Brissa Reyes (2022)
Block by Block: A Reading Circle Book Brigade in the Central Valley
Block-by-Block: A Reading Circle Book Brigade is a project to establish reading groups and expand the notion of “book clubs” in small/rural towns within Fresno County. The reading circles aim to strengthen community discussion in predominantly Latinx areas, and debate key issues of labor and work life, economies, and health. Through group readings that are accessible, bilingual, and open to residents create a ‘tejido social,’ or woven social network of people living in the vicinity with one another. The project will include both written text, and oratory reading (out loud) in a collective tradition with selected topics and news information. By reading literature and coming together to discuss, the circles aim to catalyze a deeper participatory engagement with local issues and democratic processes. The readings will aim to be accessible and will feature a wide range of writers from literary backgrounds. Alongside a variety of levels, many of the novels will be from authors of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color.
Many conversations are happening every day around kitchen tables that discuss topics that are echoed in these books and stories. The local book brigade makes a space for those kitchen conversations to come out in public spaces, building on the common ground of neighborhood interests. Overall, this project will aim for long-term sustainability with local partnerships between educational centers, community-based organizations, and public libraries. With the support of the Judith Lee Stronach Prize, this project can serve as a model that can contribute to the threads of communication among neighborhoods in order to fabricate a woven tapestry of Latinx-based civic power in the Central Valley, and beyond.
Brissa Reyes graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English and a minor in Journalism in August of 2022. She was born and raised in a small town near Fresno, located in the heart of California’s Central Valley, to Chicanx parents. Her coursework and interests have inspired her to learn about community-based organizing, study popular power movements in the U.S and Latin America, and continue to learn about the craft of storytelling. She is passionate about writing and hopes to continue to use storytelling as a tool for liberation and social change in the future.