Q. Is One Year Writing in the Margins a program?
A. No. We are an idea-based initiative that seeks to inspire and mobilize teaching-writers to devote one year to teaching creative writing workshops outside the academy, in places where the transforming powers of reading and writing are often a matter of life and death. Such places can broadly be defined as at-risk communities.
Q. WHat do you mean by an "at-risk community"?
A. Communities made up of people who have been marginalized in any number of ways. Speaking broadly, examples of such communities include women and men in prisons, jails, juvenile detention centers, family support centers, homeless shelters; people groups such as immigrants, at-risk youth in the public school system, those in addiction recovery, and the elderly.
Q. WHo owns the initiative?
A. You, the people carrying the idea, the teaching-writers who take up the challenge and commit to making a difference through reading and writing with those who are often forgotten or ignored. As far as its history: the idea was birthed out of the life-revising experiences of the students and teaching-writers in Underground Writing, a writing program founded in 2015 in Northern Washington, inspired by, among others, Inside Out Writers (Los Angeles), all the 826 writing centers, and Write Around Portland. One Year Writing in the Margins launched on January 20, 2017.
Q. what is the Goal of One Year writing in the margins?
A. In the simplest terms: challenging/inspiring teaching-writers to devote one year to facilitating creative writing workshops outside the academy, in at-risk communities. We serve as a connecting hub for teaching-writers, writing programs, and at-risk communities at all stages of involvement, and do so with the hope to increase both the number of people doing this work and the number of available programs (particularly in areas where such programs do not currently exist).
Q. Is the challenge only a one-year commitment?
A. We hope, of course, that the teaching-writers will be inspired to continue for a longer period of time, but that's the basic challenge: a self-commitment to one year.
Q. is the hope that teaching-writers taking up the ONE YEAR WRITING IN THE MARGINS challenge will have their workshop site or program as their sole focus?
A. This would be ideal. Given the practicalities of such work, however, and the typical need for it to be done on a volunteer basis, we assume that most teaching-writers taking up the challenge will do so concurrent with other work or educational endeavors.
Q. WHo's the ONE YEAR WRITING IN THE MARGINS initiative aiming to inspire?
A. Any and all teaching-writers (folks who are devoted to the discipline of writing as a craft, are publishing, and are passionate about sharing the craft with others). We have a particular aim to inspire students who have completed an undergraduate degree and are pursuing an MFA or PhD degree in English or Creative Writing. However, that is certainly not the sole focus. There are numerous teaching-writers of all ages who would not fall into that category.
Q. aren't there already lots of creative writing programs serving at-risk communities around the country?
A. Yes. Lots. And the One Year Writing in the Margins initiative hopes to inspire teaching-writers to connect with existing programs. For those teaching-writers who cannot access a program in their region, we are hoping to inspire them to start one, even if it's something as simple as facilitating a creative writing workshop once a month (as but one example). For a list of programs in your area, the Prison Arts Coalition Programs list is a great place to start (the list includes many art forms, including writing).
Q. Do you set up the placements for teaching-writers who want to take up the ONE YEAR WRITING IN THE MARGINS CHALLENGE?
A. We connect, consult, provide ideas, and seek to inspire. While we don't arrange the placements, we're more than willing to offer suggestions for involvement in your area. And if we know of teaching/program needs, we will let you know.
Q. is this intiative for individuals only, or can academic institutions, arts organizations, and writing programs get involved, too?
A. We'd love to involve everyone. Send us a link for your program or organization, or volunteer with us by simply spreading the word or placing a stack of info. cards in your department, office, or workplace. We're a resource site for inspiration, consultation, and connection for both teaching-writers and the programs and institutions in which they can serve.
If you like what we're doing, follow us on Twitter. And help spread the word via other social media outlets. We'd also love it if you'd consider placing our badge (below) somewhere on your website as a nod of support for the initiative.
Q. Our organization would like to pilot your program—how does it work?
A. Although we’re an idea-based initiative rather than a program, there’s a great opportunity for partnering together here that we don’t want to miss.
We have three levels of involvement. Connectors are individuals or organizations that are willing to tell others about the initiative through word of mouth, social media, and handing out information cards. Supporters are those who both spread the word and are willing to place our logo on their website with a “We support” tagline and a link to the initiative’s website. Finally, organizations and programs that are Partners participate in the aforementioned items and are also listed on our website as recommended contexts in which people taking up the One Year Writing in the Margins challenge can inquire about doing their one-year service.
Additionally, we encourage partnering organizations without existing volunteer/internship opportunities to consider establishing a one-year program for teaching-writers. The program can be uniquely created and customized to fit the needs of each organization, and can be operated under the “One Year Writing in the Margins” title. Please contact us for more details.
Q. ARE YOU SOLICITING DONATIONS?
A. We're not soliciting them, as it were. Our only mention of it is a small link at the bottom of the page. We do, however, welcome your help in this way. All donations go toward covering the costs of promoting the initiative (web, social media, speaking engagements, hard copy info. cards), as well as our scholarship fund to help teaching-writers take up the One Year Writing in the Margins challenge.
Q. I'm with you in one way or another, what are the next steps?
A. Check out our Resources page. Read Mark Salzman's book, True Notebooks, Sherman Alexie's essay, The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me, and please contact us for further ideas and dialogue. We'd love to help you take up the One Year Writing in the Margins challenge.