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December 21, 2019: Bright Lights on the Solstice

It was the solstice today, my favorite day of the year because it heralds the return of light. The lack of light makes this a difficult place to live. The abundance of light makes it an easy place to live. Alaska is a place of extremes, for sure. I can now see light at the end of the winter tunnel.

Last night I decided that today would be my last day of working as a volunteer at the recycling center. I figured that it would now be a good time to step aside and let others take on the project I started. That was my plan. But my plan went awry.

Pete and I arrived at the recycling center around 11 a.m. Sue, who also has been working on this project, got in well before I did and finished organizing. Baked goods appeared – Cookies and three kinds of fudge, wrapped in a festive fashion. And by the door, on a table, was the signature lamp, a bright light.

The education room had been magically transformed into a book shop. Books were on shelves, tables, in boxes, on windowsills. It felt like a place where people would hang out. And they did.

There was a recycling center blessing at noon. I missed it because I went downstairs and sorted books. I had this great idea, which was to first toss the out-of-date books into shopping cards and

Pam reads a book
Pam reads a book

Andre checing out some books
Andre checking out some books

then tossed the rest in a yellow cart. I next got a handful of boxes and stacked the books, by categories, in these boxes. This, rather than doing a later categorical sort, proved to be a less time-consuming endeavor.

I took the individual cartons upstairs and put the books with those that were on the shelves when the blessing was over. By then, there were a lot of people milling around in the bookstore. And there was a steady stream the rest of the afternoon.

A handful of friends showed up. And there were newcomers. All afternoon, I talked books and made recommendations. Readers made piles and then filled shopping bags and cardboard boxes.

Every so often, I’d take readers over to the windows that provide a view of the floor, and point to the shredders, who today were in large numbers. And I’d also explain how our system worked.

The very good news at the day’s end was that the Bright Lights Book Store is going to remain open until January 21. This means that the books on hand will be more accessible for distribution. And it means that culling out the beat up books will be far easier. And additionally, sorting and categorizing will take far less time.

So yeah, I’m going to continue to work on this project. The recycling center will be closed for the next few days, so this is going to give me time to regroup. The focus is going to have to be on distributing what’s on hand, otherwise there will be too many books on hand to deal with.

For sure, this project has momentum. I’m now being swept along by the tide.

Next: 353. 12/22/19: Post Solstice Ideas Day

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