Write Local is entering new educational territory, beginning with a research project. This is the space where we talk about what we’re researching and why research matters to our mission.
How does creative writing education instill the values of entrepreneurship in children?
This question fascinates us. We aim to promote literacy and creativity and to see our community grow. But why does creative writing education matter for our future? More importantly, does it work? Our research project explores these questions.
The Willy Wonka Theory: Creative writing, when introduced during the impressionable childhood years, instills the values of entrepreneurship.
At the conclusion of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka chooses Charlie as the inheritor of the vast Wonka factory, and all the magic for which it stands. Wonka chooses Charlie because of his childlike creativity. We wonder if we can use creative writing to encourage the kind of creativity that Charlie demonstrates. And, we’d like to test this theory to see if our hunch – that creative writing can teach entrepreneurship – is correct.
Researching the “Floating Writing Center.”
Write Local plans to use our nonprofit model, called “The Floating Writing Center,” as the subject for a case study and research paper. The case study will focus on our upcoming class series, “Academy for Writers and Entrepreneurs (AWE).” The classes therein will teach the creative method as a tool for building new ideas into businesses; the students will be given critical thinking problems before and after the class series as a platform for assessing their skills. We will use the students’ experiences to examine the strengths and weaknesses of our existing model.
At this point, research on community writing programs is almost nonexistent. Our ultimate goal is to publish and share this research, so to inspire other small communities like ours to progress into Pittsburgh-like havens for culture and arts. After all, Pittsburgh today is a landmark of innovation, and its leaders are deeply creative and artistic people. We believe that our community writing program model provides creative activities that will teach young innovators and attract the type of creative culture that our community needs. Our office is located in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a blue collar community with an old fashioned sentiment – the same kind of blue collar community, in fact, that dominated Pittsburgh 50 years ago. At Write Local, we want to avoid “brain drain” by keeping creative young people here so they can improve their community by introducing new ideas.
Why should donors support independent research like ours?
That’s a great question that requires an honest answer. For starters, did you know that more than 50 percent of all university faculty are part-time workers (also called “adjuncts” or “contingent faculty”)?* Part-time faculty are usually paid only for the hours they spend in the classroom. This means that any research a part-time professor might conduct must be done on his or her own time – and dime. As a result, fewer professors are able to research. Thus, critical questions may be left unanswered and students suffer. We cannot understand if and how creative writing education instills the values of entrepreneurship in children unless we embark on serious academic inquiry. That’s why we are asking folks to pitch in and support this research project.
Write Local was founded by a part-time university professor. Thus, it is part of our mission to find innovative ways to fund research, and contribute to the scholarly conversations in the field of writing studies. We also hope to inspire other part-time professors to pursue non-traditional funding for their research projects.
Write Local runs on a shoe-string budget, and it works remarkably well. We’re operated by volunteers who help us to offer classes, contests, and publication opportunities to students in the Latrobe/Ligonier area. This model for connecting with our community is unique to our goals and to our demographic; since we don’t have a classroom, we work inside of open community spaces.
Today, Write Local is a force of volunteers from many different backgrounds in this community who are pooling time and resources. Through research, we hope to understand our “floating writing center,” improve its functionality, and offer a model for other visionaries.