How did the Free Minds writing workshops get started?
Free Minds began offering writing workshops in Fall 2011 after a volunteer with experience leading and studying community writing groups suggested it. We have modeled the curriculum for our workshops on the best practices of a well-established organization called Write Around Portland, which offers 10 different writing workshops per year, serving roughly 500 people.
Since Fall 2011, we have offered four workshop sessions; these workshops align well with our mission, allowing us to offer educational experiences to those who would not otherwise have opportunities to explore their intellectual potential. By offering short-term, lower commitment opportunities to community members, we can extend the reach of Free Minds to those who are unable to commit to the two semester Free Minds class.
What happens in a typical workshop?
Each workshop is led by a facilitator who is both a guide and a participant in the workshop. The facilitator is not so much a traditional teacher or writing expert; instead the facilitator’s primary role is to lead discussions and writing exercises, and to model effective feedback.
The main thing that happens during the two hours of the writing workshop is that participants generate new writing, primarily through a series of free writes. (To learn more about free writing, check out our Write Now page.) Traditionally workshop participants kick off each workshop by choosing between two writing prompts and spending a set length of time responding to that prompt.
Because a key goal of our workshops is community building, writers are given the opportunity to share their work on a voluntary basis and to receive guided feedback from the group. Through the process of sharing and hearing each others’ work, participants move from responding with “I liked it,” to more specific feedback about what is effective about another person’s writing and why.
When and where do the workshops happen?
Since the workshops began in Fall 2011, we have typically held one session per academic semester: one in Fall, one in Spring, and one in Summer. During the eight weeks of the workshop, the group meets once a week for two hours in the evening.
In the past, we have held writing workshops at Foundation Communities sites, such as the Sierra Vista Apartments in South Austin, as well as at the Community Engagement Center on East 11th Street.
We are continually looking for ways to expand the reach of these workshops. If you are a member of an organization that is interested in hosting a Free Minds Writing Workshop, email Amelia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who is eligible for the workshops?
Free Minds Writing Workshops are open to all adults who want to improve their writing and who are able to commit to attending workshop sessions once a week for eight weeks.
How do I sign up?
You can simply call or email us at the Free Minds office to register for the next workshop. You do not need any special experience or expertise to participate, and our workshops have served advanced and beginning writers alike. We cap each workshop at fifteen participants and folks are signed up on a first come, first served basis. Please ensure that you’re able to attend the majority of workshop sessions before registering in order to respect the time of Free Minds volunteers and fellow workshop participants.
Our Summer 2013 Workshop will be held on Thursday evenings, from July 11 – August 29, 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Location to be announced soon. Registration is currently open for this workshop!
I am interested in facilitating a Free Minds Writing Workshop. How do I do that?
In the past, workshops have been led by Free Minds volunteers and staff members. To begin the process of becoming a Free Minds volunteer, visit our Volunteer page and submit the online volunteer intake form. From there, you will be asked to visit a Free Minds class and t0 meet with Free Minds staff, so that you can learn more about opportunities to assist with our writing workshops.