WOMEN HONORING WOMEN
~Deana J. Tavares 8/29/18
Woohoo! I am so proud to announce that this year I joined the cast of the musical We Did It For You by Playwright Thea Iberall and coProducer Shirley Riga. When I attended this show in New Bedford MA earlier this year I found it to be well written, with an even balance between educational and entertaining. It fanned the flames already within my belly enough to audition for my first play and become a part of this movement. I’m truly honored to be playing the role of Fannie Lou Hamer as she was an extremely influential and powerful woman who helped to register thousands of African American voters in the 1960’s. When I sing, I sing for Fannie Lou and all of the women in my family whose voices were not given center stage, but tucked away behind the scenes. Through our lives and stories we are all interconnected, to the past, present and future. When we share our stories other worlds emerge, and we are given an inside look at the sadness, and beauty within. Then there is the realization that we are not so different from one another after all.
We Did It For You highlights the extraordinary lives of the women throughout history who have paved the way, for me to be sharing my perspective, and my words within this very moment. The mountains that the these women had to scale seemed insurmountable. However with a passionate determination they fearlessly led the way. Let’s not forget that lives were lost within the process. This is something that I am well aware of and do not take lightly. From the Puritans, to the Suffragettes, right through the Civil Rights Movement, to the present day women have had to fight to gain and maintain the rights that they have acquired. Many of their stories have been left out of the history books along with the ability of those stories to empower and shape the next generation. This is another reason why I take great pride in bringing to life the authors vision, by making my characters voice heard, and remembered. As Fannie Lou Hamer would sing “this little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine”. It is because of her and all of the women that came before me, that I can let my light shine.
All of the testimonials and successes of the characters within this musical have inspired me and given me a deeper appreciation for all of those dedicated powerful women who have paved the way. The women who had the courage to challenge the system, gave me the courage to stand up and speak. I have chosen to use that voice, in hopes that I too can create one ripple in the water that will continue to spread long after I am gone.
My fellow cast members and I are not only portraying women throughout history, but I believe that together we are making history. Collectively we are giving a voice to the women who made it possible for our voices to be heard. As we honor them, we are completing the circle.
When I stand up on that stage during every rehearsal and every performance I
glance upon the passionate faces of my cast mates, and I am most grateful to be in their presence. Each time I am inspired by the women who have come before me, and by the women that stand beside me. This opportunity has created a community of multigenerational actors learning, working, and growing together. It is a beautiful thing to witness women supporting one another, while honoring, and uplifting other women.
We have been empowered by those who did it for us, and have become the ones who will do it for the next generation. Due to the women who have raised their voices, we now have the ability to make our own choices. Come join us and let these testimonials inspire you, as they have inspired us.
For more information go to: wediditforyou.org
THE EMBERS OF HOPE
~Deana J. Tavares
Some days my words are dried out, lacking even a drop of moisture, hardened. Salty tears bleach the very essence of my black words upon the page. My sweet softness solidifies within the harshness of the thoughts and phrases that circle around in the wind. Then I am reminded by my soul to protest, day and night. I’m reminded by my soul to not let the darkness overtake my light.
One may ask: How can a person find any hope or joy when there is so much pain and destruction all around us? How can you smile and laugh when there is so much injustice? Why are you so positive, and not angrier?
My answer would be that human spirit contains many very strong attributes. We all get angry, but hope is one of them as well. It is stronger than any weapon fired or word uttered. On the contrary to anger, hope can move mountains, conquer illness, and spread as fast as any wildfire. When it is thought to be extinguished in one location it is then ignited in another. Embers are swept up into the wind and carried glowingly across towns, swirling through states, and trailing down over continents. It lingers within our DNA, passed down from our ancestors, and swims through our blood streams with intention. Warmth. Destruction and injustice have always existed, alongside hope.
So let us raise the collective consciousness of our world through activism. Let us march! We must protest what is wrong within our world and together as a community work together to create change. It is our job to give a voice to the individuals who are being discriminated against and not being heard within our society. Within this process we must not forget all of the peace-seeking individuals who came before us, and fought for the rights and privileges that we are so fortunate to have today. Sure they were angry and frustrated, but they were able to attain those rights through, compassion, community, and hope. All of these fiery spirits passed on their embers and fanned them through the atmosphere. It is now our job to stoke the fire, and spread the embers of hope towards the next generation. We must remind our souls to not allow the darkness to overtake our light!
