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My plan was originally to do all four programs from January through April. We started with the January discussion and used the theme of Heritage. We chose the book FLIGHT BEHAVIOR by Barbara Kingsolver for the Heritage Theme. We had the discussion and then a follow-up program on Monarch Butterflies by a fellow who is locally known as “the butterfly guy.” It was great.
Then in February we did the book WALKING: ONE STEP AT A TIME by Erling Kugge. It is a short meditation on walking, its meditative aspects, social aspects, historical aspects and biological aspects. We had a great discussion. I had planned to follow this up with a talk by a couple who had hike the Randonnee #5 in Europe from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean but the COVID 19 pandemic shut everything down.
People had already started reading our third book, THE OVERSTORY by Richard Powers and I tried to get them all to do a ZOOM discussion but no one wanted to do it that way. I tried to do other ZOOM programming (a poetry sharing for National Poetry Month) but they were also not successful. People in my town have not seemed to be interested in that kind of program.
We’ve been doing curbside pick up since April 27. We were able to open up the library for in person visits by appointment. We took the discussion of THE OVERSTORY outside and had a nice group meet.
I have decided to go forward the fourth book and even continue with two more books after that which my science partner and I chose.
We met again outside and discussed STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel. The book has particular relevance to the moment because the initial action includes a flu pandemic that wipes out 99% of the human race. Our current pandemic doesn’t reach that level, but there was much to talk about.
We will be doing THE BOTANY OF DESIRE by Micheal Pollan at the end of August. Then we will do IN THE GARDEN OF THE BEASTS by Erik Larson. That book may not seem on the outset to be related to science, but it has a lot to say about the psychology of people who allow a fascist, dictator to take over their country. There will be a lot to discuss about those psychological forces.
I was going to have companion programs with each book relating to the scientific ideas in the books but at this point trying to do that kind of programming is difficult. Right now, with the summer weather, we have been able to have programs outside. Once the weather gets cooler I will think of using some of the online resources and maybe get people to watch some videos and then have a discussion. All this remains to be seen.
We are watching science in action in real time with this pandemic.