Production of ‘Seedfolks’ play honors National Adult Literacy Day

The Redlands Adult Literacy Program celebrated Adult Literacy Day with the production of “Seedfolks,” a play based on a short children’s book by Paul Fleischman, on Saturday at the Contemporary Club.

The story about individuals from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds who come together to clean up a junky lot and turn it into a garden. In accordance with National Literacy Day on Sunday, Sept. 8, Redlands commemorated the occasion by honoring Sept. 7 as Adult Literacy Day.

Diane Shimota, adult literacy coordinator, opened the event by acknowledging those involved with making the play successful and sharing the news with those in attendance: “I’d especially like to acknowledge each and everyone of you for coming to celebrate adult literacy with us today,” added Shimota. “We are happy to announce that today is honored as Adult Literacy Day here in Redlands.

“Last year, one of the literacy book clubs groups shared together the short, but powerful book Seedfolks. The members of the group were so impressed by this books entertaining and profound story that a decision was made to make this short selection the Adult Literacy Book of the Year,” said Trudy Waldron, a leader in the Smiley Library literacy program, told the audience.

“All 100-plus team members including volunteers and community members have been invited to read this selection with a promise that we would gather today for National Adult Literacy Day,”

Waldron was accompanied by learner Tanya Jauregui, who stood courageously and proud as she read to the audience.

“One of the main reasons is that while reading we discovered that many of the steps necessary in growing a garden are similar to the steps we need to improve our reading and writing skills and grow in our self-confidence,” Jauregui said.

The symbolism of this simple, yet profound work of literature, expresses the similarities between planting a garden and learning to read.

“Both tasks give you the opportunity to anticipate the wonderful results of handwork. Gardner’s enjoy the anticipation of delicious vegetables while literacy learners anticipate the promise of new opportunities in their homes and jobs and community,” read Jauregui.

The procession of the play began with garbage painted on cardboard boxes and as the play progressed the boxes were transformed to beautifully painted plants and vegetables. As each scene transitioned to the next, the music picked by the plays director Teresa Dolan, also expressed the dichotomy one might find within a community: from Dave Brubeck to Ravi Shankar to Cat Stevens. Different kinds of music from different cultures and styles.

“It’s so wonderful to be able to help them grow, and to watch these individuals have a whole world open up to them, and to discover new worlds,” said Kathrine Gifford, also a leader in the Adult Literacy Program and member of the Friends of the Library.

“This is why I do it. As you help a learner to read and write you see how their eyes brighten and the thrill that they have. “From here they’re able to get jobs, to help their children and grandchildren to read and to pursue further education for themselves. We’ve had learners go on to college and get their GED.

“To be a part of that process is just wonderful.”

Leaving the Contemporary Club each person in attendance received a small, squared piece of plantable seed paper with the quote:

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” by Audrey Hepburn.

Seedfolks was made possible through grants from California Library Literacy Services and Modern Woodmen, funding from the city of Redlands and A.K. Smiley Public Library, and donations to the Friends of A.K. Smiley Public Library.