November 2, 2010

Write To Connect at ILRC SF, Week 1

The first-ever Write To Connect workshop began at the Independent Living Resource Center in San Francisco this Friday. It was rainy and the city felt exposed, clangy—things were grinding forward for the Halloween weekend. I was tired from a busy morning, working at the LightHouse. These factors contributed to me being pretty high-strung. I worried over how my visually impaired students who were new to the city would navigate from BART. I was also unsure of how my personal, non-standard sense of direction had come across in my emails. Perhaps students with cognitive disabilities might find my directions to be totally squirrely?? I tend to worry about all friends and friends-yet-to-be—their arrivals, departures, visits, how we find ourselves together in space. Good thing I am leading a workshop on writing-back-to-the-body.

It did feel somewhat ironic that I was preparing to lead a word-pouring meditation and introduce the idea of restorative writing. But, as the students trickled in, I was thrilled to meet everyone and I began to relax. We settled in with hot tea and chocolates. After a lengthy journaling session, folks went around the table sharing some of what they had written. The conversation flowed so easily—I was amazed. I felt as though I got to know everyone very quickly.

Belo Cipriani is a technical writer who recently got his Masters in Creative Writing. He wants to use this Write To Connect series to become more fluid in his writing styles; to explore ways to switch between magical realism and business prose, for example. He currently writes a column for the San Francisco Pride newsletter
[Photo of Belo at his laptop.]

Melissa Crisp has published in-depth articles directed toward parents of children with mobility impairments. Melissa writes in a down-to-earth way, recounting her experiences with cerebral palsy as a kid.  Read her article here.

The students on Friday ranged in age from early 20’s to mid-30’s. One student is attending community college and working with a Department of Rehabilitation counselor to make choices about  her course of study. Another student is seeking a little “arty” refuge from writing her dissertation, which focuses on the history of film through the lens of disability. And another student is trying to push past hurdles to start a blog about the Japanese music scene in SF. The students in my class on Friday had various disabilities—mobility impairments, blindness and learning differences. It was exciting to be in a room with such diverse thinkers and creative minds.

Here is a sample of WTC writing from the first week. And when I say sample, think remix. We loved the way JAWS interpreted Kacie Capp’s in-class journal entry. I think I heard some offers to DJ-ify it.

A few folks have contacted me to say that they could not make Friday’s class, but that they look forward to being there this coming week. Hey guys, I sent you an email about what you missed. No pressure. Just read the “runnel” poem and think emotional weather maps. But most of all, start journaling! See you soon.

This particular WTC series will continue for 3 more weeks (November 5, 12 and 19th) at the ILRC in SF. Stay tuned to the WTC blog and Facebook for more interesting snippets from students.