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The Sawyer Free Library will kick off the first annual Gloucester Reads: Many Readers, One Conversation, which will be held from June 22 to Sept. 15.
This citywide collaborative reading program aims to unite and energize the community around the important issue of climate change through reading, discussion and action.
Gloucester Reads will explore the topic of “Addressing Our Climate Crisis with the Hope of Building a Better Future.” The inaugural reading program will feature two award-winning books, “Falter” by Bill McKibben and “The Marrow Thieves” by Cherie Dimaline. The program will encourage the Gloucester community to dive deep into critical issues surrounding our climate and environment both on Cape Ann and beyond.
“Today, as we stand in the long shadow of the COVID pandemic, the importance of addressing climate change, another looming global crisis, has been illuminated,” said Beth Pocock, Assistant Director of the Sawyer Free Library. “The time frame is different but just as urgent. It is our hope that Gloucester Reads will bring together Gloucester residents of all ages to read these thoughtful books, engage in conversations about climate change and determine what steps we can take together to ensure a cleaner, more sustainable future.”
Presented by the Sawyer Free Library as a part of The Civic Hub, and in partnership with Backyard Growers, Gloucester Education Fund, Manship Artist Residency + Studios, Maritime Gloucester, Ocean Alliance and TownGreen 2025, Gloucester Reads offers residents the opportunity to read about and discuss this important issue with local experts. Discussion groups will be held online during the month of July. It’s the partnerships’ collective goal to open books and open minds, by bringing people together to begin conversations, engage and learn more about what they can do to help combat climate change.
Gloucester Reads will culminate on Sept. 15 with a live stream public presentation and Q&A with Bill McKibben, the award-winning author, and founder of 350.org, a global grassroots climate change movement. McKibben has won the Gandhi and Thomas Merton Prizes with The Boston Globe, calling him “America’s most important environmentalist.” This event will be open to the public, with details forthcoming.
The nonfiction book selection for Gloucester Reads’ inaugural year is “Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?” by Bill McKibben. In this book, McKibbon surveys the state of the havoc caused by climate change, identifies those institutions and individuals that ignore or actively abet it and turns his attention to new technologies poised to change the very essence of what it means to be human. He also finds a measure of hope for the future, relying on the power of cheap energy and nonviolent resistance.
“The Marrow Thieves” by Cherie Dimaline is the program’s featured fiction book selection. The young-adult novel imagines a dystopian future where global warming has ravaged the earth and, with it, most people’s ability to dream. Indigenous people, who can still dream, are hunted for their marrow to create a serum for others. The story follows Frenchie, a teenager on the run. After his brother is captured, Frenchie must create an ad hoc family and fight to preserve his people.
Children are encouraged to participate in Gloucester Reads.
“SFL staff chose a YA novel to most effectively engage readers around this challenging topic,” said Pocock, “but we have also selected and have available a variety of books written to captivate and inform children of all ages and their families. We’re trying to get everybody at every age level to understand that we all have a role to play in addressing our climate crisis with the hope of building a better future.”
From June through September, copies of the books will be available at the Sawyer Free Library in print, ebook and audiobook formats. Throughout the summer, the library has organized virtual discussion groups moderated by local environmental and community leaders, which are open to all.
Gloucester Reads is a part of the Sawyer Free Library’s The Civic Hub, which has been made possible through a grant given by The Institute of Museum and Library Services and distributed through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. The purpose of The Civic Hub is to create opportunities that foster civic engagement and discussion on issues facing our community locally and beyond.
Dick Prouty was the Executive Director of Project Adventure(PA), an international non-profit based in Beverly, MA, for thirty four years, until he recently retired in the winter of 2015. Under Dick’s leadership, PA, whose mission is to advance active learning, has become one of the leading institutions in the experiential education field and is responsible for 500,000 new students per year being introduced to adventure based education classes in physical education, health, fitness, counseling, and in academic classes with integrated experiential learning. Curricula development, training and consulting, publishing books and digital media, leadership development, and organizing and leading learning communities are among the core competencies he has developed over his time at PA.
Dick and his wife, Doris, have lived in Lanesville, Gloucester for the last 43 years, and raised two children, Ila and Seth. He has come to deeply appreciate the special place that is Cape Ann. Along with Co-Chair Candace Wheeler, and a growing number of volunteers of TownGreen2025, Dick is now focused on developing a plan to have Gloucester and Cape Ann make a difference in addressing the threat of climate change.