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Downtown Boaston

We had a great day in downtown Boston yesterday. The weather was pretty crappy but we kept to our schedule and really enjoyed ourselves! We started with a tour of Paul Revere’s house which was built in the 1600’s and which he lived in as a silversmith (among other freelance jobs) during the latter 1700’s, when he made his famous ride. It was a large house by the standards of the times, but still we were amazed that he lived there with his first wife and 8 kids, and then when she died giving birth to the last, he remarried and had 8 more with his new wife. Yes they all slept there in rope beds. :)

Paul revereAfter a little steeping in history and context we travelled the cobblestone streets along the Freedom Trail to Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall for some shopping and amazing lunch choices. It was pouring outside but we,  along with a bunch of other youth bands and tourists enjoyed seeing all the stalls of fresh seafood and crazy things to buy. Live music from a youth orchestra in the rotunda and some funky sights and smells.

Quincy rotunda

We then walked past some amazing architecture, through the very old city cemetery which was incredibly beautiful. A rainy day helped to give the old stones both beauty and dignity. A common symbol of the day was a skull and wings, one of the earliest non-religious symbols on tombstones….signifying both death as well as the fleeting time of life.

State buildingMagnoliacemetary 1Cemetary 2A short while later we ended up at the Boston Commons, a glorious green space that would have just been a little nicer had the weather been sunnier….we continued on to the eclectic and oh- so-expensive Newbury St as well as Boylston St, where tributes to the Boston Marathon runners were everywhere…pretty moving… “Boston Strong” tees and posters and emotions. Boston common1Boston Common 2We were walking towards our dinner destination when we came upon a curious but incredibly beautiful archway along the harbour where the  most amazing American flag billowed in every direction. Hard to describe, but a nice surprise. After walked along the windy and cold waterfront, we arrived at the Boston Sail Loft for dinner, a very quaint and REAL former sail loft on one of the wharfs. Everyone enjoyed some great seafood and views. No question we were all pretty bagged heading back to the hotel!

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Boston Sail loftoutside dinner

 

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Baobab & Kiniwe

Kiniwe posterBaobab Youth had a FANTAstic concert with Kiniwe last night, the Tufts Music African Ensemble directed by Nani Agbeli. We greeted concert goers in the lobby with our Bell Forest which sounded lovely in the space.

BellForest TuftsOur feature piece on the program was Danse Guerriere, which came second in the program. The youth did a great job and really enjoyed playing for an audience that knows this style of music so well, and the audience loved them back. Check out the video  here! (thanks to parent Stuart McCarthy).

The rest of the concert was various formations  of  the Kiniwe drummers and dancers, Agbekor the adult community group and another guest artist, Saeed Abbas a fantastic northern Ghanaian drummer. He and Nani did a virtuostic duet that prompted some money praise on the foreheads…

The students at Tufts did a high octane performance of Adzogbo, with full costume that was magnificent and so much work to put together. There were drum-only versions of Tokwoe and Gahu and a Kpanlogo that featured men and women separately, including a crazy highlight of an exit for the men….they were all in full plank form on the floor and did jumping pushups as they exited across the stage. There were many jaws permanently dropped amongst our youth! An impressive Atisiagbekor and women’s Atsia followed and then the Kpanlogo finale with everyone on stage. We have a few pics of that, including some very happy post-performance pics. What a night! Here is the full concert link, courtesy of Tufts University.

Dance party

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Boston Tour

Baobab Youth members are having a great time in Boston! We arrived after an easy drive down. I love listening to my passengers’ playlists….there are always some great new bands to discover and some of my own favourites. We are staying in Medford so we have easy access to Tufts University. The hotel is great! Each room is a suite and the huge couches are a hit.

Boston HtelThe chaperones are a great bunch and we couldn’t do it without them! Mix of parents and the amazing Hayley de Bie.

Boston chaperonesOur first day was hanging around Davis Square, a hip neighbourhood near the University…..with second hand shops, other funky stores and a GREAT café with killer coffee…called Diesel no less. Everybody happy! Especially the director!

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After  a bite in Davis Square, we went to Tufts for a look at the Music Building where we were going to be performing. We had arranged to get a tour from first year grad student, Brett, a drummer who is working on a Bobobo thesis. The Granoff music building is impressive in its beauty, facilities-classrooms, practices rooms, library (the moveable stacks were a BIG hit;) and of course Distler Hall.

Distler HallThe World Music Room had us all DROOLING!  And when we left, Nani was beginning a rehearsal with guest artist Saeed Abbas for the show.

World Music room 1World Music room 2Nani & Saeed AbbasBrett was nice enough to show us around some of the rest of the campus and since it was a spectacular weather day, we climbed up tot he roof of the Tisch Library where you can see the Boston skyline.

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Ripples

Grannyfest1

Today Baobab Youth  performed at the Annual GrannyFest in Ottawa. This is one of four causes we regularly donate our time to. The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign is a simple and powerful force. Their work for the Stephen Lewis Foundation is impressive and the women who are part of this movement are extraordinary. They gave us a standing ovation at the end of our performance. It was very meaningful for us. We know that they understand how powerful music and dance can be, and how different the opportunities are for youth in Ottawa when compared with youth in Africa.

What strikes me is just how all of our actions are intertwined. I have had the privilege of  working with members of the Capital Grannies, for several years,  teaching and performing drum pieces and songs with them, initiated by the amazing, late Kate Bryant with guts and humour.Baobab recently lost another friend to cancer, former Board member Kevin Thomson,  a founder of  of the much loved and much enjoyed Cocoa Camino. A lover of Africa, ideas, people and community, Kevin left an indelible mark in so many ways, as was celebrated by his friends and family last weekend. His time with Baobab’s Board of Directors was incredibly useful to us in our early days.  He shared his business skills, friendship, creativity and and integrity with us. In lieu of flowers at his life celebration, Kevin’s wish was for people to donate to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. So today we dedicated our performance to Kevin. Akpe kakakaka!
The ripples will continue to expand.

