December 2019

Dear Friend of John Brown Lives!

With our twentieth anniversary year nearly in the rear-view mirror, I am tremendously grateful that you have made this important journey with us.  As proud as we are of all we have accomplished because of your support, our most exciting opportunities and greatest challenges lie ahead.

Asking what these times require of John Brown Lives!, we find clarity and direction from poet Marge Piercy:  “to be of use.” We know you feel that same way. That’s why I’m hoping you will send in a gift by the end of the year.

You watch the news.  You know what happens when we are ignorant of our nation’s true history and our liberation heroes.  You know what happens when we don’t talk about the legacies of slavery and colonization and their enduring impacts.  Many are still unaware that John and Mary Brown lived here and that one of John’s final wishes was to be buried on this land.  Nor do they know about “Timbuctoo,” the 1846 voting rights “scheme of justice and benevolence” that drew black families from all over New York to carve out a life on their own forty-acre farms in this mountain wilderness.  When this history is not taught and shared, we ALL lose and so do future generations. We must continue to connect the struggles of the past to the social justice struggles of today.

To this end, JBL! is working with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience to develop facilitated dialogue about our nation’s past and to urge uncomfortable but needed conversations about family separation, mass incarceration, white supremacy, human trafficking and the climate emergency.

We know you care about these issues and that you, too, want to be of use.

You want to see the visitors’ experience at the John Brown Farm clarify the links between slavery in Brown’s time to human rights abuses in our own.  You want to see more and richer programs that engage families through art, song and story. You want to support hands-on experiences that inspire children to explore the life of the pond and the meadows at the site, and to lose themselves in the great stories in the new books in our children’s corner.

You want to hear great scholars share new findings at the Farm about abolition history

and social justice issues, and see the site emerge as a welcoming, inspired, cherished destination for visitors, for Adirondackers, and especially for people of color seeking stories like Timbuctoo that can help them claim the Adirondack story as their own.

You want Timbuctoo and the John Brown story to be of use to North Country teachers who are swimming upstream against ignorance, indifference and white-nationalist propaganda targeting their students.

You want John Brown Lives! to organize more special events for students in our region, like the March screening of the new feature, “Harriet,” about the abolitionist and liberator, Harriet Tubman.

You want us to offer hospitality to families visiting loved ones who are incarcerated in the North Country, to participate in advocacy campaigns and to keep on deepening upstate-downstate bonds of solidarity that will transform our criminal punishment system.

With your support, we have done all this, and much more, for twenty years.  But to be of use in this perilous moment, with the stakes high as they are, calls for a renewed, redoubled commitment from each of us.  So, please send JBL! the most generous, year-end gift you can right now.

A gift of $50, $75, $100, or more, will help us meet our goals. The simple truth is that we can’t continue to do this work without your support!

To be of use, we need you.

With sincere thanks,

Martha Swan, Executive Director, John Brown Lives!

John Brown Lives is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and your donation is tax-deductible.

You can send a check to John Brown Lives! PO Box 357  Westport, NY 12993 or donate through PayPal here: