Organizers kick off second all-city read

Reading, technology focus of latest effort


Updated: March 5, 2014, 5:31 PM



Previously: A reading program was launched in early 2013 by the city of Vancouver, Washington State University Vancouver’s Creative Media and Digital Culture program and a host of private and public sponsors. Participants read and discussed the book “Program Or Be Programmed” by Douglas Rushkoff.

What’s new: The program, called #nextchapter, on Wednesday introduced the reading topic, the book “Now You See It” by Cathy N. Davidson.

What’s next: A #nextchapter public workshop will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at the downtown branch of Vancouver Community Library.

In our world of evolving technology, older people can learn from the young and vice versa, and learning is easier if everyone is on the same page.

Those were among the messages touted by organizers of #nextchapter, Vancouver's second all-city read, launched Wednesday morning at City Hall. Free copies of the program's discussion book, "Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century," were handed out during the kick-off event. The book's East Coast author, Cathy N. Davidson, gave an address via Skype. An English professor at Duke University, Davidson writes about brain science and technology's powerful influences on society. She applauded Clark County educators and civic, business and government leaders for organizing the community to read her book and discuss its lessons on the historic transition into the age of digital information.

"We live in a world where, for the first time in human history, anyone in the world can publish anything to the world without an editor," she said. "That's a huge, phenomenal responsibility."

Reading Davidson's book can help bridge generational and intellectual gaps between community members, students and businesses, said Dene Grigar, a professor and director of the creative media and digital culture program at Washington State University Vancouver.

She and City Councilman Jack Burkman organized the reading program and raised about $43,000 — mostly from private sources — to pay for it. The money buys books and other marketing materials. It also pays for speakers that guide a community discussion that will take place this spring, Burkman said.

Grigar's WSU program focuses on Web and mobile development, two-dimensional and three-dimensional animation, sensor-based virtual environments, social media policy and platforms, and digital publishing. It has grown to 225 students, up from 44 students in 2006, she said. With #nextchapter, Grigar hopes to expand the discussion beyond the university's Salmon Creek campus based on her own experience with a clash of cultures.

Grigar grew up in a rural, farming community in Pearland, Texas, and remembers the social conflict when NASA set up nearby in the 1960s. Suddenly, scientists and academics were moving in on the farming community, Grigar said.

"You had this intellectual gap between one or the other," she said.

She sees a similar dichotomy in Clark County, as tech companies such as Woobox and Wacom move here and experience growth.

"This (#nextchapter) is meant to bridge that gap between the Industrial Age sensibility and the Information Age sensibility," Grigar said.

Next up is a free digital literacy workshop on the Information Age, at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Vancouver Community Library, 901 C St.

The public also is invited to see and discuss the film, "The Social Network" for free at 6 p.m. March 13 at the Kiggins Theatre, 1011 Main St. The Fort Vancouver Regional Library District's foundation and two nonprofit Friends of the Library groups are among the top sponsors of the program. Other sponsors include Comcast, Washington State University Vancouver, The Columbian, Evergreen and Vancouver Public Schools, Clark College, the Columbia River Economic Development Council, the Kiggins Theatre, Internet Essentials, Columbia Litho, the

Community Foundation of Southwest Washington and the City of Vancouver.

The library plans to host free workshops on digital literacy every Saturday through April 17.

The events culminate with an evening presentation by "Now You See It" author, Davidson on May 9 at the Kiggins.

Grigar said her WSUV digital culture students have a 90 percent job placement rate after earning degrees in the program. Some, like 26-year-old Brittany Wouden, aren't sure what they'll do, career-wise, with their education.

"My goal is to take technology and do something where it enriches my environment," said Wouden, a WSUV senior who was on hand at Wednesday's event with a class project she completed for the digital culture program.

Her future could include work in the K-12 educational system, which is where she tested the project, a pop-up gallery of two-dimensional images. An app that functions through the camera on her iPad brought the images to life, making them three-dimensional and animated.

"It (the technology) can take an ordinary, boring school topic and make it interactive and more exciting," she said.