You drive by, from one place to the next. As a long-time Westport resident, you know the shortcuts to your destination of the day. Only sporadically you pause to contemplate, to relish the many places in town, at least that’s what happens to me sometimes. Reconnecting with the town, through writing, offers an opportunity to reaffirm our desire to remain anchored.
The WriteHere idea was simple: Open to the community, participants were encouraged to unveil their writing creativity by connecting with our place, Westport.
Writing about life and experience in Westport led sometimes to dig into past memories that brought some nostalgia for the old Westport; other times to reflect on current town life, our hopes and sense of renewal.
The placemaking writing project leader was as bright as a bulb, as bubbly as fine champagne. She convened her cohorts of the day to quintessential community places where even town old-timers either had never been to or had visited those places a long time ago. Open to the whole town, some people joined, some others couldn’t. Regardless, her enthusiasm never diminished, the same caring and cheering for that one day, that one moment, that one place.
Inspiring places and settings were called on: Starting and ending with The Library. The Brick Walk welcomed us on a beautiful mid-day with a chorus of crows inspiring stories of the Saugatuck. The visit to an emblematic coffee-shop at our Saugatuck Train Station, part-taking doughnuts and coffee while some participants composed poetry, kids wrote or drew their story; while others wrote about their experiences as commuters or incorporated historic events after a great history lesson of the Westport railroad station. The visits to the police station and the firehouse showed us what community service looks like, filling us with gratitude, as evidenced by the writings. And the playhouse, ah… It inspired many wonderful stories that linked the playhouse to old times, to famous people in town, to the resilience of that little art-house to remain vibrant and spread appreciation for the arts and culture in town.
The writing sessions at the Dimes Marina, Compo Beach, and Longshore provided settings of bright sun and the summer taste of Westport
Using the Earthspace as our muse brought us in close contact with our environment, with earthly things, and inspired us to write about and connect with nature, recognizing the effort involved in preserving a healthy ecosystem. From our town’s environment and caring for the Earth, we focused our imagination on the space beyond – the Universe, the Cosmos. The Observatory visit reminded us how committed people keep our Town apprised of what lies in Space, the history of the place, and inspired writing about that part of science that makes children’s eyes widen in wonderment and excitement, and make us adults act like children. These and several other places visited define Westport, give it its character and inspired us to write and write.
WriteHere was a great idea that merits repeating. Thanks to the people who graciously invited us to the places visited. They radiated their devotion and enthusiasm to the cause of their place of work, shared their love for what they do, how they got there and showed us that they are people with a mission, worthy missions.
Thanks, Jan for your indomitable enthusiasm, your ideas, your hard work. From constant reminders about posting our stories to carrying heavy shopping bags to keep us hydrated and munching on our snacks. I am pleased I had the opportunity to hear other voices, other stories, other experiences rooted in this place, Westport.