By Eric Lincoln Miller
“There are 8 million stories in the naked city, some ice cold some without pity.”
“In the city there’s a thousand things I want to say to you.”
Reno, Nevada stars in this new collection of writings by 14 women who overcame adversity, economic hardship, natural and self-made disasters, wanton sexism and abuse, and host of physical and mental health issues. The location of their various personal and familial transformations is Reno, the biggest little city in the world.
All roads in this book lead to Reno. In some cases it’s a crooked path for the contributors, from such places as Mexico City as an illegal immigrant, from Bay Saint Louis, MS, the epicenter of Hurricane Katrina, and from a vacant lot in pre-gentrified Santa Monica, CA. The strongest stories in this book resonate with newfound strength and healing from horrific and seemingly hopeless circumstances. Individual entries are written in the first person and there’s immediacy to the prose throughout the book that makes a reader feel they are having coffee with each author and she’s telling you her story.
The current mayor of Reno happens to be a woman and she has written a Foreword to the book. Hillary L. Schieve calls the contributors “visionaries” and she states “they have truly helped Reno to rise.” The anthology is designed to be the basis for a mass movement of women across the country to rise and give testimony to their disparate experiences of difficulty and positive change. The idea is to inspire women of every generation to empower themselves with self-expression and to be a primary source of encouragement and motivation for other women to find their way out of bad circumstances.
To that end the compiler of this collection, Susan Ackerman, recently started a women’s group called Inspire Reno. The overall purpose has been to provide a positive and creative outlet for personal and professional development for women. It was designed as a place for women of all ages to go and hold events, meet and greet, and support each other. Thecollection of writings for Reno Risinggrew out of this group. The power of their stories comes through with a collective consciousness that relates how the authors have strived to overcome adversity in many forms, and how they have risen like a Phoenix and continue to grow stronger as a result of their association.
It’s hard to pin down exactly why Reno. Could it be something in the water? What is it about this city that compelled 14 women from different generations and socio-economic backgrounds to share their stories in such a disarming and direct way? And it seems like it could only happen in Reno: — if you somehow transferred the stories to Boulder, CO or Baltimore, MD the outcomes might not be the same. Reno is the X-factor that contributed to their combined success.
There is a curative and restoring power to the accounts in the collection. These are real women telling their stories in a forthright manner. Many of them are first-time authors. As business owners and catalysts for change, these women make a difference every day in the lives of those they encounter, and in the life of their city.
Compiled by Susan Ackerman
Follow It Through Publishing, $14.95, paperback, 180 pages
Eric Lincoln Miller is a writer and book development expert with 30 years’ experience in publishing. He lives in Reno, NV. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org