Tag Archives: community

The Power of Stories like Star Wars

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Let the Wookie Read! It is so exciting to me that communities across the world get to connect the power of reading with the awe of Star Wars for the entire month of October. How will you celebrate? Let’s start by commenting below and sharing with us some of your favorite Star Wars stories told in print.

I think a lot of us here at Grey Havens understand the power of a good story. Some of our young and older adults, including yours truly, didn’t really like reading until we came across Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings. One good story was all it took to enlighten our minds and spark a passion for more. Star Wars can do that too. Because of Star Wars, countless families will go to libraries during the month of October and probably find new and exciting books to read, maybe for the first time.

Grey Havens celebrated on October 15th at Carbon Valley Regional Library in Firestone, Colorado. It was a delightful day of droid racing, light-saber making, dramatic readings from William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, Jedi-training, and more — including an Interactive Viewing of The Force Awakens after hours. It was wonderful to put our nerdy love of Star Wars to good use by engaging people in reading and community.

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Here at Grey Havens YA, a part of the Grey Havens Group, Inc, we do not separate “low” and “high” art, all art can be meaningful and inspire discussion. We take films, television shows, and YA novels as seriously as we’d take the work of Shakespeare. That’s why it was so fun to combine Shakespeare and Star Wars, to talk about the fictional Jedi and their unique way of life, and to have engage the imagination by interacting with a movie we all know and love.

If you want to learn more about Grey Havens, check out our parent website at GreyHavensGroup.org, and come visit us on Halloween. We love to host fun discussions and events for adults too, and we’re kicking off our adult programming with a Hobbit Halloween and Harry Potter DeathDay Party at our new adult venue: Local Editions in Longmont. Stop by  anytime between 6pm – 8pm for a flyer, some candy, and a chance to learn more about getting involved in this amazing and nerdy organization.
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Fandoms and Fitness

Here at Grey Havens YA, we’ve perfected our signature Fandoms Unite presentations. What started out as a simple trivia night to recruit book discussion members has turned into a wide range of community-building, confidence-boosting programs. These include a plethora of general trivia, captions, and videos along with more specialized programming like cosplay and theater, always with an emphasis on the fandoms we and our young adults love.

One such program that came out of our desire to provide new and exciting fandom activities is something we named Fitness for Nerds, though Fandom Fitness is also an accurate title. At Fitness for Nerds, we put our Fandom love into high energy movements and get to have a blast playing around with a “work-out” theme. It’s great to get moving, and it’s always hilarious!

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We start off with some stretches, including stretching up and down as we shout out fandom moments that make us happy (a new Harry Potter movie is coming out!) or sad (Doctor Who is on hiatus until 2017!). After stretching, we jump into all sorts of movements as we copy our favorite characters in still, gif, or video form.

One of our favorites is “Dance Like Baby Groot” from the end of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. We just follow along with the video as Groot dances to “I Want You Back,” and everyone has a fantastic time. I love when I can look completely ridiculous but not feel embarrassed at all about it because everyone else is having fun looking just as ridiculous as I am– that is the power of Fitness for Nerds!

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This summer, we turned our small presentation into a two-hour long program complete with “Moisturize Me” breaks and dance music. And let me tell you, it’s quite a work out! Who Knew you could geek out and exercise all at the same time? This year’s Summer Reading theme is Fitness, and libraries across the nation are working hard on providing programming that fits the theme. We’re excited to get to help out a few local libraries here because Fitness for Nerds is fantastic, and we know all the librarians love it. Keep reading to find out where you can join us next!

In addition to fun dance moves, we’ve also developed a great Fandom Yoga sequence to slow things down a bit. Moves include, but are not limited to, the AT-AT Walker, the Hungarian Horntail, Kylo Ren Face Yoga, and the Superman. Some are based in actual yoga moves and others are just plain silly.  wp-1468200413463.jpg

I don’t want to tell you everything, because part of the fun is the surprise of waiting to see what crazy move we’re going to do next! The next chance to catch Fitness for Nerds is THIS Saturday from 2pm – 4pm at Carbon Valley Regional Library in Firestone, CO. It’s FREE, and open to grades 3-12, though we welcome family members to stick around if they are so inclined (and courageous!). Please be sure to register here so the library knows how many people to expect. Dress comfortably, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself and have a great time!

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If you’re interested in bringing Fitness for Nerds to your library or community, please Phone the TARDIS to contact us. It’s always hectic here at Grey Havens, Inc, but we love bringing nerds together and it’d be great to connect with you! (If you’re interested in helping us make things a little less hectic for our volunteer staff, please check out our support page.)

Send us an owl: Have you been to Fitness for Nerds? What’s your favorite move? 

All we have to decide…

It’s been a busy summer already for Grey Havens YA and The Grey Havens Group, Inc. We’ve been a little silent on our blogs because we’ve been rebuilding from recent changes and planning for an exciting future. We always like to post fun things on our Facebook Page, though, so make sure you like us! And stay tuned below for a feelsy post about our amazing young adults.

