Bridging Community

 

By: Morgan Kaufman

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I grew up about forty-five minutes away from Muncie in a rural community, so it was our destination for shopping and a few more options for dining out when we were feeling “fancy.” Because of this, Muncie has always been a place that I have viewed as “the place where Ball State University is,” or “the place we go for school clothes.” I never took the time to think about the community outside of these things.

The Bridge Dinner is quite literally held on a bridge that is closed off from traffic, so from the beginning the environment feels neat. As I approached I saw food trucks owned by community members who were firing up their ovens and prepping to serve. Merchants put out new products freshly made to celebrate Muncie. The high school band was warming up to play with smiles on their faces and a director who looked as though there is no place he would rather be than with his students. The tiny little bubble that I had placed Muncie in was beginning to morph into something completely different.

As I made my way to the table I would be sharing with our partners, Tribune Showprint, I looked forward to seeing how everything would play out for the night. I brought along a casebook project that I had started the day before so those passing could see a glimpse of the work we do. Many passed by and loved the small prints that we had made and even took time to talk to us about all that we do here at Book Arts Collaborative.

There were two conversations that really stuck out to me.

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The first was a man who came forward to check out the coasters we had for sale. He loved the different selections and was more than willing to hear how we work together to create products. What really struck me was his pure excitement to tell us he was new to the area. He had brought his family from Colorado and was excited to experience the events and community that Muncie provides. My little Muncie bubble officially broke. Colorado to Muncie? Wow. The rest of the night I just wanted to soak it all in.

The second conversation that will forever stick with me was with a woman who immediately knew that I was sewing a book and wanted to know where I had learned the skill. After I explained what our class does, she told me that her mother had done a lot of book binding. The woman had a large collection of older books that were falling apart, and she wished to know how to repair them. I realized that I have a great opportunity to learn this skill.

I am so thankful to have this opportunity that Book Arts has opened up for me. I have been able to get a glimpse into the community of Muncie and all that it has to offer. I can’t wait to continue on this journey alongside my classmates. Cheers to you, Muncie.


This piece was written by a Ball State University student and member of the Book Arts Collaborative in Muncie, Indiana. The Book Arts Collaborative is dedicated to preserving and promoting the apprentice-taught skills of letterpress printing and book binding through community interaction. It's not just what we make that matters, but how we learn from one another to make it happen.