Friday, March 19, 2010

Read to Rebuild- A Haiti Benefit Reading

Books and charity are two things Portland is known for. I thought it was cool that Reading Local found a way to combine both with their first ever event: Read to Rebuild- A Haiti Benefit Reading.

I’m always going to advocate people who are fans of literacy and who make others aware of what’s going on in the Book World. Reading Local does that for Portland with their website. I spread the word as much as I could about the event. I was pleasantly surprised by how much support local bookstores and other businesses were showing as well. Not to sound like a commercial but I was also glad McKenzie Books stepped up and donated some generous gift packages for Reading Local to raffle off.

Read to Rebuild was held at the Writers’ Dojo, an organization which I was vaguely familiar with because they were at last year’s Wordstock Festival. Next door to a martial arts center, I almost missed it. Once inside, with shoes off, of course, I found it to be quite a charming establishment. A spiral staircase led up to the Writers Room but the first floor was where the action was.

The founder of Reading Local was greeting people and taking care of the entrance fee- a suggested donation of $10- and raffle tickets. Tables were set up with snacks, coffee, wine, and all the prizes to be given out. Soon, people were pouring in and I thought the turnout was great- around 50 people. Writers’ Dojo was packed.

Aside from just exploring and enjoying the space I was in, I was amused by the handful of people who were settled in their chairs reading. I’ve been known to sneak away to quieter rooms during parties but while that act just seemed anti-social, it was almost expected here.

Six local writers read from their work throughout the evening. It started off with a group sing-along, in fact. And that pretty much set up the mood for the rest of the evening. There was a lot of fun to be had that night (including some nice sounding music during intermission) but the reason why we were all there didn’t escape us. The Director of Mercy Corps’ Health Programs shared his account of what it was like being in Haiti after the earthquake hit and how the money being raised was going to help a country rebuild itself.

I did have some nitpicks. First of all, I felt cramped with how close all the chairs were. Then the raffling off of prizes was a little weird. I would have thought they’d pick someone and that said person would then pick a prize they want. Then there wasn’t enough time to do it all so the raffle is still ongoing to the best of my understanding.

Aside from that, I’m glad I went to this event. Great job to Reading Local and everyone else who participated one way or another!

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