Some of you might know that I write a lot about Brooklyn history, but I’ll bet you didn’t know about a remarkable woman who helped improve her community there over 100 years ago. Her name was Florence W. Banks, and she was the head of the Brooklyn Women’s Dumb Animal Aid Association - a group, that is, who spoke for animals who were “dumb” and unable to advocate for themselves. In 1897 Miss Banks was able to get the city to create a drinking fountain for horses at Liberty and Clinton Streets. It cost about $300, was just over 10 feet high, and about 5 feet in diameter. It was topped by a bronze swan. There is a fabulous photograph of Miss Banks at the fountain, with some thirsty horses drinking from it - but due to copyrights and so on, I can’t show it to you here.
Such a little thing, you might say - maybe it makes you smile, too. The bronze swan, the formidable Miss Banks (who resembles Margaret Dumont, the matronly straight woman of the Marx Brothers’ movies), and so on. But as you know, in the age before cars, horses worked all day and they worked hard. They were a vital part of the community, but their needs were not being met (especially in the summer) - certainly not in Brooklyn, until Miss Banks came along. She knew that communities are made up of a whole mosaic of things and people - and animals, too.
The Aviva Comminty Fund event that’s going on right now made me think of Miss Banks and the many horses whose lives she helped back in the 1890s.Aviva Community Fund is an annual charity event that’s funded and supported by Aviva Insurance. The goal? To create and encourage positive change in local communities. People like you and me can submit their ideas for helping the place they live, let family. friends. and neighbors know about it, and get everyone voting.
This is such a cool idea and I encourage you to read more about how you can get involved. First, create a great idea - use photos and video to help get it across. Then register at Aviva Community Fund - after that, you can enter your idea into the competition. Make sure you get all your friends and family to vote for you, and promote your idea on social media, too.