PEACE WITHIN THE CREASES
~Deana J. Tavares 7/31/18
At ninety-four years old Ora still dreams and inspires within the process. Peace is her dream and she makes sure that it flies into the hands of everyone along her path. When eating out her server is always thanked with a bright representation of kindness and connection. The colorful paper cranes that were gifted to me will serve as a reminder that we must pass on whatever fragments of peace that we possess within our bones, to the next generation. Within each crease of her paper creations lives her shared experiences, words, energy, and spirit.
One simple gesture done with great intention has connected our hearts and created another link in the chain of peace. I absorbed the energy and light that she so generously rained down upon me. Beauty upon beauty is what I witnessed. I saw her many layers of light unfolding and folding right in front of my eyes. She still questions.
Maybe when we stop questioning
is when we truly stop living.
Ora mentioned that
her granddaughter says
“it is what it is” then
she responds by saying “but what is it”?
Everyday I am blessed, but today I was blessed to be in her presence. I felt her words of peace curl up in the sunniest part of my heart, and there they will remain. It takes many colorful pieces folded together to create a better world. My dreams of peace were gifted one thousand cranes wings to fly that day by the beautiful bright Aura, that is Ora.
(Ora Spadafora with Alan O’hare interview with host Dot Walsh on Dedham TV’s Oneness And Wellness) You too can be inspired by her words and presence. Stay tuned to see her interview on: dedhamtv.com
“I will write peace on your wings, and you will fly all over the world.”
-Sadako Sasaki, Age 12
Ora was deeply inspired by this
book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
and she shared a few excerpts from within.
“This is our cry
This is our prayer
Peace in the world”
ANSWERS WITHIN CURRENTS
~Deana J. Tavares
What does it all mean? These Stars and Stripes proudly blazing in the wind for some. Not for all? We have all left many things behind within the ocean’s wake. Names have stepped off of planks and have been lost at sea, never to be found again. Cultures salted, white washed in the steamy afternoon sun. Many different backs were left wet after floating upon adversities’ waves. And this flag’s fabric cultivated, harvested by slaves.
I remember their journey. That perilous excursion. The salt still remains in cells and platelets. Inside it swims through canals from my stomach to my chest. Tiny boats lodge themselves in my throat, on occasion. Did we not travel those same shores? Although for some it was to willingly explore, but still a new shore. How can we ever only open the doors to some when we have all traveled across the very same expanse with salt stained cheeks?
I sometimes wonder why we all feel such a deep pull to vast ocean realms. We are all drawn there to relax, soak in the warmth, and the stillness. Maybe the reason lies in the fact that it connects us all. The ocean is a true melting pot where the bones of all of our ancestors have been scattered, joined together upon barnacles, and laid to rest. Possibly they call to us through their tiny striped lucky rocks and shells that we so proudly display at home upon our shelves. We all feel the magnificent magical pull of life as well as our smallness when crashing waves ferociously roar.
It is in the ocean where war has been hushed by the peaceful silent darkness below, though light still streams in with bright beams. Submerged tanks become mere habitats for new life, living in harmony together, as they should be. Commercialism is sometimes questioned by thunderous waves, and the waves have the final say. There is no currency. Brightly-colored species mingle together sharing space and find their flow within calm and rough currents. In the silence and stillness answers can be found. Down within the depths there is a weightlessness from our heavy, heavy world where only the ocean speaks and we must listen. Maybe it does have all of the answers and we…should… just….Listen!
THE ORIGIN OF PEACE
Deana J. Tavares 7/1/18
Where exactly does peace begin, and where does it end? At which particular intersection or rotary does it then clash with hatred? I believe that peace begins with the individual. Its gestation process begins within the heart and it is then compassionately birthed out into the world. Once assimilated it spreads like spilt milk across hard cold surfaces, but there are no tears. Peace dries the tears of oppression, hate, injustice, and unites us. Heals us. It softens our chains by growing flowering fields of beauty within the seas of fear and distrust. One bloom at a time.
I believe it ends when we lose faith in the possibility of peace and turn angrily and violently towards the pursuit of hatred and war. I believe it ends when race, culture, class, and our various differences are demonized instead of celebrated. I believe it ends at that very moment when a bright-eyed child so full of potential is shot and killed removing the twinkle from within their eyes, because lines have been drawn, and enemies have been forged. It also ends when we don’t acknowledge the the loss of innocence and light within our veterans eyes, young women and men alike. When the darkness of war pervades into every pore of their being, we loose twenty two a day as a result of suicide, due to morals and values being questioned within the blink of an eye when weighed against patriotism. This is the reality of war. That is the moment where peace ends.
