Strengthen The Good

Using the power of weblogs for open-source charity. Don’t just fight evil: Strengthen the good.

Strengthening The Good: You, By Helping Build An English Library For Teenagers In Bratislava, Slovakia

12.17.04 UPDATE: The good just keeps getting stronger. We’ve collected over $200 in donations through the site (a LOT of books if you’re buying them used, which I am), and Douglas also sends this update:

[Any update?] Yes! We have received 30 books so far from the United States, Canada, Great Britain and France. Six or seven came through the folks at bookcrossings.com so give them a shout.

Again, thanks for all your help … this one just keeps getting stronger.

12.2.04 UPDATE: This today from Douglas:

Today in the mail came ten brand new copies of Animal Farm and a lovely used copy of A Christmas Carol. What fun to open the packages and begin the library. It felt like Christmas.

The first of many packages, I’m certain. Thanks to all who are helping to strengthen the good in Petrzalka.

11.27.04 UPDATE: Thanks to all who have helped so far in building the Petrzralka English-language library. Two updates to note: First, I’ve established STG as an Amazon.com Associate, so you can click on the links of books below, buy used copies, and have Amazon ship them to Slovakia. STG gets a cut if you do, and I’ll use those funds to buy more books.

Second, the post was picked up by the good people at BookCrossing.com. You can see the thread here. Thanks to all the BC users who are sending books Douglas’ way.

Thanks for helping to strengthen the good,

~ Alan

*********************

First of all, thanks to all who have sent emails about the New York Times article, and to those who have joined the network since … I’m glad to see the idea of Strengthen The Good continues to have broad appeal (and if you’re here for the first time and are interested in helping to strengthen that which is good, go here).

DDart2.jpg
Today I want to highlight something a bit different, and in the interest of full disclosure I want everyone to know that the main party involved, Douglas Dart, has been a friend of mine for decades. Douglas, his wife, and his three young daughters are currently spending a year living in Bratislava, Slovakia. Doug’s (unpaid) mission: teach English and American Studies to Slovakian high school students at a school called The C.S. Lewis Bilingual Gymnaziumin in Bratislava’s Petrzalka district.

It’s not easy duty, primarily because of the school’s setting and condition …. but I’ll let Douglas share that in his own words:

Dart Family Update #1, August 7, 2004

… Finally in Vienna at 10:30 A.M. with our body clocks telling us we should have gone to bed hours ago, we staggered into the waiting arms of Tom Johnson, a pastor from our church in Minnesota, and Miro Kocur, the headmaster of the school where I will be teaching. Ah–Help. They had two cars waiting to take us to Bratislava and as we put our bags in the back of Miro’s car, he said, “Oh, I thought you would have a lot more luggage!” Thanks Mom.

During the ride, Miro told the story of when the wall came down. He and his friends walked all the way to the Austrian border and then crossed over into a little village, their first steps into the free world, steps he never knew if he would take. The Austrians greeted the throng of Slovaks with cheers and bottles of beer. Everyone here has a story about when the wall came down, and of course, life before it did …

_1621184_bratislav150.jpg… Two days ago, I went to my first meeting at school and had my first big dose of culture shock. Across the river to the south is a huge compound of Soviet style high-rise apartments to the tune of 160,000 people in a few square miles. The area is called Petrzalka and it exudes a deep heaviness and sorrow. People trudge, grass doesn’t grow, and everything feels gray even in the sunlight. It is in a word ugly, a huge scar from the deep wound of communism on this country, one that in some ways still festers.

stahovanie2.jpgAnd right in the middle of it is a little school that I feel in my bones is going to make a huge difference. Their energy, innovation and passion in spite of truly daunting obstacles (brutal bureaucracy, lack of resources, tiny salaries, to name a few) is humbling and I feel a great honor in being able to come alongside these good people and join in their struggle. Thank you again to all of you who have made this possible through your prayers and generosity. It is a good thing.

