Imaginary Conversations before Mother’s Day

Fri, May 6; 1-2:30pm 

Athenaeum, 251 Benefit St.

same as starting point


Riffing on Jane Jacobs’ habit of carrying on imaginary conversations with Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin as she went about her day in the city, my hope is that this post-pandemic pre-Mother’s Day 2022 Jane’s Walk might validate for us all to listen more deeply to a whole village of fore-mothers who carried us to this moment. What are some of the ways a world-famous neighborhood like historic Benefit St does and does not honor the diverse lived realities of women navigating family? Can we come together to share stories about our own mothers and those we mother and mentor? What kind of courage and self-leadership does it take to persevere, and where is the spring of renewal? This is also my way to open up a space to share some thoughts about two unsung fore-mothers, tied to Benefit Street, that I keep thinking about. With compassion and generosity, let’s make a space for our own stories to jump into new imaginary conversations on this street drenched with women’s histories, especially those out-of-register and yet unheard.

WALK LEADER: Nancy Austin

Nancy Austin is a career coach for young professionals at and This is her third Jane’s Walk. The first was Memorable Trees for Mother’s Day, in Newport. The second (with Sarah Zurier) looked at Wanskuck Park and was inspired by the woman who founded RISD, the subject of her Brown University PhD thesis. This 2022 Jane’s Walk is inspired by Malbone’s Miniature, her February 2021 talk at the Providence Athenaeum where she proposed a hidden history on women’s liberty and the vote. Vimeo: