Posted on July 8, 2014

Ancestry Books’ Journey Thus Far

Greetings Friends, Family, Community,

We are reaching out to you all today to share a bit with you about where we are in our journey with Ancestry Books and where we are going.  As you know, March 7th we concluded a successful fundraising campaign via Kickstarter to launch what would be the only existing bookstore in North Minneapolis and the only bookstore in the State with the focus of re-centering the narratives of Indigenous authors and authors of color.  We were overwhelmed by all the support and that that support came not only in the form of folks giving their one dollar, two or ten dollars, but that our village came out to help paint walls, put in wood flooring, sand and stain wood and build bookshelves.  Ancestry Books became more than a “Verna and Chaun thing”, the the community took ownership in ways that were inspiring.
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The turnaround for opening was also incredible, in that we were only working in the storefront from March 7th-June 6th to prepare for the June 7th grand opening.  With the 14,000 raised from the Kickstarter and the 10,000 received through the Artist Neighborhood Partnership Initiative Grant we worked some miracles stretching dollars to turn 2205 Lowry into more than a functional space but a beautiful one.  The turnout for the grand opening was amazing!!  Despite the rain folks came out in force and and packed not only our small storefront but were lined up around Lowry and Penn to Lowry and Queen.  It was an amazing testament to what some thought was a fools errand, an affirmation from the Twin Cities about the sort of stories we wanted to see, what sort of community we intend to build.
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Already with only a month into being open we have had several events from a performance with Lisa Brimmer and band High Society, a reading and activity for kids from Children’s Book author Sara Warren, and the book release of Dr. Joyce Bell’s The Black Power Movement and American Social Work.  This month we are preparing to have local Children’s Book author Melody Strong run a family day on July 19th, local author Susan Power give a book talk and reading on July 20th, and from August 1-3rd we are excited to be hosting Kiese Laymon author of Long Division!!
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We have been on the move and at work to highlight the incredible nature of our local literary community and raise its profile as well as extend its reach as often national authors like Kiese Laymon if brought in would not be situated to have their workshops or talks in North Minneapolis.  Too often artistic possibilities are foreclosed on Black Brown and Indigenous communities, especially when at the intersections of being poor and working class, and it is our commitment to be a part of building a new narrative as far as that’s concerned.  We are not alone in doing this work, so many incredible organizations, small businesses, and bookstores have supported us and informed the work we are doing.  Ancestry Books would not be possible without a village of Juxtaposition Arts, Cafe Southsides, Avenue Eatery’s, Lowry Cafe’s, Birchbark Books and Moon Palace Books to name just a few stars in an amazing constellation of support and inspiration.  If you haven’t stopped by Ancestry Books yet, come on out, check out some fly lit to accompany your summer and wrap yourself in the love that this community poured into building it.

Solidarity

C & V