Archive for the “Local Writers” Category

Here is part 2 of the Q & A with Dr. Alice LoCicero, who will be at the Central Library on Thursday, March 19th at 7:00 p.m. to discuss her new book, Why “Good Kids” Turn Into Deadly Terrorists: Deconstructing the Accused Boston Marathon Bombers and Others Like Them.

Aren’t you afraid that people will disparage you for writing about the perpetrators?

Yes. And I hope people will understand after talking with me for a few minutes that my goal is prevention, plain and simple. As a social scientist, I believe that the best way towards prevention starts with knowledge.

The events surrounding the Marathon attacks shook me, just like it did all who live and work in the Boston area. There were so many losses of young people that especially tore at me. The loss of a promising young officer in the MIT police, a young man close in age to my own son and who, I learned, was a lot like many of the sincere and caring students of criminal justice I have taught over the years. Lingzi Lu, an international student from China who had just passed an important exam in statistics, who had made new friends in Boston, and who loved music. Active and engaged eight year old Martin Richard, a lovable child who advocated for peace, from a family who gave much to their community. Krystle Campbell, who was known as caring, reliable, life-affirming, and generous. Thinking about them leaves me, and all of Boston, in tears and grief at the promising young people we as a community have lost. The impact of the bombing did not end with those lives lost. Hundreds more were injured, and many of their injuries are so severe that their lives are changed forever. The Boston community has shown tremendous care and support, helping to lessen, as much as possible, the devastating impacts of the bombings. If only we could have protected those affected, and their families, by preventing the attacks.

Cambridge, Massachusetts has been home to me for decades. My children went to school in Cambridge. I worried, along with my neighbors, about whether the school our children had gone to and the city had somehow failed these young men. I remember being haunted by the question that President Obama, on April 19, asked: “what would bring these young men, who had lived in our communities and studied in our schools, to resort to violence?” I was challenged by that question. I strongly felt that it was a question that had to be answered and could be answered. And that I was in a position to help.

While none of us could undo the horror of April 15, 2013, together, I believe we can shape the future to reduce the likelihood of such horror occurring again. From 2002 to 2006, I had worked on research on terrorism. In 2006, I co-founded an international organization we call the Society for Terrorism Research, as a forum to collaborate with colleagues with similar interests. That society is still going strong. For my personal contribution to ending terrorism, I did something that several colleagues considered rash: I traveled to a country where a civil war was going on, to talk to kids about the war and about why kids would choose to fight as part of one of the world’s most notorious terrorist groups, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE.

I wrote about the results of that research in the book, Creating Young Martyrs. As I explored and researched the events in Boston, I found that some of what I had learned in Sri Lanka was parallel to what I was learning about the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing. I started to write. My editor at Praeger and I decided that this research, too, should turn into a book-length report.

All the while I was studying terrorism, I was also working with those affected by it: The 9/11 families, teachers and child care workers in Sri Lanka, and refugees from many parts of the world. Each encounter with someone affected strengthened my determination to do what I could to prevent these events. I am hopeful that my book will help.

My work has included conversation with other psychologists in the EU and the US who are pursuing similar paths. We have all, separately and without prior consultation, come to similar conclusions. Preventing young people from radicalization, recruitment, and terrorist acts is a function of the community—parents, teachers, coaches, neighbors, friends. Law enforcement and government have their role, but they cannot do this alone.

How can ordinary citizens be expected to prevent terrorism?

It all begins with listening, being interested in the experiences of kids. Virtually every teenager I talk with tells me that neither their parents nor their teachers really know about the pressures they face. They try to protect their parents by keeping things private, not wanting to worry them. My colleagues and I believe that parents need to be aware and proactive in making time and creating conditions to talk to kids. Some kids are more private than others, and some would rather talk to recruitment is not an aberration. Attempts to recruit kids to illegal and often violent actions are common. And in today’s globally connected society, recruiters and the recruitment process can be virtually invisible to families and loved ones.

How can you refer to people like the accused Boston Marathon bombers as “good kids”?

