A Celebration and Transformation

p1040234When I decided to throw a party to launch my new book in the US, I wondered the best way to do it. While traditional book launches are lovely, this book has been all about creating community, having tricky discussions, and seeing each other through new eyes. I wanted my young son to be able to enjoy the party. I wanted my new friends here in the Houston area to gather, bring their families, and meet each other.

p1040255So I threw a ‘book birthday party’ that Namita Asthana at Off the Vine Bistro generously offered to host. About thirty of us got together to drink her delicious pumpkin-spice punch, eat her home-made French macarons, and chat while the kids drew on poster board with crayons and glitter paint what it looks like to work together and to listen. My new friend, Catherine, of Sienna Plantation Face Painting, brought her kit and her creativity to show us how we can all make small steps to transform ourselves.

 p1040239

The kids are already ahead of us on this. The ones who came were mostly in the four to six year old range, and have pretty good ideas about what’s fair and what’s not in the world. But they’re still elastic enough in their thinking to adopt new ways of doing things if the old ones aren’t working. They’re able to ask tough questions because they really want to know – they’re just so curious. They don’t realize adults might find the questions awkward or embarrassing (albeit necessary). They know they can expand their experiences by pretending to be a rainbow leopard or Spiderman, or anyone or anything else.

Wouldn’t it be great if we adults were that playful and open? Willing to walk in the shoes of someone else?

p1040269That’s the heart of this book. To see through someone else’s eyes, walk in their shoes, and imagine what life might be like if you were born in a different time, place and body.

 

p1040246Thanks to everyone who came from the Houston Writer’s Guild and the local chapter of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. And thanks to my amazing husband and son who have supported me in this work and celebrated along side of me.

If you live in the Houston area and would like to buy a copy of the book, please contact Brazos Bookstore or your local Barnes & Noble. Hopefully they’ll have some in stock soon, or can easily order them in. And, of course, you can get them through your favourite online retailer. You can also request that your local library bring in a copy. All you’ll need is the basic book information found by clicking here.

p1040268And if you belong to a book club, church group, school or conversation circle and you’d like to buy copies for your members and have me come and speak, please get in touch through this website. I’ll help you figure out how we can make that happen!

 

 

p1040242

 

p1040266

p1040238p1040241

ROSELLA BJORNSON: CELEBRATING WOMEN OF AVIATION

Rosella Bjornson is Canada’s first woman commercial airline jet aircraft pilot and Canada’s first woman airline captain.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2016
1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Alberta Aviation Museum, 11410 Kingsway Avenue, Edmonton

Rosella Bjornson makes history by becoming Canada’s first woman airline jet aircraft pilot – April 1973.
The Alberta Labour History Institute (ALHI), the Alberta Aviation Museum, and Elevate Aviation (an organization to promote women in aviation) invite you to come to learn about and celebrate the historic achievements of Capt. Rosella Bjornson and her contributions to the advancement of women in aviation. Capt. Bjornson is Canada’s first woman commercial airline jet aircraft pilot and first woman airline captain. She is also the first woman member of the Canadian Air Line Pilots Association (CALPA). She was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. Originally from southern Alberta, she now lives in the Edmonton area.
At the November 5 celebration, the Alberta Labour History Institute will be presenting excerpts from its new videos featuring Capt. Bjornson and her historic achievements and contributions.
Admission to the event is free. Please let us know by e-mail if you are planning to attend. The ALHI e-mail is office@albertalabourhistory.org.
ALHI’s project Moving Forward: Alberta Women and Work is generously supported by the Edmonton Heritage Council and the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation.

1297590287170_original

Time To Celebrate – and Work – Together Stateside!

12322475_895983110470947_683162362249974662_oI am beyond thrilled with how much In This Together has connected with readers, teachers, reconciliation advocates, and politicians in Canada. Since it launched in April, it has become a regional as well as National Post bestseller and has gone to a second printing. And every week I hear from someone by email, on Twitter, on Facebook and beyond about how one – or more – of the stories really spoke to their experiences or blew their mind (in a good way).

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is obviously a Canadian entity. The journey and relationships this book speaks to are largely Canadian, as are the voices. But at least one of the authors talks about her European heritage, her work in New Zealand, and minority Indigenous language issues. Another author lives and works in New York City. Yet another speaks about his cross-border travels to Indigenous gatherings and protests, showing how the Medicine Line (49th parallel) is really just a geo-political construct.

So I am ready to launch In This Together in the US, where I now live, and I hope it connects with people here too. Not just around our often shared histories of colonization, residential schools, good intentions, and broken treaty promises. But around our struggles today to deal with systemic racism and discrimination. Because that’s what is at the heart of this collection, these fifteen personal stories and ‘aha moments’. And here in the US, where we’re faced almost daily with an innocent black man being killed by police, or by police (of many different ethnicities) being targeted in retribution, we need these kinds of stories. We need to look deep into our histories, systems, and own hearts to see how we can move forward with empathy and understanding. How we really are all in this together.

If you’re in the Houston area, I hope you’ll come out to our book birthday party on Saturday, October 15 from 3-5pm at Off the Vine Bistro (2685 Dulles Avenue in Missouri City) to have some punch, snacks (including Indigenous-East Indian fusion bannock), and fun with other folks. We are also lucky to have artist Catherine Gauche Visagie doing exquisite face painting for all ages with the theme of “seeing with new eyes”. Please RSVP directly with me through this site or through my Facebook event page.

If you’re an author, academic or activist elsewhere and you’d like to set up a panel discussion, please get in touch through the contact page. If you’re a book club, church group, nonprofit or school, please ask me how you can get books in bulk at a discount – I would love to come and chat with your group either in person or via Skype!

Off 6 coffee house series ready to kick off!

180sWhen I moved to the Houston area a few months ago, I was a little in shock. But recently a good friend told me a great saying: “Bloom where you’re planted.” So that’s what I’m doing.

In the different towns and suburbs I’ve lived in across North America, one thing has always helped me feel rooted in the local community: coffee houses and open mic series. It’s a great way to connect with other artistic folks of all stripes, and share our love of words and music and self-expression. So when I looked around my area and didn’t find anything like it, I decided to set one up.

Now, in partnership with the lovely Namita Asthana of Off the Vine Bistro, our monthly series Off 6 will start up on Tuesday, September 13 @ 7pm. I’m lining up some local professionals to come in as headliners, putting together door prizes for open mic participants, and Namita is hard at work figuring out some delicious specials that evening (did I mention there will be student and senior discounts?). So please bring your poetry, prose, songs, spoken word and join us – or just your clapping hands. Because every artist needs an audience!

For more info, please check out the Off 6 online home here. Or contact me through this website. Hope to see you soon!

 

img_3768

 

Review of Salt to the Sea

Salt to the Sea is a poignant book I devoured in two sittings. I thought the multiple viewpoints and tiny (2-3 page chapters) would bother me, but instead author Ruta Sepetys handled them masterfully and it kept the pace moving at a clip. It is a tough read emotionally because of the subject matter and the desperate situation of the civilians caught up in WW2, but that historic setting is one of the things that makes it such an important book, of course. We in North America don’t hear enough about the experiences of Eastern Europeans during this period – especially those outside of urban centres – and even as a historian I had never heard of the sinking of the Gustloff, one of the greatest maritime disasters.
I felt my breath catch in my throat a few times, either because of the beauty of the spare writing or the heartbreak the characters endured. I hope everyone will read this. It is powerful example of how everyday people – children, teenagers – get caught up in world events and can become refugees in their quest for survival. But that we can be resilient and find beauty, friendship and love along the way.
© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.