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This May, six of our Grey Havens YA discussion group members graduated high school and set their sights on the world beyond. It has been such a privilege to get to interact with them these past two and a half years, and last month, we chose to honor our graduates through a party. In the party presentation, we posted fandom advice and life lessons learned through our favorite stories like Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Harry Potter.

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Once such inspirational quote we shared came from Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings, and I want to talk a little more about it here. It is so central to what we do here at Grey Havens YA and the Grey Havens Group Inc. It’s also a great way to bring our graduates full circle, seeing as we started this group by meeting regularly to discuss The Hobbit.

The quotation comes from Chapter Two of The Fellowship of the Ring: The Shadow of the Past, and it was made even more famous by the 2001 film adaptation. I am going to quote both film and book because both are important to our young adults– they exist in a world where the two intermingle and both have merit.

In the book, Frodo speaks to Gandalf about the darkness growing in Middle Earth and he says, “I wish it need not have happened in my time.” In the movie, he says, “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”

In both instances, Gandalf responds the same: “So do I … and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given [to] us.

Kelly used this quote when she made a certificate for me to recognize the Make Time for Kids Award (that truly belongs to both of us), and the words really stuck with me.

You’ve probably heard our stories before on this website or during presentations, but Kelly and I have both faced our own shadows of the past. Elements such as fantasy, imagination, and community brought us through to the other side, and that is why we do what we do. We want to help young adults (and old) find “light and high beauty” forever beyond the shadow’s reach.

That is what we have chosen to do with the time given to us. We have chosen to invest in these young adults, these teens who may have felt alone or strange or hurt or afraid. Though we ourselves have felt alone, strange, hurt, and afraid, we have chosen to create a community in which everyone is welcome to the table and hope and imagination flourish in a world full of darkness.

And we have not been disappointed. I will say it again: It is an honor to get to watch these young adults grow up. Not only do we get to see our seniors graduate and embark on new adventures, but we also get to see our middle schoolers enter high school for the first time. We get to watch new members join the group and feel like they’ve been there the whole time. In three years, we’ve watched how far these teens have come through a community of literacy, imagination, and inclusion.

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I firmly believe that one of the best things we can encourage in our young adults is confidence and security in who they are, and we get to see that blossom as they grow. We’ve gotten to watch the quietest ones speak up in large groups. My favorite times to just sit back and watch are at our Multi-Generational Discussions. As a teenager, I never would have spoken up in a discussion group that included senior adults and people my parents’ age. That’s because I would’ve never thought that my thoughts and opinions were valid or that they mattered enough in the grand scheme of things. But these Grey Havens Young Adults know that they matter, and they trust in the process of philosophic discourse so much that they are eager to add their voices to the mix.

I could go on and on about how proud I am of these teens, but if a little spark of confidence is all that I can say my time has brought to them, then I can say I have used that time well, and I am so happy that I get to keep doing it. Grey Havens YA, I hope that in times of strife, you can find comfort and encouragement in Gandalf’s words and carry on, my wayward son. I know with both my hearts that you will make the best use of the time that is given to you. My wish for you is that you stay nerdy and that your confidence and creativity only grows. I hope that you continue to think critically and imagine greatly, and know that you are, and will always be, magnificent.

In the words of a madman in a box: We’re all stories in the end, just make it a good one.

Send us an owl: What’s your favorite piece of fandom life advice?

Nerd Rock: Rush

Círdan’s note: Welcome back music lovers. On Monday, we kicked off our Nerd Rock series with the psychedelic Pink Floyd. On Wednesday, we tuned in to the revolutionary Led Zeppelin. Today, we take a listen to the band Rolling Stone called, “Geek Gods” — Rush! This blog series was developed by one of our high schoolers, Ethan, a.k.a. spock0528. Hopefully he will continue it in the future, but for now we hope you walk away with at least a few new favorite songs. Let us know in the comments! Also, make sure you read the introduction and his explanation of what makes rock music nerdy in Monday’s Post before continuing to this one. Enjoy!

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Rush

Rush is the nerdiest band of all time. Other bands may feature themes that nerds can connect to but the members of Rush are nerds in the same we are nerds. Because of this, the Canadian progressive power trio has a large and loyal fanbase big enough to rival wp-1462844629413.jpgthat of the Grateful Dead. The band is made up of three of the greatest musicians of all time. Geddy Lee not only plays the bass like a boss but also sings and plays the keyboard at the same time causing him to be rated the #1 bass player of all time by WatchMojo. Alex Lifeson’s guitar skills are legendary (rated second best underrated guitarist by WatchMojo) and (depending on who you talk to) Neil Peart is the greatest drummer of all time using a straight-up orchestra of drums that John Bonham or Keith Moon never used. Peart also served as the main lyricist, writing epic sci-fi and fantasy stories while addressing other elements of nerd culture. The music of Rush is everything a nerd could want:  intelligent, perfectly calculated and downright epic.

