Five years ago I was editing an article on Hawaii for Today’s Parent Toronto while at a resort in the Dominican. Irritating. Both to be working during a holiday but also to have the locations so criss-crossed in my psyche. In discussion with another writer Gisela Sherman, she mentioned how it would be nice when you’re on holiday to be reading about the place you’re visiting. Yeah, why not.
Next holiday happened to be in Arizona and I visited the Phoenix Public Library website to “Ask a Librarian” what local authors I could read. I ended up with some Tony Hillerman detective novels set nearby. I loved that matching. Next in Sanibel, I read some of Randy Wayne’s Dog Ford series. Those were easy to pick up since Randy owns his own restaurant which sells all his paperbacks.
But then what about when I returned home? Or when someone visited Burlington?
Not every writer can own a restaurant.
Enter the Local Author Display idea. First incarnation I was turned down by Burlington Tourist Bureau–they didn’t have the room to display anything. If they did it for writers, they’d have to do it for visual artists.
“Wow. I’d like that too!” I said.
Canada 150 seems to have changed everyone’s minds about local author displays.
The City of Burlington’s manger of Arts and Culture Angela Paparizo instantly liked and supported my idea. Ian Elliott of A Different Drummer Books cheerily researched and purchased all the titles and authors I supplied from Writers’ Union and CANSCAIP lists and Burlington librarians gave me names of even more literary artists. I thought I knew everyone who wrote in my home town.
With the success of this project, I wanted more. I wanted every school in Halton to be aware of the four children’s authors writing in their neighbourhood because I know first hand how excited kids can be when they read a book set in their own community. Or know that the writer of their novel or picture book lives near by. There’s an immediate connection to the work. Writing their own stories becomes more accessible. We drink the same water after all. They too could grow up to be a famous Canadian writer. Enter the postcard project.
We discussed the idea with a Burlington graphic designer Jennifer Filipowicz and all the writers kicked in money for design and postage. Jennifer inputted school addresses into a mail merge and her husband Adam Filipowicz printed the 170+ plus cards.
And today the postcards went into the mail. I love them.
Ideally the next step would be to speak at professional development days for local schools. Visit the schools to get the students writing and drawing. Another project to work on.