The September Project Blog

Come here to learn about the goings-on of The September Project, a grassroots effort to foster public events in all communities on September 11.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

david cole's talk

monday night i sat in the audience at the seattle central public library to hear david cole, georgetown university professor, speak about constitutional law. admittedly, i don't know a lot about the constitution, so i learned quite a bit. of particular note was his discussion of laws that have tightened civil liberties the past century, and how major events, like wars, have largely impacted the reason for such legislation. cole's discussion was smart, compelling, and his usage of real examples of how laws have affected real people made his points even more clear and relevant.

after his talk, there was a short question and answer period, in which a person asked a common yet important question, "what can we do?" cole answered that we should exercise our rights. he believed that "speaking up with other citizens through organizations" is an important way everyone can make an impact. he continued, by admitting that this type of public gathering happening across the country (and beyond!) is a reason to be encouraged.

so for all of the people engaging at libraries across the world, david cole salutes you!

Friday, September 16, 2005

timely event on supreme court nomination hearings

we continue to hear from libraries about the types of events they are offering. i just received an e-mail from the university of wisconsin-eau claire library describing their timely event:

On September 20, UW-Eau Claire will host a roundtable discussion, "Constitutional Law for a Changing Supreme Court." The roundtable will feature short presentations by three faculty members from the history and political science departments. They will discuss how John Roberts and a President Bush-nominated associate justice could impact constitutional law in cases involving the First Amendment, privacy, criminal rights and federalism. The panel will provide a historical perspective on the sometimes contentious nomination process of a Supreme Court justice. There also will be a question and answer period with the panel.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

the project continues...

this year, a number of events take place after september 11. this evolution of the project mirrors our original hope that free and public events about freedom and democracy would occur throughout the month or--even better--throughout the year! in the seattle area, events are scheduled throughout september and october; i'm going to try to attend as many as i can.

keep checking back to hear more about the cool stuff going on!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

guest entry: sarah's mom!

being the proud mom of sarah has gotten me pretty excited about the september project. this year I decided to go to several libraries and it was amazing to see the different strategies each used for their session. i guess that’s the part that really turns me on... each library designs their own event according to the community they represent.

on SATURDAY, september 10, i attended a showing of the movie, “the cost of freedom, civil liberties, security and the us patriot act" at the southdale branch of the hennepin county library in edina, mn. the movie highlighted the tensions between civil liberties and security that have arisen since the patriot act was passed in 2001. over thirty people attended the screening, and over half of that number stayed for a discussion afterwards. all ages represented which made the discussion lively and interesting in that so many different perspectives and experiences were shared.

on MONDAY afternoon, september 12, the edina branch of the hennepin county libraries, presented great decisions: the us and global poverty as part of their september project. over 75 were in attendance and many stayed for a discussion and question and answer session. interestingly, this monthly gathering began a year ago with a similar lecture and discussion around september 11 for the september project. those attending were so impressed that they asked for more, and the numbers keep growing as programs are presented each month except during the summer. so david and sarah can take credit for an ongoing program in minnesota!
the librarian mentioned that the mother of one of the co-directors of the project was present which was cool. several of the people stopped to talk during a break and said i must be so proud of my daughter......well yeah!

a drive through the minnesota river valley delivered me to gustavus adolphus college in st. peter on MONDAY evening. a gathering in the college library heard a presentation by several professors and a librarian who explored "perspectives on civil liberties in the post-9/11 world”. each person’s view came from her/his own field of expertise and was stimulating and thought provoking. most of the audience were students, and their views and questions were great…..a very informed group! the library has several more programs planned all under the september project heading... i may be doing more driving this fall! after the event i was able to meet the presenters and talk to them about this and future programs they are planning. they all had wonderful and encouraging things to say about the project and also about sarah and david for coming up with the idea! i was so pleased!

