CSU, Chico News

A Book in Common and a Look at Africa

Date: 09-01-2010

Kathleen McPartland
Brooks Thorlaksson
College of Humanities
and Fine Arts

This year’s Book in Common for Butte County is “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by William Kamkwamba. The City of Chico Kick-Off is slated for Sept. 9 at City Plaza at 6 p.m. The celebration includes a windmill made by California State University, Chico engineering students, a presentation of the City Proclamation, and selections read from the book.

“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” follows two enormously successful Books in Common: “Three Cups of Tea” in 2008-2009 and “The Soloist” this past year. A joint selection committee of members from CSU, Chico and Butte College chose the book for its potential to inspire belief in each person’s creative potential to contribute to solving social and environmental problems.

Additional partners for the countywide program include The City of Chico; Enloe Medical Center; Butte Community College; Lyon Books; Butte County Library; Barnes and Noble Bookseller; and the Associated Students at CSU, Chico.

The book chronicles the creativity and ingenuity of Kamkwamba as a boy in a village in Malawi, one of the poorest nations in Africa. Kamkwamba struggles to attend school and survive in the difficult, but emotionally rich, life of rural Africa. Though beset by difficulties, including having to drop out of school due to his family’s inability to pay school fees during a famine, he finds purpose and motivation in a small library in his town and invents a windmill from cast-off parts after reading about wind power. He improves not only his family’s life, but that of his village.

This year’s events include a windmill-building competition sponsored by the First Year Experience program at CSU, Chico; The Valene Smith Anthropology Museum’s 26th annual Juried Photography Contest, Become Windspired; a University Gallery exhibit, “The Global Lives Project,” a video which focuses on a 24-hour period in Malawi; The Turner exhibit “Thinking Creatively”; and several music events sponsored by Chico Performances. Please check the website for dates and additional events at http://www.csuchico.edu/bic

“The goal of the Book in Common is to inspire conversations, promote learning and move people to action in ways that improve the quality of life on our campus and in our community,” said President Paul Zingg, CSU, Chico. “I encourage people to read ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’ and to become an active part of the intellectual community that the Book in Common program fosters. Like me, I am sure you will enjoy taking part in the conversations and activities that emerge from the Book in Common program.”

“We are hoping to hear from those in our community with ties to Africa, to alternative energy or any other theme found in the book,” said Brooks Thorlaksson, a member of the BIC committee. “We have a speaker’s bureau, forums and symposiums, music and art, all relating to Africa. We look forward to developing a network of those who have connections to Africa.”

Please contact Thorlaksson at 530-898-5351 or BThorlaksson@cuschico.edu if you would like to be part of this year’s community book in common.