When the Tsarnaev brothers were younger, all reports from teachers, peers, and others indicate that they were good kids. One of the younger brother’s teachers referred to him as having a “heart of gold.” Their friends were horrified and also totally surprised that they could do such a heinous act. The same is true for kids around the world who later became terrorists. The Norwegian who participated in the Nairobi mall bombing was planning to be a physician and was viewed as a good kid. The Tunisian boy who put on a suicide vest was successful and sociable. The Tamil girl who was featured in a film about kids who joined a terrorist organization had wanted to be a nun. It is these very kids—caring, altruistic—who are targeted by unscrupulous recruiters who then manipulate the truth, bringing them to believe that the best, most caring, and most altruistic thing they can do is to bring attention to causes of concern by engaging in terrorist actions.

Is your approach likely to help prevent kids from joining ISIS?

Yes. The ISIS force is no different in the sense that it presents an image that is hideous to most, but can be presented to naïve youth as an opportunity to fight against the most powerful forces in the world, to fight for the “underdog.” Especially kids who have seen, in news report after news report, American forces fighting in dominantly Muslim countries, can easily believe that someone should “level the uneven playing field.” Recruiters use a lot of psychology and sophisticated marketing, designed to appeal to a teenager.

We have a huge task ahead: to present a realistic picture, providing time and space that will enable kids to re-evaluate the story being told by recruiters.

Dr. Alice LoCicero is a clinical and research psychologist who lives in Cambridge. She is core faculty at the Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology at Boston Medical Center. In addition to this most recent book, she is also the author of Creating Young Martyrs: Conditions That Make Dying in a Terrorist Attack Seem Like a Good Idea (Praeger, 2008).

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Cambridge author Alice LoCicero will be at the Central Library on Thursday, March 19th at 7:00 p.m. to discuss her new book, Why “Good Kids” Turn Into Deadly Terrorists: Deconstructing the Accused Boston Marathon Bombers and Others Like Them.

In her book, Dr. LoCicero argues that the exploitation, by opportunistic zealots, of children and young adults—whether from Sri Lanka, Somalia, Tunisia, or her own hometown of Cambridge, MA—can be stopped. After years of research into youth violence and martyrdom, Dr. LoCicero explains that communities have the power to better understand and successfully thwart recruitment efforts. With the upcoming trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnev, there has never been a better moment to explore how we can work toward helping impressionable youth from becoming pawns in battles they do not fully understand.

Below is the first part of a Q & A with Dr. LoCicero. The second part will appear tomorrow.

Why did you write your new book?

As one of the world’s top experts in children who are recruited to terrorist groups, I was sad, though not surprised, in 2013 at the first instance of so-called “homegrown terrorism,” something I had predicted in my first book on child terrorists, published in 2008. It could have happened anywhere, but it happened in Boston, and the accused perpetrators were from my own town of Cambridge, Massachusetts. My neighbors, stunned that such a thing could happen here, were asking how and why it did. All this compelled me to research and write specifically about this instance of youthful terrorism, as an example of how this can happen and what we can do to prevent it in the future.

Didn’t Cambridge do everything it could to support these brothers?

Cambridge did everything that any city could have been expected to do at the time the Tsarnaev brothers were growing up. But we all—inside and outside Cambridge—have to begin to do more than we did in the past. Now that we are more aware of the fact that many American youth, at a vulnerable time in their lives, are making choices that are consequential for themselves and others, often without consulting with the caring and engaged adults who could actually help them make the best choice possible, we have to find ways to make such consulting easier and more accessible. For example, adults who care about kids have to feel comfortable, and be rational, in discussing gangs, violence, and terrorism, and how kids may be seduced, misled, and recruited to act in ways that are against their own best interest, as well as the best interest of the people they love. Kids have to be helped to understand, I think, what it means to have multiple loyalties, and how they can best help others they care about.

Aren’t these sorts of kids bad, crazy, deranged, suicidal, etc.?