Monday, September 12, 2005

packed house at the central library!

sunday was a busy day, with most events happening in seattle around the same time. i had to leave one event early to arrive late to the post-film discussion of the movie "unconstitutional" at the seattle central library.

i was thrilled to see a packed crowd--around 100!--eagerly raising their hands for the opportunity to learn from an aclu representative. the questions were mostly about legal concerns and citizen's rights.

after the discussion, i had an interesting chat with a friend's mom who was visiting from great britain. she admitted the film and subsequent discussion revealed a side of americans not often exposed in her home country's media.

from the number of people in attendance and the enthusiasm they expressed by queuing up to speak with the aclu rep, i'd say it was a grand success!

interfaith dialog

as i sit down to describe an event i attended yesterday, the first word that comes to mind is "magical." i participated in an extraordinary exchange; i feel lucky to have been part of it.

the program, called "a faith-based discussion of conflict and humanity," included 4 panelists from the Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Bahai faiths. each panelist focused on conflict and humanity, yet so much more was expressed and exposed in the 2 hour exchange. there were 30 of us attending at edmonds community college. 30 people learning from the wisdom and generosity expressed by the panelists, and engaging in the warmth and curiosity of the audience.

there were so many lessons to be learned from these wise leaders. at one point i stopped my typical note-taking frenzy, and listened, realizing that true knowledge would seep in without my pen to paper. i still haven't processed all of it, but one thought keeps looping through my brain: "you can only achieve justice justly."

this powerful event is going to stay with me for a long time. i have deep respect for those who organized it, and look forward to future collaborations. thanks to all who were involved.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

"changing the world, one friend at a time"

i just left a multicultural chat with people from libraries in singapore, manilla, and sugar grove, illinois. i arrived late (after midnight!), and was happy to interrupt an active conversation about "how much do we understand each other." participants were teenagers and librarians, and offered a range of perspectives about their personal and world views. when all was said and done, everyone agreed that having an online discussion with people from different countries is a good idea. "just...talking" is a powerful way to learn from each other. ivan summed it up when he offered that they were "changing the world, one friend at a time." i agree.

congratulations to the organizers for this creative and engaging event!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

"we have freedom of speech, at least in this room!"

i'm at a crowded cafe, excited to write about the first event i attended this afternoon. it's a bit surreal, because over the din of the crowd (there's a d.j. here for the ballard art walk), I can hear the couple next to me talking about the seattle central library, and what they think about the "futuristic" design. it seems only right i'm writing about libraries and their place in the community. whether as an architectural destination, or as a place to exchange ideas about issues that matter, libraries evoke different emotions in all of us.

today i attended my first september project event at the ballard library. for their event, the library organized a film screening of the movie "unconstitutional" with an open discussion facilitated by a volunteer for the aclu. there were 32 of us.

the movie covered topics such as the patriot act and immigration issues. republican and democrat legislators, activists, and lawyers presented their perspectives, but the most enlightening stories were from the americans affected by the results of the 9-11 attacks.

the discussion was truly open; the facilitator encouraged attendees to talk about what interested them. it took a bit for the discussion to reach a comfort zone; the shift was marked by a man who requested the group move the chairs into a circle, so we could actually talk to each other and engage. what a difference! it's amazing how physical organization can impact engagement. the group immediately fell into a rhythm where all were able to speak and learn from one another. at one point, someone exclaimed, "we have freedom of speech, at least in this room!"

for all librarians working to maintain free and open access to information, there was a group of people in ballard thanking you for doing what you do.

Friday, September 09, 2005

the impossibility of scheduling.

procrastination has been the rule when it comes to choosing which events to attend this weekend. there are so many smart and interesting events, it's impossible to fit all of them in. i'm not sure what i'll do!

i just heard about this one at the shoreline library in the seattle area. check it out:

Mahatma Gandhi: Visionary of Our Time
Saturday, September 10, 1pm
For adults and young adults.
Gandhi was an inspirational teacher of love, peace, truth and non-violence as a way of being in the world. Long-time peace activist Bernie Meyer, dressed in traditional dhoti with walking stick, brings you the legendary Mahatma Gandhi. Meyer has performed as Gandhi across the United States and in India. Meyer portrays Gandhi's life in historical context, but also discusses how Gandhi's approach to world peace is relevant today. Gandhi was an inspirational teacher of love, peace, truth and non-violence as a way of being in the world. You won't want to miss this breathtaking performance that makes history come alive.

holy postings!

for those of you who are members of the project listserv who are a little overwhelmed by the quantity of postings from enthusiastic librarians, hang in there! it's true, the listserv is not normally so active, we're just experiencing some last minute increased activity. we expect the number of e-mails will decrease after the weekend.

so please: if you have unsubscribed to the list, consider re-subscribing after the weekend. i apologize if the increased number of e-mails inconvenienced any of you--it's hard to contain the excitement! :)

chronicle of higher education article

an article about the september project in the chronicle of higher education is accessible online.

kudos to the libraries the reporter chose to showcase!