Rush formed in 1968 in Toronto. The original lineup consisted of high school friends Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson along with drummer John Rutsey. They were mostly a heavy blues rock band taking cues from AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. wp-1462844647848.pngThey released their first album in 1974 where it achieved moderate success with the song Working Man. However because of health problems, Rutsey had to quit the band leaving Rush without a drummer. They recruited Neil Peart who easily surpassed Rutsey as a drummer. Peart also became the band’s primary lyricist. Peart was a major nerd and wrote songs based off works of fantasy and sci-fi. On the band’s next album Fly by Night the group experimented with longer and more complex songs, such as on the song By-Tor And The Snow Dog, which told the epic tale of two fantasy creatures fighting. The album also featured Tolkien references on the song Rivendell.

By Rush’s third album, Caress of Steel, they had gone full prog (progressive rock), now telling epic fantasy stories on over-10-minute-long songs, such as The Necromancer and The Fountain of Lamneth. This obviously put them at odds with their producers who wp-1462844600867.jpgwanted shorter and more accessible songs. Rush refused to comply and released 2112, an over 20 minute long seven part science fiction epic set in the future where rebels battled the evil “Priests of Syrinx” with the power of music, on the album of the same name. The album proved successful, and Rush was beginning to make a large fan base with young nerds who connected with their music. Throughout the rest of the 70’s Rush released more albums filled with songs about greek gods, robots, space travel, immortality, talking trees, and black holes, and though critics either ignored or bashed them, Rush had reached “cult status” with fans.

Listen to the second movement of 2112:

Listen to the nerdy The Trees: 

By the 1980s, Rush began to incorporate synthesizers into their music — meaning Geddy Lee had to add a third job to his role in the band. They began to get radio airplay as well with songs like The Spirit Of  Radio when they started writing shorter songs. In wp-1462844590355.jpg1981, the album Moving Pictures came out which features (at least what critics will tell you) their best set of songs. Rush gradually used more and more synths on their next four albums. However, the use of synths didn’t mean the music got any less awesome. Songs like Natural Science and Countdown show Peart’s geeky love of science and the excitement of space travel, while the song Subdivisions discussed the struggle of not fitting in, basically being a nerd.

Watch the music video for Subdivisions: 

By 1989, Rush had returned to a harder guitar-driven sound with the album Presto and continued this throughout the 90s with albums like Roll the Bones and Counterparts. Though it looked like the band was over after Peart suffered a major personal tragedy, the band returned wp-1462844548883.jpgin 2002 with Vapor Trails leading to Snakes and Arrows in 2007. Rush latest album, Clockwork Angels, released in 2012, was an epic concept album later adapted into a steampunk, dystopian fiction novel. In 2010 the documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage was made telling the story of the band and their struggle of being constantly overlooked. They were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a few years later and recently celebrated their 40th anniversary with the R40 tour, rumored to be their last major tour.

Watch the trailer for the R40 tour: 

Watch the trailer for Beyond the Lighted Stage:

That’s it for now. I hope you all will check out these awesome artists!!! Nerd (and Rock) On!

Coming Soon: The Beatles, The Who, Queen, Jethro Tull, Iron Maiden, and David Bowie.      

For one final video, take a listen to the epic The Spirit of Radio:

Send us an owl: What is your favorite Rush song and why? What other bands do you consider to be nerdy? Leave us some song suggestions in the comments. 

Nerd Rock: Pink Floyd

Círdan’s note: A few weeks ago, we asked our young adults if they had any topics or questions they wanted to address in a student-led discussion. One of our high-schoolers Ethan, a.k.a. spock0528, put together a fabulous presentation on Nerd Rock that we thought was too good not to share. We’ve transformed his powerpoint into blog form so that you can enjoy and rock along with us. Remember our Grey Havens YA slogo: “Being a nerd is not about what you love, it’s about how you love it.” Ethan’s enthusiasm for rock and the connections he draws between music, fandom, and being a nerd are what Grey Havens YA is all about. This post is part one of three (so far), so stay tune for more classic rock and nerdy awesomeness. Party on, dude!

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Best of Both Worlds

You wouldn’t think it but Classic Rock and Fandoms go together extremely well. I can’t think of a nerdier type of music. While pop has to always please a mainstream audience, rock can sound like whatever you want it too as long as it just sounds awesome. While pop music has to fit inside a box, rock music can have large amounts of fans without a single hit. While the artists in this series are all pretty well known (except for maybe one), many people don’t see the nerdy side of their music. That’s what I am going to point out with this series and hopefully introduce to some new music that’s sure to get you as excited as the next Marvel movie.

Here is what I mean when I say “nerdy music,” and these are the factors that I used to make this list:

  • Characters- The members of the band are cool and may even may be nerds themselves.
  • Backstory- The band itself has an epic story (such as their rise to stardom, lineup changes, etc.)
  • Visuals- The band’s logo, album artwork, or images at live shows are nerdy in appearance such as taking from sci-fi or fantasy.
  • Talent- The band members have almost superhuman talent on their instrument.
  • Lyrics- The group’s lyrics feature nerdy themes (such as not fitting in, science, or themes and ideas based off of novels or poems)
  • Fandom References- The band’s lyrics or imagery references fandoms we still enjoy today.
  • Solid Franchise- The band has produced a steady stream of quality material during their time together.
  • Storytelling- Their music tells stories through either individual songs or concept albums

So Here We Go!!!

Pink Floyd.

wp-1462754049217.jpgPsychedelic/Progressive Rock band Pink Floyd is one of the most successful and innovative music artists of all time. Rated the 51st greatest artist of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine, The 18th greatest artist by VH1 and the 4th greatest rock band by WatchMojo, Pink Floyd is a combination of intelligent lyrics, lengthy and complex arrangements, unique themes and imagery, and spellbinding live shows.

Formed in 1965, Pink Floyd started out as a psychedelic band led by frontman Syd Barrett who used fairytales and works of fantasy as inspiration for Pink Floyd’s earliest albums such as The Piper At The Gates of Dawn and the space themed Saucerful of Secrets.        

Listen to the Tolkien influenced “The Gnome” from Pink Floyd’s first album. 


By their second albums Barrett had succumbed to the excess of the 60’s, his mind altered by drugs leaving Pink Floyd without a frontman. Bassist Roger Waters stepped up to the task working to find Pink Floyd a new sound, while guitarist David GIlmour stepped in to replace Barrett. The group tried out experimental soundscaping on
Atom Heart Mother and film soundtracks on albums like Obscured By Clouds and More. They even scored the the music for the moon landing on British television. In 1971 they released Meddle, which showed the band moving in a more progressive direction. Little did they know they were about to become one of the biggest bands of all time.

Listen to Pink Floyd sample the Doctor Who theme on “One of These Days” (at 2:20)

With the release of Dark Side of the Moon in 1973 Pink Floyd became superstars. The album spent 917 non-consecutive weeks on the charts and is now the 3rd best selling album of all time. Pink Floyd had found their mind-bending, epic sound with Waters providing the philosophical lyrics and themes, often using Barrett’s mental illness for ideas, which led to some of their most famous songs such as: Wish You Were Here, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, and Brain Damage, while Gilmour’s guitar skills and the rest of twp-1462754049220.pnghe band’s musical talent (Richard Wright’s keyboards and Nick Mason’s drums) put unique music behind the words. The band released the album Wish You Were Here in 1975 while also receiving recognition for their live shows which featured laser and light shows.

As Pink FLoyd’s fame grew Waters’s lyrics began to grow more political. In 1977 Pink Floyd released Animals, an Orwellian concept album that compared social classes to barnyard animals and in 1979 they put out The Wall, a concept album telling the story of a rocker who builds a metaphorical wall from humanity. The album became the best-selling album of the decade (although DSOTM would later outsell it). However Waters (who wrote The Wall pretty much all by himself) began to see the band as his own. In-fighting caused the band to break up after one final album in 1980 (basically a Waters solo album).

Listen to “Pigs on the Wing Pt.2” from Animals

To people’s surprise, Gilmour, Wright, and Mason reunited for a new album in 1987 without Waters ensuring a legal battle over Pink Floyd name. Waters eventually relented and the new Pink Floyd lineup scored a few hits such as Learning to Fly and On the Turning Away. In 1994 the group released the album The Division Bell, an altogether stronger and more focussed effort. In 2005 Pink Floyd managed to put aside their differences for one last show together at the Live 8 Charity Concert before going their separate ways. Richard Wright passed away in 2008 and a mostly instrumental Pink Floyd album, The Endless River, was released in 2014 honoring his achievements.  

Now, I leave you with two final videos. Watch this incredible guitar solo from the Live 8 show (solo starts at 20:54, but you’ll also enjoy the rest of the video):

Finally, see more about the Pink Floyd live show experience in this trailer for Roger Waters’s new concert movie: 

Our Nerd Rock series continues on Wednesday with Led Zeppelin!

P.S. At the meeting we also enjoyed watching the first eight minutes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens as it syncs up perfectly with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It was pretty spectacular!

Send us an owl: What’s your favorite Pink Floyd song and why?

See you at Panera! P.S. You’re awesome.

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A couple of posts ago, we talked about Bags for Change, a fundraising program at Lucky’s Market Longmont from April through June. We are dedicating the funds raised through this program to help out Grey Havens YA because Lucky’s has asked us to designate a specific Grey Havens Group, Inc project. In our post, we explained why books are so important to us and how having a consistent book fund would really help us out and benefit our members for the rest of their lives.

However, I want you to know that when you support Grey Havens YA through Bags for Change, monthly donations, or our April 25th Panera Fundraiser (keep reading for more info), you are doing so much more than just buying books for us. Books are necessary and important, and they are also quantifiable and tangible. It’s easy for us to talk about them because we can tell you exactly how much money buys exactly how many books that go to exactly how many eager young adults. What is harder to explain is how your support has allowed us literally to keep existing, which benefits not only our core members but the whole community at large.

