Statement of Purpose
Lancaster SPEAKS Up is a collaboration of writers providing progressive content in regional media such as LNP and the York Dispatch. Secondly, as a program of Lancaster Stands Up, we highlight the work LSU does and tell the stories of the movement as well the stories of our own political awakenings. We will also support the Lancaster Stands Up staff in outward-facing communications. As collaborators, we brainstorm topics and venues and edit each other’s work. We cultivate new writers by bringing in others to tell their stories and coach them in finding their voices.
Welcome to the Lancaster SPEAKS Up Blog!
from Perry Hazeltine, Founder, Lancaster SPEAKS Up
Lancaster SPEAKS Up (SPEAKS) is a collaboration of writers who give voice to progressive ideas and political issues. As collaborators, we brainstorm topics and venues and edit each other’s work. We cultivate new writers by bringing in others to tell their stories and coach them in finding their voices. As such, each person is writing as an individual. When we edit each other’s work, we do not try to influence their opinion. We only offer help to write their own opinion in the most effective way, even when our opinion disagrees.
The story of SPEAKS begins in September of 2019. I approached staff at Lancaster Stands Up (LSU) about creating a group of writers interested in writing about progressive issues. Though I write as part of my work, I had never written about political issues and had never even written an editorial. Though I had been involved in progressive politics for a long time, the reactionary forces of recent years have brought the threats to social justice and democracy itself into stark relief. This has led me to commit to being deeper involvement in politics for the long haul. I felt that if I drew upon my skills and interests, I could best serve the progressive movement that I cared so much about and that I could do so while creating a community with other people who are writers or who want to become writers.
In SPEAKS, we are both students of one another and teachers of one another. Our writing is better because of it. The beauty of writing is that by committing to an end result, a written piece to be shared, one discovers one’s own heart and mind. For me, I don’t really know what I think and feel until I am done writing. The process of writing is clarification, even as the goal is to have an end product. It’s a two for one deal. In SPEAKS, we apply this to political writing so that we clarify our own perspective while at the same time influencing the view of others.
The core of how we operate is twice monthly writing sessions. After brief check-ins and announcements, each writer discusses a topic they are working on and gets help from the other participants. We spend 15 minutes writing. Next, we share what we’ve written and get feedback. After the session, we each send our piece to someone else to comment and edit. Sometimes we write a second draft before sending it to various local newspapers for consideration.
We are not a static group. Some participants may attend only one writing session. Other’s sojourn for longer, and others commit to developing SPEAKS. We often invite people from different organizations to join us when they are writing their editorials to help them get their message out.
This blog is the home base for everything that we write. It is also a launchpad to other venues—letters to the editor, Op-Eds, letters to our elected representatives, letters to government and officials, and content for Lancaster Stands Up. Contact at LancasterSpeaksUp@gmail.com to participate in a writing session, which we strongly encourage before submitting your first post.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson