THIS IS IT! Today is the last day of our Indiegogo campaign, which we launched to raise money to bring back Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria to a physical storefront in Washington Heights. We’ve gone on a great journey with you here on the Internet—reading and writing . . . making and sharing videos . . . walking the wagon . . . dancing. But, what we really want to do is sit down with you in a space all our own—yours, mine, ours—’round the corner from where we both live, and share our past, present, and future, with books as the gravitational pull but hardly stopping there. Please join the Word Up story on this last day of our Indiegogo campaign. With the end of this campaign, we start anew. Indiegogo.com/WordUpBooks
With 2 days left to go in our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, we thought we’d remind you of some of the perks you can claim in exchange for your contribution. Donations made by the end of tonight (11:59 p.m. on December 31) are tax-deductible for 2012. We’ve come so far with this campaign, thanks to the hundreds of you who have helped us out. To the rest: please help us hit our target and then some, and we will celebrate together in a new space soon!
We’ve got book love. We’ve got bookshop love. And we have 4 days left of our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to bring back our beloved bookshop filled with books! We’re steadily making our way to our goal of $60,000. Your contribution is tax-deductible and will go toward reviving a space that is cherished by so many of us.
Word Up isn’t the only book-loving space we cherish—you can check out other great uptown lit hangouts in our BOOK LOVE video—then please contribute by January 1 to add Word Up to the mix!
Posted in Indiegogo, video
Melville House’s excellent blog featured our Indiegogo campaign! Read the recent article here, and see a previous Word Up–Melville House interview from a year ago here.
“Store support: Junot Diaz has taken to YouTube to rally support for a community bookstore in Washington Heights, N.Y. Read USA TODAY‘s 3 1/ star review of Diaz’s latest work of fiction, This Is How You Lose Her.”
We grieve for Newtown and Sandy Hook, CT. We believe dialogue helps improve our society, and is one many things that can help prevent tragedies like this in the future.
Of all the events Word Up hosted in our 14.5 months in a storefront, the Voices: Our Young People Speak after-school program held particular significance for us because Word Up folks codeveloped it with People’s Theatre Project even before Word Up existed. See previous posts about it here, and on the People’s Theatre Project website. Volunteer Rishauna writes about her experience watching the final performance by the youth actors and writers. The book produced as a result of the program is available as one of many items at our $50 Indiegogo perk level. (There are 9 days left to contribute to the Word Up Indiegogo! Gogo!)
In late March I walked into Word Up Community Bookshop to watch the production Manifesto Supernatural, written and performed by teens in the after-school program Voices: Our Young People Speak, a collaboration between People’s Theatre Project and Seven Stories Institute. I had no idea how impacting that performance by middle- and high-school–aged kids would be for me, nor the way that experience would later transform the youth with whom I work at my job. Tweens and teens spoke about the issues and beauty they see in their community, their dreams, and their histories. They told us what they feel and how they see things through original poetry, much of it inspired by their reading of Howard Zinn’s A Young People’s History of the United States. Voices of youth from Washington Heights expressed themselves in first and second languages what it is they want for their future. Dressed in hooded sweatshirts, they reminded everyone about Trayvon Martin and the experience they had in a rally connecting them nationally to a movement against brutality and injustice.
Who were the people behind this visceral production, I wondered? I learned the main facilitator was Paula Gilovich, who had also been a resident playwright with People’s Theatre Project, founded by Mino Lora and Bob Braswell.
Moved to chills and almost tears numerous times throughout the show, I had to talk to Paula afterwards. I introduced myself. I commended her for working on this powerful project and wanted to know how I could get involved. I started to think about how I could bring something like this to the teenagers in the relationship abuse prevention program that I coordinate along with others in nine NYC public schools. Paula told me about an additional project (Goldmine) she has worked on that brings theater to groups as a tool of exploring homophobia and raising awareness about LGBTQ issues. I realized how well this could work with our summer peer leadership training program that runs for seven weeks each summer with approximately thirty teenagers from our various schools. In that program, we try to engage the youth with as many relevant topics, and to as many people possible who will help them understand even more about what it means to be a fierce and empathetic leader committed to ending relationship violence. We discuss frameworks of oppression such as sexism, racism, and homophobia so that our consciousness can be raised and we all can try and move towards equality with awareness and sensitivity.It seemed perfect to have Paula come challenge and ignite the group with theater to address homophobia. I arranged a workshop with Paula for July 2012, and it was—widely stated by the young leaders—the best workshop the peer leaders had all summer. It’s hard to describe how she ran the workshop, the order in which the activities and information delivery happened, and the fact that in one workshop there could be twenty-eight teenagers on the floor squirming like jellyfish while later sharing and enacting one student’s true story about a gay teen he knew who was murdered.
Paula encouraged the students to share their personal experiences with homophobia in ways I don’t think we coordinators would have been able to elicit. Students brought to the stage LGBTQ experiences they had seen or felt with regards to bullying, violence, humiliation, isolation, and solidarity. Throughout the workshop, Paula discussed what it means to be an ally to someone struggling for human rights. She shared how she fights hard as a white person ally to end racism. At the end of the workshop, when she revealed her sexual orientation and asked of the group, “Who will be my ally?,” every single one of the youth screamed and yelled, I WILL!!
This experience never would have happened for these twenty-eight NYC youth if not for the Voices after-school program that took place at Word Up.
Thanks Paula, PTP, and SSI/Word Up!
Our T-shirt perk got some notice on the Indiegogo blog. Please check out the T-shirt, and our other perks, on our campaign: Bring Back Word Up Community Bookshop. And thank you to all who have already contributed!