Hello, friends. In my spare time, I volunteer as a tutor at 826 Boston. They’re a wonderful group. Primarily they support students in learning to write–an important adjunct to both reading and understanding–but as the resident engineer (nominally) I also help tutor in physics. And Spanish.
Today and tomorrow (28 and 29 September, if you’re from the future) are the last days of 826’s Write-A-Thon fundraiser. Please help.
I know what you’re thinking: “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”
Indeed. But here’s a taste of what the donations do:
- $3,500 allows us to publish a book of stories such as 2% of 2% of All the World’s Stories, written by our after-school students.
- $1,000 pays for one student to attend a whole year of after-school tutoring.
- $500 supports one student attending our summer science writing camp, “Fiddler Crabs, Millipedes, Leeches & Sea Serpents, Oh Yeah!”
- $250 is enough to create chapbooks for 20 weekend workshops like “Odes to Common hings” and “Words of the Wise.”
And I have to schlep my ass 90 minutes each way (uphill both ways, in the snow… and we were happy) to get there, so you better believe that I think they’re performing a worthwhile service for students.
The deal is: you donate money, and I write.
I got a late start on this–it’s a month-long fundraiser, and I was in California for three weeks and now am embarrassingly tied for 25th place–so finishing that Huckleberry Finn-slash-zombie novel is right out. But I have other ideas…
- Donate $8.26: get a postcard. Sounds lame, but I give great postcard. (Can I get a witness to testify?)
- Donate $82.60: I’ll send you one of the student-written 826 books (like the 2% book).
- Donate a clever value greater than $8.26, e.g., $18.26 or $22 (the number of points Deron Williams scored in Illinois’ come-from-behind victory against Arizona in the 2005 NCAA basketball tournament) or whatever you like, and commission a piece from me (see below for ideas). Cleverer (not necessarily bigger) donations get priority.
Commission a piece… what? If you’re even thinking of donating, chances are that you know me. (Sorry about that one time!) Then you know that 2011 has been, for me, a year of traveling to strange countries like India and California, and a year of running strange races. And you might be one of those people bothering me to write about it. I’ve got notebooks full of stuff, but nothing written publicly due to The Fear. Yeah. Writer’s block has latched onto my skull like the teeth of some feral burro. You can pry some stories out of me and support students in one swing.
Don’t miss your chance. You and I will always cherish that night of postcard that we had together. You don’t have to tell your husband. It will be our little secret.
Here are some ideas of activities from 2011 that I can write about:
- India (this will also unlock unposted photos): Asirgarh; Burhanpur; Hampi; Jaisalmer, Jaipur; Udaipur; Kumbhalgarh; Pondicherry; Gingi; Thiruvannamalai; etc.
- California: Corkscrew Peak; Yosemite; Panamint City; Pacific Coast Highway
- Racing: Auroville Marathon; Chandigarh Marathon; Pineland Farms 50-miler; etc.
- Or: you choose. If you want fiction, make sure that donation has three or four zeroes on the end of it.
Here’s Dave Eggers, founder of 826 Valencia, explaining the program in a 2008 TED talk: