As the calendar turned over to 2024, I felt myself go into a time warp of sorts. How has it already been 4 years since 2020, since a global pandemic altered our world forever, since the last presidential election here in the US?
I entered this year dreading another contentious election season, but I have a desire to change my orientation to the particular time in which we live so that I can show up more fully in any given situation.
I think we all need a renewed exploration of belonging. Much of my work centers around learning how to offer unconditional belonging and compassion to ourselves so that we in turn can offer that to others. What does it mean to belong to each other in a world that is so fractured? Many of us have had experiences of being thrust out of places that we once belonged because of changed ideologies, and some of us have never fully felt belonging. It takes deep work to heal these wounds.
My friend Dr. Kholi Murchison and I will be facilitating a year-long exploration of belonging together through a monthly book club of curated titles along with ongoing opportunities for connection and conversation in community with others.
We need hope right now; we need renewed vision to see the world we want to build toward while also fighting against the injustice that we see. We need to continue to learn resiliency and create belonging in our own places so that we can work together in solidarity to create a more just and equitable society, and to weather the storms together.
About your facilitators:
Dr. Kholi Murchison is a femme-presenting nonbinary embodied movement practitioner, writer, and diviner of Black queer magic, who's been defining brands and gathering and growing communities through inclusive, communal actualization for almost 20 years. Learn more about Kholi.
Chelsea Kim Long (she/her) is a writer, creator, meditation teacher, and lay theologian. Entering motherhood catalyzed her deconstruction journey out of the white evangelical faith and into an expansive version of faithfulness to God that doesn’t require self-abandonment.
The last Friday of each month (we will adjust as needed for holidays, etc) on Zoom at 12pm PST/3pm EST.
Tentative dates: Fridays 3/1, 3/29, 4/26, 5/31, 6/28, 7/26, 8/30, 9/27, 10/25, 11/22, 12/20
How this group will run:
The book club will run for all of 2024 and we want to keep the conversation going all year in a variety of ways. We'll read one book each month and have a live Zoom call on the last Friday of each month at 12pm PST/3pm EST.
Throughout the month, we will also offer an optional Marco Polo group chat and a Broadcast Chat on Instagram. We want to offer you a space to connect with other folks to the degree that you want to. It can be really helpful to have a supportive digital community that encourages you to go out and take action to create belonging in your neighborhood.
It's optional to join these ongoing spaces of connection, but it'll be there for you to share honestly how you're processing the book throughout the month, or if you’re unable to join the Zoom call. If you don't have anyone IRL yet to discuss these concepts, we'll be here.
I will commit to respond to your Polos in the group within 24 hours. The other group members will be invited to respond and share as they have capacity and desire. We'll have some ground rules to keep it helpful and respectful.
What does it cost?
The Year of Belonging Book Club is $5 each month that you want to participate*, or if you are a paid subscriber in my community (learn more and sign up here), you can participate for no additional charge as a thank you for being a part of my sustaining community. If you're already a paid subscriber, email me to sign up.
*Please don't let finances be an obstacle; we are offering this book club on a "pay-what-you-can" basis with a suggested minimum payment of $5 per month. If you can't make that work, please email Chelsea and we are happy to have you join us. Registration will be open on an ongoing basis.
Also, you can pick up the books that I'll keep in a list on Bookshop.org or your local library (which is mostly what I will be doing through Libby and Hoopla)!
About the books
Kholi and I have curated a list that spans genres with the goal to create vibrant conversation around variations on the theme of belonging in theory and in practice. Some of the books are nonfiction and practical, aimed at helping you enter into conversations with folks who may disagree with you. Other books are fiction, and through story we will meditate on our own relationship with belonging both to ourselves and also with community.
We will be in conversation with the work of contemporary thinkers laboring toward belonging in real life and with writers both modern and classic imagining how people make belonging and what belonging can feel like, so that throughout the year we can continue a conversation on belonging from a variety of angles.
February: Troubling the Water by Ben McBride
March: The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride
April: I Never Thought of It That Way by Monica Guzmán
May: Wellness by Nathan Hill
June: Worthy by Jada Pinkett Smith
July: Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
August: High Conflict by Amanda Ripley
September: I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman
October: Belonging by bell hooks
November: The People We Keep by by Allison Larkin
December: The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara