Books on the Bus: Creative Writing Meets Creative Reading

Seattle as a community is well known for its embrace of creative practice and entrepreneurship, a passion for reading, a belief in social action, and, of course, living green. From grassroots hacking of urban spaces, to local government experiments in multi-income community living in the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace, to game changing private companies like Amazon, and social change-making foundations like the Gates Foundation, Seattle shows its lively and progressive colors on a daily basis.

You, my reader, might think that a longtime resident would no longer be surprised at hearing of yet another ingenious venture unfolding at her doorstep.  Yet, it was with great delight that I read this morning online of a new initiative that is so Seattle for rolling up creativity, social action, and living green all into one tasty dish. The innovation is called Books on the Bus.

Let’s roll back the clock for a moment to October 11, 2010 when the Richard Hugo House launched a great experiment in collaborative writing, kicked off by Nancy Pearl, perhaps the only City Librarian in the world who has her own commercially available plastic action figure.  On that day, thirty-six notable Northwest authors took to the cabaret stage of the Richard Hugo House, and in a relay of two-hour writing sessions over six days wrote a novel.

The event was called The Novel Live and was entirely spontaneous for the writers. Anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world could watch the novel unfold live, word by word, as it was being written. I had the pleasure of watching part of this event from a seat in the cabaret.

The book that resulted was called The Hotel Angeline, a mystery and adventure about a group effort by a motley collection of characters to rescue an old hotel in Seattle from financial ruin.

I went to the launch party some months later, but a busy life and too many commitments prevented me from buying and reading the book, the proceeds of which are fed back into community literary events.

Now let’s roll forward to July 6, 2012.

Seattle has long been a green city. With decades of reputation for leadership in recycling and a mayor whose election campaign centered around making streets even more bike friendly, we have lots of bicycle and bus commuters on our roads every day.

What is more, Seattle is a city that works strenuously to build community. Only last week as I rode downtown on the bus, I shared with the bus driver what a wonderful crossroads a bus can be for bringing a diversity of people together in common enterprise.

So imagine my delight when I read this morning of a new initiative called Books on the Bus that aims to build community on the bus by selecting every three months a single book title that riders are encouraged to read and discuss on the bus!

And imagine my further delight that the book selected for this green community building exercise for a city of readers is none other than Hotel Angeline!

Now I am typically more of a walker than a bus rider, and I definitely cannot read on the bus. But this summer will find me commuting by bus to my teaching position at the university. So I have gone ahead and ordered my copy of Hotel Angeline, and I will be ready to discuss it with any other reader with me on the bus!


About reflectionsandrotations

I'm an educator and coach with a special interest in fostering creative thinking, designing effective learning environments, and building communities of learners
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