ABOVE: Carla Lane, Founder, This Woman’s Work; Nicole Robinson, Deputy Director of the Houston Public Library; Dorita Hatchett, This Woman’s Work and Danielle Wilson, Manager/ Curator The African American Library at the Gregory School (Photo Credit: Justin Stewart)
Passing along knowledge from one generation to the next through social gatherings is a time-honored tradition in the black community. That’s why local entrepreneur and philanthropist, Carla Lane and her nonprofit organization This Woman’s Work, have partnered with the Houston Public Library to create a special book club called The Sowing Circle.
Dozens of women and girls gathered at The African American Library at the Gregory School for the club’s official launch on September 25, which included a discussion of the first book selection, The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer. The club’s Senior Lead Facilitator Naomi J. Hardy led a lively discussion about the book, where members had an opportunity to share their views.
Lane says the club was inspired by the historical context of sewing circles, important gatherings during slavery where women would gather to share information and ideas. Since then, these assemblies have continued to play a significant role in the lives of women.
“Post slavery sewing circles continued to be a place where family history, cultural beliefs and wisdom were exchanged. It is from this historical context and the unique opportunity that book clubs provide that we decided as a group of women to start a book club that we would call the Sowing Circle. Although we will not actually sew or quilt, we will ‘sow’ seeds of wisdom, hope, and love in the lives of those who participate,” says Lane.
The Sowing Circle presents opportunities for African American and Latina women and girls to see themselves in a variety of spectrums through the wonderment of reading. The objective is to get club members to connect, read, think critically, journal and creatively engage in influencing other women to read often.
“We’ve become so accustomed and accepting of reading headlines, tweets and posts that we as a society have put books on the back burner, but books draw out our imagination and creativity,” said Dorita Hatchett, Interim Executive Director of This Woman’s Work. “Not only is reading important, but sharing perspectives and experiences in a safe environment is critical for the empowerment of our women and girls.”
Barracoon by prolific author Zora Neal Hurston. It tells the true story of Cudjo Lewis, who is said to have been the last living person brought to America from African on a slave ship.
Women and girls outside of Houston can also participate through virtual Sowing Circle participation. Lane says she is looking for people in other cities to lead mini book clubs. She also plans to use the groups to teach high school girls how to become mentors to younger students and serve as role models.
For more information about the Sowing Circle, visit www.thiswomanswork.biz. To connect to This Woman’s Work and the Book Club, Text the word Ironwomen to 444999 and follow the prompts.