It’s not uncommon for us to refer to 826michigan and its universe as a “family”. When people become involved with 826michigan, in whatever capacity that might happen, we relish the chance to get to know them over an extended period of time. Watching a student grow from a shy middle-schooler to a confident college student. Celebrating weddings, births, new jobs, etc with volunteers. Re-connecting with musicians each year at Mittenfest. These things are fun, and worthwhile! Go family!
Occasionally an actual family happens to become deeply involved with 826michigan, and boy do we love that as well. We’ve known the Przybylski-Deatrick family for just about as long as we’ve been around. Daughter Elizabeth is a former 826michigan student who now attends Wesleyan University and joined us as our Workshops Intern last summer; son Alexander is a regular sight around the lab as he participates in workshops himself; and parents Steven and Michelle are regular donors and attendees at our adult-oriented events, like last month’s Storymakers Dinner.
We are really pleased to honor the Pryzbylski-Deatrick family as July’s Supporters of the Month in recognition of their long-standing and meaningful contributions to the larger 826michigan family.
And now, here they are in their own words!
How did you hear about 826michigan and how did you become involved?
826michigan has been part of our family’s life so long and so integrally that’s it’s hard to remember how we heard about it! It’s hard to imagine our lives in AA without 826, actually. When we moved to Ann Arbor from northern California in fall, 2003, we knew it was going to be important for our daughter, who already loved books and writing, to find a community that would encourage her writing and her love of reading. We struggled to find that for her and then, in 2005, a friend–a former Emerson School teacher, recommended 826michigan, which I believe had just opened.
Elizabeth writes, “They were still in their old location, before they moved downtown, where the walls were painted green and the corridors were enticingly narrow.” We were hooked, as a family–it was the perfect thing for our daughter (and later, our son Alexander): there they have been surrounded by volunteers and other children who are passionate about writing and affirming about their work. It was from an 826 tutor that Elizabeth received, early in high school, vital encouragement to continue with writing at a time when she was discouraged. And then there was the amazing Hemingway summer camp that she remembers as one of her favorites. The people and opportunities at 826 have been vital to her development as a person and a writer–the incredible, pleasurable satisfaction of being published in Vacansopapurosophobia 2, the truly amazing and wonderful Hemingway camp that she still speaks of fondly. Our son Alexander has loved his workshops, too–the improv and writing workshop with Sandy Ryder and Scott Beal was a highlight of his spring a year ago.
What is your favorite non-826michigan part of living in Ann Arbor?
When we moved to AA so I could go back to grad school, we intended to return to California after I finished my degree. Then we fell in love with the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area–eight years later, we’re here, and deeply glad of it. It’s a special, and I think unique, place, with an incredible breadth in the arts and sciences, from the film festivals and independent movie theaters to events at Hill and Power (the Royal Shakespeare Company!) to UM’s Saturday Morning Physics presentations. And there’s the close juxtaposition of not only AA’s fun and vital downtown of small, interesting shops and restaurants but also Ypsi’s, and surrounding both, many areas of tremendous natural beauty with public green spaces for the birding, hiking, and kayaking our family likes. We can’t think of anywhere else that it’s possible to live, as we do, on a farm and native prairie, just 10 minutes from a downtown with AA’s vitality.
I asked Elizabeth her answer to this question, and she said the same thing, just a lot more succinctly! “Personally, I love the culture. We get shows and events that only stop here and NYC (the RSC, for example), and yet we don’t have to live in an enormous city. We have urban opportunities in semi-rural/suburban surroundings, which I am deeply grateful for.”
Thank you, Przybylski-Deatricks! We are so happy to count all four of you among our friends.