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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!

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(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?

The Lull of Childhood Memories

Círdan’s note: Tomorrow at Grey Havens YA, we will be discussing “Usher II,” the Martian Chronicles story about a man who’s so fed up with the censorship and book burnings of earth that he creates his own House of Usher on Mars and invites all the “sophisticates” over for murder and mayhem. It’s a thrilling tale with it’s fair share of horror. Today, one of our members (145Barbarian) embraces the viewpoint of the Other as he reflects on a few of his favorite horror films and how they deal with the lull of childhood memories. It’s shaping up to be quite a scary week over here at Grey Havens YA!

At our Grey Havens YA meeting (January 9th) we mentioned something having to do with childhood. We said that some find safety in it, while others want to forget their childhood ever happened. I couldn’t help but think of some of my favorite horror movie characters during this. It may sound weird that childhood and horror villains are related, but even they had childhoods. The two examples I am going to be using are Michael Myers from Halloween, and Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th (The remake).

***WARNING—SPOILERS FOR HALLOWEEN  5, AND FRIDAY THE 13TH (Remake), AND A MINOR SPOILER FOR FREDDY VS.JASON FOLLOW—WARNING***

***FURTHER WARNING—BOTH MOVIE CLIPS ARE FROM R RATED MOVIES—FURTHER WARNING*** (rdan’s note: In the spirit of Bradbury, I’m not going to censor 145Barbarian’s post. But please note that you have been warned.) Continue reading The Lull of Childhood Memories

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?

Discussing the Third and Fourth Planets

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What is normal? This is a question the members of Grey Havens YA have been exploring as we dip our toes into the strange Martian canals of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. In the first few stories, we see a Martian perspective of Earth:

“The third planet is incapable of supporting life. …  Our scientists have said there’s far too much oxygen in the atmosphere.”

“Blue eyes! Gods! … What’ll you dream next? I suppose he had black hair?”

In our introductory discussion, we introduced the postmodern and poststructuralist concept of signs and simulacra and Jean Baudrillard’s notion that “The sign is arbitrary.” It was wonderful to watch our young members slowly grasp hold of a philosophy that most students don’t learn about until their university years. Signs and symbols… what is normal? What does normal even mean? What do our words signify and why? Is it all arbitrary?

To the martians, brown skin and gold eyes are normal. Blue eyes — preposterous! Oxygen isn’t what you need to support life, it’s carbon-dioxide that you need.

To one of our members, having asthma was always the norm. Using an inhaler since she was a very small child, the idea of breathing freely made no sense to her mind. To another, lack of depth perception was her only way to see the world until new glasses drastically improved her vision. We spoke of color-blindness and the new Encrhoma lenses…

What is normal? The Martians certainly don’t seem normal to us. Bradbury goes to great lengths to show us just how different their life is: bubbling hot lava tables to cook your dinner, beds of mist, scarves in bottles, houses made of pillars of rain, flame birds to carry your canopy… And yet, and yet, something about those Martians seems hauntingly familiar. A husband and a wife, a troubled marriage, jealousy, murder– Is the fourth planet so very different from the third?

Today, we dive in deeper– we’ll read about the second and third expeditions. We’ll see how the Martians react to the Earth Men. Perhaps we’ll talk about war, or sanity, or xenophobia, or pride… Perhaps we’ll simply marvel at the beauty of the prose or shudder at the horror of the story. Perhaps that red Martian landscape will show us just a little bit more about ourselves, and we’ll come back here to tell the tale. Will you follow along?

 

Send us an owl: What has been your experience reading The Martian Chronicles?

When Trivia Isn’t Trivial: One Reason to Love “Fandoms Unite”

On December 4, Grey Havens YA hosted Star Wars: The Fandom Awakens at Lafayette Public Library, part of our Fandoms Unite outreach program. As we were leaving, I called out, “Live long and prosper.” One of the teens replied, “Namárië.” Fandoms Unite, indeed!

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Eager to answer!

Fandoms Unite, our monthly program of trivia, captions contests, singing, dancing, acting, improv and general fandom craziness is always a ton of fun but it might not seem like a very important thing to offer young adults. What significant good could possibly come from teens getting together once a month to celebrate popular culture? Why would we even encourage such a thing? Isn’t popular culture, well, trivial?

The answer, we strongly believe, is no. Everyone engages in some way with popular culture. It gives many of us a significant part of the language with which we understand and speak about our world. (How many of you would know what I meant if I said that someone can be as logical as a Vulcan but as passionate as Anakin Skywalker?) It is how we engage with it that matters most.

