The Santa Monica Public Library will participate in California Reads: Searching for Democracy, a statewide initiative that aims to stimulate community dialogues about democracy, by presenting a series of special events and book discussions from Sept. 5 through Oct. 11.

All book discussions and special events are free and open to the public.

The California Reads events are based around the book “A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster” by Rebecca Solnit. The book focuses on how, in the aftermath of disasters such as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and Hurricane Katrina, community members have come together to assist one another after the natural and man-made disasters, putting democracy into action.

The following special events will take place during California Reads: Searching for Democracy:

Documentary Short Film Screening and Filmmaker Q&A: “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” – This Oscar-nominated short film illustrates the aftermath of the devastating tsunami on Japan and the healing effect of the nation’s annual cherry blossom festival. Director Lucy Walker will introduce the film and be on hand for Q&A with the audience following the screening.

Wednesday, Sept. 5 at 7 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium, Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

One-Stop Prep Shop -Emergency-preparedness experts will be on hand to discuss earthquake kits.

Saturday, Sept. 15, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., North Entry Courtyard, Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

An Afternoon with Rebecca Solnit – “A Paradise Built in Hell” author Solnit will appear onstage in conversation with T.A. Frank, editor of online magazine Z—calo Public Square.

Saturday, Oct. 6, 2 p.m., Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium, Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.

The “Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” screening and the Afternoon with Rebecca Solnit are ticketed events. Free tickets will be given out one hour prior to program. All members of one’s party must be present to receive a ticket. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Book discussions on “A Paradise Built in Hell” are scheduled next month at 7 p.m. on Sept. 18 at the Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd.;

Sept. 25 at the Ocean Park Branch Library, 2601 Main St.; and Sept. 26, with an online discussion via Facebook,

Santa Monica Public Library is one of more than 50 libraries statewide participating in California Reads. The programs are made possible by a grant from Cal Humanities and the California Center for the book. Additional support is provided by the Friends of the Santa Monica Public Library.

Information,, or (310) 458-8600.