Portsmouth women’s co-op to release book at Blithewold, Bristol

SIREN's launch event scheduled for Saturday, July 20

By Kristen Ray
Posted 7/8/19

PORTSMOUTH — Honoring a memory through the art of pastry, connecting cultures by way of traditional cuisine. Finding strength in unexpected places, unearthing the courage to start all over …

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Portsmouth women’s co-op to release book at Blithewold, Bristol

SIREN's launch event scheduled for Saturday, July 20

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Honoring a memory through the art of pastry, connecting cultures by way of traditional cuisine. Finding strength in unexpected places, unearthing the courage to start all over again. 

They are the stories — of meals shared and memories cherished, of risks taken and discoveries made — that have helped shape the lives of 32 local women, from all different backgrounds and walks of life. 

Now, the Portsmouth-based SIREN Women’s Cooperative has compiled those individual accounts into their upcoming book, “Women, Words and the Water: Inspiring Recipes and Stories from the Ocean State,” out this month. 

The inspiration 

For its editor and the director of SIREN, Dr. Sarah Nadimpalli, the book release serves as a springboard to help community members get a feel for what their women’s cooperative is all about. 

“It’s really rooted in women inspiring women,” she said. 

Founded in September 2018 under the principles of inclusivity, openness, respect, curiosity, listening and thinking big, SIREN has strived to help motivate women to “work mindfully, connect meaningfully and inspire endlessly.” 

Dr. Nadimpalli and the other founding members have largely done so by hosting talks, seminars and networking events multiple times a month that cover a variety of different topics, ranging anywhere from authentic self-expression to career transitions and personal change. 

“It’s just an overwhelmingly special and beneficial, enriching program that we have here,” said Dr. Nadimpalli. 

The information and experiences shared at those events have proven to resonate with a diverse group of women, attracting over 40 professionals from business, education and health and wellness backgrounds. It has given women just like Dr. Nadimpalli — women who previously felt isolated, not fully at home in their new community — an entire network of like-minded individuals, there to support and learn from one another. 

“There are threads that really run through all of us at every age, every stage.”

The stories 

Like the cooperative itself, “Women, Words and the Water” is unique and eclectic, the product of a broad scope of different upbringings and life experiences. It is a compilation of recipes and recollections, of lessons and words of wisdom. 

Some contributors recounted journeys of self-discovery, such as the path leading resident Nancy Bixby’s to her BEACHES mantra and devotion to balanced and meaningful living. Other pages were dedicated to loved ones, such as Marie Stefanowicz, who includes a chocolate bundt cake in honor her grandmother Moey.  More still were rooted in the traditions of their culture, as was the case for Xoli Burrell’s Cape Malay Pickled Fish recipe. 

A native of South Africa, Ms. Burrell remembered many Easter holidays spent together with family, enjoying that particular dish. After watching her mother happily prepare it in their kitchen for years, she was eventually taught how to do so herself. 

Though it has now been almost a decade since she settled into Portsmouth, Ms. Burrell is pleased for the opportunity to share this part of her heritage with her Rhode Island home. 

“I chose Portsmouth over California almost nine years ago and never looked back,” said Ms. Burrell. “The recipe is theirs, if they’re open-minded like SIREN to welcome and learn other cultures.”

Book launch party

Soon everyone will be able to get a taste of what Women, Words and the Water has to offer, starting with a book launch party beginning on Saturday, July 20, at Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum, 101 Ferry Road, Bristol. Beginning at 10 am, attendees of the event will be treated to teas, pastries, music, excerpt readings and a book signing. 

Books will be available for purchase that day; following the launch party, copies of “Women, Words and the Water” can be found on the shelves of Island Books and The Portsmouth Shop. All proceeds will go toward SIREN’s Ready to Work Exchange program, dedicated to helping women transitioning out of homelessness by assisting them with job-preparedness skills. 

Tickets to the book launch for non-members are $20 and available for purchase through SIREN’s Facebook page. To obtain their discounted $15 price, members are encouraged to contact Dr. Nadimpalli at siren.cooperative@gmail.com. 

SIREN, Blithewold

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.