FRESH AYERS: Margaret Power - "Hope in Hard Times"

Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Margaret Power

Margaret Power discusses Hope in Hard Times: Norvelt and the Struggle for Community During the Great Depression. She will be joined in conversation by Bill Ayers.

At 57th Street Books

RSVHERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required)

About the book: Of the many recipients of federal support during the Great Depression, the citizens of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, stand out as model reminders of the vital importance of New Deal programs. Hoping to transform their desperate situation, the 250 families of this western Pennsylvania town worked with the federal government to envision a new kind of community that would raise standards of living through a cooperative lifestyle and enhanced civic engagement. Their efforts won them a nearly mythic status among those familiar with Norvelt’s history. 

Hope in Hard Times explores the many transitions faced by those who undertook this experiment. With the aid of the New Deal, these residents, who hailed from the hardworking and underserved class that Jacob Riis had called the “other half” a generation earlier, created a middle-class community that would become an exemplar of the success of such programs. Despite this, many current residents of Norvelt—the children and grandchildren of the first inhabitants—oppose government intervention and support political candidates who advocate scrutinizing and even eliminating public programs. 

Authors Timothy Kelly, Margaret Power, and Michael Cary examine this still-unfolding narrative of transformation in one Pennsylvania town, and the struggles and successes of its original residents, against the backdrop of one of the most ambitious federal endeavors in U.S. history.

About the author: Margaret Power is a professor of history at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She is the author of Right-Wing Women in Chile: Feminine Power against Allende and co-editor of Right-Wing Women around the World and New Perspectives on the Transnational Right. She co-authored Hope in Hard Times: Norvelt and the Struggle for Community During the Great Depression. She is co-editor of the May 2017 special issue of Radical History Review on Puerto Rico. Her current research focuses on the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, about which she has published several articles. 

About the interlocutor: Bill Ayers is a social justice activist, teacher, Distinguished Professor of Education (retired) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and author of Demand the Impossible, Fugitive Days, Public Enemy, and many others.

Event Location: 
57th Street Books
1301 E 57th St.
Chicago, IL 60637