One Read comes to Uptown

It’s not too late to join citywide conversation

A citywide book club called One Minneapolis, One Read, is challenging city dwellers to “Read the book, join the conversation,” and start discussions about race and identity in their neighborhoods and communities.

Launched in September, the book club is reading Minneapolis native and National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” co-host Michele Norris’ memoir “The Grace of Silence,” which deals with family secrets, racial identity and being the only black family on an all-white block. The book is to serve as a launch pad for conversations that can be difficult to get off the ground.

The City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County Libraries and Minneapolis Public Schools are supporting One Minneapolis, One Read and many events around the city are planned in order to bring people together to discuss the book.

An upcoming event will be at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, 3038 Hennepin Ave S., at 4:30 p.m., Nov. 14, hosted by local artist and storyteller Beverly Cottman. The event is free and open to the public and those in attendance are invited to discuss “The Grace of Silence” or their own personal experiences with race.

David Enyeart, who coordinates events at Magers & Quinn, said the upcoming discussion should unite readers and make the program feel more like a cohesive book club.

“It’s intended as something for people who are already participating in One Minneapolis, One Read to come together and meet one another,” Enyeart said. “Of course, it’s early in the process and it’s a chance for anyone who hasn’t started reading the book to meet and start discussing.”

Cottman said she doesn’t have a plan for what will be discussed at the event, but she is interested see where the conversation ends up.

“I have no idea who is going to show up at Mager’s & Quinn,” she said. “The discussion will be driven by who shows up and what they want to talk about.”

Cottman said she has ideas of what people will want to discuss, but in the end, she is going to let it play out naturally.
“There are questions about the reading, what spoke to you about it, are there things that are similar to your experience, or very different. But I think my role as facilitator is just to do that. Facilitate the discussion.”

However the discussion goes, Cottman said that she likes the idea behind One Minneapolis, One Read.

“I think it’s a good idea to have a book that everyone in the city is reading,” she said. “Get everybody on the same page and looking at things.”

Cottman said that her neighborhood book club discussed “The Grace of Silence,” although she lamented that she missed the meeting.
One Minneapolis, One Read kicked off with an event at the Guthrie Theater Oct. 3. Hosted by Minnesota Public Radio’s Kerri Miller and featuring Norris discussing her book, the event was attended by more than 1,000 people. Norris also appeared at Turtle Bread in Kingfield and a school assembly at Washburn High School.

City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden spearheaded the book club idea, after a group from South Minneapolis called Building Bridges approached her about it. Norris’ aunt, Doris Christopher is a leading member of the group.

Glidden said the city is about to begin collecting information on how many people have been involved with One Minneapolis, One Read. She said that in her unscientific opinion, the response has been strong.

“I was just floored with the participation,” she said. “I have been amazed by the warm reception Minneapolis residents have given to reading the same book.”

Norris is planning future trips to Minneapolis to continue her involvement with the book club and local business have been holding discussions of their own, Glidden said.

“I’ve really been excited about how the book has been embraced,” she said. “There’s something about the book.”

Events are planned through February, including meetings at the Sumner Library, Franklin Library, and the National Day of Listening on Nov. 25. Minneapolis libraries have many copies of “The Grace of Silence,” including audio and e-book versions.

The YWCA of Minneapolis is offering conversation facilitators for individual small groups who will be picked to match the group.
To request a facilitator or an event schedule, to read a preview of Norris’ memoir or for more information go to oneminneapolisoneread.com.