M.I.L.E.S.

Mobile Interactive Literary Exhibition Space

 

The Downtown Brattleboro Alliance and Brattleboro Literary Festival recently  won a National Main Street/ Edward Jones grant from the ‘Placemaking on Main Crowdfunding Challenge” grant to fund an innovative, mobile ‘mini museum’ that will host pop-up street-level exhibits on the unique literary history of Brattleboro.

The grant will match up to $2,500 raised via crowdfunding on the “ioby” (In Our BackYard) platform which helps communities raise funds to create safer, greener, more livable and fun local spaces. The URL for the campaign, which is:

https://www.ioby.org/project/miles 

 

The winning project, a Mobile, Interactive Literary Exhibition Space – dubbed MILES — will be featured and framed-out onsite at the Tiny House Fest Vermont on September 3, 2017 with help from Brattleboro Rotary Club volunteers, local students and others.

The first exhibit will feature the remarkable life of Lucy Terry Prince, a freed slave, who lived in Guilford, Vermont in the late 1700’s. She is considered to be the first African American poet with her poem ‘Bars Fight’, written as a poem of witness when she was just 22 years old. Lucy Terry Prince and her husband, Abijah Prince, both freed slaves, owned land and raised a family in Guilford, Vermont, just south of Brattleboro. Their home served as a community gathering place for storytelling. Lucy was a gifted storyteller, and indefatigable fighter for her family’s rights. A persuasive orator, Prince also successfully negotiated a land case before the Vermont courts in the 1790s. She is believed to be the first woman to argue before the high court. Lucy’s home served as an important storytelling hub and gathering place, an atmosphere organizers aim to recreate within the unit as MILES will also encourage visitors to share stories about how one person’s voice — like Lucy’s — can make a difference.

MILES will be fully ADA accessible, can be parked on the street or in a lot, and, designed to create an immersive, multimedia experience for up to five participants at a time. It will be situated downtown during the Brattleboro Literary Festival (check the festival venue map for location) where Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, scholar and author of “Mr. and Mrs. Prince: How an Extraordinary Eighteenth Century Family Moved Out of Slavery and into Legend”, will be a featured speaker.

 

“Lit Fest attendees always have questions about the town and its history,” said Sandy Rouse, Executive Director, Brattleboro Literary Festival. “MILES will allow us to reach deeper into our community to celebrate the power of words, particularly working more with local schools to bring in the children and their families.”

Organizers said over time, MILES will bring to life the writings, history and enduring significance of less documented local groups, including Abenakis, women, homesteaders and spiritualists, in addition to more prominent local authors such as Rudyard Kipling and Saul Bellow. Some audio will be provided by area public school students through an on-going podcast program led by the Brattleboro Historical Society.

“This mobile exhibition space connects our community to the voices that formed this place we call home,” said MILES unit designer and Tiny House Fest Vermont cofounder Erin Maile O’Keefe. “By being small and mobile this an intimate experience of an author that meets you in your neighborhood.”

“Anytime we can provide a unique experience, it helps bring people into Brattleboro, and that is good for Downtown and the community at large,” Jen Austin, Downtown Brattleboro Alliance Coordinator said. “MILES provides an exciting new way for people to connect with local history.”

“We are happy to support this creative expression that highlights the unique history of Brattleboro,” said Ana Saavedra, Lead Financial Advisor, of one of four local Edward Jones. “It is a perfect Project for this highly competitive National Main Street/ Edward Jones grant.”

MILES is an initial element of the “Peoples, Places, and the History of the Word in Brattleboro, Vermont” which will illuminate and share the greater Brattleboro area’s rich history of words — stories, literature, publishing, printing — to attract visitors while developing a greater pride of place for those who live, work and raise families here. In addition to MILES, Project final products will include creative audio tours and a book on the rich and little-known printing and publishing history of the area.

For more information about MILES contact: brattleborowords@gmail.com. See our Facebook page at thttps://www.facebook.com/Brattleboro-Places-and-Words-1449727911993506/.)

Link to video about the MILES project

We have an amazing group of talented people who are excited to work — mostly volunteering their time — to make MILES happen AND a lot of support that shows MILES is a stand-out project nationally:

We WON a highly competititve national competition, so we have an initial $2,500 matching grant from the National Main Street Center and Edward Jones SO your contributions up to $2,500 are automatically doubled!- We have design plans in place thanks to Erin Maile O’Keefe, creative place maker and co-founder of Brattleboro’s fabulous Tiny House Fest

– We have most of the building materials donated by Foard Panel

– We have a committed leadership team comprised of the Brattleboro Lit Fest’s Director Sandy Rouse, Researcher and former Brooks Memorial Library Director Jerry Carbone, Jen Austin of Brattleboro Downtown Alliance and Lissa Weinmann, Co-owner of 118 Elliot (where MILES will be parked when not in use), who have secured multiple in-kind donations and have co-created MILES as an integral feature of a brand new, multi-year and multi-organizational humanities program called “Peoples, Places and History of the Word in Brattleboro,Vermont”

-We have begun purchasing the trailer which will serve as MILES foundation thanks to a loan from a local business to get MILES rolling…

As soon as the funds we hope you will contribute to are raised and in-hand, we will be able to:

SEPTEMBER 3: Frame-out at Tiny House Festival Vermont in Downtown Brattleboro! This ‘barn raiser’ will build interest and momentum in our community since the Fest is super well attended.

