Monday, 1 September 2014

Creativity, Childhood and Reading

By Emmyrose Hobbs

If anything's going to get you out of bed on a Sunday morning, it's a panel featuring Dave Eggers, Lachlann Carter and Alicia Sometimes. The foyer of the Wheeler Centre was the busiest I'd ever seen it for a MWF event. Clusters of twenty-somethings, uni-students with their parents and lone wolf professional types all jammed in together, eager to get stuck into 'Creativity, Childhood and Reading'.


I wasn't the only early bird aiming to snag
an up close and personal seat
Pic: Emmyrose Hobbs
Alicia Sometimes got right into it, offering a flattering introduction of Mr Eggers, although unfortunately she forgot to introduce herself.

At first this seemed much like any other Wheeler Centre event: several people on stage, one hosting the conversation and an audience eagerly holding onto every word, only as this one went on, there wasn't really anything to host, but more on that later....

Although so jet lagged he was unsure what day it was, Eggers spoke willingly and warmly about the origin of 826 Valencia- the Writing Centre dedicated to inspiring kids to write and helping educators to encourage and facilitate that.

The urge to educate clearly runs in Eggers' family as both his mother and his sister are teachers, so it appeared that Dave was always engaged in a learning environment (but having more than ten separatetitles to your name is a bit of a give-away too).

The room responded with giggles and 'aw's when regaled with tales of life at 826 Valencia, including a reading of three imaginative and hilarious letters from Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country a book of letters to President Obama published By Eggers' company, McSweeney's. The pictures accompanying the stories showed us that the creative space that forms 826 Valencia is as stimulating for the adults involved as it is for the children.

L to R: Alicia Sometimes, Lachlann Carter
and Dave Eggers
Pic: Emmyrose Hobbs
The session then turned to Lachlann Carter, co-founder of 100 Story Building. He backgrounded his organisation, suggesting that its set up was inspired by time he spent interning at 826 Valencia. Hence the rapport between he and Eggers. Carter presented as an approachable and confident co-founder and the aims of his organisation and Eggers' - enthusiasm, passion and creativity - align perfectly with that attitude. Carter sees 100 Story Building as a space in which young people can build literacy skills, and find confidence and a sense of belonging.

I'm not a teacher or educator, but like Sometimes said, I could have sat there all day listening to those two talk shop.

Dave Eggers and Lachlann Carter
signing books
Pic: Emmyrose Hobbs
While it was inspiring to hear two people speak so passionately about what they do and the impact it has on others, it would have been nice to see more of Sometimes' unique and warm hosting skills in action. In this case the presentation was more of a 'show and tell' rather than an 'in-conversation-with' event. Some members of the audience may not have had the pleasure of hearing Sometimes before which is a shame, because as the event went on, she wasn't able to show her delicate talent. Her provocative and intelligent questions didn't have a chance to shine through. 

If you're given the chance to hear Dave Eggers or Lachlann Carter speak, I suggest you snap up tickets fast; even for those not in the field it was an exciting and engaging event. If you have little people of your own you should really check out the schedule of events at 100 Story Building. Never have I heard of a program so dedicated to the creative process and to bringing to learning an elasticity that curriculum teaching sometimes cannot provide.  Congratulations to Dave and Lachlan on the incredible experiences that they make possible.

1 comment:

  1. It seems like a great program and Eggers is wonderful - a great speaker and obviously a really great guy. So glad we have our own little offshoot of his program up and running here in Melbourne.

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