City in Conversation: One Book, One Philadelphia

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019
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A City in Conversation. Tamala Edwards reports during Action News Mornings on February 15, 2019.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Everyone knows: I love books.

So I'm excited to create and start a new partnership between 6abc and the Free Library.

We're kicking it off at a special time and with a special event: One Book, One Philadelphia, where the whole city is invited to read the same book and come together to talk about it.

This year's selection is "Sing, Unburied, Sing," by Jesmyn Ward, the tale of a young man trying to deal with both the present and the past.

From now until early March there will be conversations, screenings and workshops, as the city comes together to read and weigh in on this incredible book. And every week I'll be posting conversations here about the book, each time from a new vantage point. Please watch and join in!

One Book, One Philadelphia and 6abc, A City in Conversation: Spoken Word

Lisa Nelson-Haynes is well-known in the arts community in Philadelphia, first at the Painted Bride and now at Philadelphia Young Playwrights, a non-profit that brings the power of stagecraft into area schools.

One Book, One Philadelphia and 6abc, A City in Conversation: Philadelphia Police Department

Altovise Love-Craighead has served in almost every capacity at the Philadelphia Police Department. She's risen to the rank of Inspector and now spends her days trying to be a bridge between police and the community. While the rest of us may see characters who are worthless, broken or infuriating, she sees what she sees on our streets all the time: People in trauma. While we are quick to judge and second guess the police, particularly in one tense scene in the book, she sees a study in contrasts: An officer who she thinks is too harsh, but who she understands. "We're happy, we're sad, we cry," she reminds of officers, noting there are trained to act tactically. Here she shares her thoughts about the book, about our own city, and about the special story behind her beautiful name.

One Book, One Philadelphia and 6abc, A City in Conversation: Miss Regina and Miss Mary at the Philadelphia Senior Center

History and the heaviness of time hang over so much of Sing, Unburied, Sing, this year's One Book One Philadelphia selection. Race and segregation figure into what happens to Pop and the other boys wrongfully imprisoned for cheap labor. Hate is in the mix when he makes a critical choice, all to try to meet an awful moment with a last act of kindness. Out of it is a death that never leaves him. Indeed the ghosts of the past always at the ready, from the actual ghost of Given, who haunts his sister after his murder, the stink of senseless prejudice, as Michael's parents refuse to accept their own grandchildren because they are biracial.

How do you make peace with the past? I think of my own life and how much time I've spent tumbling the past almost literally through my hands. What is I had made different choices? What if things had gone differently? How do you move on? You wonder how people don't some things stunt them inside, drowning them in regret and bitterness. But I also know this: scientists find we are most happy not at 30 or 50 but at 70. There is something about what we hold onto and what we let go when we get older. So I particular looked forward to this talk with Miss Regina and Miss Mary at the Philadelphia Senior Center in Center City. They had a long running book club and they've read all the selections. They say much of the book brought them to tears and reminded them of how grandparents are often needed to step in for their grandchildren these days. As we wrapped up I asked them how the book left them. It'd be easy to despair, to see a continuum from the ugliness of the past to the perils of the present. But Miss Regina wasn't having it. "I'm an optimist," she insisted, pointing out her faith. Things, she says, always move towards the better. It was a good note to step out on in the middle of a dark, cold morning.

From a life sentence to a life serving: A special perspective on 'One Book, One Philadelphia'

Read more on my interview with Ghani Songster.

One Book, One Philadelphia and 6abc, A City in Conversation: Dr. William Hite & Senior Carl Woods III

Our partnership with the Free Library continues, with another vantage point on the One Book One Philadelphia selection: "Sing, Unburied, Sing." So many of the characters face crushing decisions and pivotal moments as teenagers: Jojo, navigating his drug addicted parents, his toddler sister and his grandfather's secret; Leone, grieving and unseen, choosing a man and a life that is part of her undoing; and Pop, a child himself choosing a terrible crime to avert an even greater evil. Given and Richie, the two ghosts who haunt the story, die as teens. So I went to see Dr. William Hite, Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, and Carl Woods III, a senior at Bodine High School in Northern Liberties, to talk to them about the book. What does it mean to face so much pressure and history as a young person? How does turmoil in your youth stay with you? What stayed with them from the book? Give it a listen and tweet me your thoughts, @TamEdwards6abc!

One Book, One Philadelphia and 6abc, A City in Conversation: Nancy Kauffman and Robin Tiedeken

We continue our conversation about the One Book One Philadelphia selection, "Sing, Unburied, Sing," by Jesmyn Ward. Trauma is a huge facet of the novel, as characters try to make sense out of difficult relationships and choices in the present while confronting shocking episodes in the past. So how does trauma influence us? How should it be part of how you interpret your own reactions and feelings to the book? I went to a couple of experts, two nurses, Nancy Kauffman and Robin Tiedeken, who have years of experience in Philadelphia.

One Book, One Philadelphia and 6abc, A City in Conversation: Mayor Jim Kenney

One Book, One Philadelphia and 6abc, A City in Conversation: Lorene Cary and Why You Should Read the Book!


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