When a roomful of creative, intrepid leaders begins talking about their successes in teaching youth about writing, it’s hard to resist their enthusiasm. At the recent WITS Summit, every seat was filled by representatives from organizations working around the state with one goal in mind: nurturing the next generation through writing education.
Many shared feedback from their students, eliciting both laughter and impressed murmurs as they read excerpts aloud. But at times the tone darkened. Most groups are already running on shoestring budgets and dedicated volunteers, and they’re facing tough decisions as grants and other support for the arts dwindles. But even amid frank discussions about financial strategies and cuts, the conversation continued to focus on how to best serve everyone’s local communities. Their priorities were clear.
“You make a difference,” said BJ Blake, a principal from Eugene. Her words silenced the shuffle of paper and shifting of bodies in seats. “What you do matters.”
Instead of a glitzy swag bag, each participant left with new fundraising ideas, impressive samples of student work, inspiring contact with colleagues, and the warm buzz of optimism that Oregon continues to be a great place for both writers and students of writing.
Check out the participants and see how you can get involved:
The Gorge Writing Project
The Nature of Words (NOW)
Salem Art Association (SAA)
Writers in the Schools (WITS)