Tag Archives: Making Magic

Making Magic: The Poetry of Place

*This post is part of Free for All’s “Making Magic” series, which will focus on Kelley’s exploration of the opportunities in the library’s Creativity Lab as well as musings about art, creativity and imagination.

In 2015, I had the privilege of exploring the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve in Grand Teton National Park. The preserve is made up of over 1,000 acres that include stunning hiking trails, among them a particularly impressive path around Phelps Lake, and a nature center exhibit unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I’ll admit, not being much of a museum person, when my dad suggested that we visit an indoor exhibit when we could immediately take to the trails instead, I wasn’t overly enthused. What I expected was a typical visitor center with some information about the Rockefellers accompanied by photos and a park ranger to answer questions. What I found there instead was an unforgettable and richly sensory space, and what I now think of as my favorite sections of Grand Teton National Park.

bearThe exhibit included the things I expected, but it also had a warm, welcoming and beautiful library that offered a broad selection of environmental literature and nature writing. More impressive was the sensory exhibit that could just as easily be a meditation space, where you can sit and view a rotating display of park images while you listen to life-like audio of elks bugling and snow falling. If you were to close your eyes, you would easily think you were outside. But for me, the awe moment was when I realized that we were guided through the entire exhibit, line by line, by a poem written by my favorite author, Terry Tempest Williams.

In her book, The Hour of Land, Williams describes her work with the team that created the Laurance Rockefeller Preserve and says they were people who “were committed to feeling the land, not just using it.” That quote is the best way I can think of to describe the space they have since shared with the world. In the preserve, whether outdoors or in, you feel the land, a tribute not only to the wild place it celebrates but to Laurence Rockefeller himself, whose interest in meditation is reflected in the very essence of the place that bears his name.

The Laurance Rockefeller Preserve is a remarkable example of creativity at work on so many levels. From space planning, to land preservation, to the words the bind the exhibit, the long-view vision that created this place is extraordinary in its scope, and yet its effect on visitors is a sense of humble, reverent peace. The following is the text of the poem that compelled me to love this place. And if you decide to read more by Terry Tempest Williams, I guarantee that many of her words will live inside you long after you first read them.

A Meditation on Phelps Lake
by Terry Tempest Williams
(text translated line by line from the walls of the Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve)

A feather floats on Phelps Lake-
a cradle of light
rocking with the breeze.
Wind speaks through pines.
Light animates granite.
An Eagle soars – its shadow crosses over us.
All life is intertwined.
We see the Great Peaks
mirrored in water-
Reflection Leads us to restoration.
Nature quiets the mind
by engaging with an intelligence
larger than our own.
Mindful of different ways of being,
Our awareness as a species shifts-
We recognize the soul of the land as our own.
The path of wisdom invites us
to walk with a humble heart
recognizing the dance
between diversity and unity,
action and restraint.
The Scales of Nature
will always seek equilibrium
A feather can tip the balance.

Making Magic: What the Heck is a FMV?

*This post is part of Free for All’s “Making Magic” series, which will focus on Kelley’s exploration of the opportunities in the library’s Creativity Lab as well as musings about art, creativity and imagination.

When given the opportunity to learn about something new, whatever it is, for better or for worse, I almost always say yes. Saturday was PILCON; the library’s first annual celebration of comic art, cosplay and animation; and in preparation for the big event I was invited to help judge the FMV/AMV Contest. For those not in the know, a FMV is a Fan Music Video and AMV stands for Anime Music Video. When invited to be a contest judge, I didn’t know what either one was or what the acronyms meant. No matter. I was curious, so I accepted the invitation to participate and I’m so glad I did.

FMV creators splice together clips from their favorite animated films and set them to music. The result is a music video that tells a story, sometimes a story that reflects the intent of the original film or films, and sometimes the clips are parsed together to convey the FMV artists’ own unique stories. Timing is key in FMVs. Clips are carefully set to the music to maximize emotional and visual impact whether it be funny, dramatic or uplifting, and in the case of some of the best FMVs, like some of our winners, you walk away with a completely new appreciation for something with which you thought yourself familiar. A great example is our Judges’ Choice winner, RD: ‘Oh, Action!’  (BasharOfTheAges / My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic / Imagine Dragons – “Radioactive”), which pairs clips from My Little Pony with the Imagine Dragons song Radioactive.

Shared for your viewing enjoyment, the following are the rest of our contest winners. Criteria for entry required that entries meet a rating category of no more than PG-13. Warning: Watching these videos will leave you with a growing list of animated films you want to see in their entirety.

