Evening with Richard Blanco

Richard Blanco Nourishes Minds And Conquers Hearts And In Brookline
By Lois Statlender and Bambi Good
Photo By Jean Stringham & George Abbott White

Richard Blanco mesmerized his audience as he shared slides, poems, ideas, and humor with the almost 200 people gathered at First Parish in Brookline on February 28.

Because Nicaragua is the country of Brookline’s Sister City, our guest poet opened the evening with slides from his visit to the International Poetry Festival held in Nicaragua.  He followed the slides of this enormous week-long outdoor festival with a slide depicting the orderly and formal seating in Washington, D.C., where Blanco read his famous poem, “One Today,” on the occasion of Obama’s second Inauguration.  He commented that poetry is recited out loud much more frequently in Latin American countries than in this country. 

Richard Blanco touched on many of the varied themes that he explores in his newest book, How to Love a Country whose poems embrace topics including immigration, gun violence, racism, and LGBTQ issues.  From this collection he read “Complaint of the Rio Grande,” written in first person by the river which says “I wasn’t meant to drown children, hear mothers’ cries, never meant to be your geography…”  Blanco questions the boundaries that divide people such as hate and prejudice, as well as physical boundaries.

The audience enthusiastically clapped after the first poem was read, and Richard Blanco explained that the audience usually does not clap after readings at poetry events but told us with his ever present sense of humor that we did not have to stop. And we didn’t.  There was, however, dead silence after he read a poem on the last recorded lynching in the United States, titled “Easy Lunching on Herndon Avenue,” from his book Boundaries.The evening ended on a more upbeat note, however, as the audience gave Richard Blanco a standing ovation. 

This event was a fundraiser for The Brookline-Quezalguaque Sister City Project, and generously hosted by the Immigration Justice Committee of First Parish. The funds raised will go directly to continue supporting the many ongoing projects in Quezalguaque. The Brookline-Quezalguaque Sister City Project has been in existence for more than 30 years.  If you would like more information about Brookline’s Sister City and its projects, please visit our website at www.brooklinesistercity.org, or write to us at: brooklinesistercity@gmail.com.  We welcome your questions and we welcome new members!

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Education Forum

Brookline-Quezalguaque Sister City Project’s
Educational Forum & Fundraiser

October 17, 2019 – 6:30 pm
Brookline VFW Post, 386 Washington Street

“Sister City in the Age of Trump & Ortega”

Featured Speakers
Governor Michael Dukakis
Eva A. Millona, Executive Director, MIRA 
(Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition) 
Stephen Kinzer, Award-Winning Foreign Correspondent

6:30 pm-Lite Buffet Reception catered by Vine Ripe Grill
(Suggested contribution $60)
7:15 pm-Program & Educational Forum

Brookline-Quezalguaque Sister City Project
Celebration Committee
Gov. Michael & Kitty Dukakis, Hon. Tommy Vitolo, Bernard Greene,
Chobee Hoy, Elias Audy, Carol Caro, Chris Chanyalsulkit, Raul Fernandez,
Bambi Good, Jock Grew, Nancy Heller, Judy Paradis, Richard Segan, 
Lois Statlender, Lisa Wisel, Neil Wishinsky, Kea van der Ziel, MD

Yes!!! I/We believe in the mission of the Brookline-Quezalguaque Sister City Project and would like to sponsor the Sister City Project’s October 17th Educational Forum & Fundraiser at the following level:

___$5,000 Presidentes   ___$2,500 Embajadores   ___$1,000 Diplomáticos

                   ___ $500 Cónsules              ___ $250 Líderes

Name(s) as should appear in program materials:


Address: _________________________________________________________________

Phone: _________________

E-mail address: ________________________________

Use my donation for: __General Fund   __Specific Project. Specify: ________

Tax Deductible
Contributions to the Brookline Sister City Project are fully tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. The Brookline Quezalguaque Sister City Project is tax exempt under section 501(c)(3). 

Sponsorship or other contributions payable to Brookline-Quezalguaque Sister City Project may be mailed to BQCSP, P.O. Box 114, Brookline, MA 02446 or using the donate button above.

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Water Project

Our Water, Our Health, Our Future Brookline & Quezal (1)

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Expanding access to clean water in Quezalguaque. Nicaragua

The Brookline- Quezalguaque Sister City Project (BQSCP) is working actively to improve rural water systems throughout the municipality of Quezalguaque in Nicaragua in order to expand access to clean water for all residents. Thanks to the generous donations from people in Brookline, a new rural water system was inaugurated Sunday January 13 in the community of Las Mercedes in Quezalguaque as shown in and the video.

Las Mercedes Dedication Ceremony
This short clip of the ceremony at Las Mercedes for launch of the new well last Sunday (January 13, 2019). The person in the blue checked shirt turning on the water is the Mayor of Quezalguaque, Henry Sandoval. Las Mercedes CAPS’ member Agustin Garcia is on the left in a red hat. A number of us including the BHS students met him and have heard him talk about the very difficult situation in the Las Mercedes community. On the right is the President of the Las Mercedes CAP, and further to the right in red is Daniela Canales, another person that many of us have met; she is the Treasurer for the Las Mercedes CAP.

Rotary Club International, the municipal government of Quezalguaque and Rotary Club Brookline also provided funding for this new system in a community where just one year ago people’s access to water was limited to one hour per day. BQSC plans to continue to support improvements in the other rural water systems in Quezalguaque in 2019.

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BQSIP Campaign Launched

Willa Vish

Willa Vish

Brookline High School (BHS) sophomore Willa Vish announced the launch of a campaign to sell reusable water bottles to help fund the Brookline Sister City Project clean water initiative in Quezalguaque.  Vish made the announcement at the Sister City Educational Forum & Fundraiser at the Brookline VFW Post.

At the time the announcement was made, the environmental friendly reusable bottles had not yet been received; Vish and her fellow BHS students took orders for bottles rather than selling them at the Sister City fundraiser as originally planned. Since the bottles arrived they have been selling rapidly. If you are interested in purchasing a BQSIP bottle contact us at brooklinesistercity@gmail.com

Vish along with fellow sophomore Sophie Jelden were among the BHS students that traveled to Quezalguaque in April 2018 and this fall they led efforts to organize a BHS student club to support Quezalguaque and the Sister City Project. Social studies teacher Joanne Burke-Hunter traveled to Quezalguaque with the students in April and she is the faculty advisor for the newly authorized club.

Speaking to the attendees at the event that featured former Governor Michael Dukakis and award winning correspondent Stephen Kinzer, Vish explained that the BHS club’s first project is selling reusable water bottles.  Funds raised by the sale will be donated to the Brookline Sister City Project for the clean water initiative funded by the Sister City Project for the Quezalguaque community.

Vish and the members of the new club not only hope to raise money for and build awareness of the Sister City Project but they are promoting the reusable water bottles as an alternative to single use plastic commercially sold water bottles.

The typical American reportedly uses an average of 167 plastic water bottles per year. With promotion of reusable water bottles, the goal will be to dramatically reduce and eventually eliminate single use plastic bottles.

Vish, Jelden and the other students in attendance at the Sister City Ed Forum received orders for more than 40 bottles at the event. The bottles are branded BQSIP for Brookline-Quezalguaque SIP.

Sister City Board member and liaison to the Brookline schools, Stacey Downey introduced Vish at the event and commended the students for establishing the club and taking on the new initiative.

For more information about the Sister City Project or to order a BQSIP $12 reusable water bottle, contact BrooklineSisterCity@gmail.com

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