Seattle Public Library Foundation + Soulcraft Allstars partner because… well, Albert Einstein

Halima learned to read at the library because her mother didn’t speak English and did not know how to read herself. Now Halima is a star student and teaches younger kids at her elementary school how to read.

Halima learned to read at the library because her mother didn’t speak English and did not know how to read herself. Now Halima is a star student and teaches younger kids at her elementary school how to read.

Director Aaron Straight interviewing Josie Watanabe of Seattle Public Library.

Director Aaron Straight interviewing Josie Watanabe of Seattle Public Library.

Halima and her mother Sara walking to the Seattle Public Library in their neighborhood.

Halima and her mother Sara walking to the Seattle Public Library in their neighborhood.

Halima gets help with her homework every day after school by one of the hundreds of volunteers who serve our community.

Halima gets help with her homework every day after school by one of the hundreds of volunteers who serve our community.

Halima checkmates her opponent in an after school chess program at her local branch of the Seattle Public Library.

Halima checkmates her opponent in an after school chess program at her local branch of the Seattle Public Library.

That’s a wrap. Soulcraft Allstar film crew, Seattle Public Library Foundation staff, our Somali translator, and Halima and her Mother at their local Seattle Public Library branch.

That’s a wrap. Soulcraft Allstar film crew, Seattle Public Library Foundation staff, our Somali translator, and Halima and her Mother at their local Seattle Public Library branch.

Nerd Alert: Libraries are outdated. I mean hardcopy books you have to check out and (hopefully) return? But I’ve got Amazon and Audible now. What do I need the library for? Well, Albert Einstein once said, “The only thing you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” Guess what? It’s still true.

The Seattle Public Library is literally transforming lives in our community and working to make the future America stronger. How? There are 11,000 ways. Those are all the programs that Seattle Public Library offers our community each year. You say, “But I’m not using any of those programs… “. That’s probably because you’re rich or at least middle class. Me too.  

Did you know that the Seattle Public Library offers daily homework help for kids after school? For free. Did you know that SPL offers language classes for first generation families and classes on how to register to vote? They offer tech classes to kids who can’t afford computers at home and chess classes for kids that parents don’t play chess and robotics classes to kids whose parent aren’t robots… I mean… well, ok… that’s what I meant… I guess. Ha.

The point is The Seattle Public Library is way more than books. It is that 3th place, that people without disposable income can go with their families to learn, plug in to community, and have fun. But how many people? In 2017, the Seattle Public Library recorded more than 17 million visits and circulated more than 11.6 million items. Wow.

So, go to your local SPL branch at around 4PM and you will see it come to life with lots of diverse people learning, reading, doing homework, exploring computers, and talking (quietly, of course). The SPL has 27 branches around Seattle, so each community has its own personality.

At Soulcraft Allstars we were fortunate enough to be asked to help tell that story for the Seattle Public Library Foundation. The SPLF is run by some really thoughtful people trying to make our neighborhoods, our city, and even our country better by providing access to knowledge and training to people who often can’t afford it. There are thousands of young people in our community who are smart, hardworking, and ready to make our community and city and country a better place… they just need more access and opportunity than their parents alone can provide.

I once interviewed Jim Sinegal the co-founder of Costco, a big hearted and generous man to the Seattle community, and he said, “Of course, smart hardworking people do need opportunities. It (success) doesn’t just happen in a vacuum. That’s what’s so great about our nation, there have always been those opportunities to succeed. Most of us that have been successful have had lots of good fortune in our lives, I know I personally have. It’s an imperative that we continue to help if we want our country and our city and our community to continue to prosper.”

We met a lot of kids whose parents were refugees. They were often traumatized and trying to raise kids on their own as their partners were killed, detained, or stuck in countries embroiled in civil conflict. These kids just want to learn and contribute to society in peace. The library is helping them learn to read, speak English, keep up with homework that their parents cannot help them with. They are also doing what we as more affluent parents do for our children… expose them to new things like robotics and chess and even tools we take for granted like internet access, tablets, and desktop computers. The library is giving them access to things they cannot access otherwise.

The fundraising movie Soulcraft Allstars made for Seattle Public Library Foundation featured one of these true stories about a 9 year-old girl Halima and her mother Sara. We got a chance to spend several months with this small family and get to know them. Even as a seasoned storytelling / video company, the story really moved us, and it really moved the 736 folks at their first annual fundraiser. There were a lot of tears. And they raised a half a million dollars over lunch… nearly double their initial goal.

The more we got involved the more we felt that supporting the Seattle Public Library Foundation’s work is critical for the future of our democracy. We decided to become a sponsor.

If you have a couple of minutes, watch this story and see what you think. Or go to your local Seattle Public Library branch around 4PM and see what’s going on.

Many thanks and much respect to Jonna Ward, Brian Lawrence, and Kerri Martinez at the Seattle Public Library Foundation for the important work you do for our community.

Want to make the world a better place? Want to empower hardworking young people of all walks of life? Want to protect democracy? One great way… Support your local library.

Written by Aaron Straight | Soulcraft Allstars

 Soulcraft Allstars is a Bellingham / Seattle based filmmaking and storytelling agency. If you are interested in learning more. Say hello: hello@soulcraftallstars.com