Saturday, January 1, 2011

January 2011 One Small Change

Happy New Year! Here's how my fiance and I spent the afternoon - hiking in Forest Park (with a bit of snow!):

I am so excited to announce my January One Small Change!! It is a great way to kick off 2011.

As I've mentioned before, I am serving my second term with Americorps here in Portland. As part of my term of service, I have the opportunity to design a Community Action Project - basically I have free reign to do whatever I can dream up that will have a positive impact on the community. Last year I installed a children's library in the office of the non-profit I work for. The office is in a low-income apartment complex, and the neighborhood children are constantly coming in to play with toys or the computers, but we had no books for them to read. So I built a bookshelf and got several hundred books donated, and it has been a huge hit with the kids.

This year, I'm planning something a little more involved. I will be partnering with another Americorps member to form a Community Action Book Club! I had the idea for this book club several years ago - I was standing in a bookstore, feeling inspired and overwhelmed by all the selections on the shelf. I am a big reader and I like to read books about environmental and social justice issues. I usually feel fired up after reading, but then don't really know what to do with my energy. As I stood there, I thought it would be so great to get a group of people together to read these books, and then work together to plan a project or do something to actually take action on the issue. To share each other's inspiration, and to hold one another accountable.

The idea of the Community Action Book Club is that for each topic, we will complete some sort of service or learning project, and/or personal challenges (much like the One Small Change model). We will spend two months on each topic. The first month we will meet to discuss the readings. Then the second month we will meet for the service, or to check in on our personal challenges. The co-leader and I will be posting flyers around Portland in bookstores and coffee shops to recruit members. We could easily fill the group with our own friends, but we really want to form a group diverse in age, interests, skills, etc.

 We will select the first month's topic, and then the group members will each have a chance to choose a topic of interest to them. The first month's theme will be "Stuff," which seemed appropriate following the holidays. We will be watching Annie Leonard's great video "The Story of Stuff" for the first meeting, to keep it simpler than having to read a whole book before the group begins. This is a great topic to inspire personal changes, but we haven't decided on the service/learning aspect of it yet... Perhaps we could get a tour or help sort at a recycling facility?? Do you have any ideas? I'd love suggestions!

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