For the past two years, we have run this organization successfully on borrowed time, in borrowed space, using borrowed equipment. We have no paid staff, no space to call our own, and two seriously aging laptops. And yet — and yet, your support has helped us to finally become an incorporated 501(c)3 NonProfit Organization. Together with The Grey Havens Group, Inc, we have provided quality programming and enriching discussion for children, teens, adults, and older adults all along the Front Range. We really mean it when we say we value literacy, imagination, community, and inclusion. We cannot thank you enough for your support in all of this!

On April 25th, Panera in Longmont is offering a super easy way for you to continue to help us. Simply stop by on Monday between 4:00pm and 8:00pm and present this flyer in print when ordering for dine-in, carry-out, or buying a gift card and 15% of your purchase will benefit The Grey Havens Group, Inc. If you have trouble printing the flyer, please contact us or look for us at Panera and we will be able to give you one. You can also join our Facebook Event Announcement to let us know you’re coming. We can’t wait to see you there for a night of yummy food and inspirational fellowship. As they say in the Grey Havens adult Tolkien branch, a star shines on the hour of our meeting.

Grey Havens Fundriser Flyer

Send us an owl: Why do you choose to support The Grey Havens Group, Inc and it’s young adult and family branch, Grey Havens YA?
P.S. What are you going to order at Panera???

The Last Stand: Jim Kraven’s Diary #3

Círdan’s Note: And now we return to the mind of our very own Jim Kraven (aka 145barbarian) as he recounts our latest foray into The Last Stand, a roleplaying game invented by your young adults. When you support Grey Havens YA through Lucky’s Bags for Change this quarter, you are helping us to continue to provide these young adults with the environment they need to be imaginative in community.  Be sure to read Jim’s latest diary before diving into this one. If you want even more explanation, check out this video as one of our GMs (Game Master) catches us up on the story so far. Enjoy!

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Day 4
I can see the GMs now. That must mean we’re about to get out of limbo. Timmy is going to cry again. I can already tell. Every time we come out of limbo, he cries. Maybe he feels something we don’t while in limbo. I wish my wife was here. She always knew how to calm down Timmy when he cried. We’ll see her again someday. Hopefully.

*BAAAANG* I run to the window. Nothing in sight, but Timmy’s crying even louder so I know I’m not the only one who heard that explosion. Bucky’s back! He must’ve caused the explosion. The zombies are gone. We can finally go outside again!

“Come on Timmy,” I said, extending my hand to him. He grabs it, and I lead him to the door. There’s a new guy. Galahad is his name. Timmy and I stare up as a flash of light fills the sky.

“Daddy,” he says, “What is that?”

I stare down at him. “I don’t know.”

The light is getting closer. It crashed into a hill near the village. It’s binging now. The light is stuck in a crater.

There’s some sort of creature inside it. It wants out. Who would’ve known! It crashed into a strange place, and now it wants out of the wreckage. Bucky ripped the door off. Istar is the creature’s name.

Gunfire rings through the valley. It’s coming from our base!

The group is heading back. I’m still here with Timmy and Eadlyn. I think they forgot about us…

They’re coming back. Our healer actually did something useful for once! She healed Eadlyn’s broken legs.

Timmy is gonna go across the river on the gorilla’s corpse. I’m glad the gorilla is dead. Timmy didn’t like him very much. I’m gonna walk across. Timmy is floating slowly over to us.

We’re heading back to the base. This’ll be quite the walk. I can hear Timmy running to catch up to us.

Woah. I feel really tired all of a sudden. Unknown fell asleep. Everyone is starting to space out and sit down. Istar stays awake. People are starting to pass out. Something is forcing us all to sleep.

Timmy is out like a light. It’s the first time in years that he’s slept without me reading him a story.

I heard Duke Brilliance yell, “There’s something in here!” — then I fell asleep.

——————–S-L-E-E-P-I-N-G——————–

I see my wife. She’s holding Timmy in her arms. Am I dead? No. No, not dead. I must be dreaming. I remember getting back to the inn, then passing out. I just stand there and stare at her. She’s so good with him. Part of me wishes that she was the one here with Timmy, not me. I walk over to her and smile.

“Shhh,” she says, “Timmy is sleeping.” I sit down next to her. I miss her so much. I don’t know when I’ll wake up. Maybe I won’t. I’d be ok with that. Either way, I’m going to savor these moments for as long as possible.

“How have you been?” I ask her.

“I miss you both so much,” she utters through her tears, “I’ve been doing ok….lonely, but ok.” I lean down to give her a hug. As I lean out, I notice blood all over my hands.

“No…” I utter, “Not again!” She collapses as I get transported to some sort of waiting room.

—————————————————————————

Looking around here reminds me of the day when my wife and I found out that she was pregnant with Timmy. It was a great day.

Everyone is here in the room. Well, most everyone. Other than us, the room is empty. None of us know what is going on. All we know is that the Nightmare put everyone to sleep. Nightmare. I guess that’s what’s doing this. That probably explains the whole thing with my wife. People are starting to mingle and move around.

Timmy’s crying again. I pull out his story book and read him his favorite story. The same story that I’ve been reading for the past couple years. I don’t even need the book anymore. I know it by heart. I keep the book so that Timmy has something to look at. Something to distract him from all the violence and chaos going on around us.