Sept 15 – Pay for the trailer and additional building materials

Sept 20 – Oct 1: Finish the build and exhibit and secure the necessary paperwork to make the trailer legal and insured

October 10 – Complete the exterior and interior space with a team of curators already in place ready to reproduce key documents and make the outside of MILES almost as cool as its interior

Oct 6 – Move MILES to central Downtown location for October’s Gallery Walk

Oct 12-15: Ribbon-cutting for MILES with local officials, artists and community members as part of Brattleboro Literary Festival! and continuous visitors to MILES all weekend long.

Oct. 16 to 30: MILES visits local schools for students to see and hear the story of how the community came together to celebrate its unique cultural history and how they can be part of that moving forward with MILES

 

Why we are doing this

MILES is working magic bringing different diverse groups of people in our community — historians, school kids and local families, college students, business leaders, professors, authors, artists, Rotarians, builders — together in Brattleboro around Lucy Terry, an inspirational but largely unknown figure who few locals have ever heard about. In coming together and sharing her story with the public in this fun, interactive way, we celebrate the power of one voice. We also instill a sense of pride of place in local youth — that our town is special and they are part of it; that the unique history of Brattleboro is not just for tourists but that it is part of their birthright as natives. MILES also helps bring more local people into the annual Brattleboro Literary Festival, which has become a regional tourist attraction. By encouraging people to enter Lucy’s world of storytelling and sharing their experience on how ‘one voice matters’ — stories to be further shared with the larger community — we empower both local residents and visitors to make them see how Lucy’s story is so relevant today.

Help reach the goal, and you can even see MILES being framed at the Tiny House Festival on Sept 3rd!

 

Help Fund a Mobile Interactive Literary Exhibition Space (MILES) To celebrate the life of African-American Poet and Storyteller Lucy Terry

MILES will be a mobile, interactive, street level component to complement the annual Brattleboro Literary Festival held every October — this year October 12 to 15, 2017. Every year, MILES will provide a fun, immersive experience for passersby and festival attendees that will illuminate an element of the little known but extremely rich literary history of Brattleboro. MILES will recreate the cozy, welcoming nature of Lucy’s home, providing a glimpse of the lives of African Americans in 18th century New England and their cultural contributions. As people experience all Lucy Terry Prince represents, they will see how one person’s voice can make a difference. People will feel her poem, “Bars Fight”, come to life, and understand her history in the context of the places she helped create. Her story will be an inspiration to those facing challenges in today’s world.

Lucy Terry Prince and her husband, Abijah Prince, both freed slaves, owned land and raised a family in Guilford, Vermont, just south of Brattleboro. Their home served as a community gathering place for storytelling. Lucy was a gifted storyteller, and indefatigable fighter for her family’s rights. A persuasive orator, Prince also successfully negotiated a land case before the Vermont courts in the 1790s. She is believed to be the first woman to argue before the high court.

School groups will study Lucy Terry Prince and are helping to create audio podcasts, in conjunction with Brattleboro Historical Society, as part of their ongoing curriculum in historical podcasting. Elements of these podcasts will be incorporated into MILES.

Visuals will range from work by local artists, maps depicting exact locations where history was made to looping films, and written text.

Led by the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance and the Brattleboro Literary Festival, MILES is but one element of collaborative “Peoples, Places and History of the Word in Brattleboro Vermont” led by the Brattleboro Literary Festival, the Brattleboro Historical Society, Marlboro College, Write Action, Brooks Memorial Library, 118 Elliot, WSESU and other area institutions working to combine efforts to illuminate and share the greater Brattleboro area’s rich history of words — stories, literature, publishing, printing – to attract visitors while developing a greater pride of place for those who live, work and raise families here.

Lucy Terry Prince’s story is an important one, and the first one MILES will highlight. It is also only one small piece of the literary heritage of the Brattleboro area: a town built, in many ways, on printing and publishing; drawing writers and artists to gather here, to live here, to create here. And yet, with all of this, the literary legacies of Brattleboro are often hidden. MILES will help provide a sense of place and pride, and relevance, to these stories.

 

Downtown Brattleboro
Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce