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Readers and Writers for a Better Tomorrow

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Is this supposed to look like me?

We’re gonna start meeting like every other week for a couple hours somewhere nice in Northern Westchester to talk about what we’ve been reading and writing and we Want You To Join US!

For reasons embedded in a long story, I found myself with a library conference room reserved every other Thursday starting the 3rd of July and had nothing to do in it. With the Planetary Emergency! Potluck approaching I decided to create Readers and Writers for a Better Tomorrow and use the reservations for those meetings. (As a consequence of another long story, RW4BT will be happier meeting not in any library, but somewhere with food and drinks and no plastic chairs and that doesn’t cost $20 per freaking hour and isn’t the day before a holiday.)

I’m moved to create this group of readers and writers because I want to be a member, and I know there are people out there who would really like to be members too. There’s a certain set of “transformation workers” – everywhere and right round here – who are reading all kinds of things – analysis, tactics, biography, history, strategy – way more than any one of us could read on our own. So let’s get together and talk about what we’ve each been reading, put together a reading list, invite our friends. Churn up the ferment of what we’ve been investigating and learn from each other’s enthusiasms and lines of enquiry.

And because other people are reading things you’ve never heard of. It made an impression on me, a conversation I had with Stephen Filler at a ceremony led by 2 “earth wisdom keepers” travelling from Peru up the East Coast (a deep and moving event you can learn about here.) Stephen told me about his recent discovery of writers working on something called the Dark Mountain Project – writers who have realized life for humans has begun changing in fundamental ways and who “want our cultural responses to reflect this reality.” I’d never heard of them. I had a sense that it was about time for someone to be crossing that line, but I didn’t know who or where or what they’d already done. And it was the kind of business I might like to get myself up to. And I was glad to know.

That kind of cross-pollination is a very good thing. Plus, I’m all the time getting to be a bigger fan of everyone in the same room at the same time. It feels better. Results can be unpredictable.

We’re not reading for the sake of knowing more stuff. Especially more about scary dangerous things happening all over the damn place. We’re reading because we want to understand what’s happening, and figure out something to do about those scary things. For many of us, whatever there is to do will be mediated through communication – writing, talking, creating slogans, interacting on social media machines. It would make sense to have a place to share and discuss communication attempts with people who know what’s what. That’s the “Writers” part.

At the moment, we don’t have a venue or a first date or a schedule. But, as I’ve been fond of saying for years, “logistical problems have logistical solutions.”

I’ve got my eye on a few charter members I’m pretty sure I can count on. I’m going to create a web presence by the time you see this, and add it as a Meetup at the Northern Westchester for a Better Tomorrow Meetup group. I believe in this, and it’s going to be easy and fun. And I’m feeling much better knowing we’ll find a place where we can have a beer and some healthy snacks (or even unhealthy snacks for the unregenerate among us). That’s more the type of thing I want us to be doing on the mission (A reference to this I Spy moment.)

So, this is serious. We’re really meeting. It’s really going to happen. If you feel even a little tug of an impulse to be there for the first meeting, you can’t afford not to attend: You owe it to yourself, to all your fellow global citizens and to generations as yet unborn.

There’s so much to learn. What needs changing. How to deal with those things when they’d rather not change. We’ve all educated ourselves, and we each have different experiences and understandings.

I hope this works out. I’m looking forward to spending time with some of the people I know who are engaged by the questions posed by our predicaments. And looking forward to meeting some new people as word spreads about my new Readers and Writers for a Better Tomorrow.

If anyone out there knows of a good place to do this, let me know. I was thinking of the back room at Justin Thyme in Croton. Privacy, good food, drinks, extensive menu. I like the idea of eating and drinking much more than sitting on plastic chairs in a library conference room at $20 per freaking hour.

And no matter what, please submit a couple things you’ve really liked reading lately, and we’ll put it on the reading list.

Here’s the beginning of our reading list, some of what I’ve been reading lately. These also appear on the Readers and Writers for a Better Tomorrow page on the Northern Westchester for a Better Tomorrow website, nw4bt.org.

Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming by Paul Hawken
View in Indiebound An amazing book about the world “movement of movements” for environmental sanity and social justice. I felt my instinct affirmed that the way forward involves creating coalitions of people whose hearts are in the right places, no matter what issue they’re working on. (see also my Pete Seeger piece here) Hat tip to Jeffrey Davis (@JeffreyDavis108) of Tracking Wonder for cluing me into this book.

Visit PaulHawken.com

Suggested by: Paul Stark

Linchpin: Are You Indispensible? by Seth Godin
View in Indiebound

The world’s been changing in ways that promote the success of linchpins, the people who “invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there’s no rule book.” Luckily enough, following your real core impulses gets you there. And nothing else will. Liberation, success, building the life you’ve been dying to live. “Deciding to overcome the anxiety (false fear) associated with leading and connecting is the choice that few are willing to make.” (But there’s a good chance you’re one of those few.)

Visit SethGodin.com

Suggested by: Paul Stark

The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators. by Chris Brogan
Yes he is. He's calling *you* a freak.

As a luminary no less glowing than Amanda Palmer puts it, “Chris’ madman enthusiasm for the newfangled art-life-business blur screams and punches right out of these pages, which read like a manifesto for a new class of weirdo makers.” I loved this book. I carried it around with me everywhere until I finished it. I found it deeply encouraging.

Visit ChrisBrogan.com

Suggested by: Paul Stark

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. by Clay Shirky
Hey! I'm a person like me! One of the grand old men of understanding exactly how the internet changes everything. If you haven’t read it, read it. The ground changed so gradually underneath our feet (ours in particular, you Generation Jones types (Learn what I have to say about Generation Jones here, which includes one of the most popular things I’ve ever posted to the internet machine.)) that it’s easy to miss the depth of the paradigm shift. The four networks pumping out at us from their single more-or-less identical source, except if you had access to a mimeograph machine or were giving magazine interviews, replaced with just about everybody suddenly able to talk to just about everybody else. Why, and what it means. Plus, Clay used to be an experimental theater person, so in my book is pretty dang cool.

Visit Shirky.com And check out his TED talks.

Suggested by: Paul Stark

Before midnight tonight: Tell me you want to join in! Suggest a favorite book! Clue me into the perfect meet-together-talk-about-reading-and-writing-private-ish-snacks-and-beverage location. Those are just a few reasons there’s a place for you to leave a comment.

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