Did you know that Grey Havens YA has been around for two years and nearly four months now? It has been an incredible journey so far, and we are so proud of our members and our growing community.
Many adults have come up to us over these two years and told us how much they wish they had a group like this when they were younger. They understand how uniquely valuable a haven for literature, imagination, community and inclusion can be for young teens and old teens alike. They get it because they’ve seen it in action, so now I want to take a moment to try to describe it to you.
Grey Havens YA isn’t just a book club. It is more than just fun events and fandom programming. As you’ll see in our upcoming Geek Philosophy series, Grey Havens YA is about teaching young minds to imagine greatly, live enthusiastically, and engage thoughtfully with the world around them.
As we’ve been reading The Martian Chronicles over the past two months, we have discovered something about our group of geeks and nerds: while the humans in the Martian stories fear that great, insurmountable Other, we are drawn to it. We want to know who the Martians were, how they lived, what they would have to say to us about our own lives… As nerds and geeks who explore the world and its stories with great enthusiasm, we are drawn to the Other points of view. We want to know more about how Kylo Ren thinks; we are heartbroken over the pains Draco Malfoy has been through; we are fascinated by the friendship between the Doctor and the Master; we crave knowledge of how “the other side” thinks and feels and lives.
At our recent Multi-Generational Philosophy Discussion in which we partnered with the Longmont Senior Center to discuss Geek Philosophy with both senior adults and our YA members, one of the senior adults said something very profound to our members. We were talking about the horrors of racism, and a YA member observed that her generation may not be as inclined to prejudice as those in the past. The senior adult replied, “You said that your generation is not as racially charged. I believe that, for you [Grey Havens YA members], because you are not afraid to be enthusiastic. When you embrace being a nerd, you are not afraid to be enthusiastic, and to live.” He mentioned the notion that “Joe Cool” can be cool all his life and then realize he never actually lived, but when you embrace who you are and embrace being a nerd, you stop being so worried about looking cool and you start really living.
To the founders of Grey Havens YA, these two concepts are intrinsically related. We are drawn to other sides, to the viewpoints of those who are different from us, because we are enthusiastic about knowledge and about life itself. In one of our favorite quotes, John Green said, “Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. … When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.'”
That is why we do what we do here at Grey Havens YA. We want to encourage young adults to be unashamed by their enthusiasm for the miracle of human consciousness. True, some of our members aren’t as enthusiastic all the time. Some of them struggle with depression and very real issues in their lives, but they still show up every week and they share in the enthusiasm of others. They show up every week and they discuss philosophy, darkness and light, science and art with the rest of us. They show up every week and feel safe to be themselves. It is quite a miracle itself to behold.
Grey Havens YA means so much to our members, and it means so much to us. We are so proud of these last two years, and we look forward to many more. We especially love adding to our community and watching our new members fit right in as if they’ve been with us all along. Grey Havens YA is full of that special kind of magic. Will you help us spread it?
A star shines on the hour of our meeting,
Robyn and Kelly
Photos by Steve Eggleston