The AJC Decatur Book Festival sponsored by Emory University is more than just a place for readers, writers, and literary aficionados to gather. We are a group of people who are highly invested in pouring into our community to make it a thriving, diverse, and others-focused place. During our 2020 virtual festival, we got the chance to do just that.
With the generous help of Georgia Humanities, we took the 2020 virtual festival to the Andrew P. Stewart Center in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood. Our staff provided books from festival authors to the members of the Center’s community development program.
We delivered copies of our Kidnote book, I Am Every Good Thing, in time for the kids to tune into the virtual event on Sept. 5. The next week, we delivered copies of Everyone’s Awake in time for the Picture Book Panel. The books accompanying the Raise Your Voice and Mid-Grade Mythologies panels also got into the hands of young readers at the Center before the virtual events took place.
There were also enough cookbooks from our Culinary Conversations presented by Whole Foods Market to give away that each member of the Center’s wellness cooperative received a copy.
In addition, staff at the Center created a cooking challenge based off the Cooknote book: Toni Tipton-Martin’s Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking. Pittsburgh resident Kiovani Shepard won the challenge with her dish, Louisiana Shrimp Barbeque, and received a $100 cash prize.
Lindsey Huggins, the Center’s Family and Community Coordinator, said the challenge gave co-op members a way to connect in the virtual world by sharing dishes and special twists on the recipes.
“Due to COVID, our co-op has not been able to meet in person,” says Huggins. “This has been especially difficult because our group really values our bi-weekly meetings as a time to get together and support one another while engaging in conversation about mental and emotional health, taking a yoga class, or sharing parenting strategies.”
The Center is a community development organization that directs all its resources in partnership with Pittsburgh residents to transform the neighborhood into a place of hope and opportunity. Its programs are designed with community input to support the whole family through education, wellness, and housing challenges.
The festival is committed to finding ways to support the Center’s efforts through its literary programming. We are grateful for the support of Georgia Humanities.