Inaugural Palisades Reads Kicks Off With Panel

The Second Part of the Program Will be a Book Club Night in November

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
The two-part Palisades Reads, created by the Pacific Palisades Library Association, kicked off on Wednesday, October 23, with a panel discussion “Save One Life, Save the World?” moderated by Palisadian author Laura Nicole Diamond.
Panel members were Susan Whitmore of griefHaven, Doug McCormick from Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, and three representatives from Safe Place for Youth: Rachel Stich, and Marlene and Michael Rapkin.
After introductions of Diamond and the panel members, Diamond jumped right into questions.
“The panelists gave deeply personal and even intimate responses to the question, what moves us out of complacency to help someone in need,” Diamond shared with the Palisadian-Post after the event. “They each had different reasons for what made them desire to help others.”
Diamond explained that, from Michael Rapkin’s belief in “the golden rule” to Whitmore’s epiphany that millions of people, like her, were suffering from grief in isolation and she could help them, had a common denominator of what allowed them to go out and fulfill their work: fearlessness.
“Some are born with it and take on challenges others would find daunting,” Diamond explained. “Others arrive at fearlessness out of circumstances.”
The book that will be discussed
Diamond said that one of the most meaningful takeaways for her was what Marlene described as her mindset in her work with foster youth.
“She said, to paraphrase, ‘I don’t focus on the outcome, but on being with them in that moment, letting them know that someone really cares about them,’” Diamond explained.
She also loved Stich’s feeling that “bring a part of Safe Place for Youth was uplifting and filled her with hope, not despair at the difficult circumstances the kids faced.”
At the conclusion of the discussion, anyone who made a donation of any amount to the organizations represented by the panelists would receive a copy of Diamond’s book—with time to read it ahead of the second part of Palisades Reads: a Community Book Club Night.
The second event will be a discussion of Diamond’s book, “Shelter Us,” which, set in Pacific Palisades, addresses issues of homelessness. The book, published in 2015, follows the story of a mother who is struggling with grief following a tragic accident who becomes obsessed with helping a young mother, Josie, experiencing homelessness get back on her feet.
The main character is an amalgam of people Diamond encountered volunteering at the Beyond Shelter, which is now a part of the PATH program, focusing on helping homeless families transition back into housing.
The literary program, designed to “foster connections, spark conversations and celebrate the power of books to cultivate empathy,” was modeled after similar programs around the country, including Seattle and Santa Monica. Participants are encouraged to read the featured book and participate in conversations around the themes.
The Community Book Club Night will take place on November 13 at Palisades Branch Library from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Those interested in obtaining a copy of “Shelter Us” can visit the library or purchase one wherever books are sold.