Tuesday, February 26, 2008
826 National is a nonprofit group that sponsors wacky storefronts, behind which hide student writing seminars for gradeschool kids. Why wacky storefronts? The first store, 826 Valencia, wasn't zoned for a workshop space: be retail or go away. Solution? Add retail to a non-retail production -- and be creative about it. There's several of the stores, but the one to the right is my favorite so far (but the spy shop is close behind). The Time Travel Mart sells itself as supplier to time-travelers, when it's not teaching students how to write creatively. If you'd like to see a bit of the store's interior, this person has a bunch of photos worth seeing. It's amazing how much thought and work is put into the environment -- people over at Neatorama miss the point, but I do get it. It's like the entrance to a museum or theme park: the person enters a world quite different than what's outside, and they're to leave it behind at the stoop. Writing creatively requires the putting on of a different hat, so like most skills children need to feel comfortable and immersed in order to learn. Now, most kids aren't going to write science fiction just because they're sitting a few feet from mammoth stew. Sitting a few feet from mammoth stew gives kids permission to see their world from a different perspective, one where the rules are left behind, like zoning ordinances preventing a writer's enclave.