Name: Art Beveridge
Hometown: Henderson, NC (Circle is in nearby Kittrell)
Sponsor Organization: Ben Franklin Society
Date Launched: February 2016
What attracted you to Ben Franklin Circles?
Back in February of 2016, we had several people who wanted to start a book club in conjunction with our already established Ben Franklin Society here in Franklin County, North Carolina. Several of our members had been in other book clubs that weren’t totally successful. We also wanted to be sure we were giving back to our community. We heard about the Ben Franklin Circle concept and felt it would be a good fit with what we wanted to accomplish, while helping us to better ourselves as well.
How did you recruit members for your Circle? Any lessons learned?
We currently have twenty members, with about a dozen people at our monthly meetings. We are always promoting new membership by sending out several reminders with a short prelude or introduction about the next meeting’s topic, including the book and a selected virtue. We also include a notice in the Ben Franklin Society’s monthly newsletter, which goes to several hundred members.
We are fortunate to have the use of our Ben Franklin Society cabin and call ourselves, interchangeably, the Cabin Book Club, the Cabin Ben Franklin Circle, or the Cabin Circle. We are really grateful to Franklin BreadWorks and the Ben Franklin Society for their support and the use of their wonderful historic facility.
Each month we select a moderator for our next meeting, a virtue, and who will provide refreshments. We also tackle any circle business and share events in our community that may be of interest to our members and friends.
We try to select books that cover topics that affect our world. We recently had a book club meeting to discuss Gray Mountain by John Grisham. The book stirred several varying emotions among our Ben Franklin Circle group. The book brought forth vivid images of the devastation being done to ancient mountain tops, their neighboring valleys, and the inhabitants of those environments by the mining business. At the same time, it raised questions from our readers about how you provide a decent standard of living for humans inhabiting their age-old homeland. The members felt the Ben Franklin virtues of Justice and Resolution were best portrayed by different character elements in the story.
Several members were disappointed with the book because it wasn’t exactly the thriller that they expected from Grisham. One aspect discussed was that maybe the main character should not have been from outside the problem environment but, rather, someone directly impacted by the conflict. Overall the book did have the quality of bringing out very commendable discussion levels on a serious subject facing our country.
We always follow up with an email summary of the meeting and the book discussion. Our next book will be She Had to Know by Coco Ihle, for which we will have author in attendance. This should be a great opportunity for questions and answers.
How has hosting a Ben Franklin Circle impacted you?
This work has given me the chance to give back to my community. In addition to our regular discussions, we look to directly put back into the community, mostly through supporting early childhood education. We have hosted a project at Peggy McGhee’s Colonial Hearth Day Farm, which demonstrates early pioneer skills—including kitchen hearth cooking, organic gardening, blacksmithing, and quilting—to elementary school children’s groups. We provide books to school libraries in our neighboring communities, as well as guest speakers and authors. We have assisted in buying hundreds of Chromebook computers for our Louisburg Early College High School and are currently working to provide each teacher in the school with two outside business volunteers to assist with eliminating additional classroom obstacles.
Which virtue means the most to you personally and why?
Right now I am personally working on the virtues of Silence and Tranquility in my life. I feel these are areas for me that need improvement. I have given up on the virtue of Humility, LOL.
What is the last commitment you made to yourself? How’s it going?
My current virtue is Resolution I have historically not been good at resolution of my responsibilities and goals. Many times, I have gotten sidetracked and not brought my endeavors to complete resolution. Focusing on Resolution for the last three weeks has helped me to understand that determination to complete tasks creates results that are satisfying to the people involved but, most importantly, to myself.