At this time last year, we had just barely secured our location at 4157 Broadway. Most of us who work together as the Word Up Collective did not know each other, or were just meeting for the first time. Books from small, independent presses all over the country were arriving daily, but we had no idea where we were going to get any furniture on which to place them. We thought we’d only be operating a literary neighborhood space for one month; after that, we’d go back to our regular lives.
Since then, we have
- distributed 25,000+ books to our neighbors, in English, Spanish, and Russian;
- hosted 1,000+ people on our stage during events showcasing literature, music, film, and theater;
- opened our doors to an after-school program, workshops, community meetings, a language salon, and activist gatherings;
- specially supported Washington Heights– and Inwood-based authors, independent presses, and other artsmakers through book sales, event space, and exposure;
- operated 7 days a week as a completely volunteer-driven space; and, most importantly,
- committed to preserving and building a neighborhood in which all residents help each other to live better informed and more expressive lives, using books as an instrument of reciprocal education and exchange, empowering not only themselves, but their community.
Instead of going back to our regular lives, we accommodated Word Up as a part of them—whether as a daily, integral activity, or as the small comfort that you might take for granted were it not for your recognition that it’s not a usual kind of community space. And, it’s a space that we want to continue to experience.
Now we are coming upon our 1-year anniversary. No small potatoes for a project we thought would last a month. Word Up will continue as long as we can as a joint program of Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and Seven Stories Institute. Please join us in celebrating this milestone in June 2012!
Particularly check out all the events we’ve programmed from June 7 to 16—our Birthday Fund Drive—during which we hope to raise money to give us a running start going into Year 2. Celebrating along with us will be Junot Díaz , Ed Park, Leighann Lord, the World War 3 Illustrated collective, poets, filmmakers, clowns, cheesemongers . . . the list goes on! We hope to raise $10,000 in 10 days. Think of it as a Kickstarter—but LIVE! Every night, for an average of $10, there’ll be an event with food, drink, and entertainment included. You can get an anniversary passport for $100 (access to all events). For $125 you get access to all events plus a magnet, tote bag, and 10 raffle tickets. For $150 you get all of the above plus our rad new Word Up T-shirt, which arrived yesterday!!
Raising money now will help keep our book prices extremely low and our events cheap/free during the rest of the year; will go toward some much needed repairs; and will offset our rent that increased on June 1.
Thank you for having been with us for Year 1 of Word Up. Please visit and donate if you want to see this space exist into a Year 2!