Today is Thanksgiving.

As I reflect on all that for which I'm thankful, I find so much of it coalescing into one existential reality, like puzzle pieces coming together to form one cohesive image.

So I am thankful today just to be alive and to be joining God in the renewal of all things, on a daily basis. He has blessed and provided for me in remarkable ways these past three years and I'm sure I would not still be here were it not for God's guidance and the help that I've received through various communities in the city and especially the Heights.

There is one community in particular that I want to recognize today - my friends and comrades at Word Up Books in Washington Heights. As I mentioned in a recent post, I've been a volunteer with the WU collective since July last year and this thing has come to be a very important part of my life - even an important part of my plans for the future!

But our books were evicted at the end of August and we are now raising funds and seeking out a new location to base operations in Washington Heights once again. 

Please watch the video below for a taste of all the greatness that is Word Up (and to understand why we, the volunteers, tear up every time we watch it!)
Perhaps you also see now why we are so desperate to open our doors once again! Our neighborhood needs a space like Word Up and we are chomping at the bit to bring it back to them.

Heck, who am I kidding? need Word Up! It means so much to me that on this day, dedicated to giving thanks, I am blogging about Word Up and not about all the food that I'm soon to shove into my face!

So I do hope that you've gotten some idea of all the great work that we have done with our neighbors here in Washington Heights and Inwood, uptown Manhattan, and that you'll consider helping us along to re-open. Even if you can't afford to spare any donation, we would greatly appreciate your help in spreading the word. Share the story. Share your story (if you have one). Share the video.

Here's the link for the indiegogo campaign:

Here's the link for the youtube vid above:

Please post them on facebook, twitter, blogs, tumblr, pinterest, instagram, etc. And if you can spare a donation, please also know that you can get all kinds of great WU swag for your contributions. I mean, who doesn't want to be seen walking around the hood with one of these Ts?

Either way, you can help make it possible for me to write next year about how thankful I am for Word Up's new space and all that we've accomplished together in our neighborhood throughout year two. And that would be invaluable to me and the rest of our community.

Thanks so much for reading and caring. I also wish you and yours a weekend filled with thankfulness, community and contentment. Peace and blessings to you all.

For reasons far beyond me, it appears that I've not written much about Word Up on this blog (perhaps it just goes to show how negligent I have been about keeping this blog updated...) In short, Word Up is a collective of artists, musicians, dreamers, authors, actors, revolutionaries, photographers, poets, designers (etc!) that grew out of the fertile cultural soils of Washington Heights and Inwood. We began to meet each other and collaborate on changing the world after the first few volunteers, in June 2011, established a "pop-up bookshop" inside a storefront on Broadway and 176 street. 

Out of this perfectly-located space, in the middle of the "book desert" that is uptown Manhattan, we offered new and used books (for cheap!) and provided a stage where locals could express themselves in almost any medium they could imagine! And I knew immediately upon stepping foot in the store that it was itself the NYC manifestation of the 3rd fold of my three-fold-vision for Chicago!

The store was originally expected to stay open for only one month, but due in large part to widespread support from the neighborhood, we were able to stay put for over a year! Higher rent costs finally pushed us out of the space by the end of August this year.

But Word Up has always been much more than a space to meet in. We are a collective of kickass people. So as long as we continue to meet and change the world - particularly our neighborhood - together, we are alive and well!

One of the recent big projects was to organize the launch of a new arts organization in the hood, the United Palace of Cultural Arts. For one action-packed night, we pooled our collective awesomeness and splashed it all around the magnificent building just across the street from where our beloved store was once located. We even popped up a small version of the bookstore in the lobby!
The next big project is to raise funds for our re-opening. I will bring more details about this as soon as they are available. In the mean time, enjoy these videos with footage from the UPCA launch and the past year at WU!