Today, we want to wish the Seattle Public Library’s Seattle Reads program a happy 20th anniversary. Every year, Seattle librarians pick one book for the whole city to read and discuss together. This year, they’re reading “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi, a fictional story about two families and how they were impacted by slavery across eight generations and two continents. Yaa will be in Seattle to discuss her book May 16th and 17th.
We caught up with Stesha Brandon, who oversees Seattle Reads, to learn more about the book and why it’s important for Seattleites to read along.
» Why was “Homegoing” chosen for this year’s Seattle Reads book?
The quality of Yaa Gyasi’s writing is just stunning and that’s immediately apparent. A lot of us had read Colson Whitehead’s book, “The Underground Railroad,” which came out in 2016. I feel like with Yaa’s book, I’m getting another part of that story.
The other thing we loved was that it was a sweeping story — you see these two family lines through the years and see the implications on people who were enslaved and those who weren’t. The book is set in Africa and a lot of the time, we focus a lot on the American story, but there’s other perspectives out there on this issue. It was really interesting to take that approach.
» Why is it right for Seattle right now?
The conversations around colonization and institutional racism and the underpinnings of that are relevant to what’s happening in our city right now.
If you don’t already know about some of these issues, it’s an accessible way to learn about them. For those of us who don’t experience microaggressions or the repercussions of institutional racism every day and who may be complicit in that, it allows us to get a perspective on that and sit with that. It’s pretty powerful.
» How do you see the Seattle Public Library’s role in having these difficult conversations?
Speaking for my program around Seattle Reads, the city has a stated policy around race and social justice and the library also has that around how we approach decision-making. With the work we do around Seattle Reads, it’s the perfect opportunity for us to engage in anti-racist work. I’d say there’s no better way to empathize or understand people who are different from you than reading a book.
Want to participate in Seattle Reads? There are nearly 2,000 copies of “Homegoing” available for check out at libraries across the city. While you read, pop into a reading group meeting the first Thursday of every month to discuss the novel at the Northwest African American Museum. The next meeting is April 5 from 5 to 7 p.m. Author Yaa Gyasi will be in town May 16-17 to talk about her book.
Goals. Seattle Reign is kicking off the 2018 soccer season against Maryland’s Washington Spirit tomorrow at Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. Don’t know much about the Reign? Get acquainted here and here. Wanna see them in action? You can still grab tickets. ⚽ (Thanks to reader Hannah Chung for the reminder!)
Hidden in plain view. We live in a pretty cozy city — but sometimes we get so comfortable that we miss out on some truly hidden gems. Ever sipped on a glass of wine at Roosevelt’s alleyway Eight Bells Winery? Or traversed the pedestrian tunnels beneath downtown? Or perused the “vintage menus, Chinese lanterns and umbrellas, and antiques, from robots to cash registers to Coke bottles” at the Sun May variety store? Seattle Met rounded up 33 of our city’s most tucked-away shops and restaurants, so go explore.
‘I have to live with this in the back of my head.’ In 2016, people living in the Firs Mobile Home Park in SeaTac received notice that they’d have to move out to make room for redevelopment. “The whole community and our homes reminds us of everything we’ve lived through,” says 15-year-old Wendy Salinas, whose family has lived in the park for nine years. The threat of losing their homes pushed many residents, including Wendy and her friends Crystal Sanchez and Elisha Velazquez, to become activists and advocates for their community. The three girls filmed a documentary, which was recently featured at the Northwest Film Forum, to chronicle their neighbors’ efforts. To learn more about their fight, check out their powerful film here. (The Seattle Globalist)
The kids are all right. Tomorrow, thousands of Seattleites will walk from Cal Anderson Park to Seattle Center for the March for Our Lives rally to demand state and federal leaders take action to end gun violence. In addition to holding elected leaders accountable, Rhiannon Rasaretnam, a senior at Tahoma High School in Maple Valley who’s helping plan the march, says organizers want to get young and upcoming voters engaged in the political process and will be registering people to vote along the march route. Rhiannon and other organizers say they know improved gun laws may not pass while they’re in school,“but they’re not thinking of themselves. They’re thinking of their younger siblings, friends and classmates.” Read more student perspectives here and here. 💪 (The Seattle Times, The South Seattle Emerald, Crosscut)
💡 3/26: Cheer on some amazing local entrepreneurs — many of them women and people of color — at InnoVentures, a small business pitch contest (Ballard)
🧀 3/28: Learn about fruitcake, the world’s oldest noodles, and other unusual eats with Atlas Obscura Society Seattle at The London Plane (Pioneer Square) — use the promo code “EVERGREY” for a special discount!
🎩 Go old school at this old Victorian fest — through Sunday (Port Townsend)
🍴 Eat and drink your way through Pike Place Market (Downtown)
🎶 Hear a local musician’s take on growing up here (Central District)
🎟 Laugh it up with some improv (Downtown)
🗣 Join Seattle’s March for Our Lives to call for smarter gun policies — 26,000+ people interested (Capitol Hill)
🎈 Take the fam and your 80s gear to a dodgeball showdown (Rainier Beach)
🗣 Intro your teens to 30+ ways to make a difference (Queen Anne)
🍿 Watch flicks by indigenous filmmakers (Capitol Hill)
🎨 Shop local at this top Northwest arts and crafts show — through Sunday (Sand Point)
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See you there. — The Evergrey