A new collection of essays from Marilynne Robinson: The Givenness Of Things

Marilynne Robinson is known for her award-winning series of Iowa-set novels Gilead, Home and Lila, which are underpinned by questions of religion and faith. In her latest collection of essays, which follows her 2012 collection When I Was a Child I Read Books, Robinson dives fully into intellectual and moral queries.

Titled The Givenness of Things, the themes of this philosophical collection are diverse. Robinson discusses neuroscience and metaphysics, and analyzes the affect of the Reformation on how humans learn. She also makes clear her disillusionment with contemporary society, yet cautions readers and humans in general not to give in to “joyless urgency.” Her deep love and reverence for humanity, and for what we as humans can produce and create, permeates her writing. The essays in this collection total seventeen in number, many of which investigate and reference the work of philosophers of old: Calvin, Locke, and Shakespeare to name a few. Robinson manages to weave political opinion into these pieces too, denouncing “unashamed racism,” “incarceration for profit,” and gun violence, along with “cynicism and vulgarism.” Despite the vast array of subjects touched on in this collection, it flows naturally and well from one essay to the next, and Robinson’s strong voice is clear, composed and slightly witty for all three hundred pages. Booklist gives The Givenness of Things a starred review, commenting “These… profoundly caring essays lead us into the richest dimensions of consciousness and conscience, theology and mystery, responsibility and reverence.”

Spice: The Variety of Life (including Herbs)

Tuesday April 5, 2016: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This event is intended for grade 6 - adult

Keegan C. Rodgers, Head Baker at the People's Food Co-Op, will lead an interactive & lively talk on the history, processing, uses & chemical reactions of spices & herbs in baking. Discussion will also include a review of some popular & unusual flavor combinations. Other items used in baking such as baking soda, baking powder & cream of tartar will also be reviewed. Some spices & herbs which may be discussed include all spice, basil, cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, salts & thyme. Attendees will leave with a new perspective of spices and literature to take home.

This program is sponsored by the People's Food Co-Op and part of on on-going baking series.

A Bouquet of Flours (including Gluten-Free)

Wednesday March 9, 2016: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Secret Lab

This event is intended for grade 6 - adult

Keegan C. Rodgers, Head Baker at the People's Food Co-Op, leads this interactive and lively talk on the history, processing, uses, and chemical reactions of the flours used in baking.

Some flours which may be discussed include all purpose, pastry, cake, and bread flours, as well as wheat flours and alternative or gluten free flours such as garbanzo, sorghum, and rice.

Attendees will leave with new baking skills and literature to take home. Tastes of Keegan's baked goods will be included, too! This event is cosponsored by the People's Food Co-Op and is part of an ongoing baking series.

Gardening and Landscaping with Native Plants

Thursday February 25, 2016: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Drew Lathin, of Creating Sustainable Landscapes, LLC, specializes in landscaping with native plants. He has designed, built, and planted sustainable landscapes throughout southeast Michigan and also does consulting work.

Drew will discuss types of native plants, what they are useful for, where they grow best, and advice for those interested in creating their own sustainable garden or landscape.

National Library Week Event: Rain Gardens and How to Create Them

Tuesday April 12, 2016: 7:30 pm to 8:45 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This event will be recorded

Learn how to begin and sustain your own rain garden, including design ideas, the best plants to use, and care and keeping of the garden. Rain gardens prevent rainwater from causing erosion and reaching the sewer system to become wastewater and instead capture it to be kept within the ecosystem.

Jesse Tack, of Abundant Michigan, Permaculture Ypsilanti and Whole Culture Repair, is a co-founder of a permaculture group in Ypsilanti that combines members’ efforts to create more sustainable yards, gardens and farms in the area.

Permaculture from the Roots Up: Land Care

Tuesday March 8, 2016: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Malletts Creek Branch: Program Room

We will explore the Permaculture tool box and what it has on offer for each of us no matter our living situation. From apartment dwellers to large country lot owners, there are many techniques we can each use to heal and repair the land around us.

Bring a design problem or a land use question and we will work through them the Permaculture way, creating systems of abundance and prosperity. You will learn concrete examples of land care principles and leave with tips for making real changes.

Permaculture is a creative design process based on whole-systems thinking, biomimicry and pattern language. Its aim is to create systems that are economically, environmentally, and energetically sound. Throughout this series we will establish a deeper understand of Permaculture ethics, principles, and the design process to cultivate a more resilient culture. Presenter Bridget O’Brien is a Certified Permaculture Designer and Educator, and the Marketing Coordinator for The People’s Food Co-op of Ann Arbor, cosponsor of this event.

Permaculture from the Roots Up: Community Care

Tuesday February 9, 2016: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Pittsfield Branch: Program Room

Without community and collaborative effort no part of our daily life is possible. What does a healthy, sustainable, and thriving community look like?

We will be exploring how we can we utilize Permaculture philosophy in our work, schools, and community centers to design systems that create spirals of abundance and prosperity. You will learn concrete examples of community-care principles and leave with tips for making real changes.

Permaculture is a creative design process based on whole-systems thinking, biomimicry, and pattern language. Its aim is to create systems that are economically, environmentally, and energetically sound.

Throughout this series we will establish a deeper understand of Permaculture ethics, principles, and design to cultivate a more resilient culture. Bridget O’Brien is a Certified Permaculture Designer and Educator, and the Marketing Coordinator for The People’s Food Co-op of Ann Arbor, co-sponsor of this program.

Water: The Most Misunderstood Yet Most Important Nutrient In Your Life

Tuesday January 5, 2016: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Learn why the most misunderstood nutrient on the planet is so important to your health and how it can improve your life, energy, and vitality.

Learn the differences in bottled water, water purification processes, and the mystique of alkaline water.

Ron Shook has over 40 years of experience in the water filtration and purification industry and over 30 years nutrition, personal training, and coaching experience. This event is co-sponsored by the People's Food Co-Op.

Permaculture from the Roots Up: Self Care

Tuesday January 26, 2016: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Malletts Creek Branch: Program Room

Let’s look at the epicenter of our Permaculture Zones Method and into our day to day needs, desires, and choices.

As we start this New Year with renewed ambition for living our authentic selves we will be formulating systems that create spirals of abundance and prosperity. You will learn concrete examples of self-care principles and leave with tips for making real changes. Permaculture is a creative design process based on whole-systems thinking, biomimicry, and pattern language. Its aim is to create systems that are economically, environmentally, and energetically sound.

Learn a deeper understanding of Permaculture ethics, principles, and the design process to cultivate a more resilient culture. The presenter, Bridget O’Brien is a Certified Permaculture Designer and Educator, and the Marketing Coordinator for The People’s Food Co-op of Ann Arbor.

Cooperatives – What is a Co-op? Building Resilient Communities

Monday January 11, 2016: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

What is a Co-op? Why buy in? We will be exploring the history, culture, and principles of the Cooperative model to understand the reasons they exist and how we can better utilize them in our daily lives. We will look at housing and business cooperatives in the area and what they have to offer us.

Learn how to shop at your Cooperative grocery stores for big savings!

David M. Hall is the Outreach and Education Coordinator for the People’s Food Co-op and longtime resident of cooperative housing and Bridget O’Brien is the Marketing Coordinator for The People’s Food Co-op of Ann Arbor and longtime Cooperative Member-Owner. This event is co-sponsored by the People's Food Co-Op.

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