There’s not a lot on Petrzalka on the web that’s not in Slovakian, but there is some background here and photos here and here.

So what does this have to do with STG? Is it a call to send cash to Douglas and his family? No. Here’s the chance to strengthen their good work, as written by Douglas’ wife:

Dart Family Update #1, August 24, 2004

We have been in Bratislava for a month now and are settling in. Thank you for your e-mails. It is like opening a letter having the “in” box full.

stah14.jpgDouglas began working this week at the CS Lewis School. The kids start next week and the school is in physical chaos, as this is its first year. Douglas came home a little surprised after the first day of work, and with sore hands. The teachers and administrators scrubbed the rooms, getting them ready for the students. Grass roots beginnings. Douglas is excited about teaching here. There is a cultural enthusiasm for learning English; it is a ticket to success in many ways. So, he will teach The Crucible, Lord of the Flies, To Kill A Mockingbird — in English. He does face one challenge in this endeavor; the school has no books and very little money. God willing, we are hoping to start a library here.

Douglas also writes:

I’ve struggled this year teaching literature from photocopies of short stories I’ve downloaded, and buying books out of my own pocket that I’m still awaiting delivery on.

And there’s the opportunity: to help Douglas and the CS Lewis school bring English–which the students call “the language of freedom”–and a bit of genuine America–which is still widely misunderstood in the former East Block–to the teenagers of Petrzalka. Together, with just a bit of time and energy, we can build an English-language library right in the center of a former Soviet-era apartment complex.

Here’s how we can help strengthen the good: Below is a list of books the school needs for the English and American Studies programs … the items with an asterisk are those for which they need several copies (as many as twenty each to use for literature classes). Anything else they will use to build the library.

Douglas also notes that:

… obviously, people shouldn’t feel limited by the list. If they have something in English that they think is worth sending, bring it on.

So if you’ve been waiting to get rid of that Baseball Almanac (Michele), here’s your chance.

Here’s Douglas’ list. UPDATE: I’ve registered STG as an Amazon Associate. If you want to order a book right away for the school, rather than donate one at home–not a bad idea as they have used books for pennies on the dollar and will also ship it for you–click on the link. Not only will you help by sending a book, STG will get a commission that I’ll use to buy even more books for the school. I’m updating the list with links to Amazon in stages, but hope to have all the links available over the course of today. Here’s the list:

* Any Anthology of American Literature
* 1984 by George Orwell*
* The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
* Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
* The American by Henry James
* American Dream by Norman Mailer*
* Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt*
* Animal Farm by George Orwell*
* Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
* Anthem by Ayn Rand*
* Beloved by Toni Morrison
* Boy by Roald Dahl*
* The Call of the Wild by Jack London
* The Canterrbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
* The Canterville Ghost and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde
* Catch 22 by Joseph Heller*
* Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger*
* Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
* A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens*
* Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
* Color Purple by Alice Walker* The
* The Crucible by Arthur Miller*
* Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
* Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
* A Death in the Family James Agee
* The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank*
* Dubliners by James Joyce*
* Dune by Frank Herbert
* East of Eden by John Steinbeck
* Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
* The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Stories by Edgar Allen Poe
* Five One-Act Plays by Donn Byrne
* Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
* The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
* Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
* Gentian Hill by Elizabeth Goudge*
* Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
* The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
* The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis*
* Great Expectations by Charles Dickens*
* The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald*
* Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
* The Happy Prince and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde*
* Harvey by Mary Chase*
* The Hawk and the Dove Trilogy by Penelope Wilcox
* The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien*
* Holes by Louis Sachar*
* In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
* Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
* Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
* The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
* Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman*
* Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
* The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien*
* Maus (parts 1 and 2) by Art Spiegelman
* The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
* Moby Dick by Herman Melville
* The Natural by Bernard Malamud
* Night by Elie Wiesel
* Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck*
* Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway*
* Old Yeller by Fred Gibson
* The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde*
* Pilgrims Inn by Elizabeth Goudge
* Poetry by Emily Dickinson
* Poetry by T. S. Eliot
* A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry*
* The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane*
* Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
* The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
* Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally*
* The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis*
* The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett *
* Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
* Short Stories by Edgar Allen Poe*
* Short Stories by Ernest Hemingway
* The Sound and the Fur by William Faulkner
* Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
* Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome*
* To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee*
* Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
* The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
* Walden by Henry David Thoreau
* A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins
* The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot*
* Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls*
* Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
* Any English Language Dictionary
* Rand McNally Goode’s World Atlas by J. Paul Goode, John C. Hudson (Editor), Edward B., Jr. Espenshade (Editor)
* DK Atlas of World History by Jeremy Black
* The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2004 by Editors of World Almanac
* Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World’s Wildlife by David Burnie
* Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, Third Edition by Mayo Clinic
* Roget International Thesaurus Indexed Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer Random House Webster’s College Dictionary by Random House
* Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature by Merriam-Webster
* Scientific American Science Desk Reference by Scientific American
* The Encyclopedia of Science and Technology by James S. Trefil
* Sister Wendy’s 1000 Masterpieces by Wendy Beckett
* Art: The World’s Greatest Paintings Explored and Explained by Robert Cumming
* Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
* Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
* Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary
* Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia by Bruce Murphy

