I’m Your Neighbor, Portland officially kicked off with the Launch Party this past Saturday at the Portland Public Library. During the event, members of the community were introduced to the featured books and planned events that will be taking place throughout the year. It also gave an opportunity to recognize the many organizers and facilitators whose contributions and hard work are making these programs possible this year.
The community was joined by authors Terry Farish, Frederick Lipp, Maria Padian, and Anne Sibley O’Brien, as well as Aruna Kenyi, who wrote a story in I Remember Warm Rain. The authors were recognized along with their books and were available for book signings.
The event started off with Kirsten Cappy, Program Director, introducing the inspiration, mission and vision for I’m Your Neighbor, Portland. She was followed by Dr. Krista Maywalt Anderson, professor of psychology at Bates College and Project Scholar, who explained the importance of reading about cultures other than ones own and her research on the issue.
The highlight of the event was the presentation of the Featured Books. Each book was presented by one of Portland’s NAACP Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellows. The students gave a brief summary and read an excerpt of their choice, including one student who related The Good Braider to his own experiences in coming from Iraq to Portland.
Following the presentations, attendees were given the chance to donate to the Free Book Distribution, which helps fund and provide this collection of books for the community. The audience then broke up into small discussion groups and Anne Sibley O’Brien led them in introducing themselves by giving the history of their names. The discussion invited attendees to express how they envisioned using these books in the community.
A sampling of snacks and candies from various ethnic markets around Portland, including Sun Oriental Market, Safari Grocery, Mittapheap International Market, Sindibad Market, La Bodega Latina and Tandoor Bakery were available for refreshments. Guests could try Turkish Delight or Korean sesame candies or the tremendously popular freshly made hummus and bread from Tandoor Bakery.
Throughout the event, attendees were encouraged to write “I’m Your Neighbor” in any language that they knew on a banner. The banner will be present at each event for people to add to the growing list of languages. Already the banner has “I’m Your Neighbor” written in Japanese, Arabic, Italian, French and Somalian.
We hope you will join us in reading and celebrating these books throughout the year. Please visit our Events page to see upcoming programs.