Knoxville Libraries Host Green Lunches

City Hall and Knox County Public Library team up to promote clean energy awareness

It's like a bookmobile, but greener. Instead of taking loads of books from the shelves to where the people are, Knox County Public Library (KCPL) has launched a new program that more or less just transports the most important ideas of a chosen book. Wednesday, April 8, marks the second installment of KCPL's lunchtime discussion series, Brown Bag - Green Book. The monthly "lunch and learn" series features open-forum discussions of recent books on the subject of green trends and technology, led by local experts.

Auspiciously, the event has moved to larger quarters following lessons learned at the inaugural gathering last month—a standing-room-only discussion of Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat and Crowded led by Mike Edwards. Next Wednesday, the book discussed will be Cradle to Cradle, Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, and the discussion will be led by Knoxville architect Elizabeth Eason, Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council East Tennessee Chapter, and serves on Mayor Haslam's Energy and Sustainability Task Force as well as Governor Bredesen's Energy Policy Task Force.

The prime movers behind the series are KCPL reference librarian Emily Ellis and Madeleine Weil, the city's Deputy Director of Policy and Communications. Ellis wanted to remind lunchtime traffic on Market Square that there's a great library in the neighborhood. And Weil, who heads the Energy and Sustainability Task Force, has been searching for ways to alert Knoxvillians to the promise of sustainable energies and the problems making them seem necessary.

"One big goal I have is to remind downtown residents and workers that they have this great resource just a couple of blocks away," says Ellis. "I originally thought of doing a lunch and learn when I noticed all the people on Market Square having lunch who don't necessarily come to the library, which is so close. I thought if we could get them to alter their paths a bit and join us for a book discussion while they eat their lunches, then they would connect or reconnect with the library."

If it sounds like not-for-credit homework, think again. You're not expected to have read the book beforehand. So you can show up with a sandwich and soda and have a roomful of neighbors explain the book to you. And if you have to leave early, you're still golden; the discussions are available as podcasts on the library's website.

"I keep hearing people say that ‘green' is trendy right now," says Weil, "and I guess that's true, but there is a lot more behind the idea of green than just trendiness. We wanted to present a forum for community conversations about what sustainability really means, and specifically, what it means here in Knoxville and Knox County."

Elizabeth Eason will discuss Cradle to Cradle on Wed., April 8, at 12 p.m. at the Market House Room of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, #17 Market Square.