Jacob Kendrick: On this week’s episode, we’ll be talking about an Ypsilanti writing center starting art and writing tours in the area. I’m Jacob Kendrick, and this is the Eastern Echo Podcast.
Ypsiwrites, a nonprofit community writing center, has created art and writing tours across Ypsilanti. These tours encourage participants to explore the area and inspire creativity through thought-provoking writing prompts.
YpsiWrites was founded in fall 2019 as a collaboration between the Office of Campus and Community Writing at EMU, the Ypsilanti District Library, and 826michigan, a nonprofit that helps school-aged children develop writing skills. YpsiWrites offers one-on-one tutoring, support materials, and workshops, along with community outreach programs such as the writing tours.
The organization partnered with the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) to create three walking tours that highlight public art and architecture throughout Ypsilanti. The three tours are located in Depot Town, downtown Ypsilanti, as well as EMU’s campus.
Cathy Fleischer and Ann Blakeslee, the co-founders of YpsiWrites, worked with Grace VanderVliet, the curator for museum learning and teaching at UMMA, to develop this project. This past winter, a team of volunteers scouted public art and architecture locations around Ypsilanti and developed corresponding writing prompts.
One of the highlighted art pieces in Depot Town was created by students at Ypsilanti Community Schools. Titled “Public Education,” the piece features the artwork of over 50 students and was originally created for an exhibition at the U.S. Department of Education. Due to pandemic restrictions, it was unfortunately not displayed.
Cathy Fleischer: We were trying to make everything super fun and just something that would be appealing to people of all ages so that you could really look at the art seriously, but you could also look at it imaginatively and creatively. Some of the prompts are real whimsical, some of them are a little bit more serious, but they’re all over.
Jacob Kendrick: Alyssa Allen, a graduate assistant, says the main goal of the tours is to inspire creativity in the Ypsilanti community:
“It can be as serious of a writing project as you want it to, or if you just want to walk around with friends and talk about the prompts and jot notes down, that’s completely fine, too. The goal is really to just become connected with the creativity that’s in Ypsilanti and to use writing as a way to do that. It’s completely...a build-your-own experience.”
As always, thank you for listening, and don’t forget to tune in next Wednesday for another episode. Also, check out our new Eastern Echo Music Podcast hosted by Podcast Section Editor Layla McMurtrie, where she discusses the hottest new music releases and shares recommendations for every genre.
Reported: Megan Forystek
Scripted: Tre Briscoe
Produced: Cameron Santangelo
Host: Jacob Kendrick