Duke Brilliance just informed us that the Nightmare is watching over us, controlling us. The Nightmare can kill us. It doesn’t kill often, but it isn’t very comforting knowing that it can do so.

We know of a remedy to this sleepiness now. Garlic, vinegar, and mint can help counter getting pulled into this world. The walls are full of weak points. It appears that the only way to expose them is to get everyone into the dream world. Istar just summoned a puppy. It’s chasing the bunny around.

There’s a way to summon Siri, a goddess of light. They did it! She’s here! She’s confused. Pure light can be used to destroy the Nightmare. We’re all here now except for Nutmeg. Well. We’re all here. The Nightmare says that she’s lonely. She wants to play a game. Doorways start opening up for us. Three people for each door. A white light emits from each of the doors. I guess we’ll have to break up into groups now. The group is erupting in chatter. The games consist of a bunch of puzzles.

I tried to send Timmy through one of the doors. The door pulled me in too. One more person for our door. I hope we can get out of here.

——–S-L-E-E-P-I-N-G—D-R-E-A-M-S-C-A-P-E——–

A room just materialized around us. It’s me, Timmy, and Feather. She has the bunny with her. I hope our puzzle has nothing to do with dexterity. I’d assume by now that everyone is breaking off and going into their doors. The Nightmare is here. Must be giving Feather and I our puzzle. Here we go. Well that was easy. All we had to do was create three squares using some lines. Feather is gone. Now Timmy. The world goes black again.

——————–R-E-A-L-I-T-Y——————–

We’re awake again. Feather, Timmy, Bucky, Istar, Lunefasentia, and I are the only ones awake so far. Istar’s puppy came through to the dream world. The bunny’s back as well. Gell and (Nick’s Character) are awake now. Let’s see if anyone else can get out of the dreamworld. Duke Brilliance, Lisa, and Kaylen are awake. Bart and Malone are awake. There are still some people asleep. Ok. Everyone’s awake! The Nightmare left since we all played the games.

Here comes limbo. I’ll write more tomorrow.

Círdan’s Note: What an enchanting tale of a Nightmare who’s only wish was to not be alone. Thanks for a great recap, Jim! 
Send us an owl: What do you think of the story so far? Are you excited to see what happens to the company next time? I know I am!

(Nerdy) Bags for Change!

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At Grey Havens YA, we provide each of our young adult members with a free copy of the books we discuss, a copy that they can underline, dog-ear, or keep in pristine condition. However they choose to keep it, it is theirs forever!

martian chronicles booksWhy do we do this? Because, as enriching as they are, our book discussions are not the last word on the story. For the rest of their lives, we want our members to go back to the stories we talk about, engaging with them as they would with a living thing. We want them to experience and re-experience the stories, themselves, rather than replacing those experiences with the things we have said about them.

The problem is that, sometimes, when we finish discussing a book, we don’t know where the money for the next set of books will come from. This, and all of the other expenses that come with running a nonprofit that serves hundreds of individuals and families, is why we depend on our supporters. Every donation helps and, this spring, even a wooden dime can make a difference!

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Thanks to votes from members of our community (thank you!), Lucky’s Market Longmont has selected us as one of the spring recipients of their Bags for Change program. Shoppers who bring in reusable bags will receive a wooden dime representing a bag credit that they can choose to donate to Grey Havens YA through They Grey Havens Group. Those wooden dimes really add up, especially since Lucky’s Market matches every single one of them with a donation of their own!

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But wait–there’s more! We wouldn’t be Grey Havens YA if we didn’t find a way to put a nerdy twist on this exciting fundraising opportunity. We asked our members and supporters, not just to bring their reusable bags to Lucky’s Market, but to shop with the nerdiest reusable bags they can find! Use #SustainableNerds to share photos of your nerdy, geeky shopping bags on social media. We would also love to see photos in the comments!

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If enough people load up enough nerdy bags with bargains, we will know where a whole year of books is coming from–from YOU! Thank you to all the #SustainableNerds out there and keep an eye on our blog for more information about another exciting fundraising event coming up in the next few weeks!

Watch this video to learn more about how Bags for Change is changing local lives:

Psst! If you love Grey Havens YA but aren’t local, please feel free to check out our Support page for other ways to keep the magic going. We hope you’ll also participate in the #SustainableNerds challenge! Thank you.

Send us an owl: Show us your nerdy bags, of course! Also, what do you like to buy most at Lucky’s Market?

The Last Stand (Jim Kraven’s Diary) #2

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Círdan’s Note: It has been quite a busy 2016 already for Grey Havens YA and Grey Havens Group, Inc. Make sure you’re following us on Facebook for the latest news and Phone the TARDIS if you’d like to be added to our email list. We have some exciting news to share with you this April, but for now we want to take a moment to showcase why we do what we do. One of the reasons Grey Havens YA exists is to help foster the creativity of young adults. Not only have they have blown us away with the invention of their own Roleplaying Game, the game itself has also helped to foster community and inclusion among the group, and it’s a blast to get to watch them work. Today, we get the chance again to peak into one of our member’s imaginations as he recounts the recent events of the game through his character’s diary. Jim Kraven (aka 145barbarian) serves as the group’s guard and carries his child around in his backpack. (Find his previous account here.) For this game, we split the party in two and switched back and forth for gameplay. Let’s take a brief glimpse into Jim’s mind and see what he’s thinking while in and out of this strange limbo…

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Sitting here staring at all these ropes for the last few months has been driving me insane. I say months, but I mean minutes. Feels like it though. Hopefully our GM (Game Master) lets us move soon. I wonder where Timmy is…

Oh goodie. Our overlords started with the base group. Now I’m stuck here in limbo for another couple minutes.

