Lilongwe Reading Garden Project
The idea for the reading garden began as a dream in the minds of a group of talented and visionary educators who came from Malawi to Sheboygan, WI in 2014-2016. They came to Lakeland University to pursue Masters degrees in early grade reading instruction. They experienced a magical place in Sheboygan called Bookworm Gardens, an interactive learning garden where children (and the adults who care for them) can read and dream together in an imaginative setting.
Through a long chain of circumstances, I was inspired by their vision and ultimately able to obtain a Time-Out Grant in 2016 from my undergraduate alma mater, Vassar College. I traveled to Malawi for the first time in August of that year, and the planning process began. We had the location: the Lilongwe Teacher Training College and Demonstration School. We also had a little bit of seed money thanks to the Vassar funds, as well as funds raised through First Congregational Church in Sheboygan.
After much hard work and assistance from people in both the US and Malawi, the construction of the garden began in the fall of 2017. Some structures (an archway, a book sculpture, pathways, and seating) were built and the school began to use the space as a place for reading and play. More recently, the project is shifting and in 2021, the school is looking into the option of using the funds still remaining to create an indoor library. If you are interested in learning more about the project and how you can help make it grow, please contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org (US).
100 Thousand Poets for Change
The worldwide movement to promote peace, justice and sustainability through poetry began in early 2011. At that time, the founders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion put out the call to poets everywhere to stand up and organize poetry events in their respective communities to support positive change. Beginning in 2011 and every year since then, on the last Saturday of September, poets all over the US and all over the world have done exactly that. I am honored to say that I’ve made sure we do an event in Sheboygan every year. We had our 8th event on September 29, 2018. It was especially great, because for the first time ever, I decided to have a theme for the event, and I invited people to share poems about migration, immigration, and movement of cultures through time and space. The result was amazing. So amazing that I teamed up with Dawn Hogue at Water’s Edge Press and we produced a book from the reading (along with dozens of additional poems we collected) called From Everywhere a Little: A Migration Anthology. You can purchase the book at Water’s Edge Press website. And, watch for the next round of 100 Thousand Poets for Change events coming to a city near you in 2021.