tacoma reads together
tacoma reads together is a great program. it was born out of september 11 and born off of nancy pearl's masterpiece, what if all seattle read the same book?, which encourages neighbors to read and discuss a common book. in the past, the shared reading - selected by the mayor of tacoma - was harper lee's to kill a mockingbird, ray bradbury's fahrenheit 451, julia alzarex's how the garcia girls lost their accents, and mary shelley's frankenstein. this year's book is actually a play - arthur miller's the crucible - a play about a witch hunt, hysteria, paranoia, panic, and fear. relevant themes for today's united states, eh?
tacoma reads together events are organized by the tacoma public library's manager of community relations, david domkoski, and this guy is really inspired. events take place at four tacoma libraries - fern hill, main, moore, and swasey libraries - as well as at king's books and the SOTA theater. moreover, the events are diverse and engaging, and include: book discussions, book readings, staged readings, an impressive film series dedicated to hysteria and mccarthyism, and community conversations.
last night, at the main library, over 100 people attended a community conversation about hysteria and american media. panelists included: paul larosa, producer for the newsmagazine 48 hours and author of tacoma confidential; karen peterson, managing editor of the news tribune; dave ross, radio talk show host; and myself. i also served as the conversation's facilitator.
i loved being part of this event! why?
- people cared - they took the time to come to the library and discuss issues that matter. people were engaged - the event was supposed to run from 7 to 7:45 pm and instead it lasted until nearly 9 pm. people were into it - there was a ton of questions, comments, and ideas from the audience.
- it was diverse. among the 100+ attendees were a few dozen high school students (yes!), young adults, adults, middle-aged adults, and senior citizens.
- it was a reminder of the important and inspired role of public libraries. anyone could attend. it was free. and it offered a spectrum of ideas. yet another reminder that public libraries = the heart of a functional democracy.
- it was fun. the conversation was lively and engaged but it was also humorous. yes, our times are tough. yes, this war is insane. yes, oftentimes our media seem to have no attachment to reality. but we explored these topics with passion, respect, and humor.
- people listened. it was amazing to witness an audience member speak while a whole room listened. and it was beautiful to watch people in the front row turn around to look at and listen to a speaker in the back.
update: john larson from the tacoma weekly wrote this article about the event: "media panelists examine hysteria, hype."