Homer’s Big Read wraps up with a final week of events

Homer Public Library hosted 6 weeks of community reading

The Friends of the Homer Public Library and the library itself are wrapping up the six-week 2024 Big Read series of events focused on Jess Walter’s book “The Cold Millions.”

This historical fiction novel about the 1909 Spokane Riots included themes that inspired events and in-depth conversations across a variety of community organizations and venues. These conversations centered on themes of finding a home, the treatment of Indigenous people, the roles and treatment of women, roles of labor unions, and the fight for free speech.

Friends of the Homer Public Library hosted 17 diverse events related to the book.

The first event was a kickoff at Alice’s Champagne Palace.

There were four Book Club sessions designed to discuss interpretations and impressions of the book.

Kathleen Gustufson hosted a live radio Coffee Table show on KBBI.

The library hosted a presentation by Clark Fair about historic locals from the area and a live Zoom conversation with authors Jess Walter, John Straley and Tom Kizzia.

Homer Council on the Arts exhibited a monthlong “Finding Home” show with an opening night presentation.

Passages Alaska Curriculum facilitated a discussion regarding ninth grade history lessons produced by Native Alaskan educators from the Lower Kuskokwim School District at the Bunnell Street Gallery. The Bunnell website notes, “Alaska Studies is a requirement for high school graduation in Alaska. It has long been a propagandistic pro-settlement narrative that begins with the conquest of Alaska. A new Indigenized curriculum, Passages Alaska, is now ready to share broadly. The curriculum engages storytelling, interviews with Elders, mask-making, theater, and creative writing to explore more inclusive, true stories about Alaska and Alaska cultures. Learn more about how Alaska Studies can be taught and how this curriculum could be applied in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.”

Janet Klein led ‘These Are Our Stories’ at the Homer Senior Center providing seniors an opportunity to share their own memories and a book circle and community conversation was held at the Ninilchik Community Library facilitated by Cheryl Illg and Sara Reinert.

Two performances of “Don’t Mourn, Organize!” directed by Kathleen Gustafson were performed at the Beluga Lake Lodge, and the Homer Public Library provided a special showing of a movie viewing of Disney’s 1992 “Newsies.”

The final event is tailored toward high school students and will take place on the Mariner Stage and will include music, reading and more. This event is coordinated by Kathleen Gustufson and Tyler Munns and will take place Thursday afternoon.

“From the first event in January through the ending event this week at the Homer High School stage, we have had excellent attendance at each event and loads of positive feedback from Big Read community participants,” Cheryl Illg, coordinator for FHL, said.

”We are grateful for all our skilled and inspiring facilitators, hosts, performers and volunteers at our Big Read events. We are also thankful to each of our brilliant community organization partnerships.”

Their partnerships include Bunnell Street Arts Center, Homer Council on the Arts, Pier One Theatre, Kachemak Bay Campus, Homer Senior Center, Ninilchik Community Library, KBBI radio, the Homer Bookstore and the Homer Public Library.