Wednesday, June 15, 2005

826 Boston!

I would love to write a more in-depth post on this but alas, tomorrow finals begin and I’m grossly underprepared. So. Today was the first meeting of folks to start up a Boston chapter of 826, a exciting ‘n’ fun free drop-in tutoring/writing center. The first of these was 826 Valencia, in San Francisco (founded by the inimitable Dave Eggers), and now they have chapters in New York, LA, Chicago, Seattle, and Michigan. Anyway, 826 Boston is currently in its planning phase—we’ll turn in our application for acceptance as a new 826 branch this December—so we need to work out location, students, volunteers, legal stuff, community-integration (surveys and collaboration, etc.), and most of all MONEY.

Anyway, the meeting was at a woman’s house on Brattle Street, and we ate lunch and Kevin Feeney, the man (well he’s maybe 25) in charge, explained the ins and outs of what we’re going to be doing. There were about 10 people, two of whom were venture capitalists/grant organization people (intimidating!), but the rest were impossibly cool writerly types, all under 30.

One is the music editor for the Boston Weekly Dig, and after the meeting he was shooting off to interview Sleater-Kinney this afternoon (!). His intern was there, and a Harvard undergrad, a freelance journalist, and an alumnus from 826 Valencia.

I’ve got lots of ideas. I want to make some connections with Marcella Bombardieri, a recent-ish alumna from my high school who is now a reporter for the Boston Globe on, you guessed it, the education beat. Keeping her up to date on our planning and set-up—especially as we get closer to actually opening the center—would be excellent in terms of publicity and legitimacy to help us gain funding and students.

I also want to start a sort of underground whisper campaign (a la the “Who is John Galt?” thing for Atlas Shrugged) whose tagline could be “What is 826?”: chalking on sidewalks and sides of buildings in Boston and Cambridge (of course), posting flyers and bills, giving out stickers and pins, etc. Then people would start to wonder, What is 826?, and they’d pay attention when notice came out about it, or they might look it up online.

Speaking of which, when we get a website, I’m going to ask every single one of you to link to it from your blogs/websites so that it will come up tops and “I’m feeling lucky” on a Google search for 826Boston or 826 Boston. And I know you will all comply with this plan eagerly, right?

There is much else to do, but I don’t feel like detailing it all here now, and I bet you don’t want to read it either. However, if any of you have experience/connections with writers (especially Boston writers) who may want to be involved OR, more importantly, with any sort of grant organizations that give money to educational programs, LET ME KNOW.

All help will be greatly appreciated.

In other news, yesterday my brother and I had a two-and-a-half hour debate over the merits and demerits of organized religion and the validity/logic of religion itself. He’s an atheist; I believe in God but I subscribe to no particular set of religious beliefs or religious affiliation. (Lapsed Catholic, I guess.) We both agreed that organized religion is pretty much a scam with no real purpose (other than the community aspect it fosters), but he thinks that belief in God/afterlife/etc. is merely fear of mortality and self-delusion in an attempt to feel safe, while I…disagreed, but my arguments and thoughts would take more than a paragraph to relate. It was interesting though, and fun; I love debating—I don’t at all mind being around people who disagree completely with me, as long as they can make an intelligent and vehement argument.

So anyway. Off to study, woo-hoo. (In one week I’m FREE!)

Update: Excited though I am about this 826 venture, I felt like today's meeting was a little awkward and not as fun-filled as I had expected. However, I just got an email from some of the others saying the same thing, and it seems that we'll be getting together again to start off on the right foot. So now I'm cheerier. Yay!


Anonymous oki said...

sounds so exciting
i love the beginning of things
its the best.

good luck with all that,
and I will do whatever I can..
which is probably cheer you guys on

good luck with finals and everything
everything else.


12:24 AM  
Anonymous oki-doki said...

(I had a talk about religion and hypocrites and so on with my friend today while working on our french project- it was really great... she and I agree on those kinds of things, and also disagree on other things, but anyway, just wanted to share my mutual love of debates and discussion!)

humpty-dumpty pictures go with anything..really.

12:26 AM  
Blogger T.C. said...

Beginnings are great, debates are great, humpty-dumpty pictures are great. You cheering us on is probably the best thing you could offer!

Bye hon

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...

Hello! I read this post and could not believe it. I would love to talk to you more about this 826 thing. I've only recently heard about it (because the McSweeney tour took a lovely stop in my town), but I'm very interested. For the past two years I have been working on a board called the Youth Innovation Fund. To explain all the history of it briefly, basically the Kellogg Foundation decided they wanted to give out a lot of money. So different groups around the country applied for a grant. A group of people from Portland got the grant and began forming this board along with seven other sites in cities. (SF, Chicago, etc). This group of people in Portland started recruiting youth board members and I applied and became part of the board. Our job was to distribute $20,000 to youth led and organized projects in our local community. Sorry if that was confusing at all, but the point is I'm very familiar with this type of thing--the grantmaking process, finding resources, making connections in the community. And the 826 project sounds absolutely wonderful. I'm so excited that you have a chance to participate in something like this. So lets talk more! I would love to hear the details of this project and any progress you begin to make. Next fall in DC I hope to get involved in something similar. Ah, it really motivates me to keep doing the work I do when I see other people getting involved as well. So good job! I know you can make it a success.

5:01 AM  
Blogger T.C. said...

Wow Alison! Yes, let's definitely talk; I'm totally new to this kind of thing, and it's insanely exciting but it can also be confusing and daunting at times. Since money is probably the #1 issue, it would be great for me to familiarize myself with the whole grant-giving and fundraising process. Maybe there's a Youth Innovation Fund chapter in Boston!

Anyway, I'll hopefully talk to you soon. Thanks for your enthusiasm!

7:13 PM  
Anonymous Kara Langone said...

Hey there - I have always wanted to see an 826 in Boston! I would love to become a part of this. Please email me if I can help @

Thanks and hope to hear from you!

5:07 PM  
Blogger jesscola said...

I just got back from San Francisco and while I was there I stopped by 826 Valencia to check it out. It is so great - I'm very glad Boston is finally becoming a part of it. I would love to know how you got involved and/or how I might be able to do the same. If you could send me an email at with any info you might have it would be super. Thanks!

2:12 AM  
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