos por Don Miguel Ruiz y la Felicidad

Both clubs will meet at 2:30PM in the PPL Mezzanine Classroom.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Mildred is a native Spanish speaker with English as a second language. She moved from Puerto Rico to Potsdam with her husband and daughter in 2017 with the help of their family due to Hurricane Maria.

“On the Island we survived without water, electricity and basic services for a month, due to the destruction caused to the Island by this natural event,” she said. “We arrived in this county without knowing how long and we began to receive English classes in Canton and then in Potsdam, which helped me improve my English skills.

“My husband was lucky and blessed to start working in 2018 at Clarkson University as a handyman,” Mildred said. “Now my daughter Andrea speaks good English and she is part of the Honor Society, lacrosse team, art club, music club, and she plays electric guitar, she loves the school.. Thank God!”

During the pandemic Mildred said she dedicated myself to taking care of children. But in 2022 -2023 she moved to Manhattan where she worked at Manhattan Psychiatric Center in the position of Associate Psychologist – Spanish Language, where she cared for all English and Spanish speaking patients in her unit.

“It was an extraordinary experience and challenge, however, we miss the human warmth of the upstate,” Mildred said. “In the past in Puerto Rico I worked eight years in the insurance industry, one year in a Psychiatric Hospital and four years in the Department of the Family (Social Services).”

Now back in Potsdam, she said she wants to contribute to the community. She created Bienestar en casa and Well-being at Town to be developed to have multiple purposes, including contributing to the Hispanic/Latino community by creating a safe and accessible space that is of light and hope for personal development and helping interested individuals improve their Spanish language skills.

“Additionally, as a thank you, I would like to reciprocate the kindness received from sensitive people who served us in this moment of vulnerability for our family in and after 2017,” she said. “In this way I wish to contribute free of charge to those in need, in an inclusive environment where everyone is welcome.”

Moreover, this group is an invitation to develop social connections with Spanish-speaking people who need to belong in a warm and uplifting place, she said.

Main benefits of the clubs include:

1. Improve Spanish language skills

2. Develop social connections

3. Access information on wellness topics

Modality: Group

1. Read/write English/Spanish worksheets 

2. Watch/listen to videos

3. Develop conversations 

4. Crafts

5. Community Activities

New Monthly Energy Workshop comes to PPL

The Month of May will bring the second in what has become a monthly energy workshop series brought to the community by Northern Power & Light and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s North Country Clean Energy Hub.

Held in the library’s Main Reading Room, the public space was chosen to attract walk-ins and engage a broader audience.

Louise Jensen, Northern Power and Light’s community energy advocate said the objective for these workshops was to engage a broad spectrum of the public in a journey toward energy savings through energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“This will be achieved through individual ‘hands-on’, practical one-hour workshops,” she wrote. “Each workshop will include a brief presentation, Q&A, and one-on-one help from CCE Energy Hub staff, Navigators, and/or NPL staff.”

The workshops started in April with a focus on understanding your energy bill, a workshop that will be revisited throughout the series.

The workshops are an hour each and are composed of five minutes for coffee & intros, 15 minutes for presentation, 20 minutes for Q&A, and 20 minutes for individual one-on-one activities and guidance. For example, last month’s Reading Your Energy Bill included coffee and welcome with introductions, 15-minute sharing of a sample energy bill, 15 to 20 minutes of questions from participants, and 20 minutes available for participants to sit down with the hand-out guide and an Energy Navigator or staff person to walk through their bill one-on-one.

To add a ‘learning’ moment, coffee is brewed on site and an energy meter is used to see how high the draw is for a coffee maker!

The next Energy Workshop, Energy Assessment, will take place 1PM, Saturday, May 4, and will build on your ability to read your energy bills, look at how to walk through your homes and figure out where the energy goes. Participants will receive a worksheet to help them conduct their own assessment at home or sign up for a home visit. If you missed the last workshop, please feel free to bring your energy bills and someone will help you to understand it better and save!

Lunar New Year Concert Comes to PPL

The moon has played the muse in many forms of art and in every culture, and on February 10, Potsdam Public Library will play host to a concert celebrating the moon in one of its major roles, the Lunar New Year.

At 1PM, Saturday, Feb. 10, The Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year, will start the year of the Dragon, and Crane School of Music Visiting Assistant Professor Tim Yip, who organized the concert, said community members attending the performance can anticipate a culturally enriching experience, bending traditional and contemporary New Year music.

“[I]ncluding a contemporary piece by Professor Ziyu Wang from SUNYPotsdam inspired by a mythical monkey, and musical selections from Asian cinema by Joe Hisaishi,” Mr. Yip said. “The event aims to celebrate Asian cultures, foster cultural appreciation, and provide a unique musical and literary experience in honor of the Lunar New Year.”

Crane School of Music Visiting Assistant Professor Tim Yip

The Year of the Dragon, more specifically, the Wood Dragon, runs from February 10th, 2024 through January 28th, 2025.

The Lunar New Year is the beginning of the new year based on the lunar calendar or lunisolar calendar. The lunar calendars follows the lunar phase while lunisolar calendars follow both the lunar phase and the time of the solar year. 

February 10th’s concert will consist of an ensemble made up of students from the Crane School of Music, some of whom are also members of the Orchestra of Northern New York, as well as professional musicians and faculty members Tim Yip, Risa Okina, and Ziyu Wang.

There also will be a literacy component, led by Potsdam Public Library’s Family Literacy Specialist, Maria Morrison, who will read several children’s books that celebrate the Lunar New Year. Free children’s books on the Lunar New Year will also be available to bring home.

This is a free family event, suitable for all ages.

PPL kicks off youth nordic-ski program; surveys needed

Following up in what we started implementing last year, PPL, in partnership with SUNY Potsdam’s Wilderness Education Program, is getting ready for a new long-term cross-country ski rental program for youth.

The program aims to make cross-country skiing more accessible to families in the Potsdam Library District, as opposed to having to drive hours away for rentals and to save the cost of buying skis that children will grow out of. 

To participate, fill out the survey form: https://bit.ly/3YJZmbI. Please have the form submitted by Oct. 27 as 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, for kids ages 3-17, from 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. Sign-up forms are available using the link provided or at the Potsdam Public Library.

The program has been funded by the Town of Potsdam, and is supported by Sarah Lister, Internship Coordinator in the Lougheed Center for Applied Learning at SUNY Potsdam, and Grasse River Outfitters in Canton.

There are options available to try cross-country skiing with your family if you are not ready to commit to long-term rentals. Contact Nicandri Nature Center, Massena, for information on free rentals for children and adults. Higley Flow has free rentals for children, with $7 rentals for adults. For more information, visit http://higleyfriends.org/

For more information, email William Eckert: weckert@potsdamlibrary.org.

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 http://www.allanwolf.com/

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: https://www.authoremmagrace.com/match

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 https://potsdamlibrary.org/upcoming-events/

For further information contact Don Mesibov at demesibov@gmail.com

or William Eckert at weckert@potsdamlibrary.org

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. https://forms.gle/PbEoyEWVq8kdg4jo7

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 weckert@potsdamlibrary.org.