NYWC Tell Your Story Campaign: Spotlight on Colleen

peaceThis June, nine members of the NYWC community will share stories about their experiences with our powerful and transformational workshops to raise awareness and much needed revenue to support NYWC’s ongoing programs. We’ll be posting these stories throughout the month on our website and sharing them through social media. Read their stories, follow the campaign, and support the NYWC Tell Your Story Campaign!

Colleen has been part of the Writers’ Coalition since November 2012. Her weekly workshop with the women staying at Serendipity is a great pleasure of her life. When she is not acting like a lawyer in her day job, Colleen spends time thinking about democracy in the American workplace, writing tiny little poems in her head and on paper and exploring the wild woods of New Jersey.

As with most things in life, I stumbled upon New York Writer’s Coalition in a search for something missing, or a certainty that possibility exists. At the time I was knee deep in the legal profession, drawn by training and practice to the kind of lawyering that develops individual and collective stories. I guess my life experiences have convinced me that human beings will rise above conflict only in so far as they understand one another. More frequently than debate, stories assist us in developing this understanding.

My day to day allows me the privilege of interviewing workers and employers and weaving their stories into argument aimed at protecting workplace rights that Congress decided were important to our democracy. We generally avoid discussion of things like history and culture and emotion because in a legal sense, they are not relevant. Truth then is difficult to locate. So is justice. While justice remains a motivation of the law, it is often subsumed by the logistics of a complicated profession. I accept this reality as neither positive nor negative but to my person, it is deeply unsatisfying.

And then I came upon the Writer’s Coalition at a literary festival in a park that Walt Whitman, America’s poet of democracy, helped design in his days as the chief editor of the Brooklyn Eagle.Of democracy, Whitman said,

The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges, or churches, or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people.

What the Writer’s Coalition is building – what we are all invited to participate in – revolves around this genius. The Coalition creates writing space for thousands of writers from groups whose voices historically have not been heard. Because we believe everyone has an important story to tell, we hold workshops in prisons, shelters, public libraries, schools and homes for the elderly. Every Thursday night, I write in a community room named Luck in a house of recovery in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn with the group of amazing women. Despite the challenges that life has served them, each shines her own unique light. In her brilliant voice, she writes how it feels to learn, to love, to suffer and to rise above pain. Her writing pushes all of us to explore the same feelings in ourselves. That is art – beautiful powerful art – and that is justice. We need your help!

I understand your commitments are many but if what I described above inspires a chord of generosity, we embrace your donation with wide open arms. 

In solidarity and with love,

Colleen 

Support NY Writers Coalition here.

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