Book to Action at LAPL Edendale 2019

At Los Angeles Public Library’s Edendale Branch, Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room is the chosen Book to Action title this year. Angi Brzycki, Adult Librarian, has spearheaded the development of a rich and varied series of Book to Action programs which will help the community discuss the reality of incarceration and reentry. Programs include book discussions, a living library, a panel discussion, film viewing, day long writing and story exchange, and visits from both the book’s author, Rachel Kushner, and Father Greg Boyle. The final community service project is to create welcome home kits for the women in A New Way of Life Reentry program.

Book to Action Book Discussions  – Last Saturday of the Month Feb – May 2019 4-5pm

Book to Action Programs

Saturday, 3/9 Romarilyn Ralston 12-2pm. Eventbrite Link: Romarilyn Ralston
Romarilyn Ralston, M.A., program coordinator of Project Rebound at California State University at Fullerton, will discuss the mission and services of this project which offers resources and connections to the formerly incarcerated who wish to earn a baccalaureate degree. Spending 23 years in a California women’s prison, Romarilyn Ralston saw firsthand the factors that bring women to prison and what needs to be changed. She worked alongside peers, wardens and state officials to improve living conditions and to develop gender-responsive practices for women in prison. After release from prison, she earned a B.A. from Pitzer College in Gender & Feminist Studies, and a Master’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis. She was awarded a Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs. In 2015, Romarilyn joined the Center for Women in Transition, to assist with programming, including gender-responsive, restorative justice and trauma-informed programs. Working with these women confirmed the need for continuous criminal justice reform and reentry models. Now, as the Program Coordinator for Project Rebound, supporting formerly incarcerated students reintegrate into a college setting, she uses her experience to build stronger solutions for returning citizens and increase their quality of life.

Saturday, 4/13 Prison Yoga + Meditation panel 1-3pm. Eventbrite Link: Prison Yoga and Meditation
Join Prison Yoga and Meditation co-directors Nancy Deville and Farah Godrej and PY+M manager Janice Clifford as they discuss their work in the Los Angeles county system. Prison Yoga + Meditation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) group of volunteers that brings yoga and meditation to prisoners in five Los Angeles county, state and federal facilities to help them heal.

Saturday, 4/27 Testif-i Living Library and Luncheon 12-2pm. Eventbrite Link: Testif-i Living Library
This event is a “living library,” where participants can “check out” formerly incarcerated women and their children like a human book and ask them questions about their lives. The Testif-i living library will facilitate face-to-face encounters that allow participants to explore the lived experience of formerly incarcerated women and their children by means of a short conversation.

Saturday, 5/4 Mass incarceration and the Challenges of Reentry panel 1-2:30pm. Eventbrite Link: Mass incarceration and the challenges with reentry panel
Farah Godrej discusses with Tim Kornegay and Billy Taing mass incarceration and the challenges of reentry. Dr. Godrej is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Riverside. Her areas of research and teaching include Indian political thought, Gandhi’s political thought, cosmopolitanism, globalization, comparative political theory and environmental political thought. She is the author of Cosmopolitan Political Thought: Method, Practice, Discipline. Her new work examines the role of the yogic and meditative traditions of South Asia within U.S. mass incarceration.

Mr. Kornegay has served as canvassing consultant and field team lead for African American Voter Registration Education and Participation (AAVREP) doing disenfranchised and low propensity African American, system impacted voter registration that has netted 3,000 new registrations. He is the Justice Transformation and Voter engagement organizer at LA. Voice, a social justice organization.

Mr. Taing is a former lifer who was incarcerated for 21 years. Before his incarceration, he was a member of the U.S. Army National Guard. During his time in prison, he took advantage of the rehabilitation programs, obtained an A.A. degree in general studies and embraced meditation practices. He is active in several non-profit organizations, including Asian Pacific Islander Reentry & Inclusion through Support and Empowerment (API RISE), where he is serves as their Outreach Coordinator. He continues to advocate for immigration and social justice reform.

