How would you tell the story of your own life?
That question has been posed to 18 local residents in preparation for the first-ever Human Library event in Northwest Arkansas. An idea born two decades ago in Denmark, the Human Library is a chance to bring "storytelling power back to those who lived out their story every day and wanted to share their experience to break down stereotypes and stigmas around who they are," says organizer Katherine Ganoung.
WHEN — 1-4 p.m. Saturday
WHERE — Fayetteville Public Library
COST — Free
INFO — faylib.org
BONUS — Eighteen books will be offered, with titles like “Underrepresented Millennial,” “Living Off the Grid,” “Transman: The Man I Am,” and “Divorced: Not the Final Chapter.”
Well-known Fayetteville actor, teacher and larger-than-life personality David Wright signed on to be a living book.
"Fayetteville Public Library put the call out, and I thought, 'Why not?' I was really intrigued by the concept," he says. "I am in a very good place right now in my life and have come through some personally hard times and survived. I decided to just tell my story, my struggles, my successes, my failures, loves, my losses, with an emphasis on the fact that at 60 I can look back and objectively and honestly express the truth of my life with a positive look forward. And if any of my story is relatable to someone else, it's a win-win."
The idea, explains Willow Fitzgibbon, director of library services, is that "participants can sign up for as many 'books' as time allows and have a 10-minute session with their selected book to talk about a given subject." Wright says he was asked to divide his book -- which is titled "GWM: 60 on the Outside, 18 on the Inside" -- into chapters to help facilitate discussion.
Ganoung, who is a graduate student in the department of communication at the University of Arkansas, says the Human Library suited the focus of her work: Using "storytelling as a lever for communication and civic engagement."
"Fayetteville has been moving in the direction of diversity, inclusion and understanding with policies and people advocating for those community rights," she says. "The Human Library platform seemed like a necessary and tangible next step in bringing those principals to life. And what better place than Fayetteville Public Library, a community hub that is open, accessible and welcome to all to engage with stories beyond their own?"
-- Becca Martin-Brown
NAN What's Up on 09/07/2018