Woodburn Public Library
Arizona State University at Tempe: Hayden Library
University of Kansas
University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Thursday, September 08, 2005

monthly discussions

this event is happening in Chardon, Ohio, at the Geauga County Public Library. learning how to "initiate positive change" at the library is tremendous.

An Afternoon of Civil Discourse on September 11

The Library is a place where those of differing opinions can come together to discuss controversial issues and there is no better day on which to do it than September 11. We will hold the first of a monthly series of discussions with Dr. Mike Whitely asking you to "Think Globally, Act Locally about Peace". Dr. Whitely, a professor at Kent State University in Educational Psychology, was in New York at Ground Zero as a fire fighter to help with the rescue efforts. He will demonstrate how you can initiate positive change within your local community and beyond.

The topics for subsequent discussion in the Civil Discourse series will be selected by those who attend. There will be a discussion leader and several invited guests who have expertise or a special interest in the topic. And then we will talk – civilly - and try to understand those who disagree with us, and perhaps reevaluate our own points of view. Refreshments will be served.
Please call Chardon Library to register.
Sunday, September 11, 2:00p.m.

event descriptions make my day

we are receiving descriptions of events at a rapid pace. my in box is truly a repository of inspiration, creativity, and beauty. the first thing i do when i roll out of bed every morning is wander to my laptop, groggy, yet eager to find out what gems are waiting for me in my in box. to read more about what's putting a smile on my face early in the morning, check out the project event page. i'm updating it as fast as i can!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

i've never been to iceland

i don't know much about iceland. bjork is my only cultural reference to this mysterious place. and now, for the first time in my life, i have corresponded with a person from iceland--a librarian. here is what the Kopavogur library is doing for The September Project:
First of all we will promote the project by describing it, its origin and purpose, on our web-site as well as on posters inside and outside our library.

Secondly, books and other media on the subjects of democracy, freedom of speech, protests and human rights will be on show, as well as a booklet on the Constitution of the Republic of Iceland.

A brochure with a reading list and references to information about the project and its subjects will be produced and made available for the public.

In the Korinn, the multi-purpose room, films will be screened every day of the week between the 9th and the 16th of September at different times of the day.

There will also be a slide-show with photos of protests and demonstrations from various times in history and from various parts of the world.

With greetings from Iceland

Thursday, September 01, 2005

libraries as outposts for hope

amidst all of the tragedy, it is comforting to know that public places still exist to help people with whatever it is they need, whether a good book, internet access, emergency aid, or a friendly face in times of tragedy. the following is an excerpt of a post from a librarian in louisiana that reminds us of the importance of libraries in our communities, and the extent to which librarians serve everyone who walks through library doors. librarians are gems.

The restrooms are popular and we ask only that they tell us when the toilet paper runs low – there is no graffiti worry with this bunch. We ask that they try to get things done in half-hour segments because there’s always a waiting line for one of our eight public access computers. (Thank you Bill Gates and the [Louisiana] State Library technology Aid). And we rap on wood that those eight stay healthy and ready. Our printer cartridge is growing dim, and the new cartridges we ordered are somewhere in transit: we hope not from the New Orleans direction. Tomorrow we need them!

People are filing for FEMA online – that must be one terrific computer system as no one has been frozen out because of overload. We have the only fax machine in town and its fax tone rings constantly…long distance numbers are not answering yet. New Orleans has no communication systems up at all, and Baton Rouge has lost much power and people aren’t in any offices to answer phones or faxes. FEMA literature is printed and copied and piled on the desk, along with Louisiana Unemployment procedures. The list of sheltering facilities and our own (extended) hours, and location is there, too, along with the top three or four sites for information. We are staying open on Sunday and Monday (Labor Day) six hours each as we have the only Internet access available to the general public.

People just sit and talk with each other, and with us, and greet us like old acquaintances when they come back. Two ladies cried today when they left and said they just couldn’t believe what a nice place “we” are. So many people think they have to pay to use the computers and are so happy when they find they don’t have to. People are buying clothing at the Dollar store and at “Fred’s” (local old style 5 & Dime except nothing is five and dime anymore) and the two food stores here are depleted of everything you need to live in a motel room with a microwave or refrigerator. Or without them. Bread just doesn’t stick around. Gas hasn’t spiked up yet, but it will be in high demand as there are many, many more vehicles here now. I filled up for the first time in weeks. I don’t plan to roam far.