So how do we maintain peace? How do we collect, cultivate, harvest, peace, and distribute it out into the world? Well I have one idea of a great place to start. There are many organizations, artists, writers, and performers who are actively in pursuit of peaceful paths in which to educate and create change. When your blood boils to the top of your frontal lobe as a result of a horrific broadcast on NPR that morning regarding political events, these are the individuals who have and will come forward to speak for us all. These are also the types of programs that don’t receive adequate funding in order to continue their mission of growing community, promoting peace, and healing our world. Programs like the William Joiner Institute For War And Social Consequences.
For 31 years their programs have actively brought together dynamic writers across many cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, religions, and countries. This program has united Vietnam and United Stated veterans in hand to hand friendship, together healing the scars of combat. Their summer writers workshop allows individuals to learn, by sharing their perspectives about war and social issues with one another in a safe, understanding, and nurturing environment. Within this place it takes a great deal of courage and bravery for participants to actively share their thoughts as well as their stories. Everyday mindful tides roll in swimming across lips, fingertips, through black ink, spilling out onto white pages, and permeating droplets of change into the wind. It is here where we listen. It is here where we learn. It is here where we grow. It is here were the consequences of war are no longer avoided, but processed, and healed.
The William Joiner Institute is like the rarest yellow diamond that celebrities invest millions of dollars in to merely wear upon their fingers. However this diamond gives back, like bamboo roots spreading fibers of peace far and wide. Each new rooted writer gives peace a voice within their own countries, communities, schools, organizations, and within their creative practices. I would say that The William Joiner Institute will in fact give you a better return on your investment, when compared to that yellow diamond. In fact every year it will gain interest, cultivate, harvest, and feed the world heaping spoonfuls of socially aware advocates of peace. So to those people out there in the world who don’t know what to do to create change, I would suggest investing in a program that needs funding. An organization like the Joiner Institute that knows how change begins when we use our voices to find the common threads that weave us together, strengthening our collective quilt of compassion, and understanding. I believe that peace begins with the individual, then spreads like strong bamboo root fibers throughout the collective consciousness of our world.
To find out more about The William Joiner Institute For War And Social Consequences go to their website: https://www.umb.edu/joinerinstitute
Share this post if you too believe in peace and add #savethejoiner
JUST A SMALL SAMPLE OF SOME WRITERS AND GROUPS THAT HAVE PARTICIPATED:
https://www.facebook.com/RedSageStories/ (Melissa Nussbaum Freeman)
SOMETHING TO SHARE?
~Deana J. Tavares
I find myself pondering these days a great deal about the state of our world, and how there can be so many rain clouds pouring down all at once. At times I have wondered just how we are going to get up from all of this negativity that threatens to envelop our country and world at times. Then I quickly remember all of the positivity that I have encountered and the individuals who are making a difference daily. I believe the first step to change is looking inward at oneself. What can I do? How can I make a positive impact right now? Well, I can certainly share what I have in my cup.
Your cup may not contain extra money to donate to a cause or organization, but you also have a mind as well as a voice. It is also possible that we may have some type of skills that can be shared to help facilitate upward movement for everyone. I truly believe that we are all interconnected, all part of the whole. The energy that we send out into the world does affect others around us. So why not send out as much good energy as we can? Although remember it is always crucial to save some for yourself as well. Even something as simple as sharing of information to help spread the word about an organization or individual attempting to do great things within your community. If we all take some time to reflect and then act, great things can and will happen. I’m truly convinced that it is possible to make an impact with what we have within our very own cup, no matter how little we think it may be. Just imagine if we put them all together? I believe that would be a very generous pour!
If you have the ability to make a donation to a meaningful cause or organization, then here are some that I personally know of that are dedicated to education, peace, and understanding. Or just spread the word!
Peace Abbey Memorial & Life Experiences School- Sherborne & Millis MA http://www.lesmillis.org/
Many individuals that came before us put into practice the concepts of non-violence, peace, and oneness for the entirety of their lives. The world is a better place because they existed. The Peace Abbey Memorial honors these individuals such as Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Maya Angelou, John Lennon, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King Jr. to name a few. Plaques and statues are beautifully arranged upon sacred ground where the Sherborne Peace Abbey once stood in all her glory. Maybe with enough funding one day the Peace Abbey will return and be what it once was, a peaceful place for all people. We can always use more peace within our world!
The Life Experiences School continues The Peace Abbey’s mission of education, peace, and understanding. Learning more about these organizations and their compassionate approach to community will surely fill your heart with hope!
