As a volunteer for the historical society in Greenfield, Carol Aleman discovered there was little in Greenfield’s formal written history that addressed people of color.
She began a very personal mission to identify as many members of Greenfield’s black population of the past as possible with an eye toward who they were, what their lives were like, and how they had participated in and contributed to community life.
Some of her research is featured in her presentation on this website, Local Institutions as Resources: Historical Societies.
Carol Letson and Edie Heinemann
Carol Letson, is a history major, retired librarian interested in “what makes towns tick” and long-time resident of Greenfield. Edie Heinemann is somewhat new to Greenfield, but has a special interest in oral history and making connections among people. They have joined together to research the origins of Greening Greenfield, an organization of concerned citizens building a more resilient Greenfield by advancing sustainable practices. Letson and Heinemann, both members of Greening Greenfield, want to explore the organization more deeply because through its unique collaborative structure, with rotating leadership, and project generation, it has sustained itself so well over the years.
To date, eight stories have been recorded of those involved in Greening Greenfield, from when it was a loose group of folks working together to build what is today known as Energy Park, then as it became an organized group known as the Greenfield Energy committee and, finally, it has continued on in its current identity as Greening Greenfield.
Have you participated in any of the projects generated through this organization? Would you like to tell your story? Edie and Carol can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see a timeline of Greening Greenfield’s many activities, please visit Greening Greenfield.
Orice Jenkins is a recording artist, performer, educator, and genealogy researcher. He serves as the Executive Director of Música Franklin, an afterschool music program for youth in Franklin County, Massachusetts. As a genealogist, his expertise is Black American families in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, and American Chattel Slavery era research. He is also a Mayflower descendant, a descendant of a Revolutionary War veteran, and has experience researching families from Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Eastern Europe.
Beyond the initial 10 sessions of the ECHO Program, ECHO hosted talks that further enrich our knowledge of the history of the Greenfield area.
Philippe Simon, local filmmaker and Production Coordinator at GCTV shares videos of three stories and subjects that he has documented to see how they developed over time: “An Inmate’s Story of Running in Jail,” “Bringing Modern Veterans’ Services to Greenfield and the Entire Upper Valley,” and “Black Lives Matter! From Street Protest to Mass March.”
A Return to Vibrancy on Miles Street: From Greenfield’s Train Station to the Greenfield Energy Park (coming soon)
Sandy Thomas, Park Director from 1997-2010, discusses how this section of town was first transformed as the town graveyard, then was renovated to become an active train station at the crossroads of N-S and E-W rail traffic for 80 years. When train service stopped in 1960’s, it became a blighted area for 40 years and, in accordance with a Master Plan, was revived as a community park focused on renewable energy and native plants with a performance stage.
Joan Featherman offers an opportunity to revisit the history of Greenfield’s involvement in the Underground Railroad and other anti-slavery activity during the 1800s. She will describe a year-long, community-wide project inspired by the belief that Greenfield’s history as a diverse and socially just community is a story that must be told. This project, funded primarily by a grant from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities in 2007, pulled from the full range of humanities disciplines to engage a wide range of local residents in the local history and tradition of anti-slavery activism and the continued struggle for “liberty and justice for all” in our city and beyond.