Book: "The Soulmaking Room"

Will O’Brien, for the Shuttle

Book-signing and reading

Author Dee Dee Risher will read from “The Soulmaking Room” on Thursday, Aug. 25, at 6 p.m. at Big Blue Marble, 551 Carpenter Lane. For more info on the book, visit

Dee Dee Risher, a longtime member of Weavers Way, has published a new book with compelling content for many in the Co-op community. 

“The Soulmaking Room” is a spiritual invitation to consciously use situations of failure, loss and pain to grow and teach. Risher addresses love, race, money, parenting, class, environmental crisis and spiritual wandering with candor. While upfront about her own spiritual roots (Christian), she has written a book intended to help everyone who is spiritually seeking within any tradition to engage these issues. As scholar and activist bell hooks comments on the book: “Few books on spiritual issues cover as much ground and offer the brilliant insights that are essential for the strengthening of our faith . . . . Risher offers us radically new ways to think about justice, about what it means to love, about making a life centered on service.”

A writer, editor and poet, Risher for many years edited The Other Side, an award-winning Christian social-justice magazine published in Germantown, which was 40 years old when it closed in 2004. Her work has been featured in many publications including The Utne Reader, Sojourners, Grid and Huffington Post.

Risher draws on her life experiences growing up a white person from the South who lived with black families, worked in China and a poor neighborhood in Washington, D.C., and chose to live and raise her family in a low-income, predominantly African-American neighborhood in Philadelphia. Drawing loosely on the biblical story of the prophet Elisha and the woman who built him a holy room as a kind of midrash, she explores how we create a space for spiritual growth, how we keep working toward justice and how we live truthfully. 

A native of South Carolina, Risher moved to Germantown in 1987. She helped launch Vine and Fig Tree, a cooperative intentional housing community. She helped organize the neighborhood watch, coordinates a community garden, grows organic vegetables for the local food pantry and advocates for local schools. She currently attends Germantown Mennonite Church and Cookman Beloved Community Church in North Philadelphia.

“This is a book about becoming authentic,” Risher said. “Every human being goes through graceful and also wrenching experiences. I have been struck by how little our spiritual traditions actually try to prepare us for these difficulties. I believe there is some heartbreakingly beautiful fruit we are to shape from those. This becomes our own unique, authentic gift to the world.”