We Want Pie!

First Place School Book Project, December 2006

by Jack Golightly


826 Seattle is a nonprofit writing center that helps students, ages six to 18, develop their creative and expository writing skills. We are dedicated to providing students with access to writing workshops, publishing projects, and one-on-one help with homework and English language learning- all free of charge. http://www.826Seattle.org/


First Place School is a social service agency and school that works to educate and nurture children and families that struggle with the risk or reality of homelessness. They offer housing, culturally relevant education and support services enabling families to achieve permanent stability. http://www.firstplaceschool.org/


Home means somewhere to click, someone to live in it, something to wear… -RobriaJanet


We realize very quickly the first week that we will have our hands full. The brave tutors exhibit grace and style while maneuvering around the kids, talking about making a book. We are here to help you write a book, we say. We are going to write a book about Home.


Imagine: You are in 2nd or 3rd grade. You have been in school all day, and today is the first day of an after-school program running 6 weeks. Your teacher has said something about writing a book. You have been sitting down for much of the past 8 hours or so, give or take the bus ride and you are again sitting in your group, feeling quite squiggly even after the chaotic Simon Says incident. Book, you say to the strange tutor from this place called 826 Seattle. Write down this: My name is Mister Shama-lama-ding-dong! The group giggles and shrieks, wondering how the tutor will react. A nanosecond of silence descends as the tutor dutifully writes this down.


Imagine: Ten minutes have passed, and I am somewhat anxiously walking around to see how things are going. We have not yet been able to establish a significant amount of order, but have successfully banished travel into the Table Cave of Refuge From Tutors. I see Mister Shama-lama-ding-dong’s group writing, and ideas bouncing around. I see a tutor sitting with a girl who didn’t want to participate, and they play hangman. Next week she will go back to her group and write several beautiful pages, and play hangman with another shy girl.


We are now at the end of this project, and next Wednesday will be our book reading. Each week has seen new enthusiasm and creativity on the part of both tutors and students. Pages and pages of writing have been produced, pored over, checked for spelling, and edited. Journals – donated by our wonderful friends at PaperBlanks – are being kept! We have done it, by George, the book has been written, and some serious talent has emerged. Home Is Somewhere To Click is a beautiful, funny, insightful work of genius, written by some of the most beautiful, funny, and insightful people I have had the pleasure to work with. I am proud of this little group, and the little book that has come from it.