“My throats are at your necks,” the new person said. There you go everyone. That’s our overlord. Thank GM we have such a great person ruling over us!

It’s been twenty minutes. Still stuck in limbo. I can’t help but wonder where Timmy is. I hope he isn’t playing with the dead lion corpses. That would be gross. I might disown him if I find him doing that. That’ll show him.

All I can do is stare straight ahead, right into this mirror. At least my locket popped open. I miss my wife. Looting this place reminds me of when she and I went shopping for our new home. Oh…the good ol’ days. Now I’m here. She’s not. Timmy is though…somewhere.

Yes! Out of limbo!

Oooook. Weird noises outside. I don’t see anything from the windows. Well, nothing but fog…and a mob of zombies in the distance. A figure is running to the hardware store out of the fog. It’s Timmy! And…oh…good. He isn’t covered in blood. That’s good.

Gell went to the supermarket. I’m gonna stick around here at the store for a bit. It gives me a good view of the street incase I need to fire shots at the mob. I’m watching the supermarket with my sniper scope. The zombies are close. Dangerously close.

“Timmy,” I whisper, “Go hide behind the counter.” Timmy goes. Unknown is helping carry everyone up to the roof of the market. Good idea. Those zombies are getting really close. Apparently there is a  ladder inside. I’m gonna stay down here to watch the streets.

Timmy started crying. I got his storybook from him and started reading it to him. He stopped. “It’s ok Timmy,” I whisper, clutching him in my arms, “It’s ok.”

I un-barricaded the door to let Eadlyn in, barricading the door behind her. A loud horn just sounded out. The zombies are leaving! Timmy is gonna use his bone knife to fight off the remaining zombies…at least, he thinks he’s going to. I’m not going to let him.

Well, back into Limbo. I’ll try to write more tomorrow.

Círdan’s Note: No, Jim you can’t end it like that! I need to know what happened!! — Ahem. Excuse me. Well, hopefully we can find out next week as Grey Havens YA returns to gameplay in The Last Stand. P.S. Did you know that sometimes we want to roleplay at Grey Havens YA, but we forget to bring dice? When that happens, our members cleverly decide to use either rock-paper-scissors or a handy dice app to get the job done. We don’t let a silly thing like dice stop us! We hope you enjoy these forays into The Last Stand and all it’s zombie-goodness. 

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Send us an owl: If you were there, can you explain the parts of the story that Jim leaves out? Otherwise, what’s your favorite part about roleplaying games?

What Is Geek Philosophy?

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Grey Havens YA is many things. We are geeks and nerds. We are readers, writers, and artists. We are philosophers. Our group takes its name from a harbor in Tolkien’s Middle-earth, a place where ships depart to the Undying Lands, a place that connects the everyday to the extraordinary. The idea is that we are learning to live our lives with one foot in this world and one foot beyond it so that we can look upon ourselves with philosophical distance, seeing what we might not notice until we step back from it, understanding what we might not understand until we look at it with both logic and imagination. This is how we become philosophers or lovers of wisdom (philo-love, sophia-wisdom).

At Grey Havens YA, philosophy is part of everything we do, whether it is our weekly book discussions, Fandoms Unite, Hogwarts Preparatory Academy, or our recent Multigenerational Philosophy Discussion at the Longmont Senior Center. We approach all our endeavors with a spirit and method of inquiry that we call Geek Philosophy.

These are the principles that make Geek Philosophy work.

Philosophy is for everyone. Geek Philosophy is based in a rich tradition that is probably as old as humankind but that, in the West, can easily be traced back to the classical and Hellenistic philosophers.  Pierre Hadot said of these philosophers that they practiced “philosophy as a way of life.” The first principle of Geek Philosophy is that it is not an ivory tower pursuit for professionals, not something just for academic journals or for the big decisions made by governments or corporations; it is for everyone, all the time.  Everyone has a philosophy, a system of propositions according to which they live. Sometimes, these propositions are confused and contradictory. Often, they are unconsciously held. Geek Philosophy helps us to identify our beliefs, hold them up to the light, and change them when they do not stand up to examination. It helps us to live rich, examined lives.

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We are all natural philosophers. In the 1960s, philosopher Matthew Lipman developed a program called Philosophy for Children or P4C that has been replicated successfully many times since. The idea central to P4C is that all humans, even small children, are natural philosophers but it takes years to master the technical jargon that allows us to play the “word games” of professional philosophers. P4C uses literature as a launching pad for jargon-free discussions of the questions that occupy us all: Who am I? Why am I here? Why am I me instead of someone else? What is the good life? What is truth? Beauty? Justice? This leads us to our third principle.

