The Confluence Climate Collaborative (CCC) is an amazing group of local, dedicated environmental champions with diverse backgrounds and boundless energy. I am proud to call myself a member and feel privileged to be part of the discussions we have about planet Earth and our connection to her. We sometimes worry, though, that our call to environmental responsibility is echoed only by the “choir”–people who feel exactly as we do and are already answering the urgent call to address climate change in their everyday actions and their public advocacy.
As one way to expand our membership, we hit upon the idea of a book club—a nonthreatening, entertaining space where people who just aren’t sure how they feel about climate change can dip their toes in the water and see if they’d like to take a swim. Fiction, it seemed to us, was the way to go, and so we began in November with popular writer Barbara Kingsolver and her bestseller Flight Behavior. We had a good crowd for that first meeting, with lively discussion, and expect our membership to grow.
We were just as concerned, however, with where we met as we were with what we read. Much of our discussions in CCC revolve around the need to downsize our stuff, come back to simpler pleasures and foster community wellbeing. Let’s just say, Books-a-Million was not that place.
It was Afterwords…after thinking the club’s focus through, getting a schedule together, hitting upon a selection of topics and authors that would provide food for thought that we hit upon…Afterwords Books as the perfect place to gather, learn and grow.
Afterwords Books is a family-owned local bookstore, celebrating 10 years in Edwardsville. Customers can purchase new and used books, take advantage of a trade-for-credit program and join a book club like ours—there are clubs going on all the time at Afterwords, for every age and interest. Little shoppers also can enjoy the free children’s story times, while others participate in a thriving monthly documentary club. People come to shop for books at Afterwords, to be sure, but they linger for the community, conversation and coffee and tea.
How did we get so lucky in Edwardsville? Basically because Afterwords owner LuAnne Locke chose to be brave. “Eight years ago, I found myself a recent college graduate and a suddenly single mother of three children–including a toddler in tow!” she explained. “I accepted a part-time position with our local bookstore and, after being employed for about four months, was given the opportunity to purchase Afterwords Bookstore. It’s been a heck of a journey from point A to B!”
LuAnn can tell you that she has spent many sleepless nights brainstorming ways to keep “the ship afloat”. She’s weathered three moves in the last eight years “with the help of friends and family who make up our little bookstore family!” she added, smiling. Then two years ago, she finally found her “charming forever home” at 441 E Vandalia ST in Edwardsville, just a few blocks down from the Edwardsville Public Library.
Charming doesn’t begin to describe the homey setting at Afterwords—the cozy reading spaces with large bright windows….
the beautiful decorations, vast array of educational toys, unique gifts crafted by local artisans, all tied up with impeccable customer service.
“We offer a wide selection of books, including popular fiction, science, history, art and music, biographies, cookbooks, home and gardening, classic literature and poetry, graphic novels, and children’s and young adult titles,” LuAnn explained. “We boast a busy calendar, offering special events featuring local authors, theatre groups, and collaborative events with fellow small businesses. Afterwords proudly partners with our community schools and causes, too. We are happy to contribute whenever possible with donations and participation,” she beamed.
It is clear from the moment you meet her, LuAnn is full of creativity, good business sense and a natural, seemingly effortless ability to make every customer welcome. Her staff is pretty special, too. And Edwardsville should count itself fortunate to have this treasure in our midst. But it’s LuAnn who feels grateful.
“We are so fortunate that our community celebrates the shop-local movement and understands the value of the small, independent businesses in our town.” she said. “All our local business owners understand that our customers could buy goods and services at the big box stores for significantly less, but we’re fortunate that more and more people truly understand that the few dollars it seems they are saving at face value are not worth the compromise to the vitality of their community.”
LuAnn sees her neighbors, who are also her customers, of course, as understanding the importance of each individual’s commitment to nurture the community, as seeing how their tax dollars directly benefit their city. “They see that culture and diversity are meaningful and that we are all working together to make a difference,” she said.
For our Climate Fiction Book Club, 441 E Vandalia ST in Edwardsville feels like home. And we’ll be meeting again on Friday evening, January 3, 2020. We are reading Daniel Quinn’s provocative novel Ishmael. LuAnn, helpful as always will order your book and provide a discount for being part of our book club, should you decide to join. And joining is easy…just show up!
Now is a great time to shop at Afterwords Books! November 30 is Small Business Saturday—a chance we all have to blacklist Black Friday mania and support our small independent retailers like LuAnn. Instead of pushing and shoving your way through the big boxes, take a leisurely read at Afterwords, make some quality purchases, check out Ishmael, and consider joining our Climate Fiction Book Club. We’d love to have you join in!
Be sure to “like” Afterwords Books and The Confluence Climate Collaborative on Facebook, too!
Happy Local and Green Holidays, everyone! And if you like, share your favorite local shopping spot and why you support it. Please join the conversation…and the Climate Fiction Book Club!