#TalkSkatingToMe (Best Upbeat/Action)
Gina Nelson / Yuri!!! on Ice / Jason Derulo feat. 2 Chainz – “Talk Dirty”

A Better Place (Best Romance/Sentimental)
Studio le Croc (Maboroshi Studio + MomtoCutiePia + That’s so Pia) / Ponyo / Rachel Platten – “Better Place”

Waiting For Love (Best Drama)
Allegoriest / Steven Universe / Avicii – “Waiting For Love”

Assachusetts: A Wicked Good AMV (Best in Show)
shorisquared / Various sources / Funhaus – “MASSHOLES”

Our Adventures and Stories (Best Other)
joycescookie / Various Studo Ghibli films / Greek Fire – “Top of the World”

Making Magic: The NEA, NEH, IMLS and Your Library

*This post is part of Free for All’s “Making Magic” series, which will focus on Kelley’s exploration of the opportunities in the library’s Creativity Lab as well as musings about the arts, creativity and imagination.

If you’ve been reading the news, you know that the President’s proposed budget cuts funding to a number of cultural organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). What you might not realize is just how deeply these organizations affect your library. Now, read closely here and note that I said YOUR library and not libraries in general. I stress this because, though many don’t realize it, a number of our current and former services and programs are/were supported by these organizations.

For today’s post, I’m not going to talk about the dollars and cents of this proposed change. Instead, I’d like to share with you some of the specific things that the NEA, NEH and IMLS have done for YOUR library.

creativity lab logoThe Creativity Lab: The IMLS makes possible the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding administered to states. LSTA funds made possible the opening of the Peabody Institute Library’s Creativity Lab, a popular makerspace that offers its resources free to the public. For those of you who love the Creativity Lab’s classes, Open Labs, 3D printers, laser cutter, vinyl cutter and sound recording equipment, you owe a big thank you to the IMLS.

conversation circles logoConversation Circles: Conversation Circles is another important service made possible because of a two-year LSTA grant. Thanks to the IMLS, the library was able to obtain equipment and resources to offer free, volunteer-led sessions that provide weekly opportunities for non-native English speakers to practice basic conversational English in an informal setting. This grant also allowed the library to open a Language and Literacy Center on the third floor of the Main Library.

neh logoDiscussion Programs: If you attended the library’s Muslim Journeys, Let’s Talk about It: Jewish Literature, Picturing America, or America’s Music discussion programs, you have the NEH to thank. The NEH funds numerous discussion programs in libraries and the aforementioned are just a selection of the ones we have been lucky enough to host in Peabody. Thanks to the NEH we were able to hire scholars to facilitate discussions, invite field experts to talk about artists, and purchase books and supplies necessary to run each program.

big read logoThe Big Read: Did you participate in the library’s Big Read of Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies? Materials and programs for that month long series, including a Skype visit with Julia Alvarez herself, were made possible by a Big Read grant from the NEA.

All of the examples I mentioned in this post are/were offered free to the public. The NEA, NEH and IMLS don’t just celebrate arts and culture, they make access to arts and culture possible for everyone.  As you can see, we owe much gratitude to these federal cultural organizations. Their work enriches our libraries, but more importantly their work enriches our lives.

Making Magic: Music in the Stacks

*This post is part of Free for All’s “Making Magic” series, which will focus on Kelley’s exploration of the opportunities in the library’s Creativity Lab as well as musings about the arts, creativity and imagination.

Last week, the library offered the first performance of our Acoustic Archives Concert Series. Acoustic Archives brings live music to the library’s historic Sutton Room and features singer-songwriters from the North Shore and Boston areas. Last Monday, we featured Jay Psaros, a Boston based singer/songwriter currently celebrating the release of his fourth studio release, a self titled collection of ten songs ranging from mellow crooners to roots rockers. Check out this video for a sample of what you may have missed!

Wish you could have been there? Read on for the upcoming schedule of performances in the series.

April 18th at 7 p.m.: Ian Fitzgerald is a folk singer and songwriter.  Based in New England, he has toured throughout the United States.  Ian has released five albums of original material, including his new album You Won’t Even Know I’m Gone, (November 2016).  Performer Magazine called Ian ‘a polished songsmith who is high atop a field of great artists breaking through to festival and folk concerts throughout the States.’  To that end, Ian performed at the 2016 and 2015 Newport Folk Festivals and has opened for Iris DeMent, Willy Mason, Vandaveer, The Ballroom Thieves, and many more.

May 8th at 7 p.m.: Winner of the Boston Folk Festival’s Songwriter Contest and dual Creativity Award recipient from Salem State University, Molly Pinto Madigan is a young songwriter who has earned praise for her angelic voice. Filled with smoke and roses, heartbreak and beauty and unrelenting hope, her songs combine haunting melodies with raw, poetic lyrics to create an intimate and evocative listening experience.

Making Magic: The View from Here

*This post is part of Free for All’s “Making Magic” series, which will focus on Kelley’s exploration of the opportunities in the library’s Creativity Lab as well as musings about art, creativity and imagination.

