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Reading Between the Lines: How The Community Changemaker’s Book Club is Cultivating Connection and Community Wisdom to Build a Better Future

Reading Between the Lines: How The Community Changemaker’s Book Club is Cultivating Connection and Community Wisdom to Build a Better Future

Every Tuesday evening at Martha’s Outfitters, a group of like-minded community members come together in an organic, safe space on a quest to explore thought-provoking literature to bridge connections and create positive, sustainable movements in their communities.

They are the Martha’s Table Community Changemaker’s Book Club.

The Community Changemakers Book Club is a hub of perspective and thought exploration fueled by a commitment to understanding and cooperation. Community Changemakers come as they are, ready to open their minds to the realities of lived experiences outside of their own while exploring hidden histories and making space in their minds for new possibilities. Club members come from all walks of life, representing diverse interests, identities, and generations ranging from new residents to Ward 8, native Washingtonians to public servants. They all come with curiosity, they all come with passion, and they all come with hope.

Books are selected based on topics relevant to the communities that the Community Changemakers reside in or identify with. They’re books that educate, empower and inspire action. Book Club members read each book in sections to thoughtfully consume the stories and themes present. Their discussions guide them in identifying sustainable solution-based approaches and measures to issues impacting their communities.

They are currently reading ‘Between the World and Me’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates. A book written in the form of a letter from a Black father to his Black son riddled with heart-wrenching truths and realities of being Black in America. In the book, Coates speaks of ‘The Mecca,’ a place where people of different experiences can gather authentically and share stories and perspectives. For Coates, his Mecca is Howard University. For Community Changemakers, it’s the Book Club at Martha’s Outfitters on a Tuesday evening.

The Community Changemaker’s Book Club was the brainchild of Martha’s Table Assistant Director of Community Development, Charlie Gussom and Chief Program Officer, Tiffany Williams. A native Washingtonian, Charlie has always had a deep desire to create communal spaces where community members can plant seeds of change at the grassroots level. It was imperative that the book club be an inclusive, accessible and safe space.

Participants have the option of reading a hard copy, audiobook, or e-reader at no cost. The Book Club provides community members with the opportunity to attend the sessions in person or virtually. Charlie begins every session by reviewing the book club’s mission which lays the grounds for discussions rooted in empathy and respect. 

‘The book club is about having community members from different walks of life, different perspectives all coming together collectively to create movements that empower the community they reside in. And it doesn’t have to be led by Martha’s Table. It can be led by them–they can become organizers, facilitators of spaces that create positive change in their community. That’s why we call it the Community Changemakers Book Club.’ -Charlie Gussom 

The Community Changemakers Book Club is one of many initiatives led by Martha’s Table to foster community connections and help cultivate neighborhood leadership. These investments in our communities are the foundation for sustainable, positive change. We believe in the power of the communities we stand alongside and their ability to guide the way for future generations. If you’re interested in joining the book club and becoming a Community Changemaker, click here

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