‘Bicycle Diaries’ catalyst for change in Redondo, Beach Cities
When Redondo Beach Library Director Susan Anderson brainstormed this year’s Book to Action series, events focused on improving the area with a book at its center, David Byrne’s “Bicycle Diaries” jumped to the top of her list.
“We were looking for a book on cycling the would provide for rich discussion, not just a how-to, or not just bicycle racing,” Anderson said. “His book, while promoting cycling, has a lot of rich discussion matter.”
At its core, the Talking Heads frontman’s book focuses not just on bicycles, but on cities: how they live and breathe, how people exist within them. With that in mind, his tour became a series of panel discussions, featuring him, a town representative, an academic and a cycling advocate.
“I was happy to merely be the catalyst or the excuse for putting the whole thing together,” Byrne wrote. “These attendees want their cities improved, and they knew I was not the one who was going to make it happen.”
With that in mind, Anderson and her colleagues at libraries from across the Beach Cities and Torrance jumped to work.
This year’s Beach Cities Read series kicked off with a discussion of the book, on April 18, at the Redondo Beach Main Library, and continues through May 15. Throughout that stretch, bike-related events from festivals to safety training to discussions will take place throughout the Beach Cities.
“People can enter in at any point, even if they don’t read the book; they can come to an activity and learn about the topic,” Anderson said.
April 29 is a particularly big day for the event, as a ride will stretch from Redondo’s 125th Birthday Celebration at King Harbor to the Manhattan Beach Library, which is celebrating two years in its new building.
Byrne’s book isn’t written as a meditation on cycling, researched as an academic or journalistic tome, but is comprised of short diary sketches about city life between art shows, performances and the bike rides he takes to get around.
“Even though he developed the book from blog posts — it’s not a straight-through narrative — there’s immediate interest in the subject matter,” Anderson said. “It seems like the right program for this community…People here are interested in healthy-living, and healthy-environment topics.”
On May 4, the Redondo Beach Main Library will host a TEDx event, “Wheels of Change,” from 6 to 9 p.m. The discussion is planned to center around how people can get from place to place while still improving their quality of life, which is a key focus in “Bicycle Diaries.”
“Observing and engaging in a city’s life…is one of life’s great joys,” Byrne wrote in “Bicycle Diaries.”
“Being a social creature—it is part of what it means to be human.”
For more on the Beach Cities Read series, visit www.colapublib.org/beachcitiesread. ER
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