Journey fans: Taking a few days hiatus to a) lead Young Writers Project's Fall Celebration of Writing (more here: youngwritersproject.org, b) I need to plan it out a bit and c) I need to get some of my slides converted to digital.)
In August 2006, when Young Writers Project came to be as a nonprofit, I created a Web site and within weeks it was out of control AND had become a community. Before Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter and Instagram, this was a social media site before anyone had heard the term.
The site, the community, was based on trust: No moderation, treat people with respect. For teens, respect and civility means safety, the safety to take creative risk, the safety to write how you really feel and think and not worry about getting slammed. The activity exploded with posts and commenting and collaborations. I was, in all this, an afterthought, a ghost, as in "who's gg?" Cool.
What I saw there, what I see there now on the new site that is open to youths anywhere in the world, is that they know digital writing. They feel it in their bones. They know there is an audience of peers to help them shape, change, improve, expand, continue their ideas. This gives them motivation. They jump in. They know, too, that professionals may come by and offer additional help or will help them gain certain skills through informal live workshops. This gives them confidence. And they also know that their best work will get presented to valued audiences -- in newspapers, on radio and TV, on stage, on other Web sites and/or, in our digital monthly magazine: The Voice, the gem, the Holy Grail.
This is such, sweet, sauce.
Our vision: Help youths gain the confidence and communication skills they need to shape their world.
Our motto: Just Write It.
Our method is simple. And it comes in three parts:
- Explore the idea, gain enthusiasm for it, own it.
- Take in feedback, consider it, re-explore your piece. Polish it.
- Find audience for the best to affirm the ideas, the voice, the effort.
All in a civil online space.
So below is a prime example of what happens. What began as a poem, became a poem with a photograph, became a digital story with narration, became a digital story with the author's own created music.
Digital writing spurs the evolution of expression.
The author/videographer/photographer/musician is a high school senior. She's been working with us since fifth grade. Her name is Erin Bundock and she is from Shelburne, Vermont. Remember the name.