“Durham's City wide Book Study on Urban Alchemy was enlightening, fun and challenging all at the same time.  I learned so much about our city's history, and met so many new people interested in changing the way we make decisions about public transportation, housing, roads, and access to public facilities.  After attending a facilitators' training, I co-led a discussion group in my home, and the materials that SpiritHouse provided found us digging deeply into the banks' redlining of our neighborhoods and its continuing impact on homeownership, wealth equity, and basic fairness for all Durham's citizens.  We learned together, argued a bit, discovered what we most want to change, and talked about how to do it together.  I also led a discussion of the first city-wide book, The New Jim Crow, and can't wait for the third one on cooperatives!  The time when the discussion groups come together to share ideas is one of my favorite parts of each cycle of this project.” - Gann Herman

“Through SpiritHouseNC, I am about to read an important book about racial justice and community building (Collective Courage: a History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice by Jessica Gordon Nembhard) with a small group of Durham activists. In the last year, I have read two other books with this same group (The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Urban Alchemy by Mindy Fullilove). Dozens of others in Durham who care about racial justice have participated in the SpiritHouseNC book studies, building a cohesive community with a cohesive knowledge base to support us in our work.” - Faith Holsaert

“The significance and impact of The New Jim Crow is obvious; it has helped spark a radical reassessment of the American criminal justice system and given historical, legal, and philosophical grounding for work in Durham.  It got me to pay closer attention to the impact of our system on the lives of those directly affected; and helped me listen more acutely to their voices. Urban Alchemy provided me with new eyes to see my home town and suggested ways to connect in Durham; it focused my attention on sites where people do or don't interact.  In both cases, our discussions were wide-ranging, informative, deeply personal, and respectful of all voices.” - Howie Machtinger

“SpiritHouse’s inspired city-wide book study offers an in-depth look at the most pressing problems facing urban areas today. The books so far have examined the intersecting areas of citizen disenfranchisement—racism, poverty, gender and income inequality, lack of affordable housing and transportation, mass incarceration of young, African American males, gentrification, and unemployment. Understanding these challenges through study is the first step toward building a movement that offers a humane alternative to living in the world. Change cannot happen without a cultural movement, which cannot happen without critical analysis. I am learning to become a cultural warrior by participating in these city-wide book studies. Thank you, SpiritHouse.”- Harlan Gradin

“I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned from reading the book.  But more importantly, I’m also appreciative of the chance to connect with others that also care about what we’ve learned, and want to use that knowledge to make our city a better place to live.  Thank you SpiritHouse for all you do.” - Delvin Davis

I have enjoyed the book sessions.Listening to different views has re-enforced the knowledge that I have actually lived through. It is also interesting to look back on 50+ years of history and see how my community as a whole never made it out of poverty because nothing was done to get us entrenched in finances and having anything to invest. Now we can go where we want and live where we want - we just can't afford to !- Wilma Liverpool

The SpiritHouse citywide book discussions of "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander and "Urban Alchemy" by Mindy Fullilove were very meaningful experiences for me, and I am looking forward to the upcoming study of Jessica Gordon Nembhard's "Collective Courage." The books themselves, entirely different, were revelations. Far from the important but single-message work I expected, Michelle Alexander's book about her own transformative experience in studying mass incarceration was truly transformative to my view of US history and society. "Urban Alchemy," on the other hand, gave me a new lens for viewing divisions and opportunities for crossing boundaries in Durham. The guidance of the group leader, prepared through the thoughtful SpiritHouse leadership process, allowed for deep sharing and learning in the group within the bounds established by these well chosen works. - Trude Bennett

The New Jim Crow is a powerful, difficult and important read. Being accountable to a reading group helped get me through it and allowed space to understand and process the book. - Allison Swaim