FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Word Up/NoMAA Sign Lease &
Launch Community-Supported Bookshop (CSB) Program
January 24, 2012—The volunteer collective behind Word Up community bookshop, with support from the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA), has signed an agreement with landlord Vantage Residential. The store will remain at its current location at 4157 Broadway, where it has been housed since mid-June 2011, until the end of May 2012. Vantage Residential had been donating the storefront; the free month-to-month deal ended at the end of November 2011.
The Word Up staff’s commitment to renting on a longer-term basis stemmed from community members’ requests that the shop stay for as long as possible, to be a place where the neighborhood could celebrate and advocate for literacy and the arts. In addition to distributing books, the bookshop has hosted 200+ events during its 7 months: readings, film screenings, music concerts, theater productions, art shows, and educational workshops.
Word Up’s longer stay was also spurred by the educational opportunities that collective members have been eager to facilitate for the community:
- The first after-school program to take place at Word Up—a bilingual writing and theater program for local teens, developed by the Washington Heights-based People’s Theatre Project and Seven Stories Institute—began on January 18.
- On January 25, Word Up is hosting the launch of PowerUp, a series coordinated by YUM cofounder Carolina Pichardo, with workshops on career building and resume writing.
- On January 27, Word Up is co-sponsoring Family Literacy Day 2012 at the local Gregorio Luperon High School, organized by Acción Comunitaria La Aurora and featuring a reading by Junot Díaz.
- Regular programming for children has increased through a Story Time for Kids event on Saturday mornings, and a Skraptacular-facilitated arts and crafts workshop for preteens on Tuesdays after school.
- In early January, Word Up began building The Education Station, a reference area with up-to-date Spanish and English dictionaries and grammar volumes; SAT, GED, and citizenship prep books; and select teaching materials.
Word Up has strived to show that an open, community-focused space can exist and be sustained by resources found within one’s own neighborhood.
To help pay rent, Word Up is organizing as a community-supported bookshop (CSB). Inspired by and modeled after community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, which provide upfront money to local farmers whose cash flow is affected by seasonal shifts in buying, weather, and the ill effects of agribusiness, the Word Up CSB offers bookshop shares for $20, and members in turn receive 6 wooden coins—exchangeable for books—and a hand-silkscreened Word Up tote bag. Word Up CSB funds are administered through the nonprofit Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union based in Washington Heights. For more information about the Word Up CSB, please see wordupbooks.wordpress.com/csb.
Word Up is sponsored by Vantage Residential and Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, in association with Seven Stories Institute.
Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) is a nonprofit arts service organization with the mission to cultivate, support and promote the works of artists and arts organizations in Northern Manhattan. NoMAA’s primary objective is to facilitate the creation of new artistic work by diverse, emerging, and established artists; strengthen the infrastructures of local arts organizations including their administrative and artistic growth, financial development and long-term sustainability; encourage public dialogue, engagement, and collective reflection around issues affecting Manhattan’s uptown artistic and cultural community; and foster the overall economic development of the Northern Manhattan community.
Seven Stories Institute (SSI) is a nonprofit organization founded as a response to the realization that many good books posing alternatives to current governmental policies and attitudes never reach those most adversely affected by those policies. Through author forums, community performances, collaborations with local media, and distribution of books at deeply subsidized prices, SSI seeks ultimately to promote literacy and the active exchange of ideas, imagination, and the written word.
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