Saturday, 15 November 2014

Human Library at Juice Festival and BBC Radio Three Free Thinking Festival

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Human Library at BBC Radio Three Free Thinking 2014, Sage Gateshead
On Saturday 25th October as part of Juice Festival and Sunday 2nd November as part of BBC Radio Three Free Thinking Festival I ran a Human Library event. The Human Library aims to promote dialogue, reduce predjudices and encourage understanding by enabling members of the public to take out 'Human Books' who represent, more often than not stigmatised subjects. A 'Human Book' tells their own, personal story and the reader can ask them anything they want to know about them.

Books that were in these Human Libraries were:

A Drugged Lesbian In Charge of a Power Chair 

After Anorexia

A Nice Jewish Girl 

The Crazy Feminist 

Invisibly Unwell

I Have Five Older Children but Only Two of Them Talk to Me

Passing It On - Genetic Illness and Motherhood

Each and every one of the books proved to be best sellers, with over seven hours worth of prejudice-reducing conversations taking place. Readers learnt that anorexia isn't about wanting to look better and slimmer, it's much deeper than that; they learnt that feminism isn't all bra burning and hairy legs and they learnt that despite disability and illness people can be successful in the face of adversity.

The Human Library gave members of the public a chance to hear the voices of those that often remain silent, the parent whose children chose to not be in contact with her and the mother who went through genetic counselling. The library also had a book who talks about having a Jewish upbringing.

I feel overwhelming proud of all of the books in the Human Library, their bravery to share their stories and ability to speak so eloquently about their experiences is admirable. I even shed a few tears when receiving positive feedback from readers. Human Library has been a delightfully rewarding project to work from and I would like to thank the following for helping to make it happen:

Juice Festival - For giving me the chance to run my first arts project by commissioning and programming Human Library.

BBC Radio Three Free Thinking - For programming Human Library as part of the 2014 festival at Sage Gateshead.

Ilana Mitchell and Wunderbar - For sharing your Human Library expertise and knowledge.

Annie Rigby at Unfolding Theatre - For leading brilliant workshops to help prepare the Human Books.

Human Books - For your honesty, openness and for being generally incredible humans!

Volunteers and librarians - For giving up your time to help facilitate the project.

Running a Human Library was an incredible experience that I would encourage others to do.

Hannah x

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