For this reflection I decided to start with a ‘smaller’ issue–literacy in my home county of Whitley County, Indiana–but this workshop series has shown me that no issue is separate from larger systems, and that understanding can inform our actions. This issue has been close to my heart since I was a little kid, and I used to think it was just something we had to deal with as a community. One part of the problem is a lack of reading materials for students. When I was in elementary school I noticed there weren’t many books for us to choose from at the library and I started collecting all the students’ Capri Suns juice pouches at lunch and sending them back to the company for a few cents each. With the help of my parents and the librarians a fund was started to buy books for the school. I remember thinking I’d really done something, but then Capri Sun stopped their buy back program and we stopped getting new books. The local paper took my picture with the books we’d bought, but it didn’t inspire the state of Indiana to add anything to their education budget. I don’t mean for that to sound too bitter–the project was pretty successful (and we got Deathly Hallows in right after it was released). But over time I have learned that if we hope to raise the reading level of kids in WC the problem has to be addressed at every level. In the short term, we need the community to help cover costs, especially for low income families, and in the long term we need the state to invest more in the education system. From a personal perspective, I can continue supporting community initiatives and volunteering when I’m at home. Since I am living out of state during the school year the most important thing I can do is vote for representatives who support expanding the education budget and sharing information with family and friends.