We used to know exactly what it meant to be a bookstore in Cambridge, MA. We stocked books, ordered books, talked about books, and hosted book events. We had responsibilities, we had an identity, and even though very little is easy about bookselling, we knew how to be a bookstore. But things changed. Regardless of your political opinions, we are now living in a different and more tumultuous world. As we watched our community, both in the greater Cambridge/Somerville area and in the book world, grapple with the state of the world (we are on Twitter, after all) it became clear we needed to reexamine those responsibilities and question those assumptions. In conversations among ourselves, both formal and informal, two principles rose to the top: refuge and resources.
In her electric speech to several hundred booksellers, Roxane Gay talked about how bookstores can be refuges, safe spaces for people to find solace, quiet, and thoughtfulness in books. They are places of culture and places of community. We want to continue to be a refuge for everyone in our community and so you are always welcome to come in, browse our books, read through them, and spend some quiet moments away from the rest of the world. (Though, we apologize in advance if one of us breaks in to ask “Need help finding anything?” or say “That is an amazing book.”)
Going forward, we are committed to not only continue to be that refuge but to find creative, fun, and perhaps even silly ways to celebrate the solace and joy that come from books and to ensure that, no matter who you are, you both see yourself represented on our shelves and have the opportunity to connect with other people, other places, and other cultures.
It is also clear that in this tumultuous time our community wants to do...something. Bookstores have always had a responsibility to provide the resources their communities need and to meet this new need, we are launching Be the Change, a civic engagement program to provide the resources to those who want to make change at all levels of government and in society in general.
Be the Change will consist of gatherings that will include workshops, projects, and discussions and meet on the last Sunday of every month, as well as traditional author events. The first monthly gathering will be on Sunday February 26 at 3PM with Jen Deaderick, where we’ll provide postcards, stamps, and addresses for you to send messages to your representatives and the next Be the Change author event is March 27, with Sheila Katz.
This is still a new project and will change and adapt to the needs of our communities so in the future it might also include fundraisers, free hand outs, and other resources. It is also an ongoing conversation, so if you have any ideas for events, projects, or resources you’d like to see included in Be the Change please email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org As the world continues to change, we’ll do our best to remain a refuge and provide resources to all of the people in our community. Thank you for all of your past, present, and future support.