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Star Wars Yoga: Han frozen in carbonite!

Fandoms Unite is not just an experience of popular culture; it is consciously imitative of the internet experience, the home turf of much of the growing fandom subset of popular culture. We sing and shout along to clips and GIFs. Our captions contests are practically exercises in meme-making, and our non-competitive trivia is a lot like one of those “how-much-do you know-about…” quizzes most of us have taken online. The difference between an online community and a Fandoms Unite community (and we believe both can have value) is that Fandoms Unite takes place in a room in which teens are interacting with each other in person. They see first-hand that there are other teens and even adults who take their interests seriously. We reflect the things that make them laugh and the things that spark their imaginations back to them and they, in turn, share the light of their enthusiasm and creativity with us.

Singing, "Let it Flow," a Star Wars parody of the famous Frozen song
Singing, “Let it Flow,” a Star Wars parody of the famous Frozen song

When teens experience other teens and adults celebrating the fandoms they love, they feel seen, heard and valued. When people feel seen, heard and valued, they are more confident and willing to take risks. Learning always involves taking risks. The first time you rode a bike, you had to have the confidence to risk falling. The first time you learned to read, you had to have the confidence to risk failing. Learning to think critically and independently requires the confidence to risk forming and expressing your own thoughts, based in your deep experiences of reason and feeling, even when others are telling you that you are wrong. Learning to say “no” to high-risk behaviors when everyone else is jumping off the bridge, requires the confidence to stand strong against persuasive peers and the need to feel accepted at all costs. Sometimes, that confidence can be nurtured in a meeting room at a library answering what may appear to be trivial questions about Star Wars. The intrinsic worth of confident risk-taking is one reason we say…

May the Force be with you. Live long and prosper. Namárië. Fandoms Unite!received_966898340064948.jpeg    received_966898646731584.jpeg

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Send us an owl: This post describes just one of the many reasons we believe in our Fandoms Unite programming. Have you attended one of our events? What was it like for you? 

If you love what we do and want to help us bring Fandoms Unite to as many young adults as possible, check out this fun and easy way to support us this December. Hanon le (and many thanks).

The Last Stand (Jim Kraven’s Diary)

Círdan’s Note: Hopefully you’ve heard by now all about the surreal new gaming experience created by Grey Havens YA titled The Last Stand. Here it seems I’ve found the remnants of a journal written by one of our quest members, Jim Kraven (aka 145barbarian). Let’s take a quick look inside Jim’s head and find out what happened the last time our members got together to fight for survival in The Last World… (P.S. Catch up by reading the first game here.)

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Day 2

I apologize for not writing yesterday. I was…preoccupied.

Our table is leg-less. But on the plus side, we got a new gate!

Timmy cried…again. Sometimes I wish he would just go away. But then I remember that I promised my wife I would protect him before she died. Huh….I regret making that promise.

We got a new guy here to our camp. Rumor has it he slaughtered an entire army all by himself. One tough dude. I’ve been appointed as our official Gate Guard. Now that we have a gate, it is a  useful role.

~Thump~ What the heck?  There’s some sort of gorilla here. I thought those things were extinct. I’m gonna go see what’s up with him. He seems like a…weird creature. He seems to be salvaging the bear he killed for food. I’m not sure though. Apparently the bear angered him in a game of chess…so he…killed it. Then he showed up here and now he is going to stay. I swear…we are already running out of food. We can’t deal with all of these new people. While I’m speaking, they are ripping the femurs out of the bear to use as new table legs. Our dragon guy went out to go scavenge for wood. The gorilla followed him. I’m not sure why he’s going, but ok. Now we have a gate, a sort of propped up table. Not much else though.

Apparently, there was some sort of bunny in a log they found. It’s the last of it’s kind. Further examination of the bunny is happening. We were allowed by our great overlord, GM, to use our eyes to examine the bunny. What a miracle. I don’t know how we would have learned about the bunny without our eyes. The gorilla used his clumpy pelt from the bear to make a bed for the bunny.

We happened upon a cave like structure. There are two people inside, both human. One of our own is sneaking inside. She failed, but the dragon guy got in. He disabled the trap, clearing the way for everyone to get in. I dismantled the trap, and while doing so, got us a future defense for our base. The gorilla kicked in their door, and shot at them. He was shot in the process though, but our healer is looking into it now.

Timmy tried to put the fire out by rolling in it. It didn’t work, so someone else put it out.

The gorilla was deceived into not burning down the door of the couple. One of them is pregnant. Timmy is going in to talk to the couple. We’ll see how it goes.

Make me proud son……

Ok, I was just informed that the man is pointing a gun at Timmy. That guy is gonna die if I get ahold of him. They won’t let me approach the room, for fear of this man’s safety. I can relate though. When my wife was pregnant with Timmy, I did everything and anything to help her. We gave the bear meat to the couple.

They took meat, so we took their gun. Now they have no weapons.

Ok, so Timmy alerted the man that his gun was being stolen, so the wife pulled another pistol out.

She currently has it pointed at our group. Duke Brilliance is talking with them, hoping to calm them down. So we came to an agreement. We leave, and we get their table legs. Now we don’t have to use bear femurs anymore. That’s ok. Those things creeped Timmy out anyways. Still not sure why we are here.

So we found out about a nearby town. I guess we are going to head out soon. We took the gun from the gorilla. We headed west. There is an office building in the distance. There’s a pack of mutant lions in a river. The dragon Halfling is going to attempt to fly someone over them.

Let’s see how this goes.

Ok. He made it. We used our weapons to shoot the lions, and then harvest their meat. We made it through the river. So our healer can’t swim. Great. The dragonling is going to try flying her across. He barely made it. The gorilla escaped his binds, snapping the rope in the process.

A grocery store, hardware store, and office building occupy the streets of the town. The gorilla completely failed at jumping across.

He broke through the ice, so we’ll have to see if he can get out.

Aaaaaand he failed. He is currently stuck in the water while our dragonling goes back to help him. There are noises in the grocery store. Let’s hope there aren’t any people there. It’s going down at the river. The gorilla is getting into a fight with one of our members.

A man is in the grocery store, thinking about how much food he is stealing.

The gorilla broke her nose with a swift kick to the face. Our healer can’t even. She tired to heal the broken nose, and succeeded in making it worse. On the plus side, she gave her a rag to hold on her broken nose.

The rope collection at the hardware store is just amazing. All kinds of ropes, both thick and thin.

I’ll write more tomorrow.

Check out more on Wattpad.com as the story develops!

https://embed.wattpad.com/follow/Christopher451?type=2

Send us an owl: What do you think our quest members will find inside the seemingly abandoned city? What in the world is going on with the gorilla?? Tune in next time to see if we find out!

P.S. If you love the fact that we’re helping all generations to engage in literacy, imagination, community, and inclusion and want to help us continue, check out this super fun way you can support us this December!

Buy a Great Series, Support Grey Havens YA!

You can probably tell that here at Grey Havens YA, we love books, and that makes it pretty exciting when the authors of those books love us back! This holiday season, the brilliant Colorado author Stant Litore is offering readers a chance to buy some great books and support Grey Havens YA all in one transaction. Keep reading to find out how!

fb_img_1448597602611.jpgStant has been a constant supporter of the Grey Havens Group, and we consider him a member even though he doesn’t live in the area. He is a part of our community, and we are honored to know him. Some of you may remember that he was one of our guest authors at the Grey Havens Real Myth and Mithril Symposium last April. It was there that he really started to connect with and experience the magic that is Grey Havens YA. In a follow-up post about the event, he writes: “Talking with these teens who are fully embracing, unashamed, their love of the imagination — all I can say is that I would have given a great deal to be part of such a group when I was a teen.”

Stant is the author of many daring works, but it’s his first series that’ll hook you and reel you in as a fangirl for life: The Zombie Bible. These five* books re-imagine Biblical stories and ancient legends as if they were set in the larger context of humanity’s constant struggle against hunger…. and the hungry dead.

We don’t think we need to say any more than that, because we know you’re intrigued already — but we will! Reading Stant’s series will not only enrich your imagination and engage your philosophical thinking, but when you purchase the Silver Edition Digital Box Set before the end of December, 50% of the royalties will be donated to Grey Havens YA.  All for only $5.99, 60% off the individual price! What a great deal!

