The CSU Community Literacy Center (CLC) helps create alternative literacy opportunities that work to educate and empower underserved populations, and foment university-community literacy collaboration. Through the SpeakOut! writing workshops, the CLC confronts stereotypes of at-risk youth and incarcerated women and men, circulating the stories and creative work of community writers through print and multi-media publications, believing that these dynamic literacy activities are key to individual success, cultural awareness and a more socially just world.
Tenth Anniversary of SpeakOut!
For ten years, the Speak Out! Writing workshops have allowed writers to explore who and where they are in their lives through creative expression. The primary philosophy of this program is that every person has a story to tell; each has words that are valuable and necessary.
SpeakOut! Writing Workshops for adults take place at the Larimer County Detention Center with separate programs for men and women, and Community Corrections and Work Release for women transitioning back. At-risk youth participate in programs from Turning Point, Matthews House and Remington House. SpeakOut! won the “Program of the Year” award at the recent Larimer County Jail volunteer awards banquet.
In weekly workshop sessions, facilitators seek to present a range of approaches and techniques for engaging in writing. Each session involves the presentation of contemporary writing techniques and tools, giving participants the opportunity to apply the concepts discussed to their own lives through guided writing exercises. Writers respond to prompts on issues central to their lives, including confinement, freedom, family, pain, anger, beauty, love, life, place, and home. Participants are then invited to read their work aloud and give/receive feedback.
The writing that results from the workshop is compiled in a bi-annual journal, which is circulated at no charge. Public readings are held at the end of each semester, where community members can hear, in their own voices, the issues prisoners and at-risk youth face, providing an opportunity to counter negative stereotypes regarding incarcerated people and individuals in treatment programs, and hopefully create a society less hostile to prisoner re-entry.
Writing is… in the voice of SpeakOut! writers
Writing is hard, confounding, helpful, hopeful, hideous.
Writing is my mind doing jumping jacks while my heart takes pulse.
Writing is a way to free your mind. Writing is my world when I am so confined.
Writing is a way of expressing one’s self, showing emotions, making people laugh…making people understand.
Writing is a never easy process until you’ve learned at SpeakOut!
Writing is bearing witness to those whose voices have been silenced.
Writing is the voices of those that I have been and those that I am.
Writing is alive. It is a universe where the pen is exploration and exploration is endless.
Writing is diving into the soul while breathing out the cosmos.
Writing is a way to get feelings, ideas, songs, and poems expressed. Then, we can share them or not! But at least they’re not burning idly inside of us.
Writing is a way to thing about and reflect back on past experiences—good or bad. Writing can help channel emotions you thought couldn’t be tamed.
Writing is freedom, joy, and happiness.
What’s Happening Now
This year SpeakOut! is ten years old. Look for a ten-year retrospective of the community voices that have collected in their volumes over the past ten years, and special events to mark the beginning of their next decade.
The CLC has a record number of workshops and volunteers excited to work at the Larimer County Detention Center, Community Corrections and Work Release for adult women and men, and Turning Point, Matthews House, and Remington House residential treatment centers for youth.
Through the interns who have chosen to work with this program (graduate students in the English and Sociology Departments this year), the CLC continues to develop new ideas for workshops, support research in the field by co-authoring academic papers and create new ideas for grant funding.
On the CLC blog you can get to know CLC facilitators and read their reflections on their work within the community through their blogs.
The CLC has a new Associate Director, Mary Ellen Sanger. Learn more about her in this recently published profile on the blog.