During a recent fly tying class at the library, I was reminded of the power of looking at things in new ways. In this case, the instructor was talking about making your own flies for fly fishing, and how to spot inexpensive materials that make good representations of insects to attract fish.  For instance, do you think you could make a simple feather and some chenille look like a fly? Fly tying is an art that involves fine detail and a good eye for an accurate representation. Until this library program, I never really thought about fishing as creative. Well, to be fair, being a vegan I generally don’t think about fishing at all, but nevertheless, I received an important reminder from this class.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Dead Poets Society, you know it’s impossible to forget the scene where Professor Keating asks his students to stand on their desks in order to look at the world in a new way. (If you haven’t seen the movie Dead Poets Society, I beg of you, stop reading this post and go watch it now!) Whether you’re a creative looking for inspiration, or someone who would like to renew your joy for the day to day, taking a moment to see the world, and the people and things within it, with fresh eyes can enrich enrich your life immeasurably. So this week, I’m asking you, not necessarily to stand on your desk, but to step outside of your routine and really look around. Then, in the wise words of Neil Gaiman, use your experience to “write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”


Making Magic: Making Memories

*This post is part of Free for All’s “Making Magic” series, which will focus on Kelley’s exploration of the opportunities in the library’s Creativity Lab as well as musings about art, creativity and imagination.

A little less than a year ago, I moved. Moving means that you have to systematically go through everything you own- and I mean EVERYTHING- to determine if each item is worth packing and paying movers to haul to your new house for you. The process becomes one of lightening your load, both physically and mentally, but also one of discovery.

Amongst the piles of clothes no longer worn, board games rarely played, and sheets too worn out to keep, I was lucky enough to find the collection of letters that my nana sent to me when I was in college. Written in firmly-pressed pencil and the distinguished slant of a left-handed person forced to learn right-handed techniques, the letters immediately brought back the voice of a much-loved woman who has been gone for 20 years. The first thing I did was read them all multiple times while happy-crying into an old scarf that didn’t make the moving cut. The second thing I did was think about a way to preserve them, so that when the paper and pencil no longer hold together, I can still experience these written conversations with my nana.

love always, nana

Thanks to the wonders of Adobe Creative Suite’s Photoshop software, which is available on every laptop in the library’s Creativity Lab, I was able to do just that. Using a scanner, and my knowledge of Photoshop’s image editing capabilities, I was able to create high quality images of each letter and envelope. Those images are now saved in two locations, nicely digitally preserved for future reading. In addition, I was able to upload those images to the Mixbook website and turn them into a gift book for, if I do say so myself, one of the best Mothers’ Day gift ideas ever.

If you too have some letters, photographs and other memories that you would like to digitally preserve, the library can help! As I mentioned, the necessary software is available in the Creativity Lab and, if you don’t know how to use Photoshop already, we have classes that will teach you what you need to know. Our first “Perfecting the Past: Photoshopping Memories” class is in progress right now, but we have another one coming up in the spring and details will be available on the library’s online events calendar soon.

In the meantime, start cleaning out those closets! You may find yourself pleasantly surprised by what turns up.

family photo
Kelley and Hazel (Kelley’s nana), June 1996

Making Magic: Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

*This post is part of Free for All’s “Making Magic” series, which will focus on Kelley’s exploration of the opportunities in the library’s Creativity Lab as well as musings about art, creativity and imagination.


I’m writing this on New Year’s Day and thinking about all of the resolutions that people make at this time of year. Get organized, lose weight, exercise, be more patient, eat healthier…. Wonderful aspirations all, but how many people actually keep them after the first week or month passes? And what do they say about how we feel about ourselves? Usually resolutions involve something we don’t want to do but feel we should, they focus on our faults and failings, the things we feel are “wrong” with us. They say, “You’re not good enough” and spur us onto changes that often aren’t sustainable.

The truth is, you are good enough, and you have everything you need. In 2017, in the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, my wish for you all is to “embrace the glorious mess that you are.” Maybe if we all loved ourselves a little bit more, we wouldn’t need resolutions because treating ourselves and each other better would come naturally.

In the spirit of just that idea, I offer you a list of books about mindful and compassionate living. What does this have to do with creativity and imagination you ask? You’ll be surprised at where your art goes when you take the time to be mindful, be present to the world around you, and especially when you tune into what’s going on inside of your gloriously messy self.

yamas and niyamasThe Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele
In this introduction to the ten ethical foundations of yoga, Deborah Adele devotes a chapter to each Yama and Niyama that includes clear examples and explanations of the concepts followed by a series of questions to help readers spend time deeply exploring each principle. Whether you’re a yogi looking to deepen your practice, or someone who just wants to expand your way of living and thinking, you’ll find lots to explore here.

miracle of mindfulnessThe Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh wrote this brief but thought provoking book that teaches us to bring mindfulness to our everyday activities. In Hanh’s world, even an act as simple as washing the dishes is an opportunity to find peace and presence in each moment.



the invitationThe Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.” Thus opens Oriah’s famous poem, The Invitation, which is the basis of her book. The Invitation asks readers to look deep into themselves to learn to experience life fully. Rachel Carlson, author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff says, The Invitation is a treasure. If you want to live more deeply, honestly, and passionately, you must read this book.”