Tag Archives: library

The Horror & Freedom of Empty Space

If you find yourself in downtown Riverside, be sure to drop by the second floor of Riverside Library’s Main Branch – it’s right next door to The Historic Mission Inn Hotel and Spa.  And since this flash is space and place based, it occupies the future home of the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry – let’s hope a battle does not flare up over the omitted Oxford Comma here…what fun we have with words about space, over time.

Or maybe it does not and will not. A few votes could wreck all that…

A vote (scroll to bottom to see how everyone voted, and where to send your comments) by two Riverside City Council members brought us to this day.  Fresh faced new member Chuck Conder took a gander and then took a “no way” vote.  Recently re-elected Jim Perry followed suite.  When I came across this display while enjoying story time with dozens of other parents and kids, I found the emptiness a suitable image for the state of things.

free your mind exhibit

It begs the question:  Is something empty really empty?  For instance, as the “new home” for the Library waits for one more “yes” vote from the city council, what sits in that empty lot?  What is it about an empty pedestal that sparks a thought?  Who is to say what belongs in the space?  And how much is too much?  What is the correct price tag?  Would your answer be at all contingent upon economic status, race, age, or interest?  Of course it would.  Each of us would probably put something different on that stand.  And we all would have solid reasons for doing so.  And frustration when anything but our vision appears before our eyes.

But that’s the horror of the empty space. While you study it, it studies you back.  Matches you glare for glare, each moment you try to keep the space a void, it’s power over you only grows stronger.  That empty space will follow you everywhere you go.  It will only relent when you replace it with something else.

On Tuesday Oct 3rd, the debate renews at Riverside City Council (links to agenda).  I will be there voicing my support for the $40 million investment in a community service that touches nearly every citizen in the city.  This is one of the few resources that categorically and apolitically support education and learning.  Let’s see if a city of 300,000 can muster the support.  I’m really not sure it can.

 

Some minutia for those who follow Riverside news –

 

For Riversiders -here is where to send messages of support for the new library

https://riversideca.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=563820&GUID=FB317AEC-6E8C-4441-B133-7AA035184589&Search=

council agenda 10-3

Then click “eComment” link near middle of screen. Next, SCROLL TO #31 (MAIN LIBRARY), select “SUPPORT” and add comments.

Here is the link to your own councilperson

http://www.riversideca.gov/council/

And here is what that page looks like. Each one has a link to email and phone.

riverside city council list

Here is how city council voted earlier this month. You can talk to any or all of them, not just “your guy” 😊

 

Mike Gardner – Yes – Mike responds fast. He corrected me on a mistake I made – he talks to people who agree and who disagree with him.

Andy Melendrez – Abstain. Rumor has it his property nearby is over 500 feet away, so he can vote on this if he wants. I tried to confirm this fact with his office. No response. My last four messages to his office went unanswered – two on measure Z and my two on this issue – so good luck. Side note, this is my councilperson and yours if you live in Ward 2.

Mike Soubirous – Yes. Another person who responds, even when you disagree with him.

Chuck Conder – No.  Appears to be a pretty strong no.

Chris MacArthur – Yes.

Jim Perry – No. But, he did respond within minutes of my message to him asking to reconsider. He says he is working on a solution.

Steve Adams – Newly appointed. Was the previous councilmember here as well. Hope he votes yes but I am not confident on that.

 

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Filed under economic development, higher education, leadership, literacy, things to do in riverside, Uncategorized, writing

Indie Author Month Wrap-Up

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Since 2011, writers and readers of independently published works have designated October as Indie Author Month.  What began as a small group of publishers and writers from around Indianapolis has grown into a national celebration.  Coffee shops, libraries, universities, theaters and more, opened their doors this month to celebrate something that millions of us try each year – writing! As a writer with a foot in traditional publishing, but a much longer history with indie publishing, I wanted to understand how the Inland Empire put this month to good use.  My writer’s training took me first to Jurupa Valley, then Claremont, and ended in San Bernardino.

On October 1st, the Riverside County Library System proudly started the month off with a day of indie author events hosted by Inlandia Institute. Taking place at the Louise Robidoux Branch Library, authors, editors, publishers, and advocates provided timely information about the state and purpose of independent publishing.  During the panel discussion, each demonstrated the winding and often varied paths that brought each of them into writing. All were energized by the variety of voices, as well as the emphasis on new voices.

This event served to highlight an ugly fact of our Inland Empire literary landscape:  a dearth of literary agents based in the Inland Empire.  Nobody in attendance could name a single one. Given a piece of independent work will not have the built in support of a national publisher’s effort or media campaign, it is even more important for indie authors to have supporters to promote exceptional writing.

On the western edge of Inland Southern California, Pitzer College featured an indie event dedicated to the publishers themselves.  October 5th’s Small Press Fest, funded by Pitzer’s College Campus Life Committee and spear-headed by Brent Armendinger, focused on the interplay between independent publishing and social justice.  It was great to see a regional college take on this task.  Like libraries, they have a built in love of the written word, self-expression, and new ideas. It makes sense that higher education would eagerly find ways to support this knowledge sharing and the book crafting enterprise.

What stood out was the varied shape and feel of the books offered.  There were series of short tracts and tightly folded, accordion-style books, pop out books, books on all sorts of papers was popular.  Another stand out was the emphasis on marginalized voices, voices of women and people of color.  At the panel discussion, the overarching themes were social justice and how to create a sense of community with small presses. Amanda Ackerman with eohippus labs summed it up simply when she stated, [small presses] rely on idiosyncratic forms, information, and distribution”.  The result is a product that looks, says, and does things differently from traditional presses.

San Bernardino Public Library, Feldhym Central branch, celebrated Indie Author Day as one of 200+ libraries participating in a virtual town hall, panel discussion, and book sales on October 8th.  Program Coordinator Linda Adams Yeh provided a space to explore how each genre approaches self-publishing. Horror stories, detective tales, children’s books, fanzines, comics, graphic novels, biographies, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction offerings ensured everyone in attendance could go home with a new book.  The day featured two writers sharing best practices and processes to support artistic aspirations by drawing upon personal experience and community connections.

The nation-wide virtual town hall included an Indie Author Day panel discussion led by Jon Fine. Jon is a media consultant and the previous long time Director of Amazon’s Author and Publisher Relations. He led a panel of writers, librarians, and entrepreneurs speaking about what drives independent publishing.

Novelist L. Penelope spoke about what inspires the indie writer, stating they “want to get [their] hands into all the specifics” when it comes to the writing process. She shared what she did during that year of writing her first title.  Alongside her novel, she also prepared an extensive marketing plan. She incorporated the selling of the book into her creative process.

Lessons worth remembering? First, no matter what form publishing takes next, quality writing will still be priority one.  Second, you can find great homegrown writing with a mouse click or a trip to your local bookstore. Third, independent publishing is a time-tested method to explore new ideas and sustain a vibrant, local arts community.

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Filed under Indie, publishing, Uncategorized, writing