BRATTLEBORO — A multimedia exhibit at 118 Elliot celebrates the completion of the Brattleboro Words Trail, a community project consisting of audio stories linked to places in and around Brattleboro.
The public is invited to listen to these stories on their phones while viewing large, hand-carved clay maps commissioned for the Trail at “Exploring Our Storied Landscape: Brattleboro Words Trail Murals, Maps and Sound.” The multimedia exhibit opens on Friday, with an opening reception behind 118 Elliot from 4 to 8 p.m., during Gallery Walk. The rain date is Saturday, at the same time. The exhibit will remain through September, and a larger Summer Trail exhibit will open July 2 at 118 Elliot.
The 45 downtown trail stops include the story of Dr. Robert Wesselhoeft and the writers who stayed at his famous water-cure (now the fire station), of T.P. James channeling Charles Dickens to complete Dickens’ last novel and Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams’ story at the Green Street School, where the trail placed a plaque in her honor. Another 52 sites offer biking or driving destinations from the Brattleboro hub throughout Windham County, New Hampshire and just over the state line in Massachusetts.
The Brattleboro Words Trail Google and Apple apps can be downloaded or found online at BrattleboroWords.org. Tax-deductible donations to support growth and marketing of the trail can be made online at BrattleboroWords.org or by mailing a check to Words Trail, 118 Elliot, Brattleboro, VT 05301. For information about how to help create audio, volunteer or other feedback, the public is invited to email email@example.com. The Facebook page is @BrattleboroWords.
“I want to congratulate everyone involved in the launch of the Brattleboro Words Trail and the Print Town book that celebrate the rich literary legacy of the region,” Vermont U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy said in a statement provided by trail organizers. “I learned the importance and the majesty of words at a very early age, growing up with parents who published a local newspaper and ran a family print shop.”
Leahy went on to say he is proud to support the work of the National Endowment of Humanities, which helped fund the trail.
The Brattleboro Words Trail was more than three years in the making, having launched in December 2020 by the Brattleboro Words Project. The project was a collaboration of the Brattleboro Historical Society, Brooks Memorial Library, Brattleboro Literary Festival, Write Action and Marlboro College, but its products will go on to be managed at two statewide organizations.
The trail’s new advisory board includes former Words Project leadership team members William Edelglass, Shanta Lee Gander, Starr LaTronica, Rolf Parker and Lissa Weinmann, who will oversee its continued development with the support of the Vermont Folklife Center.
The Vermont Historical Society is publishing and managing the Brattleboro Words Project’s other main product, “Print Town: Brattleboro’s Legacy of Words,” a book written by 32 local authors, edited by longtime W.W. Norton editor and Brattleboro resident Michael Fleming with a forward by Dummerston’s Tom Bodett. The $40 book is sold at the exhibit, Everyone’s Books and the BrattleboroWords.org website.
In other news, on display at 118 Elliot during Gallery Walk Friday is “Tina Olsen: Landscapes and Visages,” a selection of paintings and drawings Olsen created while living in Red Hook, Brooklyn and Brattleboro, where she has lived since 2007. The exhibit follows her exploration of expressive abstraction and structured composition as a reflection of her personal experience and evolution, according to a description provided by 118 Elliot.