#76 Reading out loud
Yesterday, I finished reading the fourth Harry Potter book to J. It’s been two decades since I first read the exploits of Harry, Hermione, Ron, and all the others. While I remember the gist of the story, many of the turns in the plot catch me by surprise once again. For example, when Harry (spoiler alert!) battles with Voldemort and their wands lock into each other, causing Harry’s dead parents to appear, I choked up, to the annoyance of J.
In an interview, Ross Douthat, author of The Decadent Society, stated that Harry Potter may have been the last original story invented in Western culture. Everything else is a remix. It is undoubtedly true that it may be the last believable story with a white male protagonist saving the world from evil. The books are aging (meat consumption in the world of wizards is at pre-climate disaster levels), but ow my, am I enjoying this.
In book 4, Harry is still a loveable, naive, brave character. Hermione is becoming more 3D, and Dumbledore shows his power. Yet it are some of the other characters I like best. The unstable Hagrid, tormented Remus Lupin, and of course, Severus Snape, probably my favorite character in the series. I am glad to have them all back in my life on a daily basis.
One new thing is that I’m reading the books aloud this time, and I need some advice there. I’ve given various characters a distinct voice, some twenty of them. Now I keep mixing up some of the voices or forgetting them altogether. Lucius Malloy, for instance, or Cornelius Fudge. How do you develop, remember, and keep apart the voices of characters you play or act?
This week’s main news for me was that we presented the evaluation of Festival 2030 in Dutch. We’ve spoken with participants, did a survey, and analyzed the festival’s impact together with students. The lessons we’ve learned from this and an updated method for working bottom-up are all part of the document.
“What have we learned about the power of bottom-up and different organizing in the last two years?
“It is possible to activate people and the communities, organizations, and networks they are part of for a green, fair and sustainable world. This requires an appealing or recognizable story to which they can connect. It also requires optimal community-building to strengthen existing relationships and reach new participants. To support such a movement, you need a consciously involved organization that takes a creative role in the stories in alliance with partners in the city. This organization is approachable, open, and pragmatic.
“Our method is not new or radically different. The experience with Festival 2030 convinces us that it also works to get people moving at scale to tackle urgent and complex themes.”
I’d like to point to the 14 recommendations for community building my star team member, Josta, compiled as part of the evaluation. They’re on page 29.
Harry P wasn’t all the reading out loud I did this week. On Friday, as part of the national reading out loud week, I read two chapters from Willem en Dikke Teun to R and his class. It is a book about an insecure five-year-old coached through life by his speaking cat. (It has only one special voice: the cat, who speaks in a low, blue-collar voice, a bit like Hagrid.) The chapters I read contained words like ‘buttocks’ and ‘willy,’ so I had the kids in my pocket.
I also taught slightly older kids (12ish) about the SDGs. The experience was pretty similar. But, alas, the SDGs do not have any special voices yet.
Thanks for joining this week. I recognize I should have read this newsletter out loud. I may, once the podcasting hype is over. Have a great week to come, and talk to you soon!