A Short History of Moonstone, Inc.

Founded in 1983 with the motto, "Education Through the Arts," Moonstone is concerned with increasing children's and adultís awareness of themselves and their world through active participation in the arts. Such participation forms a paradigm of how one thinks, interprets, describes and meets life and how one functions in society. In this sense, it is not an ancillary activity, but at the very core of life.

Moonstone is a 501(c)(3) organization with two divisions: an adult division which operates out of Robinís Book Store, and a childrenís division which is the Moonstone School with pre-school and after-school programs. While serving different constituencies, both programs express the belief that through the arts, one develops a positive view of one's own culture and the cultures of others. Many of Moonstones programs, both for children and adults, revolve around literature because we believe writers can be true heroes of our lives: they record our past, they document our present, and they express our hopes and fears, expanding our sensibilities and knowledge. The focus of the Adult Division is the creation of literary programs for the Philadelphia community. The programs consist of a continuing series of readings, the Moonstone Reading Series, and a number of annual events: Poetry Philadelphia, Celebration of Black Writing, Childrenís Ink, Womenís Ink, Philadelphia Ink, a series designed solely for the literary community, and seminars for writers. These programs present a variety of cultural heroes who can help us find our voices: Sonia Sanchez and Dennis Brutus (poets), Ann Petry and Sherman Alexie (novelists), Howard Zinn and Benjamin Quarles (historians), Eloise Greenfield and Joseph Bruchac (children's books). These are heroes who say, "You can be articulate, you can raise your voice, you can change the world."

What helps provide the diversity of talent and the inclusive audiences which Moonstone programs have is that they are firmly rooted in Philadelphia's many communities. By cooperation with a network of organizations, Moonstone reaches out to African Americans, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, children, the elderly and many other groups. The cooperating organizations number: The Free Library of Philadelphia, including its regional branch libraries; the School District of Philadelphia; Temple University, including the Blockson Afro-American collection; International House; Please Touch Museum; the Queens Village Neighborhood Association; Keepers of the Culture; the Painted Bride Arts Center; the Center for the Study of Black Culture at the University of Pennsylvania; Community College of Philadelphia, and over 30 other Philadelphia cultural organizations. All of Moonstone's adult programs are free in order to prevent income from affecting attendance.

There is simply no other organization in the city which is playing the same role in fostering literature; promoting ethnic, gender and racial pride through literature; and providing a platform for writers and poets to meet their publics and exchange ideas with one another about their craft.

The latest programs that Moonstone has become involved with is El Festival Cubano 2001-2002, Ladyfest PhillyMarch 20-23 2003, and Poets Among US April 1-30, 2003. Moonstone is also preparing for a special program for September 2003 dealing with the 30th anniversary of the 1973 coup in Chile.

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