The tenth annual Writers Harvest, a fundraiser for the Alameda
County Community Food Bank, was held last Thursday at the Mills
Student Union. Billed as “an evening of readings to fight hunger,”
the event drew a standing-room-only crowd of students and community
members to enjoy literary readings and refreshments.
Mills President Janet Holmgren opened the event. “Since 1870
Mills has been connected to the community. Through programs like
the Writers Harvest we see what true human security can mean,” she
said. “Human security means being free from hunger and fear, and
having access to education and individual economic empowerment…we
have reason to believe that we can use our gifts to solve these
Writers Harvest began in 1993 in Oakland by Almaz Abinader, soon
after she came to Mills as a professor of creative writing. “I
can’t be a person of this earth without sharing,” she said.
Abinader reported that Writers Harvest events are raising funds for
local aid groups at 200 colleges and universities in the U.S. this
Susan Bateson, Executive Director of the Alameda County
Community Food Bank, also spoke of the mission of the organization.
120,000 people get food each month from the Food Bank, she said,
and the need could exceed the means this year. According to the
program for the evening, the average income of Food Bank households
is $830 a month.
Two local writers read from their works during the fundraiser.
David Eggers is a novelist, editor of a literary journal, and
founder of 826 Valencia, a nonprofit based in the Mission District,
San Francisco that teaches writing to disadvantaged children. He
read several short pieces. One of them, “The Kindness of Strangers”
is part of a collection that is about to be published.
Opal Palmer Adisa also read from her works. Originally from the
Caribbean, she is a novelist and poet, as well as a literary critic
and teacher. She currently teaches at California College of the
Arts. Adisa read from her novels, including “Clay” and “Indigo,”
and read several poems. Writers Harvest was sponsored by The Place
for Writers and the Department of English.