In this short presentation, bestselling author and McSweeney’s publisher Dave Eggers, one of the winners of last year’s TED Prize, explains the origins of 826 Valencia, his San Francisco-based community youth writing center, and the affiliated organizations in several other American cities, and then he calls upon his audience to get involved as well:
“I wish that you—you personally and every creative individual and organization you know—will find a way to directly engage with a public school in your area, and that you’ll then tell the story of how you got involved, so that within a year we have 1,000 examples of innovative public-private partnerships.”
“The schools need you, the teachers need you, the students and parents need you,” Eggers urges. “They need your actual person, your physical personhood and your open minds and open ears and boundless compassion. Sitting next to them, listening and nodding and asking questions for hours at a time. Some of these kids just don’t know how plain good they are, how smart, and how much they have to say. You can tell them; you can shine that light on them one human interaction at a time.” It’s a subject about which he feels strongly, and if you’re seriously interested, he’s willing to train you so you can open a similar center in your community.