Archive for the ‘Fort Collins Reads’ tag
Community… from the Middle English comunete, Anglo-French communité, Latin communitat-, communitas, from communis, first appearing as a word in the 14th century. Defined as a unified body of individuals with common interests living in a particular area; an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location; a group linked by a common policy; a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests exercising joint ownership or participation, a common character, a social state or condition.
Over the last couple of months we have been sharing some of the more interesting ways communities around the country and the globe sustain their members and themselves. Grounding community is not just about gathering a group of people who have common interests, as we see in the definition above, but also about having those people share a common experience. It is the act of being together that keeps us together in some very fundamental ways.
Last week, Deborah discussed the ‘dinner with a stranger’ experience Franke James and Mark Shouldice of Toronto engaged in, getting to know each other, for a charitable purpose. This started me thinking about the other ways in which communities can come together around common experiences. Starting this week for example, our very own CoCOA (Colorado Coalition of Artists) will be hosting their annual 2 week members’ art event through to June 16at the Poudre River Arts Center Gallery on North College Ave. The event is open to all current and new members of CoCOA with a $15 entry fee for up to 3 pieces! There will be three “People’s Choice Awards.” If you are interested in participating, drop off your work tomorrow Wednesday, June 3 from 10:30 to 2pm. If that time does not work for you, please feel free to email CoCOA to make other arrangements — email@example.com. Even if you have no work to share, drop into the Gallery to see all the wonderful work people are doing in the community!
From art in the community to books in the community– for the last 5 years, Mayor Hickenlooper has supported the One Book, One Denver program where the entire city reads the same book over one month, September usually, followed by another month of events around the book’s theme. One Book, One Denver is a citywide book club. The goal of the program is to cultivate a culture of reading in Denver, with objectives to build community and stimulate people to read. Denver and Colorado citizens, young and old, are encouraged to join others in the shared experience of simultaneously reading the same book and participating in related events. This year, instead of the mayor choosing the book, the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs (DOCA) has created a list of 27 options, ranging across genres for the community to vote on as the Book for Denver in 2009. There is a website where voters can read a summary of each book, hear the first one or two paragraphs read by Denver’s own Poet Laureate (I didn’t know there was one!), Chris Ransick, learn about the authors and vote (voting is open until June 15). Once voting ends and the winning book is determined, the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs will begin laying out the 2009 One Book, One Denver program for a September 1 launch. On that date, Mayor Hickenlooper will announce the winning book at a news conference and the associated FREE and FUN programming that will carry through October.
Here in Fort Collins, Fort Collins Reads has selected Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle for its 2009 one-city, one-book program. Boyle has written 20 books and will be touring internationally to promote his latest work, The Women. His visit to Fort Collins on Nov. 7-8 will be the culmination of numerous events focusing on his book and its message about immigration. Pick up a copy of the book, take part in the discussion, and hear the author speak. Moreover, for the first time in 2009, there will be a companion book for this event — Red Glass — by Laura Resau (of Fort Collins!!). Contact Fort Collins Reads at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and suggestions on how to get Fort Collins reading and talking. I am hoping to read both!
If book reading is not your scene, how about a Six Word Memoir? Yes, your story in 6 words! Apparently, Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only 6 words. Here is what he wrote — “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” In 2006, SMITH magazine reawakened the idea of 6 word memoirs and asked their readers to contribute their own. They sent in short life stories by the hundreds, culminating in a blog, a series of books and a huge community of aficionados. These memoirs ranged from the bittersweet (“Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends”) and poignant (“I still make coffee for two”) to the inspirational (“Business school? Bah! Pop music? Hurrah”) and hilarious (“I like big butts, can’t lie”). What would you write for your memoir if only given 6 words?
Finally, music. Last month, I was reading Dan Pink’s blog (the author of a Whole New Mind amongst others…) and he was discussing the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Yes, YouTube, that web video mogul, has an orchestra! Basically, late last year YouTube issued a musical casting call to all professional and amateur musicians of all ages, locations and instruments to audition for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra by submitting a video performance of a new piece written for the occasion by the renowned Chinese composer Tan Dun. A panel of first-class musicians selected the finalists and the 90 winners, who come from more than 30 countries, assembled in New York City to perform together at Carnegie Hall. You can see the results here…. it’s a beautiful thing!
We hope to build from some of these ideas over the next few months to create an engaging and engaged Fort Collins community. We would love to hear any suggestions you may have for events and activities in which we could all participate – please feel free to share below!
Art for all, all for art!
“I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster.”
Confronting your past, and bravely telling your story (no matter how different you may feel) can help you realize that nobody is actually normal! That’s what Jeannette Walls talked about on Monday night at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins. Ms. Walls discussed her memoir The Glass Castle, and her nomadic childhood with eccentric parents who often seemed to make abnormal choices about raising their family. Her book describes the sometimes bizarre episodes in her life, but Walls was here to celebrate her survival. She’s not afraid to tell the truth about her life now, although for years she lived in fear that her friends and colleagues would reject her if they learned the details of same life. She spent many years feeling ashamed that her family was not like other families, but now believes that even when people seem to have “perfect lives,” that probably isn’t true. Her advice is that if we set aside the stereotypes that blind us to seeing people as individuals, we will see a world full of people all doing the same thing—doing their magnificent best to survive their circumstances.
Ms. Walls is compelled to read reviews of her book at Amazon.com, since they add to her process of self-discovery through writing and promoting her book. I looked up one entry that she talked about. The comment was made by beckybramer who knew Walls and her family while growing up in West Virginia, and she writes, “As I read, I was filled with sorrow and shame because I was one of those people who didn’t want to have close association with them because they were so different from me. I try to assuage my guilt by telling myself I saw things from a child’s maturity level. I wish I could apologize and find myself wondering what would have happened if I had befriended Jeanette. She could have enriched my li[f]e tremendously.”
This exchange makes me think about how important it is to build personal connections in our own community. To be successful, we have to include as many people as possible in defining who we think we are as a group. Who are we excluding because we believe they are too different to care about? Ms. Walls was not always an eloquent, humorous, and successful journalist, gossip columnist, and writer. She has learned from both sides of the issue, that people who think they are better than others, miss the mark. She successfully argues that one of the most basic things people have in common, is that we all have a story—and most stories have parts we might wish to leave out. Ms. Walls is convinced that if we bother to see the complexities in individual experience, and face the truths of our lives, we raise the odds of experiencing the true joy of living together. In case you’re wondering, after reading the Amazon post, Walls contacted beckybramer–not to accept an apology or express her pain, but to connect with her as a person and share their stories!
Many people in the audience at Lincoln Center, attended the Jeannette Walls event with other members of their book club. So here’s a shout out to all the book clubs that meet in the Fort Collins area—it was great fun to see so many readers out in the open! Whether or not you belong to a book club, you have opportunities to read with others in our community. On November 7-8, T. C. Boyle will be in our town to discuss his novel, Tortilla Curtain. Get your copy soon, so that you can join in this community-wide book club! Since 2002, Fort Collins Reads has encouraged multigenerational residents to read and meet each other. Each year, books are selected to engage both adults and teens, and this year’s readings add to our community discussion on immigration.
So here’s to being together! Remember, the more stories you give away, the more stories you’ll have!
“Things usually work out in the end.”
“What if they don’t?”
“That just means you haven’t come to the end yet.”
— Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle: A Memoir)
Thanks to B a m s h a d for the great reflection photo.