Each person who engages in violence has, of course, their own life history, and if we look hard enough, we will find some problems, some traumas, some personal challenges, and some losses. All this is important, but by itself is not sufficient to explain why young people like the Tsarnaevs resort to horrible acts of violence against innocent people. We must look harder at the context, culture, and, especially at the deliberate and ruthless methods of recruiters who would use them for their own gain, and who care not at all about the young people’s welfare. The recruiters are willing to talk young people into sacrificing their lives or at least their ability to have a productive life. They appeal to the inherent idealism of youth, and somehow convince them that the best thing they can do for people they care about is to kill other, innocent people, in order to make a statement. The young people who are recruited are, in a very counterintuitive sense, more likely to think of their action as altruistic, rather than as evil. But in their calculations, they fail to consider how much they could do if they survive, are educated, and act in non-violent manner to support others. This is the sort of thing that adults must be able to help with, in a calm and thoughtful manner. That is not, by the way, as easy as it sounds. We adults in the community will have to work hard to prepare ourselves.

What risks will people face if they try to discourage recruitment?

The greatest risk people face when they show an interest in terrorism in the US is that they will be misunderstood. Their neighbors, friends, coworkers, family members, and most worrisome, the law enforcement authorities, may think that they are too interested in terrorism, and may begin to look at them with some vague suspicion. They may be subject to increased scrutiny by security agencies. This is why I suggest that these efforts be undertaken as part of a larger group, and that officials and law enforcement be made aware that caring adults in the community are studying and creating ways to talk and listen to kids, and what their intentions are. I do not think law enforcement automatically has the wisdom or tools to intervene, though they have an important role. In Norway, interventions started with law enforcement and are now expanding to include members of the community at large. I think ordinary, caring adults who engage with children every day are in the best position to help.

Dr. Alice LoCicero is a clinical and research psychologist who lives in Cambridge. She is core faculty at the Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology at Boston Medical Center. In addition to this most recent book, she is also the author of Creating Young Martyrs: Conditions That Make Dying in a Terrorist Attack Seem Like a Good Idea (Praeger, 2008).

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Join us at the Central Library on Wednesday, March 4th at 7:00 p.m. as we welcome Nan Levinson, author of War Is Not a Game: the New Antiwar Soldiers and the Movement They Built.

On July 23, 2004, five marines, two soldiers, and one airman became the most unlikely of antiwar activists. Young and gung-ho when they first signed up to defend their country, they were sent to fight a war that left them confused, enraged, and haunted. Once they returned home, they became determined to put their disillusionment to use. So that sultry summer evening, they mounted the stage of Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall and announced the launch of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

War Is Not a Game tells the story of this new soldiers’ antiwar movement, showing why it was born, how it quickly grew, where it has struggled, and what it has already accomplished. Nan Levinson reveals the individuals behind the movement, painting an unforgettable portrait of these predominantly working-class veterans who became leaders of a national organization.

Written with sensitivity and humor, War Is Not a Game gives readers an uncensored, grunt’s-eye view of the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, while conveying the equally dramatic struggles that soldiers face upon returning home. Demanding to be seen neither simply as tragic victims nor as battlefront heroes, the Iraq Veterans Against the War have worked to shape the national conversation. This book celebrates their bravery, showing that sometimes the most vital battles take place on the home front.

Nan Levinson is a Somerville resident, writer, teacher, and journalist, who covers civil and human rights, culture, and technology. For this book, she spent seven years not quite embedded with military-related antiwar groups around the country. Her last book, Outspoken: Free Speech Stories, grew from her reporting as the U.S. correspondent for the international magazine, Index on Censorship, and she was twice named to the Heroes List of the Boston Coalition for Freedom of Expression. She teaches journalism and fiction writing at Tufts University.

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Dark_TideGreatMolassesFlood

Books for Somerville Reads 2014 have arrived and are now available at all SPL locations!

Somerville Reads is a project that promotes literacy and community engagement by encouraging people all over the City to read and discuss the same book. The book that has been selected for 2014 is Dark Tide: the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 by Stephen Puleo. A companion children’s book has also been selected: The Great Molasses Flood: Boston, 1919 by Deborah Kops. Both of these authors will be visiting the Library in September. Details about the author visits and other Somerville Reads events will be coming soon.

In the meantime, stop by one of the SPL Libraries, pick up your book, and start reading!  And to get in the spirit, why not try a molasses recipe or two?  We will be printing out some recipes for you to try in the coming weeks – they’ll be available near the display of Somerville Reads books.  Slow Cooked Boston Baked Beans, anyone?

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April 10th-13th is  the 14th annual  Boston National Poetry Month Festival, hosted primarily by the Boston Public Library in partnership with Tapestry of Voices and the Kaji Aso Studio.

The Festival begins on Thursday evening, April 10th, with a program of Poetry, Music & Dance at Old South Church, produced by Berklee College of Music professor, Lucy Holstedt.  Friday, April 11, National Book Award winner David Ferry is just one of 15 prominent “Keynote Poets” reading in the Commonwealth Salon room.  Saturday and Sunday, 60 established and emerging poets read in Rabb Lecture Hall: they range from Boston Poet Laureate Sam Cornish and State Rep. Denise Provost to gifted students from Boston Latin High School and Boston Arts Academy as well as a Harvard University student.

The entire Festival is Free, and includes two Open Mics, plus a workshop with noted poet Tom Daley.  For specifics on times, locations, and more, click here.

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ostranderWe all know Somerville’s a great town that faces a lot of issues, particularly gentrification and the conflicting desires of different communities with different histories. Earlier in the month Tufts professor Susan Ostrander (left) gave a talk based on her research for her book Citizenship and Governance in  a Changing City: Somerville, Massachusetts.  She talked to Somervillians of various ethnicities, occupations and ages. And she found that whatever people’s differences, most of us want the some thing: to preserve Somerville’s unique character, to keep it from becoming a suburb, to keep it diverse, and to make it a city where people of varying incomes can afford to live. She also discussed the difficulties facing newcomers seeking full participation in every aspect of city life.

Don’t worry if you missed her talk. You can watch it here. Or even better, read her book.

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TwentiethWatertown author Jan David Blais will be appearing at the central branch of the Somerville Public Library (79 Highland Ave.) this Thursday (May 23) from 6 to 8 p.m. to discuss his tome “Twentieth Century Limited.” Lovers of historical fiction,  war novels, journalism, and politics, take note! And, if all this wasn’t enough, it’s a bit of a mystery as well… follow main character Paul Bernard during his time fighting in the Vietnam War, his work as a reporter, and his criticism of  George W. Bush.

 

An excerpt from the book:

“Paul Bernard reporting from lower Manhattan, September 11, 2001.

In my earpiece information was straggling in. There was talk of hijackings, a terrorist attack. I thought again of bin Laden, of our missed opportunities. A few minutes later, a plane reported crashed into the Pentagon, fires raging. What other scenes of devastation, I wondered. No mention, but buildings all over are being evacuated. The White House, U.N. headquarters, Sears Tower. U.S. airspace is shut down. Has anyone claimed responsibility? What’s happening with our air defense? Where is George Bush and what is he doing?

At 9:59 the screams begin. “The building’s coming down!” “THE BUILDING’S COMING DOWN!!”

Slowly, from the top, the South Tower starts to settle on itself, falling… falling… a grinding, screeching cry, the great building in its death throes. I glance at Charlie. His eyes fill with tears but still he mans his camera. An enormous cloud of dust and debris rushes forward, obscuring the lower stories of the doomed building, then settles, flooding across the plaza, into the street, up, down, across Church Street… ten, fifteen stories high! A maniacal blizzard, thousands of papers borne aloft, tens of thousands. “As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,” I murmur, beside myself with horror.”

Check out the first book (yes, there’s two) through the SPL catalog here. And join Blais for a talk and book signing. There will be light refreshments.

Contact Eileen Fontenot at efontenot@minlib.net for more information.

 

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Join fellow writers at the central branch of the Somerville Public Library (79 Highland Ave.) for this free, four-week, memoir-writing workshop with Medford-based writer and storyteller Judah Leblang. Judah is the author of Finding My Place: One Man’s Journey from Cleveland to Boston and Beyond. He is also a columnist for Bay Windows newspaper and a radio commentator. This workshop has been funded by the Friends of the Somerville Public Library.

