Creative 360 ​​hosts celebration to kick off year-long reading program

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A yearlong book program kicked off with a celebration in Midland on Saturday.

Creative 360 ​​hosted a “block party” to kick off the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read program. The event was in partnership with the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library and the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum and coincided with the launch of Midland County Neighboring Week.

Laura Vosejpka, executive director of Creative 360, said the Big Read program is a national grant program that communities can apply to. The Great Lakes Bay area has provided a grant through Saginaw Valley State University to fund this program, which will serve Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties, she said.


“It’s like a one-year book club for the whole community,” Vosejpka said.

The book for this program is “The House on Mango Street,” a 25-year-old book written by Sandra Cisneros. Vosejpka said the book follows a young girl growing up in a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago and focuses on her neighborhood and the Latinx community. The book was chosen by SVSU and Marshall Fredericks for its inclusiveness and sense of community.

Copies of the book were handed out at the kickoff. Painting projects have been scattered throughout the Creative 360 ​​building, along with a make-up station. A Big Pete’s Street Tacos truck was also present at the event with Conjunto Champz, a band that plays authentic Tejano music.

The block party coincided with National Hispanic Heritage Month and the start of Neighbors Week on September 27, a series of week-long city-wide events to promote Midland’s neighbors. Vosejpka said this weekend was specifically chosen as the launch date because the book’s themes match the goal of Next Week.

Alysia Christy is the Director of Community Impact at the Midland Area Community Foundation and one of her duties is to oversee the Foundation’s Cultural Awareness Coalition. The coalition works to make the Midland community an inclusive place and facilitates Neighborhood Week, she said.

The book’s theme parallels the coalition’s vision of Neighborhood Week and an inclusive Midland, Christy said.

“When we look at what is the most impactful thing we could do as a community to support an inclusive Midland, it starts with the neighbors,” said Christy. “We really can’t make a difference on an inclusive community until we are all inclusive neighbors. “

Camille Konkus brought her two children to the event because she thought they would have fun making crafts and connecting with the community. She had also known the book for some time and wanted to discuss the cultural topics and diversity in the book.

“It’s really important in the world we live in that (children) know that there are other people out there and that they should respect their neighbors,” Konkus said.

The Big Read program for “The House on Mango Street” will continue next year and feature monthly book-related events, Vosejpka said. The next event will take place on October 6 at 6 p.m. To learn more about the program, people can visit the Great reading webpage.


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