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SFPL's One City One Book 2012

A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Jeffers
(415) 557-4282; mjeffers@sfpl.org

October 3, 2012

San Francisco Public Library’s One City One Book 2012

A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster

Author Rebecca Solnit in Conversation on Disaster and Democracy with San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Oct. 11, 2012

Rebecca SolnitOne City One Book 2012 program. The featured event of the program will be Oct. 11, 2012, 6 p.m., with author Solnit in conversation with San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, on disaster and democracy. The talk will be at the San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St.

A Paradise Built in Hell explores our need for community and common purpose, which Solnit argues are fundamental to democratic forms of social and political life. Rebecca Solnit is the author of 13 books about art, landscape, public and collective life, ecology, politics, hope, meandering, reverie, and memory. hey include Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, a book of 22 maps and nearly 30 collaborators, Storming the Gates of Paradise; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities; Wanderlust: A History of Walking and many others.

Fire Chief WhiteJoanne Hayes-White was sworn in as the 25th Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department on January 16, 2004. San Francisco is the largest urban fire department in the world with a female chief. Prior to her appointment as Chief, Hayes-White served as the Director of Training for the San Francisco Fire Department, where she oversaw recruit training, in-service training, continuing education, and Firefighter-Paramedic cross training. Chief Hayes-White has been recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the City’s Most Influential Women of the Year every year since 2004.

In 2012, as part of the 8th annual citywide book club program, the Library is participating in California Reads, a statewide reading and discussion program created by Cal Humanities in partnership with the California Center for the Book and supported by the California State Library. California Reads encourages Californians from all walks of life to participate in reading and discussion programs and related activities around the theme of democracy in 2012. San Francisco selected A Paradise Built in Hell because of its strong connection to the city and its exploration of the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake.

Book coverA Paradise Built in Hell blends reportage and analysis, as it surveys natural and man-made disasters including the ’06 earthquake, the Halifax explosion of 1917, the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, the Sept. 11th attacks, and Hurricane Katrina. Solnit takes a positive view of human behavior showing that disasters can actually create a sense of community and purposefulness. A community’s typical response to catastrophe is self-organization and mutual aid–truly democracy in action–with neighbors and strangers rescuing, feeding and housing each other.

Through the fall, the Library is offering a number of discussion groups, films, preparedness workshops and more events on the theme of the book. Visit sfpl.org/onecityonebook for more information about programs, book club discussion questions and more, and start reading the book now.

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