Read more from Stant’s post on his website:

GHYA is a shoestring-budget operation, and I want to help by giving them 50% of my royalties for The Zombie Bible: Silver Edition Digital Box Set to GHYA through December 31, 2015. Please help me by sharing the word and, of course, by buying the books! If I can get GHYA just $250, that supplies their book budget for the spring. If I can get them $500-$1000, they’ll be able to increase their membership, or perhaps get equipment to replace the truly archaic and at-the-brink-of-breaking computers and projectors they currently work with.

zombiebibleStant is an incredible human being, and we’re so glad to be able to offer you such a fun and easy way to support us this season. Who knew you could do your Black Friday / Small Business Saturday / Cyber Monday shopping AND support Grey Havens YA at the same time?! Thanks, Stant! Click here to see the other ways you can support us.

*The Silver Edition Digital Box Set includes The Zombie Bible Volumes 1-5. Volume 6 will be released in 2016 — so go ahead and get caught up now! 😉

Send us an owl: Which is your favorite Stant Litore book?

Grey Havens YA’s Last Stand!

RPG Dice

The year is 2602. The planet once known as Earth has been callously re-christened The Last World. America is now popularly known as The Corruption. The Sahara Desert is covered in frozen ash. Days are short and dark. The temperature remains at a stubborn 14 degrees Fahrenheit. There are zombies, dragons, zombie dragons and killer wasps. Who can you trust? How will we survive?

RPG Character Sheet

This is the world of The Last Stand, a role-playing game developed by Grey Havens YA members at last April’s Real Myth and Mithril Symposium. Today, we finally got to come together in one large group to play! Some of our characters are road-weary loners, some are brilliant but aloof and unstable, motivated by self-interest or fear, some are too trusting and kind. Some have magic, others have science and mechanical skill. None of these skills are infallible.

Some have empathy or telepathy, others have trouble understanding what goes on in another person’s head. One carries his small son across the post-apocalyptic landscape in a backpack, wondering at times if the burden is too much. One of us is a Martian, kind but lost and overwhelmed by the thoughts that flood her mind. Another is slightly mad from all she has seen, though we don’t know what memories haunt her. There is a man in the camp who can be quite caustic but hovers around his community anyway. One man has golden eyes and no one knows his name. One is the sole survivor of a recent, terrible war. Our dragon is helpful but he snores. Times are harder than they have ever been. Is this really what we do for fun? Absolutely it is!

RPG Group 2

Role-playing games are good for the mind, heart and soul. If we can be anything we want, why do we give our characters limitations and problems? Why not just place ourselves in paradise? Why do we harness our imaginations to the roll of a polyhedral die? Because problems are solved, beauty is created and relationships are forged when our limitless daydreams have to fit themselves into a world that, as wild as it may be, is still governed by rules. Every time we roll the die, we risk failure but risk is our business. We don’t just hack our way through trouble either. We have weapons but we also have skills. We have strengths and weaknesses and we use them all to try together to find what each of us is looking for.

Real life is like that, too, isn’t it? Sometimes we have everything we need to succeed but circumstances turn against us anyway. Sometimes, everything goes our way. You can’t have everything you want but you can have adventure–in the game and outside of it. We also have each other.

rpg d20

Our young adults built this world with all its dire problems and it is likely that they will save it many times over.  They each put nuance and depth into their characters while our game master oversees the whole thing with patience and wit. It is easy to be impressed by this. It is easy to see them going on to do great things in our own world, such as showing compassion for all kinds of characters, finding ways to work together even when the compassion hasn’t risen to the surface yet, solving problems, understanding when things don’t go their way but allowing themselves to feel elation when they do. It is also easy to see how gaming is helping them to fulfill their potential on the way to adulthood.

Gaming is part of a great tradition of storytelling, a myth that metamorphoses in the telling. It is collective storytelling, a tale adapted by each mind that joins the quest, causing the other minds to bend and twist to keep up. In a role-playing game we can see through strange eyes. Each player tries out a persona that emerges from a mix of compassion for their own attributes, empathy for what it must be like to be another, a bit of wish fulfillment and a lot of adapting to everything that comes along, including zombies, dragons, zombie dragons, killer wasps and, from time to time, a bit of luck.

rpg character drawing

RPG Gigi Character

RPG Robyn Jayne Katie

The Last Stand proved so popular with our members that we would like to add regular gaming sessions to our schedule and, perhaps, even invite more gamers to join us but this would require more time and resources than we currently have. Click here to help! Click here to learn about what happens at a Grey Havens YA meeting when gaming is not on the agenda. May fortune fall upon your every roll!

Send us an owl: What is your favorite role-playing game? What is your favorite gaming memory? 

In December, we begin reading and discussing The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. We would also love to know your favorite memories of reading this great author.

martian quote