Donor Spotlight: Meredith Cummings

We can’t do what we do without support from friends like you! In honor of the people from all around the community (and around the world!) who are coming together to help the Vonnegut Library write its next chapter in a new home, we’re shining the spotlight on our donors. Will you join them?

Today we hear from Meredith Cummings, a longtime Vonnegut Library donor and volunteer, and a great educator. She has donated her time, talents, and treasure for years, and we are so grateful!

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Meredith reading at Banned Books Week.

KVML: Why do you support the Vonnegut Library? 

MEREDITH: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., was more than just a “famous” Hoosier author. In fact, early on, many Hoosiers didn’t really like him. He was seen by some as a troublemaker, a rabble-rouser, a radical. And that’s why I support the Library. Vonnegut didn’t just write to earn a living or entertain. He wrote simple, and, at the same time, complex stories to encourage readers to stop and think, question, consider, and, in many cases, take action in order to make the world a better, more humane, more compassionate place in which to live. The Library carries on that mission today. And the Library staff make a tremendous effort to get the community, including teachers and students, involved, as well.

 

How has Indianapolis responded to celebrating Kurt Vonnegut as a native son?

Even though there are so many reminders of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and his family throughout this city, because he became an adopted New Yorker for much of his life, it’s taken a while to bring awareness of this native son to Indianapolis. Still, in just over five short years, the amazing Julia Whitehead, the Library board, the staff, and many, many volunteers and community members have done a spectacular job not only re-introducing our city to this talented author and activist, but also supporting those issues that were near and dear to Mr. Vonnegut’s heart – Freedom of Speech, human decency, veterans affairs, and other important social issues. I think residents are beginning to realize how important this man is and will continue to be.

What is your favorite Vonnegut book? 

I haven’t read all of Vonnegut’s books, unlike my 18-year-old son, who has devoured them all. But right now, my favorite book is Mother Night in which, the author reminds readers, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” This quote can be interpreted many different ways, both positive and negative in context. We can pretend to be better, and thus, perhaps make ourselves better as human beings. Or, as Vonnegut may have been trying to say, if we aren’t true to ourselves and take on other less moral values, we could easily pull ourselves (and everyone with us) down into disaster. Sadly, as I watch our 2016 election process hurdle forward toward November, I wonder if this quote was not a bit prophetical on KV’s part.  I include Mother Night, Slaughterhouse-Five, Harrison Bergeron and Who Am I This Time in my English classes. I think all four of these writings encourage readers to realize that we are all just trying to figure out who we are, and we should do our best to become the best version of ourselves that we can be, not just for our sake, but for the good of humanity as a whole.

Meredith with her students in our Senate Ave. location

Meredith with her students in our Senate Ave. location. (Photo c/o Meredith Cummings)

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