William Joiner Institute For War and Social Consequences-
UMass Boston: https://www.umb.edu/joinerinstitute
This organization continues to honor veterans of all ages, and is always in need of adequate funding. Their aim is to educate and bring about understanding, healing, as well as social change. The professors continuously create a sense of community within their programming and tackle many social issues with dynamic groups of students, veterans, and non-veterans. Professors and students alike learn from sharing varied perspectives, with the concept that we can all make a difference within our world.
Winslow Animal Sanctuary- Norton MA http://www.winslowfarm.com/
This little sanctuary is a magical place tucked away down a scenic country road in Norton MA. The Animals are extremely sweet, gentle, and content within their surroundings. The deep sense of peace that I got from spending a few hours with these beautiful creatures is difficult to describe, you’ll just have to see for yourself. Definitely a safe haven and peaceful sanctuary worth visiting!
I have a voice! We all do!
Kindness In Between
~Deana J. Tavares
How do you move mountains? I believe this can be done one pebble at a time. If people were pebbles, put us together and we become a mountain. Not one redwood, but an entire forest.
As you already know the political climate of our country and world as a whole has been anything but positive. There are times when I look around and feel as if there is no end to this downward spiral that our world is in currently. We don’t subscribe to cable within our household, but still get more than our fill of politics, hatred, and violence. Which seem to be one in the same these days. I’m sure many others have felt this way also. I began thinking that this world needed the plates to shift beneath us in a positive direction if anything was going to change. Through more reflection and a dire need to pull myself up out of the dark abyss of despair, I suddenly realized that I didn’t have to look too far to find change happening all around.
This year not only has our president stimulated hatred and discrimination on many levels, but in fact for each hateful act I have seen twice as much kindness and compassion. Already compassionate hearts growing exponentially.
In between all of the hateful acts there is kindness. In between many ludicrous bills being signed, there are individuals of many different ethnicities being elected to office anxious to make changes for the better. In between the discrimination and injustice, many have come forward in a show of support for their fellow humans and all of our varied characteristics. In between the hate speech there have been words of positivity reverberating louder, uplifting, and empowering the masses. So I encourage everyone to look in between. You don’t have to look too far to find kindness spreading all around. Join in, and spread some more!
~Peace, love, light
Proud to be a woman!
~Deana J. Tavares
A letter in response to controversial sculpture: Seagull Cinderella By: Donna Dodson
Dear Neighbors and friends,
Has Seagull Cinderella misrepresented herself to be something other than what she is? I don’t believe that she has. I too was born and raised in New Beige, and I am ecstatic that my home town made it on the top 10 list of most artistic towns in the US. Included in a wonderful list with San Juan Puerto Rico, Taos New Mexico, and Hudson Valley New York to name a few. Varied works of art will only add to the richness of our beautiful and vibrant city while bringing together many different individuals from all corners of the world. I’m proud to be a woman and an artist, as well as a huge supporter of the arts within our communities. For me positive images of women in our world are a welcomed site to see. Something that we don’t quite see enough of on a daily basis.
Seagull Cinderella has stood proudly at our Seaport with the salt air gently kissing her beak. Once only an artist’s vision suddenly brought to life with great excitement and creativity. A tastefully reserved vision of femininity and pride. Is it possible that a woman’s figure in 2016 can still be this offensive? Even when smoothed and hidden behind the layers of thick white paint on a bird like creature? What about the very detailed bronze sculptures in the city or even the life-like mannequins in your local mall? Are these not also offensive? Video games? Sitcoms? Music videos? These are things that children are exposed to on a daily basis. Why no love for a feminine seagull in a colorfully tailored dress? Please I ask that you only take a moment to view the world around you and realize that a simple silhouette of a woman’s figure should not be offensive in any way, for the image of this very figure is what has given us all life. In 2016 breasts should never be an issue of contention. Some more important issues are hate, censorship, objectification, violence, and inequality. Kindness and more beauty in the world is what we all need! This very sculpture was created by the very kind and talented artist Donna Dodson. A family friendly image of an elegant, proud, mother-like seagull. Seagull Cinderella was praised and adored by many throughout her travels until her stop at our seaport. I too understand that art is subjective. Not everyone is going to like all art, and that’s ok. However my hope is that by her presence here you too will learn to love this sculpture, or at least accept her presence as a gentle giant and proud feminine figure. Spread Kindness!
~Deana J. Tavares
(When reality is limited the imagination is infinite)
The idea of simultaneously nurturing the right and left brain throughout our entire lives.