Saturday, 5/11 Act Two Film Screening 2-3:30pm. Eventbrite Link: Act Two- the Film adaptation of a play created by formerly incarcerated youth
ACT TWO is an original film, written and performed by an ensemble of formerly incarcerated and system-impacted youth from the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network’s Young Artivists Lab.

Armed with the power of knowledge and art, a group of Los Angeles youth work to dismantle the school to prison pipeline and stop L.A.’s proposed $3.5 billion dollar expansion of the largest jail system in the world. ACT TWO depicts the experience of youth incarceration as well as visions of transformation for our communities.

Monday, 6/3 Rachel Kushner on The Mars Room 6-7:30pm. Eventbrite Link: An evening with Rachel Kushner 
Rachel Kushner will read from and discuss her novel The Mars Room. Book signing to follow. About The Mars Room: It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.

Monday, 6/10 An Evening with Father Greg Boyle 6-7:30pm. Eventbrite Link: An Evening with Father Greg Boyle
Join us for an evening with Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang-intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world. By 1988, in an effort to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth, Boyle and parish and community members began to develop positive opportunities for them, including establishing an alternative school and a day care program, and seeking out legitimate employment, calling this initial effort Jobs for a Future.

Homeboy Industries is the largest and most successful gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. Homeboy offers an “exit ramp” for those stuck in a cycle of violence and incarceration. The organization’s holistic approach, with free services and programs, supports 10,000 men and women a year as they work to overcome their pasts, re-imagine their futures, and break the inter-generational cycles of gang violence. Therapeutic and educational offerings (case management, counseling, and classes), practical services (e.g., tattoo removal, work readiness, and legal assistance), and job training-focused business (e.g., Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Café, and Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery) provide healing alternatives to gang life, while creating safer and healthier communities. 

Homeboy Industries

Saturday, 6/29 – Your Justice Story – In association with StoryCenter, Berkeley, CA 9:30-4:30pm
In a day long writing and participatory story exchange, participants will be invited to discuss topics of the criminalization of poverty, the prison industrial complex, and specific experiences with mass incarceration and the process of reentry. They will workshop and develop a five minute script, and share and record the script at the end of the day.  This will be an extension of the Edendale Branch Book to Action programs with a focus on finding powerful stories which inspire positive change locally and globally.

StoryCenter has spent the last 40 years creating space for transforming lives and communities, through the acts of listening to and sharing stories. In all 50 states and more than 60 countries, StoryCenter collaborates with organizations in developing their capacities in story facilitation, digital storytelling, and other forms of participatory media production. StoryCenter is committed to challenging white supremacy and supporting social justice, in every aspect of their work. Please note: Space is limited for this program. If interested, you must apply. Application will be available end of March/early April.

Saturday, 6/15 Create Welcome Home Kits for the women of reentry program, A New Way of Life 1:00-2:30pm
This is the service component of the Book to Action – Participants will work together to create welcome home kits for the women of reentry program, A New Way of Life.

More information about the Book to Action series at LAPL Edendale Branch

Angi Brzycki, Adult Librarian
Edendale Branch Library
Los Angeles Public Library
2011 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
LAPL Edendale Branch on Facebook:
LAPL Edendale Branch on Instagram: @EdendaleBranchLibrary

About Book to Action

Book to Action is a program framework that takes the basic book club concept and expands it to create a dynamic series of events for adults and multigenerational groups. Librarians work closely with a community partner. Community members read and discuss an engaging book on a current topic, attend author or speaker events, and put their new-found knowledge into action by participating in a community service project or civic engagement activity related to the book.

In 2019, 25 libraries were selected to participate in creating a Book to Action series. 48 locations across California and more than 50 community partners will be involved. The full list of libraries, program coordinators, title selected, issue/theme, and community partners can be found at /programs/bta/.