Category Archives: Sharing and Networking

WRITEAHOUSE.ORG

Both sides of my family migrated to Detroit in the first half of the 20th Century.  Both of my parents were born there.  It is the place where our history, our culture, our collective memory, the proof of our existence to the physical world emanates from.  Some have left, many have died.  Others have remained to witness the horror, the transformation of a great community.

There are newcomers, such as Liana, who’s home is here because of Write A House. Here is her blog about her experience in Detroit.

 

I now do most of my writing from an upstairs room that overlooks most of my street. The room is stark, with freshly painted white walls (Thanks Write A House crew), a wooden desk and an aluminum folding chair. I’ve kept it bare to minimize distraction and maximize output. I am easily distracted. I lose focus. I am not one of those writers who can write comfortably anywhere, at any time. To get a place of pure, magical focus and creativity, I have to expend so much energy. But even a minimally decorated, quiet room has not stopped my mind from wandering elsewhere.

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Source: WRITEAHOUSE.ORG

Foundations @ Write A House

My computer desktop image is of an old stone foundation overtaken by greenery, a former homestead of Washington Irving, which I hiked to a number of summers ago during a residency in the Catskills. The spot wasn’t terribly well marked, and I had to dig for it a bit, so I spent most of the morning seeking out what would have been a former house, next to a stream, before chancing upon the rock Rip Van Winkle was said to have napped on. (Superstitiously, I did not indulge the urge to test it.)

The discovery of the homestead felt somehow pivotal, and I knew when I snapped the image on my cameraphone that I would want to look at it every day: flat stone foundations are so sensical, aren’t they? Find yourself some level ground and nestle the rocks in a bit, build up a wall that way, then create a whole room, carefully manipulating the earth against your construction materials in anticipation of your future needs. I don’t know what it’s like for a doctor or an accountant or an urban planner, but for a writer those needs are ultimately quite simple: a space in which one can hear one’s own thoughts, not too distant from “the action,” but not central to it, either. The meaning of home solidified for me then, implying a state of activity as opposed to a static condition. Like being awake. Like love.

I’d never considered the concept of home so deeply before. At the time, I was traveling 200 days out of the year, and when I did my taxes, I occasionally discovered that I had conducted business in languages I could not later identify. I was working in Germany, Cambodia, the Republic of Georgia, and Finland, with only days between trips to rest in Chicago before a lecture in New York City or a conference in Vienna or a book event in Los Angeles or a “vacation” in some place I had selected because I had never been anywhere like it before and didn’t know what life there might be like. Washington Irving’s stone foundation became a talisman for me—a guidepost at first some great distance off, later more clearly outlined through the haze—a beacon to a single place I might wish to return to, some flat ground soft enough to nestle stones into. I loved my exciting life, do not get me wrong, and was having far too much fun to change it in anyway, but I did look around at least once during every one of those 200 days and wonder if the place I was in might eventually become my home. It never did, and after several years my computer desktop image was still the only thing I saw, consistently, every single day: the purely ephemeral digital nature of the pic belying a steadfastness I was coming to crave.

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Jewelry For Justice

By Emma Borquaye, A21 UK Prevention, Awareness, and Education Coordinator

Marina De Buchi is a jewelry designer living in London with a passion to see human trafficking abolished in the 21st Century. At 20 years old, she is already active in doing what she can to help by giving 10% of all proceeds from her jewelry brand to A21.

As she lays out the dainty gold bracelets in front of me at the table, she talks through the meaning behind each one in The Freedom Collection;

“The bird is called beyond fear lies freedom, so you can look at it and know that you can get through whatever you are facing. The key says ‘unlock your dreams,’ but it can be unlocking freedom, unlocking anything! Whatever it means for that person.”

Unlock Your Dreams

Bev’s Cat

ARE YOU TALKING TO ME? …, I asked. Bev’s Cat Micah, held my gaze.

“No. I’m not talking to you. I’m having a conversation with the white elephant on the kitchen counter, you moron.”

“Hey,” I said. Then I stopped. Turning slowly I scanned the room. We were alone. So where was the voice coming from? Bev had dropped Micah off late last night before catching a red-eye to Australia. No worries. I assured her. Micah had always been lovely whenever I’d visited. But now the impulsive drive up to my cabin on Walker Lake was looking like a bad idea. Desperate for a nap, I’d just fed Micah before seeking some much needed rest. I’d heard sleep deprivation had risks, but hearing voices?

“Hey!” Startled, I dropped the milk bottle, shattering pieces of glass everywhere. I reached for the broom and glanced back at Micah.

“Forgive me, James. I didn’t mean to frighten you. My sarcastic streak got the better of me, but I didn’t think you would mind that.”

“Are you,” I began, pausing at a loss for words.

“Talking to you? No. Cats can’t talk.”

“Then I have lost my mind.” I don’t believe I just said that, to a cat.

“You don’t see my lips moving do you?”

I fumbled for my cell phone, not knowing who I was calling, somebody, and anybody who could talk me down from wherever it was I had gone.

“Listen James, you seem upset. I’m afraid there isn’t a cellphone signal for miles around. So why don’t I go for a walk while you clean up this mess. I’ll come check on you later and we can finish our conversation.” Micah jumped up onto the chair, climbed over the sink and perched on the sill below the open window. He tilted his head down at me and, winked, before disappearing into the darkness outside.