I have come to the realization that the world puts limitations on us all, but our imaginations are infinite. Hence the appeal of delving deep into your own mind and finding undiscovered treasures lurking around each corner, and then bringing them to light through music, writing, art, poetry, or creating something with your hands. When the world puts road blocks or hurdles in the way I always have another world that I can retreat to. This road is always clear with winding paths, twists, turns, and many self discoveries along the way. Here I make the rules and I am never wrong because it is strictly a place of my own invention, the embodiment of who I am at the very core. My imagination melds this infinite world with the varied experiences that I have lived and shared with others in the real world. These two worlds can work harmoniously together. Just Imagine.
Imagination is something that I was taught to explore at a very young age, a lesson that most children learned in grammar school. Although as we age most individuals lose that infinite world in exchange for the reality that we have that can be limiting at times. As artists we hold on tightly to this amazing gift of imagination that we were made aware of as children. We are told to stop daydreaming, grow up, and get a grip on reality. Music and art programs are eliminated from the some school curriculum, the very things that balanced out our grammar school days. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of my art and music teachers in kindergarten through sixth grade. Why not weave these creative elements throughout? What would our world look like if people were encouraged to look inward and use their imaginations long after grammar school? Music, poetry, and art could be integrated into the daily office grind. There could be mandatory creativity classes for all employees to relieve stress and create balance. The unlocking of the right brain may be exactly what our world needs to help combat the difficult times and many bumps on the road of life. Would anyone ride a bike when if only the left pedal was working? I don’t think so. I believe that it would only enhance our world and allow us all to have a broader and richer outlook on life. Perhaps maybe even a better understanding of one another. When hope is hard to come by this infinite world is full of just that, and more can always be created. So I say keep dreaming, never fully grow up, and lose your grip on reality once in a while for there are infinite worlds to be explored.
Still time To Save The Prouty Garden
~Deana J. Tavares
When I found out about the upcoming hearing and that a final decision would soon be made regarding the Prouty Garden my fingers began typing almost immediately. Although with appeals and a lawsuit still pending there is still time to save what is so precious to so many. I have been a patient, volunteer, and employee at this hospital and have experienced on many different levels, the healing properties that this hospital’s garden has to offer. Over the years as a patient, volunteer, and employee I have lost many friends and gained many friends at Children’s hospital. My knowledge of the Prouty Garden was something that I was always so proud to share with everyone. They would know about this wonderful natural resource that was right there and available to them for the duration of their hospital stay.
In light of all the political controversy going on in this country for some the Prouty Garden may seem so small and insignificant. Although for many of us the garden represents so much of what is good about this country. It’s like a tiny melting pot right here in the middle of our bustling city. Everyone is there for the same reason, simply to get well, but within the process many different worlds meet within this sacred place. This is a place where many different age groups, classes, religions, ethnicities, and alternative lifestyles, all converge amongst the swaying trees of the garden. Within this garden we set aside our differences and find our sameness through empathy, caring for others, and together we take notice of our the natural world and absorb its gifts. In my mind this garden should remain forever as an example of what we wish for our world as a whole. The fight to keep the Prouty Garden has also connected so many individuals from various different backgrounds who otherwise may have never met.
Nature is very much a part of the soul of our world and we have lost sight of its natural calming and healing abilities. There is an innate ability for the natural world to reach in and touch a part of us that is untouched and can’t be reached by any technology or human being for that matter. Trees reach above and below the earth stretching their branches and reaching out to us, and so often in our society we do not see or feel this connection. Although I can tell you all that within the Prouty Garden everyone is connected, and their spirits heal and thrive because of this very connection to nature and to each other. The doctors, nurses, and staff at this hospital do an amazing job facilitating that healing process, and many of them also understand the benefits of the continued healing through nature, which includes contact with the grass, trees, flowers, bunnies, birds, snails, water, and fresh air. The Prouty Garden has the ability to make everyone who steps out into it feel as if they are in a beautiful magical garden far away from procedures, operations, tests, and difficult decisions. If only a moment for some, or hours for another, no therapist could ever have the same instantaneous soothing capabilities that this garden possesses. Sure Boston Children’s Hospital is ranked #1 in the country, but let’s not forget that the Prouty Garden has also contributed to this ranking. There is something to be said about healing the whole person. You can’t just heal the body and not the mind. Indoors the body is being made well, but outside those hospital doors is where the mind begins its healing process within the Prouty Garden. If you ever have the chance to sit quietly in that garden soaking it in and observing others around you, you too will feel all that it has to offer. It’s a calm, serene, irreplaceable resource for playing, grieving, and healing for all.
To the decision makers:
I ask that you please consider the difficult decisions being made here by doctors, nurses, and caregivers on a daily basis and the solace and serenity that the garden provides them to make calm, rational, and well thought out decisions that will affect the lives of so many.