In this course, participants will:

· Discuss the process of writing memoirs and what makes a good story
· Look at examples of short memoir vignettes and discuss what makes them effective
· Refine our pieces in a workshop format and receive supportive/constructive feedback
· Participate in an optional group reading at the library

The dates for the workshop are: Three Thursdays: March 14, 21, and 28, 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. and one Saturday: April 6, 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (This will be the reading for students who choose to participate.)

Please be aware that these are NOT drop-in workshops. To participate, you must register with Judah for the whole course. Enrollment is limited to 15 people. There are already people registered, so act now! You can register by e-mailing Judah at lakeeffectpress@gmail.com or calling him at 617-466-9637. See also http://www.lakeeffectpress.com/ for more information about Judah and his work.

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Last week marked the conclusion of our teen creative writing program. The feedback and enthusiasm from everyone has been impressive.

Ethan Gilsdorf led a month-long series of workshops. Participants were given various prompts and exercises. Some of the prompts were silly and random. The classes went so well that Ethan extended it for two more sessions. It was great to see all the writing; people were really engrossed in what they were doing.

This was a teen driven program. They initiated this. Each week brought a different group of people to the table. In all, a total of fourteen people attended.

Part of the success was due to the fact that we were able to collaborate with two local high schools; Somerville High School and Prospect Hill Academy. Both schools were happy to be a part of this and encouraged students to attend. Ethan created something magical the students responded to. That, combined with outreach, was one of biggest reasons this was so successful! We will definitely do this again!

Many thanks go to the Friends of the Library for sponsoring this program.

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The Director’s Author Series continues with two events this week.

On Wednesday, November 7:00th at 7:00 p.m., join us at the Central Library as we welcome author and investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan who will discuss her latest mystery thriller, The Other Woman.

A former US Senate staffer and political campaign aide, Hank Phillippi Ryan is the investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate, and has won twenty-seven Emmys and ten Edward R. Murrow awards. A bestselling author of four mystery novels, Ryan has won the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s on the national board of directors of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Book Description: Jane Ryland was a rising star in television news…until she refused to reveal a source and lost everything. Now a disgraced newspaper reporter, Jane isn’t content to work on her assigned puff pieces, and finds herself tracking down a candidate’s secret mistress just days before a pivotal Senate election.

Detective Jake Brogan is investigating a possible serial killer. Twice, bodies of unidentified women have been found by a bridge, and Jake is plagued by a media swarm beginning to buzz about a “bridge killer” hunting the young women of Boston. As the body count rises and election looms closer, it becomes clear to Jane and Jake that their cases are connected…and that they may be facing a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to silence a scandal.

Dirty politics, dirty tricks, and a barrage of final twists, The Other Woman is the first in an explosive new series by Hank Phillippi Ryan. Seduction, betrayal, and murder – it’ll take a lot more than votes to win this election.

Then on Thursday, November 8th at 7:00 p.m., the West Branch will host an evening with Clea Simon, author of the Theda Krakow, Dulcie Schwartz, and Pru Marlowe mysteries. Clea has also written three nonfiction books and her essays and short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies as well as The New York Times, The Boston Phoenix, and such magazines as American Prospect, Ms., and Salon.com. She lives in a 100-year-old house in Somerville with her husband, Jon S. Garelick (also a writer), and their cat, Musetta.

Book Description: Clea’s latest mystery is Cats Can’t Shoot. When Pru Marlowe gets the report of a cat shooting, she’s horrified. Animal cruelty is the one thing this tough-girl behaviorist won’t abide. When she gets to the scene, though, and finds a man dead – and his white Persian only slightly singed, she knows something else is afoot. Could the pampered pet have set off the rare dueling pistol? Or is the Persian being set up as a cat’s paw in a deadly game? That’s what Pru and her tabby sidekick Wallis must find out in Cats Can’t Shoot.

We hope that you’ll be able to join us for one or both of these Meet, Mingle, Read events!

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