AWAKENING

I’d slept, fitfully. Unsure if I’d dreamed, imagined, or experienced the bizarre event earlier. I didn’t know what time it was. I had no watch and my phone was off, the battery spent, with no charger in sight. There was no sight of Micah either. I rose slowly. I found myself checking the premises, finding nothing suspicious. Eventually I relaxed, fixed myself a sandwich and ate it quietly. I even chuckled a bit, with my sanity somewhat restored. Sitting on the balcony, I stared out over the treetops, the glimpse of barren shoreline below caught my eye. I could hike down, go for a swim. It would do me good. Not having a day off in months must be getting to me.

“Psst.” I looked down at my feet to find Micah sprawled out, grooming his black velvety pelt into a high gloss.

“I see you’re better now. Let’s do this, shall we?”

“Do…what?” I stammered.

“Communicate. Yes. I am in your head. But don’t worry. You aren’t going crazy.”

“I’m hearing voices. They call that schizophrenia where I come from.”

“They call it telepathy where I come from.”

“The mission district?”

“Not exactly. Not 21st century San Francisco, anyway. When I come from, your future, telepathy is the primary language used, for those of us fluent in it.”

“I don’t believe this.”

“The sooner you do, the better, bud, and we don’t have much time so do you think you can get over it?”

“I’m talking to a cat.”

“Yeah, so? Who doesn’t? It’s not like I can read your mind. So please, do talk. It will go much better that way.” Micah ran into the cabin.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m starved. Got any sardines? That kibble was a bit dry for my tastes.” I watched him jump into a chair and curl up on the cushion, he was licking his paws and yawning.

“Okay, I give up. Let’s say for argument’s sake you’re a telepathic cat from the future. You are here, why?”

“Time travel is neither simple nor easy, James. I was fortunate enough to make the trip. The future of our existence depends on it.”

“How so?”

“I’m here to help repopulate the species. I need to mate with as many of the locals as possible in the time I have. And I have to tell you. This idea of yours to drive out to the boonies is killing my action. Can you help a dude out?” I started to laugh. Beginning with a mild chortle, it grew, uncontrollably, until I was doubled over on the sofa, and bordering on hysterical. I noticed a scowl on Micah’s face and tried to compose myself to no avail. Finally, after several failed attempts at speech, I was able to sit up and look at him.

“Are you done? You seem to find the situation all too amusing.”

“Wouldn’t you if you were in my position?”

“I don’t know, James. I’m not in your position. And quite frankly I wouldn’t trade places with you either.”

“Oh. And why is that?” I asked.

“The earth…let’s just say that cats are better suited to the environment than humans.”

“In the future, you mean.”

“In the past, the present, and definitely the future. Take your pick.”

“That may be true, Micah. But since we’re speaking frankly, I never cared for cats much myself. Why should I help you indulge your agenda? We have enough stray felines already, in my opinion.”

“If only I could say the same for you, James.”

“Convince me,” I dared.

“James. You’re 30 years old. You were born on the Island of Antillia. And you’re an orphan, both your parents died in a shipwreck off the coast of Spain.” Micah paused, watching my reaction. He had my attention now. Either I had fallen back into a state of utter delusion, or something far less believable was happening.

“I guess I am supposed to ask you how you know all of this.”

“James,” Micah said, glaring at me with iridescent blue eyes, “I am you.”

Divert the mainstream.

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monica byrne

durham (1)

So the Wired culture column Wired didn’t want to publish? I’m taking it elsewhere. Right now, it’s not a question of whether the column would have a home, but where. That’s a great thing.

But Wired, being Wired, had money. Most of the places offering to host the column can’t pay the rate that Wired could. But writing is how I make a living, and I already do plenty of it for free. So to make the column good, I have to make enough money to justify the time I devote to it.

So here’s my deal with you:

(1) A professional rate would be $500 for 1000 words. Patreon takes 5% and credit card and transfer fees add up to around another 5%. So if we reach $550 per column, I launch the column.

(2) For a year, I promise no less than one column a…

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Write A House in detroit

The quoted description below was taken from writeahouse.com

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Our mission is simple: to leverage Detroit’s available housing in creative ways to bolster an emerging literary community to benefit the City of Detroit and its neighborhoods. We enliven the literary arts of Detroit by renovating homes and giving them to authors, journalists, poets, aka writers. It’s like a writer-in-residence program, only in this case we’re actually giving the writer the residence, forever.
Project Mission

Write-A-House (WAH) is a Detroit based organization that seeks to teach and support trade crafts and literary creativity. Our key tactic involves leveraging the easy availability of distressed housing in order to promote vocational education, home ownership, neighborhood stabilization, and creative arts. In short, WAH will work to support a more vibrant literary arts community that lives at a grassroots level and helps Detroit’s neighborhoods.

Project Goal

WAH seeks to (1) educate the under-employed on carpentry and building skills (2) use those skills to renovate Detroit city homes and (3) award those homes to writers. Like any literary community, writers will be awarded based on their writing and their desire to be here. WAH seeks to support low-income writers by awarding at least three homes each year. We will also publish a journal of arts and creative non-fiction to document the process, work to determine a sustainable and green approach to home renovation, and connect writers to support a more vibrant literary community in Detroit. Our long, long term goal involves building a literary colony in Detroit, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.