Other Voices


Mohammad Yadegari — hard truths in an immigrant's experience

Mohammad Yadegari of Guilderland has written a book, “Always an Immigrant: A Cultural Memoir” that describes his life in three parts: as a child, growing up in an Iranian family in Iraq; as a young man, learning about life on his own in Tehran; and as a newcomer to America where he studies in Albany, marries, and becomes a teacher. He spent a decade writing the book, crystallizing a lifetime of experiences into compelling stories, which reveal some hard truths. As a schoolboy, he was told by his teacher, describing empires that had over history, risen and fallen, that America did not build an empire but brought many people together and melded into a nation. Deep down, he is sad seeing the news now because he cannot understand how someone feels better than another because of the color of his or her skin. He writes, “We are what we observe, learn, and experience in our momentary journey on earth. The degree that separates us from one another is the way we come to regard our perceptions as facts.” — Photo from Mohammad Yadegari

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Ellen Manning — Preserving a sense of place in McKownville

“We try to protect our little neighborhood,” says Ellen Manning, president of the McKownville Improvement Association. The association, which is almost a century old, is on the brink of achieving a new form of protection — having part of McKownville listed on the state and national registers of historic places. Manning hypothesizes in this week’s podcast that what has kept the association active since 1924 is that McKownville is sandwiched between commercial and institutional development. An early Albany suburb, McKownville runs from the city line to the Northway, on both sides of Guilderland’s major thoroughfare, Route 20.The historic district will encompass about 106 properties, Manning said, including some on the north side of Western Avenue, most of Waverly Place, and parts of Norwood, Glenwood, Parkwood, and Elmwood streets. The architectural styles are typical of popular home construction in the early 20th Century, ranging from Colonial revival to Arts and Crafts bungalows. The streets are lined with century-old trees and the neighbors know one another, Manning said.She called research conducted by McKownville volunteers “remarkable” as they documented the history and wrote descriptions of individual buildings. Manning noted such work is often done instead by hired consultants. On Sept. 14, residents whose homes would be in the historic district are invited to a public meeting, which will be held virtually. Details are posted to the association’s website. Manning herself moved to McKownville in 1998. She had lived in Albany all of her life and was always aware of the neighborhood, having gone to McKown’s Grove as a child to swim. She describes her Arts and Crafts style home, built in 1914, as having “a lot of charm, inside and out.” She likes the simple lines, rustic feel, and natural features of the Arts and Crafts style, which replaced the fussiness of the Victorian period. Manning also appreciates the intimacy of the neighborhood with the houses close together and enjoys walking the tree-lined streets. She has noted, since the onset of the pandemic, many more walkers. “It’s bringing more people out,” she said.