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Unity

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Baobab Youth and students of the Ghana Language and Culture Association came together last night with guest artists Prosper Adjetey and Dominic Donkor for a wonderful show! The performance was the culmination of a month of workshops, and featured Tokwoe, two styles of Gota, Fume Fume, Husago and a Kpanlogo finale with all the performers. It was an intimate and personal vibe that also gave the audience a chance to see and hear a funny and engaging duet by Prosper and Dominic. A big thank you to Carleton Music Practicum student Meaghan Cullen, who put the elements together as part of her course work with us. She did an awesome job, taking on all the various tasks of concert production including design conception,  media,  budgeting,  renting lights, program, logistics and artistic details.  Thanks also to the volunteers who made it possible.

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NEW YEAR, NEW PLAN!

Happy New Year! It is with great pleasure we announce the completion of our new Three Year Strategic Plan for the Organization. Beginning with community and participant consultation in October, the Baobab Board has been busily working with that input to draft our direction for the next few years. Included in that is the planning for our 20th Anniversary Celebrations, coming in 2015.  You can read the document here:

Baobab Strategic Plan 2014-2017

Thanks to all the people who generously contributed their time towards this project:

Facilitator: Graham Sher
AD/ED: Kathy Armstrong
Board members: Erica Sher (chair), Evie Gray, Abigail Forson, Kerry Gogush-Cule, Tanis Stoliar, Nadine Powers (on leave)
Baobab Parents: Christopher Duschenes, Tiffany Klein, Eileen Melnick, Claire Thompson
Baobab Youth: Emily Klein, Jona Thomas, Rory Saunders, Gabriel Sher
Community members: Mike Nowosad, Tara Phillips, Meaghan Cullen, Sam Bonti-Ankomah, Bismark Otoo, Jane O’Regan, Leslie Bricker
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Community Awards

Amazing community

Last night Baobab Youth had the privilege of providing some of the entertainment for the Accora Village Amazing Community Awards. The evening was a tribute to all the individuals and partners who have made this neighbourhood (formerly Bayshore Village) into the vibrant and engaged community it is today. Lots of Ottawa celebs on hand to give out the awards and we were lucky enough to take a photo with Mayor Jim Watson, Councillor Mark Taylor, Olympic medalist Elizabeth Manley and Stuntman Stu. It was an inspiring evening!

group wMayorGota dancers2 Danse Guerriere dancers Bow

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Song Keeper

This afternoon’s Song Keeper Coffeehouse was a HUGE success. Big shout out to all the volunteers and the performers, including Dandelion Dance Company and the Nepean High School Choir.

The energy was amazing (not only due to the delicious cupcakes and coffee)…lots of great solo and duo performances and youth just putting their individual and creative stamp on the afternoon. Over $2000 was raised for the India Buxton Taylor Singing Fund, which will provide funds for singing classes for those who can’t afford it.  Youth for Youth. Simple and effective.  See for yourself…

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ROOTS on Fire!

ROOTS Full

Last night was the final Fall ROOTS session and Open House. What a great event! 14 young drummers demonstrated their new techniques in hand and stick drumming, dancing and singing, some even taking on the lead calls! They also had a blast playing the stone passing game Oboa Asi Me Nsa and had us all laughing with them.

ROOTS blocks

It was a large group this time and we were lucky to have Carleton Practicum student Meaghan Cullen helping with the teaching each week. The class also did an art session with Maureen Clarke, making amazing votive candles with Adinkra symbols.

ROOTS MeaghanROOTS candlesHere are a few more photos from the evening (thanks Anne Maloney). We look forward to the next session of ROOTS beginning in mid January .

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Baobab Fall Donor Drive

Dear Friends of Baobab Community,

Baobab has made some important and energizing changes, and we are now  halfway through our two-year transitional time. Our organizational restructuring in 2012, as well as our sole programming focus on youth and children, has resulted in a very positive impact within Baobab and our surrounding community.  More of our resources are spent on artistic projects and guest artists; and youth initiatives such as our mentoring opportunities and subsidized spots have been increased.

Last month we held our AGM, which included a brainstorming session with many members of the public, as well as the youth in Baobab towards our next three-year Strategic Plan, which will be released in January. We are excited about the direction we are moving in,  and the energy that is gathering towards our 20th Anniversary year in 2015 is palpable!

A recent note from a parent following the AGM:

“[My daughter] was so energized after the meeting that she got inspired to discuss matters even more. We continued our conversation until we got home, with her really examining her feelings about Baobab. It was very touching to hear her express her feelings about you and the group. My goal has always been to surround my children with wonderful role models who are passionate and who want to share their love of music and art with them. And I feel that we found that. You have made such a huge positive impact on [her] and all of us that we definitely feel a strong connection. We look forward to sharing our music with everyone!”

The response last year to our donor campaign was very encouraging! It seems that many of you also realize the value of our unique programming and wish to support us in our efforts to stay viable as well as keeping the integrity, vibrancy and joy in what do.

We would be thrilled if you felt you could support us this year.

There are currently two ways that you can make a donation to Baobab:

  • Choose “Donate!” on our website to donate online through Canada Helps.org
  • Mail a cheque to us in the office: 323 Clifton Rd Ottawa K1Z 5V1, along with your contact information to facilitate receipts

Baobab is a registered charity with Revenue Canada (Canadian Charity Registration Number 86158 7095 RR0001), and tax receipts will be issued promptly for all contributions of $10 or more.

Erica Sher, Board Chair & Kathy Armstrong, Artistic Director

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