Notes on Voices and Visions of Village Life Meetings
Prepared by Holly Ewald and Michael Bell

January 7, 2006

Michael prepared and presented an oral history workshop on Saturday, January 7, at Aspray Boat House. Ed Greer was there and received some advice for interviewing.

Janet, Henry, Grace, Lolly and Mark dropped in and we discussed the upcoming Preservation Conference to be held in Pawtuxet Village on Saturday, April 8, 2006. Janet suggested that we talk to Alice at Village Natural about using the raised platform space in the rear of the store for VVVL activities, such as recording Village stories from people. Michael and Holly visited the space in the rear and decided it would be a good place to set up the "Museum for a Week" for the week of April 1-9; the acupuncturist's office that will be vacated at that point could be used for a recording "story booth." Alice is checking with the owner, Michael, for his permission. We will need volunteers to get the word out, set up the space, sit the space, and record stories.

We are delighted to find a venue to once again have the "Museum for a Week" but we are both working full time on other projects, including two sessions at the Preservation Conference. We need your help. We will meet Monday, February 6, at Aspray Boat House at 6:30 pm to make plans. Stay tuned for further details.

Lolly also brought in a calendar with old photographs to inspire and encourage us to do something similar with the old photographs of Pawtuxet Village. If anyone is interested in working on a producing a calendar to benefit Voices and Visions let us know. Janet said PVA is interested in producing a calendar of contemporary photographs.

Coming soon to the website: updates (with pictures) on recent projects, including information about doing oral histories. Check it at:

November 21, 2005

Participants: Gary Metz, Lucia O'Reilly, Michael Bell, Janet Hartman, Grace Clark, Ann and Henry Brown, Holly Ewald.

Michael will give an oral history workshop Saturday, January 7, at the Aspray Boat House from 9-12 for those interested in learning helpful techniques for interviewing and recording stories of long-time residents. The workshop will be open to the public. Space will be limited. E-mail Michael if you wish to attend:

Richard Lobban has volunteered to look into having a student at RIC to scan the Belcher papers so it can be accessed digitally. Michael is in contact with him to set this up.

It was requested the following be added to our list of potential areas of exploration and presentation:
Nautical heritage in Pawtuxet Oyster Houses, the Pettis family -- Ed Greer was a deck hand on the ferry that traveled between Slocum's and Crescent Park on the east side of the bay.
Planning the future of Pawtuxet Village.
Survey/census of Pawtuxet Village, perhaps collaborate with local schools to involve children in conducting the survey.
The Fairs of Pawtuxet Village (Henry has a great deal of information).

We need to have culminating events to share the information we gather. The success of the Museum for a Week was cited as a good example. It was suggested we have an event in the park each summer so we could set up a tent. Holly will check to see if the Boat House might be available for a stretch of 3-4 days in a row. Other sites mentioned were the Scottish Rites building and the back room in the Baptist Church.

With the Preservation Conference coming in April, we thought it would be a good opportunity to set up another Museum for a Week. We need a location. Janet wants to be able to advertise this in a special edition of The Bridge, which will come out just before the Preservation Conference.

Next gathering will be the Oral history Workshop Jan. 7 at the Aspray Boat House from 9am to 12 noon.

October 18, 2005

Participants: Grace Clark (educator, school principal, PR), Robert O. Jones (architectural historian, lived in the village as a boy), Mark and David Barsamian (Mark is son of David, curious about history; David interested in Museum for a Week and personal histories), Ed Greer (grew up in Pawtuxet, left and returned, activist in the village interested in preservation and community), Marta Martinez (a founder of VVVL, oral historian, educator, editor of The Bridge), Gary Metz (photographer, retired RISD teacher), Jill Jann (poet), Melodie Thompson-Thomas (actor, storyteller, educator, creator of "Negro Lection Day: A Day We Felt Free about the Negro Elections in Pawtuxet Village" based on research by Michael Bell for the Pawtuxet Freedom Project) Michael Bell (a founder of VVVL, folklorist), Holly Ewald (a founder of VVVL, artist, educator)

What a great group of people, with strong feelings about the village and a variety of talents and experiences!

After introductions we came up with the following list of potential ideas to explore:
Place Names to roads, areas
Oral Histories to teaching and learning how record them
Gathering, storing and presenting information (such as oral histories) and other resources
Making a Pawtuxet history quilt a community project
The history of the Falls
Accounts and history of natural events (e.g., floods, fires, storms)
An exhibition of home photos relevant to Pawtuxet
Pawtuxet privateer and pirate history

We generally agreed to start with collecting oral histories. Michael and Marta will contact Madeleine Toy, who is 94 years old, still drives herself around, grew up in the village and has lots of memories to in bundles of papers tied up in rags and in her head ready to tell. Ed especially encouraged us to contact her. Melodie, Michael and Gary also know some older residents whom each will contact for potential interviews.

Next meeting will be Monday, Nov. 21 from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Boat House. We hope this works for everyone. We changed the day because Holly cannot make it on Tuesdays.

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