The September Project
On Saturday, September 11, 2004, people across the country will come together at public places like local libraries to discuss ideas that matter. Through dialogues, discussions, roundtables, and performances, people will share ideas about democracy, citizenship, and patriotism. Libraries are perfect places for such events: they are free, they are open to the public, and they are distributed nationally. There are over 16,000 public libraries in the U.S. and this does not include university, research, K-12, and places of worship libraries.
The September Project is a collection of people, groups, and organizations devoted to making this happen annually and internationally. As of July 2, nearly 100 libraries have signed up to participate in this exciting project. NCDD is supporting this project in a number of ways (including developing special resources for libraries interested in dialogue & deliberation), and NCDD?s Convenor, Sandy Heierbacher, is serving on the September Project?s Advisory Board.
Who is participating?
The list of participating libraries grows weekly. This includes urban and rural libraries, large and small university libraries, K-12 libraries, and libraries that serve hearing and visually impaired. In many cases, libraries are collaborating with academic institutions: universities, colleges, community colleges, and K-12 schools. Many are also working with organizations like the ACLU and League of Women Voters, civic and religious groups, and local firefighters. We are eager to make this event international, and we are discussing ideas with folks from Canada, Spain, and the UK who plan to host similar events on September 11. Events will also take place in other free and public places, including parks and community centers. To view a map of participating hosts, please visit www.com.washington.edu/september/map.asp.
What will it look like?
On Saturday, September 11, libraries and other public spaces will host events as diverse as their communities. Already, libraries in over a dozen states are planning:
What if everyone read the same text? This year, we are encouraging people across the country to read the Bill of Rights, and to design talks, roundtables, and forums around it.
Invite local and diverse speakers to give talks, followed by a question and answer period. Speakers may be asked to address questions like: "What is the state of democracy in our country?" "What constitutes patriotism today?" and "What can we do to make things better?"
Design children and young adult programs geared towards family involvement. Programs can include shared stories, readings, and creative projects. Ask children to imagine and draw what a world at peace might look like. When finished, have each child present their drawing and display them in your library. Ask children to craft their own Kids' Bill of Rights.
Organize roundtable discussions featuring community members with different perspectives. Roundtable participants may include youth, community and cultural organizers, local academics, and media professionals. Roundtable topics can be broad, "Is citizenship local, national, or global?" or more focused, "What is the Patriot Act and how does it affect our civil liberties?"
Coordinate an open forum that encourages active dialogue and deliberation among community members. For example, 10 branches of the Santa Cruz City/County Public Library System are working together to foster a county-wide forum addressing three questions: "What works well in America?" "What needs fixing?" and "What can we do to fix it?" Multiple branches within the Hennepin County (MN) Library System are putting together an open forum on " America 's role in the world."
Design displays and book collections on related topics and place them prominently in the library. For instance, Bastyr University Library will display a collection of books and posters celebrating the Bill of Rights and the Constitution throughout the month of September.
Making the local national and international
We are currently designing various strategies to extend local events into national and international arenas. These strategies include:
Approximately 96% of U.S. public libraries have the technological capacity to produce and receive streaming media. We are working to stream a number of key events and performances that can be accessed for free by all people.
We are encouraging all U.S. event coordinators to include public readings and discussions of the Bill of Rights. We encourage all countries to do the same with an appropriate text or book of their own.
We are working with all modes of media ? popular and alternative; streaming/digital media, radio, television, print ? in order to transform local conversations into national and international interactions.
We are encouraging all participants to take photographs of events taking place on September 11, 2004. These images will be collected through centralized servers. Our goal is to produce the largest, most diverse photographic collage of a single day known to humanity.
How can you get involved?
There are many ways to get involved in the September Project:
- Contact your local public, university, and/or K-12 library to learn what they have planned for September 11.
- Get your library to participate in the September Project, and have them sign up at www.com.washington.edu/september/libraries.asp.
- Share the idea with the organizations to which you belong -- professional, civic, cultural, religious/spiritual -- and ask them to collaborate with their local libraries.
- Volunteer at your local library as an event coordinator, dialogue convenor, speaker or roundtable facilitator.
- Copy and distribute -- locally, nationally, globally -- the text on this page through as many channels as possible.
- Lastly, show up at participating public spaces on Saturday, September 11, 2004, bringing with you family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.
To Learn More or Get Involved
Go to www.theseptemberproject.org or email project co-directors David Silver and Sarah Washburn at .