Over the last 18 months, the Choose Civility Initiative, in concert with many community partners (see partial list below) has explored a central query — what does civility mean when the goal is to increase civic engagement and participation among all members of a community?
Lift360 Maine Humanities Council League of Women Voters Elders for Future Generations West End Neighborhood Association USM Economics Department Coalition on the Commemoration of the 1964 Civil Rights Act ACLU of Maine
Collective definitions of civility have almost always begun with the concept of “respect” — respect for differing points of view, differing identities, differing ways of being in the world. This conversation often begs for deeper listening – our individual experiences of “respect” can differ and a central tenant of diversity and social justice education is the recognition that intention and impact can differ.
Peeling back “respect” often opens us to the value of curiosity. The practice of civility and civic engagement depend on some element of shared learning among members of a community. The Choose Civility Initiative quickly found that participants have a deep and abiding interest in sustained conversation – that the opportunity to learn from “experts” and from each other are equally important. Curiousity leads to increased empathy and the strengthening of the skill of “listening for understanding.” Our Choose Civility collection of 125 titles explores many topics and and our programming emphasizes opportunities for conversation among attendees.
Photo Credit : Sarah Davis Ground Rules Generated “Creating Communities We Wish To Live In” December 2014
In some times and places, a call for “civility” can be understood as code for a call to “quiet down,” to suppress controversial ideas or dissent. Portland Public Library embraces a much more rich and inclusive meaning of civility – civility is the value that allows full exploration of ideas, popular and unpopular; civility creates a climate where dissent can be expressed without fear of retaliation or violence; civility allows opportunities for clear and fair access to information that shapes the policy decisions that effect us all. As our larger community engages in debate and discussion about our values, we are Choosing Civility. As we share our own understanding of the word and listen hard to the stories of others, we are Choosing Civility. As we give of ourselves, as we advocate, as we serve, as we learn, as we appreciate our community, we Choose Civility.
We are grateful to the hundreds of individuals who participated in Choose Civility programming over the last 18 months and we look forward to continuing these conversations in 2015!
Recommended reads for classic and brand-new cookbooks and food memoirs.
“Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.” -Julia Child
Holiday cookbooks on display at the Main Library.
‘Tis the season for… Holiday Cookbooks! Not everyone needs a holiday for an excuse to sleuth out mouth-watering recipes. But if you’re thankful for cooking, and you aim to embrace the whole season of crafting pies, cakes, and turkey (and turkey alternatives and cranberry relish and latkes and squash and stuffing and gorgeous cookies)…or whatever special treats you like: we can fill your bellies with words of instruction. Click on our holiday cookbook reading list here.
Home cooking. Each fall yields wonderful harvests from Maine farms: brussels sprouts lined up on green stalks, like processions of tiny cabbages; savory, dark-ringed yellow delicata squash; sweet orange pumpkins waiting to be pie. And from the sea: buttery lobster, briny oysters. Find Maine recipes for your Maine-sourced ingredients here, including compilations of local recipes from our towns and islands, as well as recent cookbooks from Portland businesses like Standard Bakery and the Harbor Fish Market.
“Potatoes are one of the last things to disappear, in times of war, which is probably why they should not be forgotten in times of peace.” -M.F.K. Fisher
Food memoirs. If it’s food stories and the wit and wisdom of some of the finest food writers that you love- like M.F.K. Fisher’s spirited defense of writing about food in times of hardship, in her classic How To Cook a Wolf; Eddie Huang’s sharply funny tales of food and life in Fresh Off the Boat; Lucy Knisley’s lovely drawings and stories in her new graphic novel Relish; or Daniel Duane’s thoughts on How to Cook Like A Man (for his family)- try this list. Read for thoughts on food and friendship, food and culture, food and farming, food and wartime, food and identity, and LOTS of food and love.
In a year of special focus on reading women, it’s meaningful to hear this month that 17-year-old Malala Yousafzi has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 (shared with Kailash Satyarthi). Yousafzi’s memoir, “I Am Malala,” tells her incredible story as a passionate advocate for education for girls. Find it in print at PPL here, or check it out as an ebook!
A rich crop of other memoirs and essays are being published in the last months of 2014. As a City of Readers team member here at the library, I’m engaged with many of the conversations being sparked around new (and old) books. Some issues are timeless: is a writer-who-happens-to-be-a-woman a woman writer, or just…a writer? Authors Cheryl Strayed and Benjamin Moser tackle these and other ideas in a recent New York Times Book Review article, “Is This a Golden Age for Women Essayists?”
To help you celebrate the Golden Age, here are some of Portland Public Library’s own New Nonfiction releases. Click on the titles below for more info:
This list should stop somewhere…but it feels like a good thing that it could go on and on! Happy reading.
(For more recommendations, to ask questions, or to request books and other materials over the phone, please contact your branch, the Reader’s Advisory Desk at the Main Library at 871-1700 ext. 705, or the Reference Desk at the Main Library at 871-1700 ext. 725).