The Toronto Writers Collective has afforded me the opportunity to facilitate writing sessions throughout our great city. Women’s shelters, a youth drop-in center, the 519 in the heart of our city’s LGBTQ community with Marshal Reinhart, and along with co-facilitator Joey Isadore Haar, most recently to Fred Victor, a low income housing and co-ed shelter in downtown Toronto, are among the variety of sites I have been a part of through our TWC workshops.
Each writer’s session, through our TWC philosophy, creates an opportunity and establishes an atmosphere for reflection, honesty, growth, safety, a sense of strength, and belonging. What has struck me during each and every individual workshop has been how humbled, how fortunate and honoured I feel to be a part of this powerful experience, to write alongside our writers, and share and listen to their work. Being able to provide a dynamic where our writers are comfortable enough to express themselves is without a doubt the highlight of my week.
TWC often talks about bridging gaps in our community. Recently one of my regular Fred Victor writers went missing for over a week. I am glad to say a happy ending prevailed. Still, while waiting for the news, I had visions of the worst. It was the first time in my life I had a connection to this kind of street community tragic reality. It is difficult but I am richer for all these experiences.
Weekly writing sessions present new challenges as our writers grapple with the connections our prompts and inspirational strategies offer. The result each week is of personal growth, a sense of strength, calm and hope.
Our Fred Victor Housing group is new and growing. Each Monday evening begins with regular and new men and women. As Pat Schneider wrote, “…everyone who writes is a writer.” I know all my fellow TWC facilitators can relate when I say, “I cannot wait until next Monday.”