Sterling Heights

'Learn, build compassion and break down barriers': Human Library exhibit coming to Sterling Heights

What’s happening: For all the information and entertainment that books and the internet provide, there’s something to be said for a little more conversation. The Sterling Heights Public Library will be hosting just that as the Sterling Heights CommUNITY Alliance brings the Human Library back to town.

The event is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17, and is free and open to the public, though registration is requested online.

What it is: The Human Library is a global program that first launched in Denmark in 2000, and returns to Sterling Heights for a second consecutive year. Rather than borrow books, guests are invited to visit the library and borrow people for one-on-one, 30-minute conversations. All questions are welcome among the human “books,” which consists of a group of people with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

Why it is: “If we don’t open ourselves up to the perspectives of others, we don’t learn and grow as a human race, but it’s not always easy engaging with others who seem very different than us,” says CommUNITY Alliance Chair Cindy Bjornson. “The Human Library gives people the chance to have that engagement in a safe space where honest conversations occur, and learning happens.”

Bibliobiographies: The individuals available for “borrowing” in Sterling Heights were selected to offer “conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue,” as the Human Library mission puts it. An updated list of human “books” can be found through the online registration link.

What they’re saying: “This program really embodies the spirit of empathy and inclusion that are part of our community’s core values,” says Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor. “By checking out human books, we give ourselves the chance to learn, build compassion and break down barriers. I hope our residents take this opportunity to come out and broaden their perspectives by learning from the collective stories of our community.”

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.