Stories are philosophy without discourse. This includes the stories told by movies, TV shows, video games, music and other visual and performing arts. Behind every story, there is a set of propositions about the world. In story, these propositions are communicated to us in a way that transcends words. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote of the pregnant or poignant instance, an instance that contains all other instances. There is something that can be understood about flowers by watching a single flower grow that can never be understood by consuming all the world’s texts on flowers.

Nature acts through soil, seed, sun, and water to grow the flower. J.R.R. Tolkien believed that stories grow in the human imagination in a similar way. He called this subcreation. A good story contains even more than the author intended. It is more than a construct; it is an expression of the same reality that expresses itself in the growing flower. Goethe wrote that the phenomenon, such as the flower or the story, is the theory. He believed that all of the things people have said about a phenomenon can crowd our minds and keep us from really knowing the thing itself. Know the flower (or the story), he urged, not the abstract idea of it.

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Stories provide us with poignant expressions of love, truth, beauty, justice without abstracting these phenomena. To grasp what a story is communicating is the practice of philosophy because philosophy is about understanding more than it is about explaining. Discourse, or a set of spoken or written propositions, is one result of the practice of philosophy, not the practice itself. That is why we begin each Geek Philosophy gathering by experiencing a story.

In this scene from Doctor Who, the great artist Vincent Van Gogh has traveled through time and space to visit the Musee D’Orsay where a retrospective of his work is being held. To use discourse to communicate everything that this scene communicates about life and art would require volumes and would likely yield less understanding.

This does not mean that we do not value or practice discourse. At every gathering, we benefit from making explicit our implicit understanding of a story. We benefit from visiting each other’s perspectives on the same story but we try not to let our interpretations stand as the last words on the subject. We strive to avoid using discourse to strip the story of its richness, just as discourse should not strip life of its richness. What we feel, what we apprehend through the experience of the story is a more direct experience of philosophy than anything we can say about the story. When we can connect this to our actual lives and create an emotional and intellectual touchstone that we can access when we need to understand something, we have succeeded as philosophers.

Philosophy depends on the imagination. Our discussions do not begin with just any stories but with the imaginative tales of fantasy and science fiction. Memory sees, or purports to see, what we have already seen. Imagination sees things differently. The practice of philosophy demands that we cultivate different perspectives, that we look beyond our day-to-day concerns. Seeking philosophical distance helps us to extend our minds to perceive a problem as it might appear through the eyes of another or even across time and space. The problem is that we tend to get stuck in our own experiences, expectations, and desires, including seeing the theory rather than the thing.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote that human beings usually experience the world through “appropriation.” We approach the world with our minds already made up about it because we see it as existing for us, rather than for itself. He believed that we free ourselves from the habit of appropriation through the practice of Recovery.

Recovery, or the ability to perceive without prejudice, can begin when we see ordinary things in an extraordinary setting. Tolkien wrote that we should not weary of painting because we see only the colors we know. Instead, we should make paintings that help us see those colors anew. This kind of thing happens when we see a strange wizard smoking an ordinary pipe or when we see an ordinary blue box surviving the vibrant tumult of the time vortex. What Tolkien called the “arresting strangeness” of the fantastic story wakes us up so that we pay renewed attention even to the story’s familiar elements, like pipes and blue boxes. Fiction that engages the imagination wakes us from the slumber of appropriation.

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A 2009 study by Proulx and Heine suggests that encountering what first seems to be a nonsense scenario, a blue box in the time vortex or a lamppost in a snowy wood, causes us to try to make a deeper sense by looking harder for meaning and coherence. If we are so entrenched in our appropriated world that we cannot imagine anything but only recall what we are used to seeing, we will not get very far in this process. Fantasy primes us perfectly for philosophy because, once our imagination is engaged, we can use it to conjure up all kinds of new possibilities. Geeks are great at this because we are drawn to otherness and entranced by the unknown. We are not afraid of the strange so it doesn’t frighten us to see the strangeness in the everyday.

Have you ever wondered if there is a place where breathing oxygen and walking about on two legs would seem preposterous? If you haven’t, it is because you have gotten used to these things. Probably, it has never occurred to you to do anything but take them for granted. Being used to something or taking it for granted is not the same as understanding it. Until we look at our own two legs with as much amazement as we would look at the wings of dragons, our ability to understand will be circumscribed. Geek philosophy begins with the alien out there and ends with the alien in our own hearts. That is not as frightening as it might sound, not to us, because, in our story, an alien is the one who shows us how amazing the universe really is.

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“Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. Outside those doors, we might see anything. We could find new worlds, terrifying monsters, impossible things. And if you come with me… nothing will ever be the same again!” -The Doctor

Now it’s your turn. Let’s start a Geek Philosophy discussion about the clips below. Send us an owl (comment) with your thoughts and try to look at the world anew.

What is true?

What is beautiful?

What is just?