Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: Author to speak at Books & Books about journey with her mother

Jo Ivester with her book, ‘The Outskirts of Hope,’ which tells her mother’s stories and her own as a 10-year-old in rural Mississippi.
Jo Ivester with her book, ‘The Outskirts of Hope,’ which tells her mother’s stories and her own as a 10-year-old in rural Mississippi.

Mothers make memories, and sometimes, when you least expect it, they can make you see a world you might not otherwise have known.

Author Jo Ivester has written about the journey that her mother, Aura Kruger, took her on in a new book, The Outskirts of Hope. Booklist Online calls it “a sensitive and powerful memoir of racial change in the South in the 1960s.”

“When I started work on The Outskirts of Hope, I didn’t know where it would take me,” Ivester said in an email. “My mother, who had spent years teaching English in some of the country’s poorest schools, had written her life story; my initial goal was to help her turn that story into a readable journal. Once she felt as if her work was complete, I asked if I could take her musings about our two years living in an all-black town in Mississippi during the civil rights movement and turn that into a book that intertwined her perspective with that of my own 10-year-old self.”

When her mother agreed, Ivester said she then began a five-year journey as an adult talking with her mom about all that had happened and, “sometimes revealing secrets we’d kept for 40 years.”

“I learned to view life through my mother’s eyes, resulting in an intimate understanding of my mother that few daughters get to enjoy,” she said. “Somewhere along the way, her coming-of-age story became my own. Because that story occurred in a segregated community during a time of terrible racial strife, it delved into issues of discrimination and racial politics.”

She said above all she “wanted to show how one family’s devotion to making a contribution could help bring about change.”

“My hope is that people reading Outskirts will find themselves inspired to do the same,” Ivester said.

She will speak about her book at 8 p.m. May 15 at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables. More information:

Flowering Tree Society

Take your mother to pick out her favorite blooming plant at the annual Tropical Flowering Tree Society’s Mothers’ Day Show & Sale, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. May 9-10 at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables.

“If you’re in the market for something rare, fragrant and spectacular, this is the show for you,” said TFTS President Steve Pearson in a release. He said there will be new varieties this year including plants in a rainbow of colors, plants for butterfly gardens, and fragrant plants to perfume your landscape. There will be rare finds for collectors, too.

Plants are priced for all budgets and the group accepts credit cards. There also will be free grafting classes, and experts available to answer questions. For information, call TFTS at 305-389-5404, or check out

Admission to the garden which includes the Show & Sale is $25 for adults, $18 for seniors over 65, $12 for children 6-17, and free for Garden members and children 5 and under.

Actors, authors, artists

Do you want to start writing that book? Do you love music and painting? Is it theater and dance you love? How about learning more about photography? Do you love local history? Ever wanted to try the art of wood turning? Or learn about growing orchids? Then the Homestead Center for the Arts (HCA) is for you.

Plan a visit to the Celebration of the Arts Reception and Awards Recognition event from 5:30-7:30 p.m. May 15 at Audubon Villages Club House, 1851 S. Canal Dr., Homestead.

The group of almost two dozen member organizations dedicated to arts and culture in and around Homestead will hold a short ceremony at 6:30 p.m. to recognize individuals for their contributions in local arts and culture.

The cost is $10 per ticket and will include light refreshments and door prizes. Reservations are required. You can fill out a form on the website at or call Barbara Millenbruch at 305-230-9185 and plan to pay at the door. Make reservations by May 12. For more, you can also call Charlie Hudson at 305-230-9572 or send email to

Orchids help kids

If it’s orchids you love, plan to visit the 17th annual Orchids in the Park hosted by OrchidMania South Florida. All proceeds from sales benefit the Pediatric AIDS program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Growers will have beautiful orchids of all kinds for sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 23-24 at Dante Fascell Park, 8600 SW 57th Ave., South Miami. For more, call 786-408-3897 or go to OrchidMania South Florida on Facebook.

“We have great plants, great prices, all for a great cause,” said Marianne Swan, volunteer with OrchidMania South Florida, in email.

Law mentors

Nearly 50 students from Coral Gables High School had the opportunity to learn about the law as part of the National Association for Law Placement’s Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline Program. The event, hosted by Bilzin Sumberg attorneys, allowed students interested in law careers to attend workshops and receive one-on-one mentorship.

The legal education conference of the NALP/Street Law Legal Diversity Pipeline Program focuses on encouraging minority high school students to pursue their interests in studying law. Bilzin Sumberg attorneys have supported the effort for six years in a row.

“We are proud to be one of the few Florida firms chosen to participate in this important community program,” said Marshall R. Pasternack, a partner in the Corporate Group and Chair of the firm’s Diversity and Culture committees, in a release. “The attorneys of Bilzin Sumberg eagerly volunteer their time each year to work with these high school students, because they recognize the need to foster an interest in the legal profession and encourage diversity among the next generation of future leaders.”

The program is one of many pro bono and charitable projects the firm conducts under its Bilzin Sumberg Cares outreach program. It was launched in 2007 to provide opportunities for attorneys, staff and their families to help make a positive impact in the community.

No column next week

Thank you to all my readers and contributors for keeping me alert to the good news in our community. Please continue to send me stories you think I can share. My next column will be May 24.

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at