One way to think of it: send your favorite (or two, or three, or five) from the list above … if it had an impact on your life, it will certainly have an impact on the life of a student in Petrzalka. Me, I’m sending The Fountainhead and The Killer Angels (because Howard Roark laughed, and because Laurence Chamberlain was the man).

You may send books to:

Douglas Dart
C.S. Lewis Bilingual High School
Benadicka 38
Bratislava 85106
Slovak Republic

To find shipping charges, go here (it costs less than $5 to send a package of a pound or less … plenty of weight for a book or two).

Don’t want to ship books? Then make a donation here and we’ll buy the books for you (in Slovakia, if possible, to save on shipping charges) … the donation through the STG PayPal account (the button is in the right-hand column) is tax deductible.

And finally, the usual disclaimer: Just because I’ve satisfied my qualification of this opportunity does not mean you’ve satisfied yours. You are responsible for satisfying your own qualification of this or any other charity STG may point to. But don’t take my word for it: you can correspond with Douglas yourself via email at douglasdart at yahoo dot com.

The Slovak Republic, while bursting with freedom compared to just 10 years ago, is still by no means a wide and open forum. As Douglas told me recently, “It was amazing reading Command Post and other blogs on election day … because stuff like that just couldn’t happen here. The government wouldn’t let it.” Personally, I like the thought of freedom of thought and expression, which has already taken hold in Bratislava, sending her roots deep under the Petrzalka soil, watered by a spring of English-language literature set amongst the concrete towers.

Thanks for reading … and thanks, as always, for helping to strengthen the good.

Comments

  1. November 22nd, 2004 | 12:26 am

    Strengthen The Good: Send Your Books And Help Spread Freedom And Opportunity!

    Want something the feel good about? Check out the latest profile at at Strengthen The Good: the work of Douglas Dart at The The C.S. Lewis Bilingual Gymnaziumin in Bratislava, Slovakia. The gist: Douglas and his family are in Bratislava…

  2. November 22nd, 2004 | 12:45 am

    Strengthen The Good: Building a Future by Building a Library

    trengthen The Good’s newest charity is a book-donation project. Visit here to read the story of a little school in a land that once was communist, where the children are trying to build a library of books so they can learn English.

  3. November 22nd, 2004 | 1:09 am

    STG: Helping Build An English Library For Teenagers

    Strengthen the Good was born out of the ashes of despair in evil. But rather than fight back directly against the evil in the world, this mission seeks to weaken evil by Strengthening the Good.

