If Saint Paul Could Talk

December 21, 2017

Dear admirers of James Baldwin,


We first came to Saint Paul de Vence in mid-2016 to attempt the monumental task of snatching James Baldwin's house from the clutches of a luxury real estate developer. We kept coming back, month after month, season after season, navigating obstacles and fighting barriers, and slowly our project  expanded well beyond the initial passionate impulse that brought us here. 



Here are the three major efforts Les Amis de la Maison Baldwin is planning for 2018, and how you can help:


1. Fulfilling James Baldwin's dream.


We have decided not to wait until the villa is rescued and renovated to begin realizing Baldwin's wish for a writer's residency in St. Paul, and are thus overjoyed to announce the inauguration of the Saint Paul de Vence James Baldwin Writer in Residence Program. In April 2018 we will host our first resident writer, who will be offered our house in the village for a full month of uninterrupted work. An independent jury will select the invited writer from what is already shaping up to be an impressive pool of candidates. Your donation will help us to lodge our visiting writer, as well as to advance our longer-term agenda toward opening as many other houses as possible in St. Paul to artists and writers working in the spirit of James Baldwin.



2. Celebrating James Baldwin as a global citizen


Last month we partnered with the city of Saint Paul de Vence on a 30-year retrospective looking back on James Baldwin's 17 years here. Next June, in collaboration with the upcoming Biennale de Saint Paul de Vence, we will host the First Annual St. Paul de Vence James Baldwin International Art and Music Festival. On the agenda will be three full days of theater, literary readings, dance, music and visual art.  Your donation will help us cover the organizing costs for this festival, which will attract today's most exciting creators of Baldwin-inspired work and connect them to an eager international audience.



3. Watchdogging the Baldwin villa


It is the role of the artist to interrupt the peace.   --James Baldwin.


The safeguard of "la maison Baldwin" remains at the top of our agenda. In 2018 we will pursue our multipronged legal strategy to hold accountable the corporate owner of the property for the disregard of their building permit, general environmental destruction and other bad behaviors. We can't give you more details on our planned course of action, other than to say that ultimately it is designed to delay construction long enough to give us time to put together a circle of philanthropists and social entrepreneurs ready to step forward to purchase the property. Your Your donations will help us cover staff costs and legal fees as we continue to fight, organize, mobilize and fundraise.


Please do consider including Les Amis de la Maison Baldwin in your holiday gving this year. Founding memberships begin at 20 Euros; donations of 35 Euros or more will result in a variety of items such as t-shirts and tote bags and free digital downloads arriving in your mailbox. A Founding Membership makes a particularly thoughtful holiday present for the Baldwin fanatic in your life. We're happy to send a gift announcement to your loved one.


Thanks to our efforts, Saint Paul de Vence is once again talking about James Baldwin. The village is remembering his spirit, his friendship and most of all his ideals. Insofar as our new association is establishing itself as a pain in the neck to the status quo, our presence here has been met with great support and enthusiasm. For example, more than 30 local artists are currently participating in our Online Art Sale (another great gift idea)--many having created new, Baldwin-inspired work--to benefit our Welcome Center.


If Saint-Paul de Vence could talk, it certainly wouldn't speak with one voice: opinions here are as varied as France itself. However on the subject of James Baldwin the person, sentiments align. He was roundly loved and admired here, and many remember him well. We know this because since the beginning of our effort nearly two years ago, we have been approached by dozens of Saint Paulois eager to share their memories, putting us in the privileged position of hearing first hand accounts from people who knew him, people who loved him, and people who admired him from afar.


Thank you so much for your support as we continue this adventure. Happiest of holidays to you all.


Les Amis de la Maison Baldwin




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Les Amis de la Maison Baldwin is fiscally sponsored by FJC, a U.S. 501c3 public charity. All donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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