Letter from our Executive Director
Dear MOI Community,
On the wall of our Writers' Room at South High School, there is a quote from author Margaret Atwood that reads, "a word after a word after a word is power." As we kicked off our programs this past month, we've been talking a lot about the power of words and the power of stories.
In our After-School Homework Help program, our first writing prompt of the year asked students to consider what makes them powerful. Students wrote about feeling powerful on their birthday, when they scored a touchdown, and when they showed empathy to someone that was being bullied. Last week, we held a community-building event for our volunteers where we talked about the connection between stories and power. We talked about how the stories we tell can help us build power, but also how the stories that other people tell about us, or about our identities, can sometimes make us feel powerless. Our volunteers vowed to help our students tell stories that would make them feel powerful.
I've been thinking a lot about the stories we tell ourselves, each other, and our children about the place we call home. Growing up in Minnesota as a kid that hated cheese in the land of cheese curds, I recognized pretty early on the truth of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's famous Ted Talk: No one story can describe any community completely. We need many stories and many authors.
Which is why I am so lucky at MOI, to get to work with young people who every day help write many different stories about the place we call home. Yes, we are the land of 10,000 lakes, but we are also the land of more than 100 first languages in our public schools. So what if we told all of these stories? Stories that reflect what I believe truly makes our region and our cities so special? What if we centered our creative kids, our next generation of storytellers, as our greatest resource? What if we fought to protect them just as much as we fight to protect our natural resources like our lakes and loons?
Over the next couple months, MOI is asking you to help us make Minnesota the "Land of 10,000 Young Authors" through investing today in MOI's programming. Join us next month at our kickoff event for this campaign, "Night of 10,000 Young Authors (And a Few Older Ones)." Come hear literary giants Marlon James, Bao Phi, Kelly Barnhill, Safy-Hallan Farah and Tom Rademacher in conversation with MOI students about why amplifying the voices of our youth will be key to the future success of our cities.
If a word after a word after a word is power, then a young author after a young author after a young author is unstoppable. Let's be unstoppable together.
Porthole into Programming!
MOI welcomes our new Program Director, Cristeta Boarini! Cristeta brings extensive experience in journalism and community involvement to the role. Take a moment to read more about our new crew member on our blog.
In the News
According to the Afterschool Alliance, Minnesota parents strongly support after-school programs, but the need for programs far exceeds the funding available.
MOI is proud to offer free after-school experiences for K-12 youth that include academic support and creative writing activities.
Join us on the evening of November 8th for a literary lollapalooza at our new center in Minneapolis. There will be food, drinks, a chance to check out our new storefront and writing lab, and most importantly, the opportunity to hear from local authors about why they support and believe in the power of youth writing. Purchase tickets at here.
This month, young writers in our After-School Homework Help program read and discussed the poem, Natural Criminal by Francisco Alarcón. Then, they wrote their own versions. Here are some excerpts from our after-school poets:
a light place
"A fish out of water. I am the
school's newborn. My school is a
new jungle in my head."