Tag Archives: Arizona Library Association

Artists fight hunger

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I had good company while driving to Tucson on Tuesday for day one of this year’s Arizona Library Association conference with an “Imagine: The Future” theme. The E Street Radio channel on Sirius XM was airing a program highlighting “Hungerthon 2011” — which asks us all to “Imagine There’s No Hunger,” then work together to make it so.

The Hungerthon is part of WhyHunger’s campaign to end hunger and poverty through grassroots advocacy and action. WhyHunger was started by talk show host Bill Ayres and singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, and its programs include “Artists Against Hunger and Poverty.” Participating artists include Chicago, Santana, Springsteen and many more.

Younger, lesser-known artists have been doing their part right here in Arizona, painting bowls for something called the “Empty Bowls Project,” an international effort to end hunger. Their work will be part of Thursday’s Empty Bowls event at Scottsdale Community College — located at 9000 E. Chaparral Rd. just east of Hwy. 101.

SCC notes that Empty Bowls began in 1990 when a high school art teacher in Michigan and his students brainstormed fundraising ideas to support a local food drive. They decided to sell hand-painted bowls filled with soup — hoping the bowls, once emptied, would serves as reminders of those not fortunate enough to have full bowls or bellies.

Folks who attend the free gathering, taking place Dec. 1 from 11am-6pm, can buy a hand-painted bowl, filled with pasta prepared by SCC culinary arts students, for just $10.00. Or skip the carbs, and go big on just the bowls — which are great for taking along to all those holiday gift exchanges where you want to have something affordable but priceless.

I’m told you’ll have about 4oo bowls to choose from, created by children from Vista del Camino’s after-school program, Paiute Neighborhood Center’s after-school program, Horizon Community Center, Greenway Middle School and Fees Middle School. Also local Girl Scouts, plus teachers and students from the Scottsdale Unified School District.  

Proceeds from Thursday’s event — a collaboration between SCC and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Vista del Camino Community Center, the Paiute Neighborhood Center, Concerned Citizens for Community Health and the Scottsdale Unified School District — will “help restock the shelves at Vista del Camino’s Food Bank, a community organization that responds to numerous requests each year for emergency services of food, clothing and shelter.”

Art. Pasta. Easy holiday shopping. Making a difference. Life is good. 

— Lynn

Note: The SCC Jazz Band will play jazz standards as the event kicks off at 11am in the school cafeteria, located near the center of campus — and folks who attend early can also enjoy a silent auction for “higher end bowls” that’ll be awarded at 1pm. Only cash or checks will be accepted, but there is an ATM machine on campus.

Coming up: Gingerbread tales

Update: This post was updated to include photos taken during this year’s event — which runs until 6pm on Dec. 1. I bought the peace sign bowl pictured above, plus a heart theme bowl created by a Via del Camino teen named Amie who loves to cook. And I’m hoping I was the top bidder on a kokopelli bowl featured in the silent auction.


I ♥ Banned Books Week

I stumbled on this sign last summer in the teen section of a local library

I had two kids taking classes at Scottsdale Community College one summer, and sometimes waited on campus between teen taxi runs. They always knew exactly where to find me — in a building where text from the First Amendment is painted across a wall in bold letters. Sitting under the words always felt just right somehow.

Most Americans profess their love for the First Amendment, but some have a hard time practicing what they preach — choosing instead to advocate the banning of books with ideas or words they find offensive. There’s a special week created just for these folks. It’s called Banned Books Week, and it’s held the last week of September each year.

Sales of this book benefit the National Coalition Against Censorship (I bought three copies)

I started my personal celebration of Banned Books Week a few days ago by reading a collection of original stories by censored writers. “Places I Never Meant to Be” is edited by Judy Blume — who’s written an introduction that addresses the history of book censorship in America and offers tips for fellow believers in books, banned or otherwise.

Those of you with a “run right out and do what’s forbidden” streak will want to hit your local libraries and book stores before the rest of the pack gets there. It’s a great week to take these books home and give them some love. The American Library Association has a list of banned books on its website. Being bad has never been easier, or felt quite as fun.

