Best Writing School for Youth - 2003
With dozens of kids killing kids in the Mission District every year, 826 Valencia provides a real community service -- lessons in writing as an alternative to gangbanging. Local author/celeb Dave Eggers jump-started the school, and dozens of writer volunteers teach classes in how to develop character, plot points, and narrative arc. Fiction, nonfiction, and screenplay writing and English as a second language are part of the curriculum. Workshops and tutoring are free. The nonprofit school also operates an in-schools program to brighten up the creative writing classes of students incarcerated by our lousy public school system. Best of all, children and teenagers are encouraged to self-publish (with a little help from 826 Valencia). Many write, illustrate, and print their own books. It's not only empowering, it produces some great stuff. For example: Check out the newest opus of Phoebe S. Morgan, 12, a young Missioner who has been drawing since she was a baby. Morgan has a new illustrated book out -- Starzen's Booty ($5) -- a collection of stories about girls having adventures, including of a piratical nature.