    Every three weeks or so, a call goes out to …

  4. November 22nd, 2004 | 2:01 am

    Strengthen The Good Network

    Strengthen The Good. From the blog:STG is the nexus of a network of bloggers committed to raising awareness for small charities around the world. Every three weeks this space highlights a new “micro-charity”—a small, inspiring charity, one with a…

  5. November 22nd, 2004 | 5:36 am

    charitable blogging: SOA and STG

    A few things on the board today before I get down to morning blogging. First, thank you to everyone who has donated to Spirit of America through ASV. I’m not going to make the real push for fundraising until…

  6. November 22nd, 2004 | 5:40 am

    charitable blogging: SOA and STG

    A few things on the board today before I get down to morning blogging. First, thank you to everyone who has donated to Spirit of America through ASV. I’m not going to make the real push for fundraising until after…

  7. November 22nd, 2004 | 6:28 am

    Strengthen the Good

    Strengthening The Good: You, By Helping Build An English Library For Teenagers In Bratislava, Slovakia And there’s the opportunity: to help Douglas and the CS Lewis school bring English–which the students call “the language of freedom”–and a bit of g…

  8. November 22nd, 2004 | 6:28 am

    Strengthen the Good

    Strengthening The Good: You, By Helping Build An English Library For Teenagers In Bratislava, Slovakia And there’s the opportunity: to help Douglas and the CS Lewis school bring English–which the students call “the language of freedom”–and a bit of g…

  9. November 22nd, 2004 | 6:33 am

    STG: C.S. Lewis Bilingual Gymnaziumin

    It’s time for another Strengthen the Good featured charity. This time, you can help build an English library for teenagers…

  10. November 22nd, 2004 | 7:24 am

    Strengthen The Good

    STG has recently been registered as a 503(c) non-profit organization, allowing them to offer tax deductions in exchange for donations. The most recent group is the subject of Alan’s email:

    Slovakian teenagers, at a small and poor school set amon…

  11. November 22nd, 2004 | 7:50 am

    STG: Books for Slovakia

    Douglas Dart, his wife, a three children are on a…

  12. November 22nd, 2004 | 9:07 am

    Last Post

    We’re leaving today, but just got this and thought it was a fitting post to leave up here for the next few months. Strengthening The Good: You, By Helping Build An English Library For Teenagers In Bratislava, Slovakia You may…

  13. November 22nd, 2004 | 9:32 am

    Strengthen the Good, II

    Okay, now that I have my new office semi-installed, it’s time to clean off the bookshelves (multiple, plus boxes stored) of excess and donate them to a good cause. Alan at Strengthen the Good has another good cause underway.

  14. November 22nd, 2004 | 9:54 am

    Help Build a Library

    I am a fan of Strengthen the Good, the hub of a network of bloggers “committed to raising awareness for small charities around the world” by highlighting a microcharity every few weeks where $1 can make a difference…. A uniquely American invention, …

  15. November 22nd, 2004 | 9:59 am

    Strengthen The Good-English Lessons

    As an English teacher to English speaking children in a school system where there is a dearth of books suitable for my crew, I can tell you how difficult the lack of books makes my task. Everything has to be…

  16. November 22nd, 2004 | 9:59 am

    Strengthen The Good-English Lessons

    As an English teacher to English speaking children in a school system where there is a dearth of books suitable for my crew, I can tell you how difficult the lack of books makes my task. Everything has to be…

  17. November 22nd, 2004 | 10:07 am

    STG: Help Build an English Library

    Strengthen The Good has a great use for your old books. Alan’s friend, Douglas Dart, is in Bratislava teaching English at The C.S. Lewis Bilingual Gymnazium. He is trying to set up an English language library for his students.

    Some of you may kno…

  18. November 22nd, 2004 | 10:08 am

    Strengthening the Good

    Strengthening The Good: You, By Helping Build An English Library For Teenagers In Bratislava, Slovakia First of all, thanks to all who have sent emails about the New York Times article, and to those who have joined the network since … I’m glad to see…

  19. November 22nd, 2004 | 10:34 am

    Strengthening the good… books?