Often it’s parents who seek to remove books from classrooms and libraries. Blume suspects they’re “driven by the need to feel in control of their children’s lives” and “afraid of exposing their children to ideas different than their own.” The effects of censorship, says Blume, can be especially chilling for writers, young readers and communities.

There was a time when parents could keep the cat in the bag, but it’s long past. Hide or lock away those books if you must. Your children will still find the content, and relish it all the more because you’ve forbidden it. Better to spend the time getting comfortable talking with your child about diverse ideas and situations they’ll encounter in both books and real life.

Blume’s “Places I Never Meant to Be” introduction notes that censorship often happens “when you least expect it.” Don’t assume, if a book has never been banned at your child’s school or local library, that it simply can’t happen. Be aware and informed, says Blume. And familiarize yourself with anti-censorship resources now, including the following:

♥ National Coalition Against Censorship at www.ncac.org

♥ American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom at www.ala.org/oif

♥ People for the American Way at www.pfaw.org

Check with local libraries and book stores for news of events celebrating this year’s Banned Books Week, which runs Sept 24-Oct 1. Or visit the American Libraries Association for tips on organizing your own event. Folks who “You Tube” can learn more about a virtual reading of banned books at www.bannedbooksweek.org.

You can order this sticker online from Northern Sun

Turns out I won’t need to hit the SCC campus this week to appreciate their support of the First Amendment. It’s evident in their online offerings related to Banned Books Week, which you can explore by clicking here. Of course, you can always head to my favorite SCC sofa if it makes you feel better. Take a banned book and a friend along.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to enjoy a “Jacket Copy” post on Banned Books Week from the Los Angeles Times. Click here to learn about the National Book Festival taking place this weekend on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Click here to learn more about the Arizona Library Association.

Coming up: A tale of teen angst

Comicon tales

A few of Lizabeth's fun finds from Friday night at Phoenix Comicon 2011

It was “show and tell” at our house this morning — something my daughter, now 17, hasn’t done since circle time during kindergarten at Desert View Learning Center in Phoenix.

She awoke eager to show me her first day’s haul from Phoenix Comicon, taking place this weekend at the Phoenix Convention Center, which is billed as “the signature pop culture event of the Southwest.”

Autographed photos. Freebie like luggage tags and treat bags featuring faces of fan favorites. Posters to line the walls of her college dorm in NYC this fall — including one from a movie called “The Roommate” that’ll hardly make a glowing first impression.

We got our first taste of Phoenix Comicon 2011 while lunching at Majerle’s Sports Grill, across the street from the stage door at Symphony Hall, which we first discovered when Lizabeth performed the role of “party girl” in the Ballet Arizona production of “The Nutcracker.” The streets were dotted with folks wearing superhero T-shirts and other pop culture fare.

James was struck, while picking Lizabeth up after the event Friday night, by the blend of people intermingled in the streets — those finely dressed for an evening graduation ceremony, those donning patriotic garb for the Phoenix Symphony’s “Boogie Woogie Pops” concert and those whose tastes trend more towards Marvel’s “Green Goblin.” The city, like our three children, is growing up all around us.

Having a mom who blogs is a mixed bag. My kids know to offer a disclaimer for arts-related conversations that aren’t meant for public consumption. But sometimes they enjoy the opportunity blogging brings to spotlight the good things we discover during our daily travels.

Lizabeth was particularly animated while describing finger puppets she’d seen at one of the exhibitor booths at this year’s Phoenix Comicon. Finger puppets of cute, furry animals aren’t hard to come by. But “bacon” finger puppets — and even “finger” finger puppets — have a different sort of magic altogether.

Lizabeth took special care to snag a business card for Stacey Rebecca Gordon, proud puppet crafter and performer whose business is dubbed “Puppet Pie.” I was delighted to discover that Gordon — who describes herself as improviser, mom and wife — has a charming, cheeky blog complete with photos of her works.

