Wednesday, September 12, 2007

the september project in salt lake city

the university of utah's september project took and takes place this week. i was thrilled to be part of it.

on monday afternoon, i gave a faculty lecture titled "campus conversations and community collaborations." i framed my talk around a story sarah and i heard two or three years ago about the salt lake city public library. in 1998, the citizens of salt lake city voted (by a 68% margin) for an $84 million bond to rebuild the salt lake city public library. before construction began, the much loved library director, nancy tessman, invited members of the community and library staff to reflect upon what they thought the library should be and to write those thoughts upon a stone. the stones were then collected and placed at the site of the new library. concrete was poured, the foundation was established, and the library began to be built - all upon the collective hopes and dreams of the residents and readers of salt lake city. apparently, nancy tessman saved one stone and kept it on her office desk until she retired this summer. the stone, here in the hand of andrew shaw, SLC public library's assistant manager of community affairs, says magic.

i used the story of the magic stone to explain three elements of good campus-community collaboration. first, listen to your communities. second, when collaboration is good, all parties benefit. and third, when collaboration is genuine, magic happens.

one of monday's highlights was an interview with the daily utah chronicle, or the chronny. clayton norlen interviewed and teresa getten took pics and together produced this: "blogger to kick off september project: effort aims to encourage discussion" (9/11/07, daily utah chronicle).

on the morning of september 11, i headed over to KCPW where lara jones, joyce ogburn (director of marriott library), and i converged. here's the podcast. (and here's last year's podcast.) lara jones totally rocks. KCPW is located in SLC's supremely cool, supremely functional library square where the public library mixes with the community radio station and the community writing center.

we raced back to campus to see how the september speak out was going. what's a september speak out? as the chronny's clayton norlen accurately describes it:

"In conjunction with the September Project, members of the OrangeBand Initiative will be giving out orange cards and bands throughout the day on the Marriott East Plaza on which students can write their opinions. The orange bands and cards are intended to spark conversations among students about issues of concern. Students are instructed to tie the bands to themselves or their belongings, and cards will be displayed in the library."

through my eyes, it looked like this:

near noon, i gave a campus lecture called "why i blog and why you should blog." the talk was held in the hinckley institute of politics. the audience included librarians, professors, staff, administration, and STUDENTS!

i talked about la biblioteca berio in genova, italy and i talked about terrebonne parish library system in louisiana, USA. i talked about these mostly white guys. and i talked about the demon dog, marriott library, and the so so cool and so so delicious one world everybody eats.

the best part was the burrito lunch that followed. around six or seven utah students joined professors, librarians, staff, and administration. these were the students who organized the september speak out. we talked about some of the issues raised by members of the u of u campus. we talked about strategies for gaining attention and action around such issues. we talked about how some issues are related and can be approached collectively. for me, that was a big time experience. i thoroughly enjoyed meeting and sharing ideas with u of u students.

a lot more happened.

university of utah september project events continue tomorrow, september 13, with a campus visit by alexander keyssar, professor of history and social policy at harvard university's kennedy school of government. professor keyssar will join lara jones on KCPW from 10:40 - 11:00 am (update: here's the podcast). at 11:50, he will give a campus lecture titled "democracy as an ongoing project: threats and challenges to democratic governance in the US." the lecture takes place in the hinckley institute of politics and is free and open to the public.


Dana said...

Hey David,
I'm glad you enjoyed coming to the University of Utah. I know I love it here! I really liked your talk "Why I Blog" it was very informative and fun. It's great that you got a chance to look at the downtown library, that is one of my favorite places to hang out. You also made me aware of what The September Project is, and now I really want to participate. Great blog by the way!


david silver said...

hey dana - thanks for posting a comment!

it's good to hear you spend some time at the downtown library. there's so many different spots to read, reflect, and just relax inside (and on the roof of) the library.

thanks for the feedback on my talk and my blog.

david silver said...

unpacking my bags, i found a piece of paper that andrew shaw gave me. it was a few of the hundreds of quotes on rocks for the library:

"May it be a place of inspiration and personal growth."

"Devotion to community, continuing the grand tradition of books and information for all, and free."

"A place that honors all ideas and everyone is welcome."

and my favorite:

"More dinosaurs."

Srcsmgrl said...

David, thank you for telling us all about the September project and for your blogs about your speaking engagements. I have really enjoyed reading and you reminds me to think of the community in everything I do at my branches.

Ivan Chew said...

We should trade talks, David. You sounded very certain here (about us meeting in the near future). I'm taking your word for it! : )