    Strengthen the Good now wants to stock a Slovakian biligual library with books. “Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man” isn’t on the list. I think it should be, along with the two great works by the good…

  20. November 22nd, 2004 | 12:05 pm

    The Only Books in Heaven

    I can’t find the exact quote, but Lewis once made a comment to the effect that the only books we’kk have in our library in heaven will be those we lent to friends, and that every bit of damage they had done to them would have become beautiful calligr…

  21. November 22nd, 2004 | 12:20 pm

    Strengthen the Good 4

    Good news from Alan at Strengthen the Good: the organization is now a 503(c) non-profit organization so that donors who go through STG may obtain…

  22. November 22nd, 2004 | 12:36 pm
  23. November 22nd, 2004 | 5:59 pm

    re: Politeness…Going The Way of The Dodo?

  24. November 22nd, 2004 | 9:05 pm

    STG cause du jour

    Today, I received an email from Strengthen the Good about their cause du jour, An English Library For Teenagers In Bratislava, Slovakia.

    Follow the link, a

  25. November 23rd, 2004 | 12:27 pm

    Books are incredible things

    Strengthening The Good: You, By Helping Build An English Library For Teenagers In Bratislava, Slovakia This month the Strengthen The Good Network wants to help build the C. S. Lewis Bilingual High School library.And there’s the opportunity: to help Dou…

  26. November 23rd, 2004 | 12:56 pm

    Strengthen The Good-English Lessons

    As an English teacher to English speaking children in a school system where there is a dearth of books suitable for my crew, I can tell you how difficult the lack of books makes my task. Everything has to be…

  27. November 24th, 2004 | 4:04 pm

    STG: Building An English Library

    This week’s micro-charity is something that’s especially close to my heart. I love books and the power that they lend to people. This week’s STG is especially interesting to me: Douglas, his wife, and his three young daughters are currently spending …

  28. November 25th, 2004 | 1:16 am

    Thanks

    Surely the only worthy response to this life’s embarrassment of undeserved riches is to give thanks without ceasing. I’m not so good at that, but I hope to get better at it as I get older. So, on this day,

  29. December 1st, 2004 | 3:19 am

    giving thanks

    A few days after Thanksgiving, but still in the spirit of that holiday (and also of Veterans’ Day, just a few weeks past). Go here first, for a fitting tribute: Until Then. (Via American Digest) The Defense Department has a…

  30. December 3rd, 2004 | 12:02 pm

    Last Post

    We’re leaving today, but just got this and thought it was a fitting post to leave up here for the next few months. Strengthening The Good: You, By Helping Build An English Library For Teenagers In Bratislava, Slovakia You may…

  31. December 3rd, 2004 | 12:06 pm

    Last Post

    We’re leaving today, but just got this and thought it was a fitting post to leave up here for the next few months. Strengthening The Good: You, By Helping Build An English Library For Teenagers In Bratislava, Slovakia You may…

  32. Sayaka
    December 8th, 2004 | 6:04 pm

    I think this a fantastic cause. I have a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird sitting on my shelf so I will mail it off to you tomorrow.

    All the very best to you for your work in Bratislava :)

  33. December 18th, 2004 | 10:01 am

    Strengthen the Good

    Strengthen the Good has foundamicro-charity to highlight. I am a few weeks behind on posting about it, so they have already made some progress. Have any used books that you don’t need? One of Alan’s friends has a need. Douglas, his wife,

  34. December 27th, 2004 | 10:35 pm

    Strenghen the Good

    One of the joys of being part of a larger community of weblogs is finding others who care about what is going on in the world . . . and then take steps to make it better. Alan from The…

  35. January 16th, 2005 | 3:12 am

    Strengthen the Good update

    STG has just updated with a new micro-charity you can contribute to. The C.S. Lewis School in Bratislava, Slovakia, is in desperate need of books. I know I’ve got some of the books on this list lying around at home,…

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