The name is what caught my eye. The intent is why I'm writing about it.
The Rad Renegade Radical-Pirate Book and Comic Drive began Wednesday and runs through the end of April. Its purpose is to collect books and comics with diverse topics, narratives, characters and writers, and then distribute them to a similarly diverse demographic reflective of what Lexington has become.
The idea sprang from the minds of members of Lexpecto Patronum, the official Lexington chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance, which is more than a national fan club.
"I love Harry Potter, but I don't have time to do fan club work, and it wouldn't benefit the community in the way that I wanted to," said Sarabeth Brownrobie, a founding member of the local chapter, which was formed in January.
Never miss a local story.
Instead, the group tries to replicate the social justice themes made famous through the actions of the J.K. Rowling character.
Brownrobie attended a training conference based on the Social Change Model of Leadership Development at the national alliance and returned to Lexington eager to be more active, she said.
"I went to workshops on inclusivity, white privilege, and participatory action research, and I came home inspired," Brownrobie said. "With the help of Claire Dawson and Noah Smith from Woodford County High School, we formed the Lexington chapter."
From two committees in that chapter — the literacy/youth empowerment and the equality committees — the book and comic drive was created.
Created "to empower people through the written word," Brownrobie wrote on her blog, the book drive is gathering new and used books for people of all ages. No mature content, however.
In May, the alliance will be crowd-sourcing funds to buy a book bike with which members will distribute the books and comics throughout Lexington. "Look for us in the parks, at the pool, riding down the streets," Brownrobie said. "We'll be in costume. We'll be excited."
If they fail to raise enough money for the bike, she said, "We will go out with tables and distribute the books."
How could I not tell you about this?
Brownrobie, who is executive director of Lexington United, said the group hopes the drive will find that one book turns a reluctant reader into an avid one. That transformation can occur at any age. We just have to connect with the character and the story.
For her husband, she said, that empowering character was Iron Man, a flawed superhero who could still do good in the world despite his imperfections. For others, The Hunger Games could be the connection to environmental activism.
For Brownrobie, the book that inspired her was Patty Hearst: Her Own Story, the autobiographical account of the heiress who was kidnapped in 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army and was later photographed committing crimes for them. "She went from bank robber to a social darling," she said. Society doesn't allow everyone to do that.
"The book drive is not necessarily about getting people to do social justice," Brownrobie said. "It's about connecting to people's passions. What they do with that is up to them."
And that connection has to come from a variety of possible sources. That's why the group has a big push for coming-of-age books; books featuring lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual issues; and books written by or about other cultures.
"The question isn't who is at the table but who is not," she said. "We could have a book drive filled with white, heteronormative books and comics — don't get me wrong, there are lots of great books that fall into that category — but that's not all there is.
"We want to celebrate the rich tapestry of all the different people who live and read in our city."
Donated books will be accepted throughout April at The Plantory, Collectibles Etc. and The Morris Book Shop. The latter two are offering a 10 percent discount for books designated to the drive.
For more information, visit Lexpecto Patronum at Facebook.com/groups/LexpectoPatronum or The Rad Renegade Radical-Pirate Book and Comic Drive on Facebook.