On October 20, 2020, the National Day on Writing, 3rd graders in San Diego went outside to sit in their “pandemic-abandoned” school garden to write. Weeds had overtaken the garden but they could still find hearty vegetables, smell a mix of fragrances, hear a range of sounds from humans to animals, and imagine themselves at the beach or in a heaven. They wrote about these experiences and their teacher and San Diego Area Writing Project leader Kim Douillard shared their writing with us online.
This is how we #WriteOut together.
Write Out 2020, a free two-week event running from October 11–25, 2020, was organized as a series of online activities where educators, students, and the public were invited to explore national parks and other public spaces to connect and learn through place-based writing and sharing. Imagined as an annual event and now in its third year, Write Out was sponsored by the National Writing Project and the National Park Service. This year’s theme was Stories Around the Campfire which connected to the National Park Service theme for October.
Over the two-weeks, teachers, students, rangers and families—just like the young writers above—were encouraged to go outside and respond to prompts from their environment—or to be inspired by the prompts of National Park Service Rangers from across the country—and then share their work with others. Write Out 2020 also supported storytellers to share stories of all kinds—from remixed legends to modern stories as well as creepy ghost stories like those told by the KC Storytellers. These were all stories that could be told around a campfire (real or virtual) and meant to encourage writers to compose their own and do the same.
Students and teachers also went on “writing marathons” together—whether in person or online like the young people in Morehead and Rowan county Kentucky who co-designed one of their own.
The resources and energy of Write Out 2020 are not going away
As many participants expressed, it may be more important than ever to get outside and write, to sit in communion with others and tell stories, and to create with what is in front of us and then give that back to the world. So rather than going away, Write Out plans to stay put for a while and breathe, allowing us all to catch our breath and reflect on what is possible.
The resources gathered, including the prompts from Park Rangers, storytelling assets, bookshelf, and writing marathon resources, are here for your continued use and remix. Share via the #writeout hashtag and tag us at @writeoutconnect—we are excited to see what you still will do. And don’t forget, the Park Rangers and Storytellers would love to receive postcards or letters in response to their writing prompts!