National Day on Writing: An Historic Opportunity
to Advance Literacy
Williamson, NCTE Executive Director
National Gallery of Writing has been built and is
accepting writing submissions to approximately 300
local and national galleries. This work will be published
and open for public viewing on the National
Day on Writing,
October 20, 2009, and we
will continue to accept and display work from writers everywhere
through June 2010.
We are making excellent progress on this
ambitious enterprise. But we REALLY need
your help and participation. In the end, this initiative
needs mass and scale -- the active participation of more than
100,000 writers -- to make a lasting impact. I
am personally inviting you, as a Council-Grams
reader, to be an activist and leader in this campaign by doing these
five things to contribute to the success of
the National Day on Writing initiative:
1. Publish your own writing to the National
Gallery. Don't wait. Choose any piece you've ever
written, spoken, drawn, texted, or videoed, and submit it to the
NCTE Gallery. It takes roughly six minutes to work through the
publication process, and once you've done it, you'll be able to
tell others just how easy it is. Which leads us to. . .
your family members and friends to publish to the
National Gallery. In this great mosaic representation of how people
write today, every piece counts. As long as it is significant to its
author, we have a place for it in the National Gallery. And, every
piece will be searchable by multiple criteria (at the discretion of
each author), so it should be convenient to find pieces of interest
to you from friends and acquaintances, people in your community, or
those who share some of your characteristics or interests.
to classes you teach; community, service, or church groups you
belong to; or journalists/media personalities you know about
publishing to the National
Gallery. If you have a well-defined group
who would like to see their work published collectively, consider
forming a local gallery.
4. Organize a celebration of
writing in your school, group, or community on October 20, the
National Day. The list of plans forming up around the country is
impressive -- everything from writing marathons, to poetry slams, to
memoir chains, to journal read-ins, to post-it note plot schemes are
in the works. Get creative and make your celebration memorable!
5. Get ready to write to
Congress as the vote to establish the National Day approaches. NCTE
will be sending out an Action Alert later this summer to signal
members when the time is right to get in touch with your
an NCTE leader, you probably can think of other creative ways to
make the most of this initiative. If you can leverage the
great ideas and energy that are fueling this campaign to advance a
literacy program in your school or institution, well, that's
perfect. Here are a few more of our ideas:
• Celebrity endorsements of the National
Day and National Gallery are being gathered and will be
shared widely throughout the late summer and fall.
related reports about the status and practice of writing
have been produced by the Council, building awareness through
national press coverage. More pieces designed to assist writers of
all ages are in various stages of production.
• An appeal for a Presidential
Proclamation recognizing the National Day will be enroute
to President Obama in July, as is an invitation to Secretary of
Education Arne Duncan to record a podcast or videoclip in support of
the National Day.
the NCTE Executive Committee authorized an effort to establish a National
Day on Writing and National
Gallery of Writing last fall, it had high hopes. This
was to be our signal effort to reach beyond the bounds of our
membership to invite all of America to write, and to reflect upon
what writing means today: who writes, why, for what purposes, and
with what tools.
But there were even
higher hopes for what the initiative could mean for how NCTE is
perceived; by demonstrating that the
Council has the expertise and resources to help every writer share
their work and improve their craft, we would be taking an
important step towards the achievement of our organizational
mission. And in the process, we would be providing a panoramic view
of 21st century literacies in practice, valorizing the kinds of
"everyday" writing that are too often overlooked or
dismissed as trivial.
At some point I'd like to
hear your story about the
National Day or National Gallery of Writing. But don't stop to
tell me now, just act. It's time for NCTE to "go viral!"