One of Lizabeth's favorite actors is working to create a culture of literacy

Lizabeth was equally smitten with the “Kids Need to Read” booth. “Kids Need to Read” is a non-profit organization based in Mesa that enourages literacy, promotes social responsibility, fosters leadership and inspires imaginations. Canadian-born Nathan Fillion, one of Lizabeth’s favorite actors, is a co-founder of “Kids Need to Read.”

“I felt like such a geek,” Lizabeth told me during one of her many Comicon tales. I expected her to follow with a story of being the only person at the Convention Center sporting regular street clothes (if that’s what you call a purple “I’m Not Dead Yet” T-shirt from the musical “Monty Pyton’s Spamalot“).

But she was referring to gushing over someone she met at Comicon. Not a celebrity or actor protraying a super-hero, but a real super-hero — a librarian. Lizabeth shared with the librarian how much trips to our local libraries, still a favorite pastime for James and the girls, have meant to her through the years.

Libraries make the world feel bigger and more intimate at the same time, and no child should ever have to do without them. Lizabeth mentioned to the librarian she met at Comicon the fact that librarians she met as a child were always so nice, friendly and helpful.

Lizabeth shared that the librarian seemed genuinely touched by her words. Perhaps she, like many others, feels unappreciated or doesn’t receive nearly the recognition she deserves. It can’t help that so many libraries and other keepers and creators of culture are taking a hit during budget battles that strip pounds while trying to save pennies.

Tonight’s Phoenix Comicon events include the “Kids Need to Read Geek Prom,” sponsored by Bookman’s — with all proceeds benefiting “Kids Need to Read.”

Comicon also includes a film festival — with films sporting titles like “Laptop’s Revenge,” ” Paint-B-Que” and “Peace, Love & Tacos” (plus others with a more offensive vibe). But it’s Lizabeth’s flyer for a 2010 independent film titled “Beautiful Boy” that looks most intriguing. The movie hits Valley theaters in June.

As James headed out this morning to drive Lizabeth to downtown Phoenix for more Phoenix Comicon adventures, I commented that Lizabeth seems to be having the time of her life. He readily agreed, adding an insight of his own…

“She’s with her people.”

— Lynn

Note: Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix is home to the “Arizona Pop Culture Experience.”

Coming up: From Sondheim to South Park, Father’s Day meets JFK

Fuzzy math

Wickenburg Public Library in Arizona

I got an “SOS” of sorts from a friend on Monday morning — alerting me to talk of closing Wickenburg’s one public library due to lack of funding.

I was reminded of George W. Bush hurling the term “fuzzy math” at Al Gore during a presidential election — and the many times since that both sides have seemed a bit fuzzy in their thinking.

There’s been plenty of doom and gloom commentary coming out of news sources who seem more bent on proferring ideology than providing information — much of it focused on events in distant lands.

I don’t doubt that global events impact our country, and our communities — but today my concerns are closer to home.

Democracy, quite frankly, is ours to lose. And if we want to hasten the process, we’ll start by lowering already abyssmal literacy rates among our own citizens.

We’ll restrict access to books and online information for those who can’t afford laptops or reading materials of their own.

We’ll assure that community resources like libraries — which offer low- and no-cost arts and cultural programming — close their doors.

We’ll make sure that kids head to empty houses or convenience store parking lots after school instead of taking part in library programs that foster cognitive, emotional and social skills.

When we, as Americans, can find no better solution to fiscal challenges than closing public libraries — we might as well close the book on our own dwindling democracy.

— Lynn

Note: My 19-year-old daughter Jennifer (an ASU student) offered a trio of library tidbits after reading this post. First, a quote she found on www.libraryquotes.org: Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation (Walter Cronkite). Second, a resource for fellow library lovers: www.ilovelibraries.org. And third, a video contest titled “Why I Need My Library” from www.ala.org (for teens 13-16/runs through April 18). Click here to learn more about the Arizona Library Association.

Coming up: Teens taking direction, Building bridges with music