There currently seems to be global focus on people’s differences more than our similarities. This divisive attitude separates and alienates us from each other, particularly in the United States, where we are a nation composed of people from many places. Part of my job is to look at what we have in common, and to bring people together to build personal relationships and find common ground. In three blog posts, I will tell you about how I bring diverse people together, and how library programs show value and respect for people’s differences while building a spirit of community. I hope you’ll join us--and read between the lines to see the important role we play in making a "community".
Every July for the last ten years, I have requested and received an Arts Alive Grant from ArtsWestchester, and funding from The Friends of the Greenburgh Library, to present cultural events that showcase local Latinx talent. It feels amazing to have their support, and that the community has attended the various events in large numbers. We’ve welcomed musicians from Peru and Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Mexico; we have learned to dance salsa and tango together, and crafted traditional Mexican paper flowers. We've enjoyed delicious Latin American and Spanish food; heard from a Cuban author, and about US citizens’ trips to Cuba and Guatemala. Those are just a few of the highlights of this lively series with the name Café a las Siete, or Coffee at Seven.
I chose this name because many cultures enjoy an early evening community stroll, and take time to get together to talk and share food. The 2019 focus of Café is "¡Salsa, Sol y Sabores de Latino América! Salsa, Sun and Flavors of Latin America!" and Café a las Siete will offer three Tuesday evening programs at seven o’clock, and one on a Wednesday morning. First, on July 2nd, learn some NY Salsa steps with Maestro Carlos Doñán of Latinshines. He is an amazing teacher, and I’ve seen him take more than forty people from not knowing salsa steps to dancing in rhythm and in sync with each other! The music is great; you’ll get some exercise, meet people, and develop your brain as you learn the steps. The following Tuesday night, July 9, we’ll welcome for the first time The Emilio Teubal Trio, with special guest singer Felicitas Rossi. These Argentinean musicians will offer a wide variety of musical styles that are part of Emilio’s mixed cultural background: Latin-American Folk music, Tango music, Jazz, Free improvisation, Classical music and some hints of Middle Eastern music. The next morning, on Wednesday July 10 (at 11:00am), retired Spanish chef and Greenburgh Library Board Member Tomás Saez will dazzle you with his culinary knowledge and fabulous food that we’ll sample…. The last event of the Café series, on Tuesday, July 16 will be the very popular Mariachi Sol Mixteco band, made up of the Navarro Family and friends, who will astound you with their take on traditional Mexican mariachi music.
Over the years, the various Café programs have inspired library patrons to delve further into Latinx culture. For a few years, Chef Tomás led a series of cooking programs, and the participants would tell me about their successes and failures with recreating his recipes. A number of beginner salsa dancers have become regulars at the Latinshines studio, and always attend when Carlos teaches classes at the library. Those interested in Latinx culture eventually find their way to the Wednesday Spanish~English Conversation Group to hone their language skills. Many participants have become close friends, have attended each other’s family events, and even taken hikes together! This group embodies “community” as they get together each week to enjoy each other’s company and to learn together.
Each of these cultural events will teach you about Latinx culture, engage you in artistic expression, and provide hours of fun! Come together with your friends and neighbors, make new friends and learn about other cultures – all available at the Library!