I ask that you please consider before you make your decision how this will affect the morale of the caregivers that go into work every day and selflessly dedicate themselves to saving as well as enriching the lives of others. This garden assists them in doing so.
I ask that you please keep in mind that the long term patients hospitalized for months, some years, they benefit the most from this garden retreat. For them this garden is their holiday destination, their family’s gathering place, their birthday party location, their campsite, their ball park, their schoolhouse, the place where they gain strength and find hope.
I ask that you please consider the sacred ground where the ashes of children were sprinkled because their parents believed wholeheartedly in the promise that Boston Children’s Hospital etched upon a plaque that stated that the Prouty Garden would “exist as long as Children’s Hospital has patients, families, and staff to enjoy it.” Oh and they do!
I ask that you do not take lightly the fact that many families chose this very garden as the place, the tranquil spiritual place where their child would take their very last breath.
I ask that you please consider the children that have wanted to take their own lives when the grey walls became too much to bare, and access to the deep healing that this garden provides was denied due to construction close by.
I ask that you please consider that this garden provides a much needed balance between technology and nature that so few are lucky enough to have within our busy society. The success of this hospital is due to the amazing treatments and care that is provided by the staff, but also due to the balance that is offered by the natural resource which is the Prouty Garden.
I ask that you please acknowledge the healing that this garden has provided to my family and to countless other families over the years. Also, to not underestimate its abilities to continue providing that same level of healing for many years to come for all patients that walk through those doors.
I ask that you please consider that the level of care provided at this hospital should be maintained along with the garden and available to every child in need, not only for some. Until every child is well!
Lastly I just want to state my definition of the Prouty Garden.
The Prouty Garden:
A generous gift and memorial from Olive Prouty, a historical Olmstead Brothers creation, providing healing to families, patients and staff, the last resting place for some children, the first grass touched by others, a tried and true healing garden, but most of all for so many of us who have felt its power….
It is the heart and soul of Boston Children’s Hospital.
To help this cause go to: saveprouty.org (sign the petition, donate, spread the word)
Many Voices Still Unheard
~Deana J. Tavares
Current needs vs future needs: Both can be met
In my personal opinion the news broadcasts all briefly touched upon what the garden means to people. However, I just wish that there was so much more available to the public about the depth of connection to this garden, and how devastated people are at the thought of this resource being gone forever. If you could hear about the woman from Maine who is used to living on a large farm and is now living at the hospital with her daughter, for them the garden has been their saving grace. There are so many others like her that truly need that green space. One thing that was left out of the conversation is the possibility of building nearby on their very own property, which would give the hospital the ability expand but also maintain the garden as well. We keep hearing the same story and that this is the only option. However many know that this is not the case.
WBUR mentioned Jonathon Swersey of Newton has a 5-year-old daughter who’s been treated for cancer at Boston Children’s Hospital. They added a bit more information regarding his heartfelt speech which was very touching.
However I heard a few more details that I would like to share. He also mentioned that his daughter has spent four long years undergoing her cancer treatment at the hospital, and his younger daughter has pretty much grown up in the hospital as well, by her sisters side. Nobody has actually touched upon the fact that many healthy kids spend days, months, years within the hospitals walls supporting their siblings through difficult times. There are special programs at the hospital to help siblings adjust and to understand all of the difficult circumstances surrounding them, along with a 1/2 acre garden in which to escape, cope, or even grieve. A rooftop garden with no mature trees or private nooks in which to cry privately or just be alone, will not adequately serve the patients, families, and staff who need it the most.
There are actually some positions at the hospital that have a really high turnover rate due to the level of emotional difficulty that is imposed upon these employees. Imagine how that figure could drastically increase if Prouty garden is removed. Imagine a doctor making a difficult decision about operating on a child’s brain or spine and not having a quiet place in which to escape to other than four walls, to gather his or her thoughts on how best to proceed. Better yet imagine being stuck in your own home for a year with no access to your own back yard. Now think of the children and families with many belongings stacked upon the windows ledge in their room doubling as a built-in cabinet, beeping monitors all around, white walls, curtains, IV drips, and the smell of rubbing alcohol in the air. Wouldn’t you wish that you had access to a 1/2 ace garden with mature trees, bunnies, birds, and a fountain? Well, currently they do. Why would anyone want to take that away from them? This would be a huge disservice to the people currently benefiting from the gardens healing properties by only thinking of the needs of the future patients. The needs of both must be considered!
