After the year we’ve had, we all need connection. Writing is one way to do that! YpsiWrites has created several community writing initiatives to connect writers through stories, inspiration, and imagination.
One initiative launched this summer is a guide to Pen Pal writing, which helps writers find a pen pal and write letters. It also provides prompts, resources, and stories to inspire pen pal writing. One prompt, for example, asks the writer to create and exchange a “bug me” list of 20 things that bugged them during the pandemic. YpsiWrites’ co-founder Ann Blakeslee said the volunteer-led initiative was influenced by the pandemic and the team’s “desire to provide opportunities for people to connect with one another.”
YpsiWrites also collaborated with University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) to curate A Public Art & Writing Tour, which launched in June. The tour takes participants through downtown Ypsi, Depot Town and EMU’s campus to explore art in Ypsilanti. The featured murals, sculptures, architecture and other works of public art are paired with writing prompts on the maps to encourage deeper appreciation and thoughtfulness for the local artwork and Ypsi artists. Some prompts are more whimsical than others. For example, a prompt inspired by Gary Horton’s colorful mural outside of Go! Ice Cream in downtown Ypsi asks participants to write a story using a language they believe creatures in the painting would speak.
YpsiWrites’ volunteer Beth Sabo described the project as “a chance to disconnect and reconnect.” She said, “These writing and art tours can help people refocus on what is strong and positive in our community—shared stories and experiences, different perspectives, exploration, innovation.”
YpsiWrites volunteers also created another summer initiative, the Mystery Maker Challenge, which guides kids and adults in mystery story writing. The packets are divided by setting (landmark, park, museum, or spooky), with each one containing unique prompts to help participants create an Ypsilanti-inspired mystery. This initiative is perfect for first-time fiction writers, as the writing guides introduce elements of storytelling, such as developing characters, building a plot, and writing dialogue.
“These summer initiatives provide opportunities for people of all ages to engage in meaningful and enjoyable writing tasks—to experience the purpose and joy of writing,” Blakeslee said. These initiatives will continue throughout the year.
YpsiWrites plans to transition towards delivering in-person writing support this fall with drop-in tutoring hours at both Whittaker Road and Michigan Avenue. There also will be workshops, some virtual and some in person, for writers of all ages. See the YpsiWrites schedule in the fall issue of The Loop and look for a new volunteer sign up form sometime in August!
For more information about these initiatives and programs, and to download materials, visit www.ypsiwrites.com, and connect with YpsiWrites on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on future writing projects, events and workshops!