Friday, January 9, 2009
Pick up that book and join in the Community Read
As we face the downturn in the American economy, or more precisely the world’s economy, at the beginning of this New Year, it is important to look at some of the positive things going on here in our community. What better place to look than Carlisle’s Gleason Public Library? Have you ever counted the times you have gone to the library other than to take out or return a book? Remember John Tischio’s lecture and film from the opera Carmen, or former CCHS social studies teacher Elliot Lilien’s lectures on World War I? We do not have to drive into Boston to the Kennedy Library or to one of the local universities to hear interesting talks by well-known speakers. Just a short drive or a walk down one of the footpaths to the library in the center of town provides us with plenty of stimulating programs throughout the year.
This year the Gleason Public Library has embarked on a new event, “Cover to Cover: the Carlisle Community Read 2009.” The book chosen by Carlisleans for the community read is The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, who also writes a regular column in Newsweek and is also found in The Washington Post. The story that Zakaria is telling is not the decline of America but the rise of others such as China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Russia and Kenya. With rapid development in technology and the continued trend in globalization, Zakaria believes that in the future, other countries and other cultures might replace the U.S. as the dominant cultural force in the world. How our country handles its new role in the world is of the utmost importance, writes the author.
The idea for a community read has been on Library Director Angela Mollet’s “wish list” since she first came to the library. With help from the library trustees and joint sponsorship with Friends of the Gleason Public Library, Carlisle’s Community Read is taking place at this very moment and with events scheduled throughout January. There will be two Open Book Group Meetings at the library on Wednesday, January 14, at 7 p.m. and on Friday, January 16, at 10:30 a.m. These will be opportunities for readers to enter into an informal discussion of the book. Cultural activities, including cooking demonstrations of foods from the Middle East and Southeast Asia, have launched the month-long events. There will be music in the library on several occasions, and on Thursday, January 22, at 7 p.m., Carlisle’s Glen Urban, former Dean of the MIT Sloan School of Management, will host a panel of guests, all from Carlisle, to discuss the future of global business and its impacts on those of us in Carlisle. For a complete list of Cover to Cover activities, go to page 16 of this week’s Mosquito.
When the Gleason Public Library is compared with other libraries in Massachusetts, it is in the top 20, ranked by circulation per capita. It is obvious that there are many readers living in Carlisle, and the discussions of the global themes presented in Zakaria’s book are a gift from the library to all of us.
Clueless in Carlisle
It seems like the Carlisle Public School’s building plans have occupied much of the space in the Mosquito of late. I must admit that I have not attended one public hearing on the matter and I am glad that the Special Town Meeting on the topic has been postponed until the School Building Committee has “more time to define the project and communicate with voters.” In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I am a senior citizen, living on a fixed income, worried about my retirement funding, puzzled by the fact that the school operating budget always seems to increase faster than any other part of town government (despite a shrinking school population), and spooked by the Selectmen’s predictions that our taxes will increase by 50% by the time we have new schools in Carlisle and a new high school in Concord. I haven’t had kids in school here for over 20 years, although my grandchildren now attend CPS and absolutely love their teachers and the school. The last time I was inside one of the buildings was for a Spaghetti Dinner in 1999.
That said, I must also disclose that I have had a sort of crisis of confidence in our politicians (Carlisle Selectmen not included). The campaign rhetoric of half truths; the debacles in Boston, Chicago, Detroit and elsewhere have left me with a bit of paranoia. Just who can one trust these days? I have a great deal of trust and confidence in our Selectmen and FinCom, since I know many of their members personally, but I have had virtually no contact with those advocating that we build a new school. When I hear things like: “Facilities don’t allow for how we’re teaching kids today,” or “Outdoor transitions would be reduced, and enhanced building security appropriate for young students would be possible,” I just don’t know what that all means. Seems like our kids are doing quite well by any measure and I haven’t heard of any security breaches that would endanger anyone. I also hear that the roof leaks. If my roof leaked, I’d fix it, not tear my house down and build a new one.
I read on one hand that “construction costs have been rising 7.5% a year and waiting risks increasing the price tag” and later, in the same article; “we are preparing ourselves to take advantage of a pretty good competitive bidding environment.” My most vivid image of the whole process is that of 20 kids sitting on top of one another playing trombones and tubas in a space designed for five to eight kids, as has been stated many times as justification. I’ll bet Tom Raftery, the Mosquito’s cartoonist, could have a field day with that one. I also hear that we may lose the state’s 40% match if we fail to act now. So here I sit, clueless in Carlisle, confused about the needs, distrustful of the messengers, out of touch with the people teaching our kids, anxious about further tax increases, and expected to vote on the topic very soon. Am I alone?
© 2009 The