The people of the state of Massachusetts have not been fully heard regarding this matter, and that is a very sad result of politics and administrators constructing a picture of just what they want the public to believe.
What I witnessed on 10/20/2016 was a drastically different picture. A rather large group of newscasters seemed extremely interested in what Friends of Prouty Garden had to say in front of the statehouse’s gold dome beaming with sunlight. On this crisp fall day there was a good sized turnout of Prouty supporters which was pretty well-balanced by the number of reporters that attended. They were engaged, inquisitive, some even tearing up at the testimonies of various speakers, volunteers, doctors, a priest. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to see even more of this coverage.
Children’s Hospital keeps drawing focus on something that they have made the general public believe to be the facts. They want you to believe that Friends of Prouty Garden are against expansion, which is not the case at all. They are actually their allies because they are taking into consideration all of their patients, families, and staffs wishes.
In my own experiences I have spoken with countless individuals regarding this matter. All of the garden supporters that I have come into contact with have all expressed their love and deep gratitude for this hospital, as well as their staff. Most feel as if the administration is acting alone and not taking their own caregivers into consideration. I consider that very dishonorable for such a high ranking institution that would not exist without those very individuals that walk through their doors each and every day and deal with the most extreme and difficult cases.
Most garden supporters are not against expansion, they are for expansion as well, just in another location. New information has come to light regarding the ability for the hospital to build right on their very own property next to the garden, not on top of it. This way all of the needs of all of their patients will be addressed. So often in our society a line is drawn in the sand, and we are forced to make a choice upon which side to choose. In this case we do not have to choose any side. We can have both!
What a concept? We can have our cake and eat it too. How often do we get a chance to say that? So why not keep the garden and build where there are two outdated buildings
on their very own property? Or across the street for that matter? Politics?
Some may say that is the case.
The CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital Sandra Fenwick stated on WBUR
“This is for the children, it’s for the families, and it’s for the future,”
However quite frankly when you are ignoring the needs of a large amount of your staff, patients, families, and over 17,000 petition signers from within the community it then becomes more about the money and no longer about the people.
Friends of Prouty Garden supporters represent the past, present, and future patients, as well as their families.
They are also made up of doctors, nurses, social workers, respiratory care, priests, volunteers, artists, professionals, environmentalists and many others caring individuals who just know that saving the garden is the right thing to do. They represent an entire community of people. So, if you don’t know of anyone who has been chronically ill or who has been through cancer treatments, good for you. You are the lucky ones. However that is not the case for many others who are surprised by a difficult diagnosis and then forced to find sufficient coping mechanisms to get through each and every day, one minute at a time. This garden makes those minutes more bearable. So the next time you are stuck in your bed for a week with the flu and can’t bare it any longer, please think about the children and families at Children’s Hospital stuck for a year or more and what a world of difference an established healing garden means to them. What would it mean for current and future patients if it no longer existed?
Green-Spaces Are Not All Created Equal
~Deana J. Tavares
(Prouty Healing Garden vs rooftop/indoor “gardens”)
No matter how many times they click their ruby slippers together, for some children it’s a very long road before they get that chance to go home. That is, if they ever get that chance. Although walking out into the Prouty Garden for many is like that moment in the Wizard Of Oz when Dorothy’s black and white world immediately changes to color.
Imagine having that feeling over and over again, that’s truly irreplaceable. For a child that has to undergo an array of procedures on a weekly basis, excitement doesn’t usually seem to be anywhere out on the horizon. However, the little gem known as the Prouty Garden shines brightly, providing just enough to elevate ones spirit, and connect them to the world outside the hospitals doors. A sense of normalcy, a feeling of being grounded, living.
Have you ever had the desire to be immersed within nature and feel the grass between your fingertips? Do you then immediately drive to the local mall and sit amongst the potted plants? I don’t believe that anyone would choose that option. Some people may drive to New Hampshire, Vermont, or visit Boston Public Gardens lush colorful landscape. Some may travel a short distance to walk along Arnold Arboretum’s meandering tree lined paths. I myself would probably stay local and spend a few hours within the arboretum. Luckily for many of us, we have that freedom to choose. Unfortunately, that is a luxury that is not afforded to chronically ill or terminally ill children at Boston Children’s Hospital. Currently they have their very own 1/2 acre arboretum, which is the Prouty Garden. For children with severely compromised immune systems that have to undergo many difficult procedures on a regular basis, this garden means everything to them and their families as well. You see, for many that are immune system compromised, have low blood counts, or are just far to weak to travel any distance, Olive Prouty has already provided just what they need. Maybe we should just start calling her Dr. Prouty, because she discovered a prescription where happiness, breathing easy, excitement, and relief are the only side effects.
We have all heard the term “Father Knows Best”, and in one case this is the truth.
Gus Murby from The Friends of Prouty Garden group did know what was best for him and his son. He is one individual who has repeatedly regained his ability to breathe, again, and again, from the healing properties that this garden possesses. Words cannot describe the quality of life, and level of care that this garden provided to Murby and his son in the most dire circumstances, that most parents could never even imagine. After two failed bone marrow transplants the garden is the place he chose to take his 17yr-old to say a final goodbye. He cannot fathom the idea of this amazing resource not being available to other families that will also have to trudge through the mud, scale the highest mountains, and dodge tumbling boulders that crash and fall at every step of the way along their paths.
As Gus says in his analogy of the Prouty Garden:
“Imagine a major power company proposing to dam the Grand Canyon, due to the tremendous amount of power that it could generate?
Yes, some people might be upset about the loss of this irreplaceable, iconic canyon. However, the power company promises to dig a bunch of smaller canyons in various locations, in order to improve people’s access to big holes in
the ground. In fact, this power company is planning to dig enough of these
holes that the cubic footage of the holes will be 25% greater than the cubic footage of the Grand Canyon. Would people be willing to accept this trade-off as an equivalent, or perhaps, preferred alternative to the original Grand Canyon?”
Mr. Murby also states “A large number of people have a direct understanding of
the importance of the Grand Canyon, so they would clearly reject this plan
as irresponsible — even mercenary, and a direct violation of national
But, the Prouty Garden is a resource that a much smaller number of people
even know about.
For those people who understand its significance, it has played a bigger
role in their lives than the Grand Canyon has in the lives of practically
everyone who believes the Grand Canyon should absolutely
be protected and preserved.”
He also mentioned: “When Dr. T. Berry Brazelton REFERS to the Prouty Garden as a
“sacred place”, he KNOWS what he’s talking about!”
In my opinion I believe that this father has made a very valid point!
For many people the Prouty Garden is their Grand Canyon. It may only be a 1/2 acre in size, but it should absolutely be protected, maybe even as conservation land. Why not? It has also had an immense impact on so many. Adding 25% more green-space on the rooftop and plants scattered inside and out, will not replace the connection that is achieved with a 1/2 acre garden oasis outside in a natural environment. There is no trade-off. Especially when there are other options. All green-spaces are NOT created equal.
A potted plant is NOT interchangeable with a Metasequoia (Dawn Redwood) rooted down deeply into the ground. A rooftop cannot replace being in touch with the living breathing earth beneath your feet and its tiniest inhabitants. A therapist no matter how well-trained they are, will never be able to reach in, touch, and heal as effectively as the gift that Olive Prouty has left behind, a tried and true healing garden. Thousands can attest to this, and thousands more in the future, if left untouched. Prouty Garden creates a much needed delicate balance between technology and nature, that is irreplaceable. Once gone, where will patients, caregivers, siblings, mothers, and fathers like Gus go to breathe freely once again.
Forever Rooted Within Our Hearts
~Deana J. Tavares
You will be forever missed!
You were so much more than they said you were.
Not merely just a garden, but an arboretum through the eyes of so many.
When emotions are intensified by unimaginable hardships, grief, and illness everything is amplified one-thousand times.
When you have been pushed so far to the edge and don’t know if there is a road back in which to return, life takes on a much deeper meaning.
Enveloped, immersed within this world of heightened sensitivity, is where value and worth were truly realized by so many.
A redwood tree became a forest in which to lose yourself within.
A small statue became a monument that you never got tired of visiting.
Roots and branches reached out like arms on a gentle giant holding on tightly to you so you wouldn’t slip away, and you trusted them completely.
This tree became a symbol of strength that many would continuously draw from when weak.
It became a beacon of hope reaching out to the sky and sharing it’s calm breezes to fill and heal weakened lungs.
Everything that surrounded it became a paradise to explore and hide away, forgetting that pain ever existed, at least for a moment.
Bunnies and birds suddenly became a menagerie growing larger everyday.
Nurses kind caring angels with an intuition like no other.
Doctors magical insightful sorcerers.
A garden became that wish come true.
The one that you would wish for if you had just one wish.
An impenetrable fortress where nothing can harm you.
A plaque with a promise became ancient scripture that many believed in wholeheartedly.
Farewell dear friend for we are all grieving over you, a promise, and the beauty and healing that so many will not be allowed to experience. Or will they?
Where there is soil, light, water, and hope ….seeds can still grow.
Positive energy, peace, and light