It’s a balmy evening at the end of January in Detroit, Michigan—40 degrees at 6:00 pm. For locals, it’s a refreshing break from the Michigan mid-winter frost. One bold soul walks down the street in shorts and without a coat as children trickle into an old storefront to write stories. It’s Wee-Bots Wednesday.
Wee-Bots is the creative writing workshop led by 826michigan each Wednesday evening at the Campbell Branch of the Detroit Public Library for school-aged students. Tonight’s young writers represent classrooms from four different Detroit schools and they enthusiastically await the writing prompt, even after a hard day of academics. As they enter, an entire team of smiling volunteers greets them, ready to write alongside each student, one-to-one.
There are two new faces in the crowd, but 826michigan cultivates a space in which there are no true strangers here. Program Coordinator Brandan Pierce ably takes lead and settles everyone in with the night’s reading and inspiration for the coming stories. Sebastian Meschenmoser’s Mr. Squirrel and the Moon is the starting point for what’s to come. This Wednesday, students are challenged to craft tales that seamlessly pair two completely (or so it seems) unrelated subjects. Tigers and NASA? Kings and gardens? How will the students make this work?
Apparently, one need not wonder; Wee-Bots imaginations’ are chock full of ingenuity. With barely a pause, student after student blindly draws a pair of unrelated words from a basket and—off they go! Throughout the course of one hour, a tiger travels to outer space; a king (who is also a biologist and chemist) creates a formula to transform red delicious apples into his real favorites—the ones that are tangy and green, and we learn just what happens when you give a peregrine falcon a hive full of honey. (Note: It will make a steaming stack of mouthwatering pancakes.) These stories by 826michigan students—hilarious, engaging, and thoughtful—represent just a fraction of the bounty of creativity made possible by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA).
The MCACA has awarded 826michigan grant funds that help make our publishing program possible so that the world can hear about the most unique cast of peregrine falcons that ever did fly. Wee-Bots selections are reader favorites in 826michigan’s OMNIBUS, a once-yearly anthology featuring the best writing from across all 826michigan programs. The MCACA is a vital partner in ensuring the OMNIBUS’s continued publication.
826michigan is privileged to serve each of our students and remains grateful to the MCACA for recognizing the incredible value in their voices.