In a year where it seems like there’s a new issue or story in the news to divide us on a daily basis, Lynn Lovegreen has made a commitment to reach out to new people through books in 2017.
What’s the perfect book to recommend to a stranger who disagrees with you? Do you believe that reading can help us all find common ground? Has being part of the writing community helped you to reach out beyond your normal social circles?
Who will be in your Fellowship of Words?
Post your replies in the comments!
~ Charles Boyle
Active Voice, 49 Writers
Last year, I declared it A Good Year for the Arts, and posted about once a month about what I experienced in the arts that moved me and helped me understand other people. While I still think that is valuable, I didn’t want to repeat myself online this year. So I declare 2017 the Fellowship of Words year.
Like J. R. R. Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, we all come from different places (geographically and ideologically) and look at life through different lenses. But as human beings, we have a lot in common, and reasons to work together. We need to become friends and neighbors again, to solve our problems and face the future as one. In order to do that, we need to remember our commonalities, our compassionate values, and make connections with each other again. We need fellowship.
I define fellowship as a friendly group of people connected by common interest. While many of us have a fellowship in one sense or another, I think we need more fellowships, more ways for people to connect with each other. Love wins over fear when we know our neighbors, when we see others as part of our community. And books are a natural way to create fellowship. Words are powerful. That’s something I can work with to create fellowship in my little corner of the world.
I plan to build fellowship by reaching out to others and bringing people together through books, in my personal and professional lives. For example, as an individual, I’ve committed to leading a teen book club at a local library. We’ll be sharing books with each other, and finding common ground in our discussions of those books. I also plan to participate in the planning committee for a librarians’ conference in my hometown, which will help school and public libraries continue their work to bring people together. As the American Library Association states, “Libraries are uniquely positioned at the heart of local, campus and school communities, enjoying public trust as repositories of knowledge and offering democratic access.” Libraries, and books in general, build fellowships that can lead to a better world.
In my writing career, I want to build fellowship, too. As James Baldwin said, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” I hope to show readers and fellow writers how much we have in common, across time and space and all the other things that seem to separate us. That is one of the themes in my writing, and will continue to be so. As I write and speak to groups this year, I will make a conscious effort to create fellowship with my words. It’s my small way of making the world a better place.
What will you do this year to create fellowship or bring people together? Let’s use this opportunity to make a difference, through books and the written word. Feel free to use my graphic (created with Canva.com with book photo by banholio via Morguefile) and the hashtag #FellowshipofWords to continue this conversation online.
First published on Lynn Lovegreen’s blog on January 13, 2017. | Lynn Lovegreen grew up and remains in Alaska. She taught for twenty years before retiring to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult/new adult historical romances are set in the Alaska Gold Rush.
Our new series, Active Voice: Writers Respond, asks Alaska writers to explore how current events and issues are shaping their work and their perspective on the state of our democratic values of justice, freedom, equality, and liberty. The series consists of 1) a blog series and 2) in-person events featuring local and visiting writers. The specific ideas of individual writers in this forum are not necessarily espoused by 49 Writers. Rather, we espouse the inherent worth of respectful expression, discussion, and debate.
The most important role in this new Active Voice project is yours: we want to hear from you. Do you like a post, or disagree with it? Do you see a point the author missed? Or do you want to turn one of their points on its head? Comment directly on blog posts, submit your own thoughts to info at 49Writers.org with “Active Voice” entered in the subject line, and consider participating in an event in your community. ~ 49 Writers, Inc.