Check back soon for Workshops and Classes for Young Writers. In the meantime, please read about our vision for our Young Writers Program:
Most young people are very comfortable telling their stories using social media. What’s missing is context. Our programing for young people seeks to confront real problems described in recent debates concerning the dehumanizing effects of technology. Thoreau himself issued such warnings:
Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at; as railroads lead to Boston or New York. We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate. (Walden.)
Information technology and social media have shrunk the world and heightened awareness of our interdependence as people and nations. But many would argue it has also made our lives more insular and banal. The irony of the digital revolution, as Sherry Turkle of MIT points out in her book Alone Together, is how “relentless connection leads to a new solitude,” creating what she calls, “emotional dislocation.” Facebook provides digital proximity, not intimacy; in short, having “878 Friends” does not lead many young people to ask the deeper questions that elicit the kind of response necessary to navigate this interconnected world.
Martin Luther King – whose lifework was heavily influenced by Thoreau – said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Where social media and information technologies provide the capability to help young people explore this question, it remains buried beneath irrelevant detritus. Our mission is to provide exposure and concrete opportunities to far greater possibilities.