Staff & Volunteer Spotlight — Meet Joan Gorman

Joan Gorman

by Joan Gorman, Rokeby Museum Visitor Center Coordinator

Being at the right place at the right time has its advantages. When I visited Rokeby for the first time in August 2019, little did I think that I would shortly begin a new career. I had recently sold my inn in the Mad River Valley, moving to Burlington and fortuitously purchasing the house owned by Rokeby director emerita Jane Williamson. As is the case with so many locals, I had, shamefully, never visited Rokeby in the 40 years I had lived in Vermont. Seizing the opportunity for a personal tour, I asked Jane to introduce me to the museum and the property. While I enjoyed Free & Safe, Jane chatted with Catherine Brooks, then director. Over lunch, Jane mentioned to me that Catherine had told her the museum was looking for a part-time person to finish out the season. I applied, and shortly thereafter began working greeting guests, boning up on Robinson family history, learning the administrative systems, selling items in the store, and helping with the programs. I also studied to become a guide, shadowed a few of the guides as they gave house tours and even gave a few tours myself. Once COVID is managed and we can open the Historic House again, I’m hoping to be able to do more guiding.

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A Social Justice Primer — “How to Be an Antiracist,” by Ibram X. Kendi

Ibram X. Kendi — How to Be an Antiracist

by Richard Bernstein, M.D., Rokeby Museum Trustee

“…as Kendi’s awareness grew and as his thinking developed, he realized that the statement, ‘I am not a racist,’ which is meant to absolve the speaker of racist feelings or thoughts, actually expresses a level of denial that he calls ‘the heartbeat of racism.’”

Ibram X. Kendi’s book, How to Be an Anti-Racist, details his journey and his growing awareness of how racism informs his own life and thoughts. Along the way, he has taught himself how to be an anti-racist, and through his book, he speaks of and to himself as much as to the reader. 

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Righting the Erasure of Black History and Creating an Inclusive American Story

On February 2, 2021, Rokeby Museum hosted a virtual Black History Month Lecture that explored current efforts to recognize and right missing historical narratives in history. Three panelists joined the conversation to discuss their research and community work to uncover hidden and missing stories in our communities and fight for change to ensure these stories are not lost again. 

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What Happens at Rokeby Museum in the Winter Months? A Closer look at our Collections Work

Winter at Rokeby

From mid-May to October, Rokeby Museum is open to the public to tour the historic 90-acre site and view our exhibits, but we recently had a patron ask what we do during the rest of year when visitors are not on site?

Rokeby has the privilege of being a multifaceted site, with historic buildings, a modern education center with exhibit space, and the caretaker of a vast collection of museum objects that represent four generations of the Robinson family. The off-season months provide an opportunity to plan for the next season, including programs and the seasonal exhibit. It also allows us to give special attention to the site and the collections.

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“Delightful, Complex, and Real People.”

“Danvis Tales: Selected Stories by Rowland E. Robinson”

Today’s readers will find both enjoyment and discomfort in Rowland Evans Robinson’s writings. Rokeby feels that Vermont poet and R.E.R. editor and enthusiast David Budbill (1940–2016) explores these dichotomies best in his preface to Danvis Tales: Selected Stories by Rowland E. Robinson:

I first read Rowland Robinson in the early 1970s when my friend Hayden Carruth urged Robinson upon me. I fell in love with him immediately, with his elegant and graceful prose, his precise eye for describing the minute details of the natural world, and with his delightful, complex, and real people.

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