Community Writing Workshop for Senior Citizens

I (have been and still) am working with senior citizens affiliated with the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project’s (MARP) Age-Friendly Myrtle Avenue Program. MARP is a neighborhood organization that, among other pursuits, commits time and effort to help older residents find community, share resources, and cope with gentrification and other neighborhood changes.

A group of 5-10 women, aged late 60s to late 80s, and I have been meeting every other week since June 2016 to participate in a writing workshop. We write from prompts I prepare and suggest and, after a writing-period of 10-20 minutes/exercise, we read our responses aloud and listen to each other. Short discussions and reflections after each round of exercises have naturally become part of our meetings.

Between workshops I make time to see the women one-on-one or to chat on the phone, to offer assistance should they choose to develop pieces they have begun in the workshop. I also attend Senior Committee meetings in conjunction with MARP to talk about the writing group or to invite new members and to get a sense of the community’s larger concerns and engagements. In addition to the workshops in conjunction with MARP, I’ve also led an outreach workshop at The Willoughby NSC (Neighborhood Senior Center).

To celebrate the group’s creative achievements the women and I hosted a public reading in November 2016 and published—thanks to the Graduate Student Development Fund’s support—a book (We Live Here) that contains a selection of the workshop’s writings (