Stories From California

Identity, Beauty and Prison - Students' Stories

"You sit there, sleepy eyes and sour coffee breath."
"Have you ever had someone tell you, you are ugly, you are not pretty? Lies."
"Next door there will be a church and the face of The Joker will be outside the church to scare zombie and creeper away."
"Blue nail polish is ignoring what other people think and staying true to yourself." 


For a while I have been feeling the urge to "do something" instead of just reporting about people who do something. Finally the urge became too strong and I started volunteering at two non profit organizations only a bike ride away from my home. 826LA encourages students age 6 to 18 to write. The Mar Vista Art Walk creates a space for artists and community to celebrate creativity, love and respect for each other and the planet.

When I learned that the next Art Walk's theme was VOICES, I knew I was right at the seam of a match made in heaven:

Stories of 826LA students could be presented on the Venice Boulevard sidewalk during the Art Walk. So I went to a launch party for 826LA's newest book: "It's Never Too Late". The room that I only knew from daytime storywriting field trips with kids had turned into a lively community center, with families, tutors, staff and students gathering to listen to students' stories, poems, letters and thoughts. Some bringing large trays of food, everybody being welcomed with hugs and friendly hellos.

The students came to the front one by one, most of them leaning shyly towards the microphone, others standing up straight, exuberant and self-assured. They read about identity, beauty, judgement, bullying, blue nail polish, pets, grand parents, prisoners, music and videogames. Their imagination, honesty, sense of humor and thoughtfulness blew my mind.

Once again I realized: when we share our stories, we will understand each other better. 

This is a recording of the reading by Tuesday and Thursday Night Tutoring Students at 826LA in Mar Vista. You can also hear it outside of their Time Travel Mart during the next Mar Vista Art Walk, March 2nd starting at 6 PM!

And one more thing: both the Art Walk and 826LA are always looking for people up to become part of the adventures as volunteers. I can highly recommend starting to do something!

It's Never Too Late

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