You know you are a bookworm when the Indianapolis Public Library’s page is the most visited website on your browser. I’ve had a love for books ever since signing up for the summer reading program at the Oxford Public Library as a kid. The small-town Indiana library is a stoic brownstone filled with more adventures than a child can imagine. I remember spending hours from May to August among the stacks on the hottest days of the year, finding relief in the arctic chill. Growing up, my family didn’t have the luxury of air conditioning.
To me, libraries are more than a place to check out books. They are a community resource hub, event center and most of all – a portal into another world. I always say books are the cheapest, and now safest, form of travel. Recently, my literature adventures have taken me to the white sand beaches of 1950’s Cuba, a majestic marble palace of a great Indian prince and behind the exquisite gates of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, books have been my release. My plane ticket to a far away land. My reminder that happier times are to come. And most recently, a means to educate myself on social injustice and systematic racism.
The current IndyHub Book Club, led by Clayton De Fur and Lourenzo Giple, explores The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein. The weekly meetup discusses how housing laws of the 20th century forever changed the landscape of modern cities across the United States, including Indianapolis. Government housing restrictions such as redlining and insured bank mortgages by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) directly contributed to the segregated America we know today. Redlining is the act of refusing various services, think insurance and bank loans, to a group of individuals in a geographic location based on race or ethnicity. Cities from New York to LA implemented redlining as a means to segregate neighborhoods, drastically increasing systemic racism.
Curious to see the color classification of your Indy neighborhood? View this map to get an idea of how redlining has impacted the Circle City.
I have participated in all three IndyHub virtual book clubs and can honestly say they have been a highlight of the pandemic. Yes, pandemics can have silver linings. I look forward each week to connecting with like-minded individuals and sharing thoughts on the selected read. But it’s more than that, IndyHub’s book clubs provide a sense of belonging in a very desolate time. The weekly chats cultivate a safe space to talk about not only the book, but life in general. We live in a crazy time…dare I say unprecedented?
Meet Kelsey: Kelsey Hobbs is a Site Communications Consultant for Roche Diagnostics. She enjoys reading the latest memoirs, biking along one of Indy’s great trails and checking out the latest breweries. When she’s not giving back with one of her favorite nonprofits or at an IndyHub event, you can find her snuggled up with a good book and her feline, Winston. @kelseyjones1988