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“Block by Block": A Book Brigade in the Central Valley

A community organization is currently taking root to try and foster social ties within our local towns through the power of reading. The project titled “Block-by-Block” builds on the idea of regular “book clubs” and expands on the reading group format with an aim at sparking conversations on local topics through a variety of literary and creative works.

The meetings try to provide a welcoming space where reading circles can spark fruitful discussions on relevant and important issues that can be shared and heard by others in the community. The hopes are that these conversations can go beyond the confines of literary pages, and eventually create sustaining social networks and even spark collective action.

The bright mind behind the project and its current leadership is Brissa Reyes, a recent UC Berkeley graduate who studied English and Journalism. As a Central Valley native, she's happily bringing her efforts back to the area she grew up in, “I grew up around these small towns" she says, "and I wanted to see more spaces for the arts and reading."

"I thought it would be cool to have another space where anybody who was interested could talk about books, novels, movies, or whatever form they were interested in within a safe space," she says.

Inspiration for the project was taken from conversations with her mentor and professor at UC Berkeley, where they thought about a community space where people can discuss political and social issues within neighborhood locations. Now, thanks to sponsorship by the Judith Lee Stronach Program and Latinx Research Center at UC Berkeley, those same conversations with her mentor are being brought to life.

"My hope for continuing on is to make this project as accessible to everyone in the local area as possible and empower folks by setting a space where they can use their voices and gain their power back," Reyes says.

Past readings have included works by June Jordan, Sandra Cisneros, and Dinuba-native author Manuel Muñoz, a past visitor of our Reedley College Library Art Program. The next meeting will be held Thursday, March 9th in the Parlier Library meeting room. Information and updates on upcoming meetings can be found on the project’s Instagram page, @blockbyblockcv

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