Trying to win the Photo Contest at Wells County Public Library
You can go to West Africa to meet cocoa farmers (although not advisable at the moment with the ebola outbreak). You can write a book about your experience meeting farmers on four continents. But none of this guarantees that your stories will reach the hearts and minds of readers.
For that a little help never hurts.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Wells County Public Library in Bluffton, Indiana. They used my book WHERE AM I EATING? in their One Book, One County reading program. Basically, they pick a book, get a ton of copies of it for their patrons, and start a community-wide conversation around the book. If possible, they bring in the author virtually or physically.
About 200 events ago, I learned not to set expectations, other than expecting myself to be pumped about sharing the stories of those farmers and factory workers who’ve let me into their lives. Whether an audience of seven or seven thousand it is my job, responsibility, duty, and calling to feel these stories as I share them.
This lack of expectation allows me always to be pleasantly surprised. And I was most pleasantly surprised at the enthusiasm and hard work those at the library put into their program.
They designed and printed a reading guide with info from the book, updates they compiled themselves, interviews of me, recipes, info about the Facing Project, and section on Fair Trade. I read the reader’s guide and learned stuff! You can view the entire guide here.
Look at this amazing reader’s guide the Wells County Library put together!
That said, the library itself freaked me out. Don’t get me wrong, it was a gorgeous library, but it was a gorgeous library with about 1,000 pictures of me hanging everywhere — my head hanging from a string, me with a farmer in Colombia. Although it was a bit weird seeing myself everywhere (I feel ya Beyonce), it was a lot of awesome to see a photo of Mr. Feng the apple farmer I wrote about in China holding up an apple, the old woman I taught to throw a Frisbee in Ivory Coast, and so many of the others I met on my journey.
To see their stories come to life on the shelves of the library and know that the 30 copies of my books of the farmers’ stories, were constantly checked out and being read in Bluffton, Indiana, meant the world.
So a great big thanks to all of the amazing librarians who’ve helped share my stories, especially to Catherine Campbell (who designed the guide), Julie Christian (who I’m officially endorsing for county auditor), Emily Marshall (who made the event happen), and Stephanie Davis (who assembled such an amazing team). You all make the world a better place one book at a time.
Also, thanks to the fabulous audience that attended…