What Ancestry Books Will Mean to the Twin Cities
We made our goal at day 13 with 238 backers thanks to this wonderful village of folks who believe in Ancestry Books. YOU ARE AMAZING!!
The word about Ancestry Books is spreading from City Pages to a forthcoming article in Publishers Weekly!! Hurray for Bookies!!!
Now as we move forward with 2 1/2 weeks our stretch goals are focused on the number of backers that we can bring into this project.
We'd like to see 10,000 backers for Ancestry Books, giving small dollar donations (a dollar makes you a backer) in order to communicate our communities' power to materialize arts based community development without depending on large dollar donors.
Traditional funding models tend to minimize the potential of poor and working class communities to leverage their dollars for efforts like these. To say the least, we believe these models are wrong. There is so much beauty, light and power in North Minneapolis and we'd like to position this project as a new narrative, one that doesn't center on deficiency.
What we raise above our goal will be used to increase the number of local and national authors we can bring into Ancestry Books, provide greater resources to build a strong children's program, and to partner with educators by re-granting a portion of the dollars for educational materials in under-resourced schools. In other words, we want to pour these dollars right back into the community. Invest with us!!
My wife and I live with our family in the Cleveland Neighborhood of North Minneapolis, a community that we love, but is also one of the most under-resourced in the state of Minnesota. There is a scarcity of "third place" in North Minneapolis, third place being an idea of place that is outside of home and work where we build community, where we can relax, where we find a sense of belonging and where we can build power. At present, there is not a single bookstore in our community and this is where Ancestry Books comes in.
Initially, we imagined Ancestry Books as a pop-up bookstore that would run for the summer in the front porch of our home. However, after evaluating the challenges of rezoning in the timeframe we had planned, we considered using storefronts in North Minneapolis. As of January 23rd, we signed a 16-month lease for a cozy storefront on 2205 Lowry Ave. N, literally blocks from our home. We will be located next to the Lowry Cafe, North End Hardware, and blocks from Lucy Craft Laney Elementary School. So instead of a pop-up bookstore that would utilize our front porch, it will be a “pop-up” walking distance from the places we sleep, eat and play. It is perfect. This would be a unique space for high touch interaction that would focus on making under-represented authors available in a community that has little access to them.
We believe that it is important that communities of color can see themselves in the literature that they read, that this has a profound impact on increasing confidence, readership, engagement and critical thinking. I remember the powerful experience I had when I first read works from authors like Octavia Butler, Isabel Allende, Maxine Hong Kingston, Louise Erdrich, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Arundhati Roy and many more, it was transformative.
Sadly often when we go to libraries and bookstores in our state, not only do we have to travel a ways from our home, we often find the works of indigenous authors and authors of color, queer authors of color, and our local Black and Brown authors are severely under-represented. This is why Ancestry Books will be making such literature its focus.
Alongside our unique inventory, we will be hosting a number of events over the summer that will range from poetry and music performance to installation art and author talks that will all engage the the community on the value of the literary arts in helping us to re-imagine our world.
We need your help to accomplish this. The money that you contribute to this project will help us in:
1. Development: Good news is we have a space and have signed the lease to move in. We will need material for minor developments, such as painting and building bookshelves in order to make our bookstore a welcoming, beautiful space.
2. Inventory: Your contributions will also be assisting us in getting our initial inventory. BOOKS! BOOKS! BOOKS!
3. Events: We are already talking with authors who are local and national as we plan to put together a series of amazing events and workshops. Your contributions will help insure that we are able to bring a number or quality events to our community.
Along with Kickstarter, we have been applying for grants and have received some private donations but we wanted to use this platform as a means of getting our broader community involved. Our goal for this project is 10,000 dollars. However, if we surpass that goal we will be able to do much more in terms of bringing speakers in, building a solid children’s program, partnering with the surrounding schools, increasing readership and engagement in our community, and adequately contracting local and national artists for performances and workshops. Think and dream big with us!
Risks and challenges
We have been at work on developing the idea, mission, and work of this bookstore for a couple years now. Going in we are aware that there are obstacles, but most of those have been the misconceptions of whether or not under-resourced communities value reading. These are misconceptions that we have every intention of challenging and with our experience as artists and educators feel we not only have the creative energy but also community support to surmount it.
In terms of the sweat equity and work of renovating we not only have done some of this kind of work before but have a community rich in artistic resources to do the work of painting, flooring, building bookshelves etc.
As for the events we are both experienced in developing and running events, having put on a critical literacy program this past summer where we had a number of engaging events that utilized local authors and artists. We also have a catalogue of the literature we used for that initiative that will be instrumental in acquisition of initial inventory. In short we are ready to meet the challenges and are excited about the community support we have already gathered that is ready to meet them with us.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (40 days)