For the past two years, Own the Boards has been dedicated to empowering people through literature, creative writing, and performance. We’ve accomplished a lot in a short amount of time, earning our 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, developing relationships with local businesses and organizations, and piloting such program as LifeWords Reading Circles, Bridge Summer Reading Program, and Knox Generation.
We’re about to enter an exciting new phase, one we feel will help us even better achieve our goals and positively impact our community.
In the coming weeks, Own the Boards will become Generations Literary Alliance, which will focus on using literary arts experiences to connect older and younger generations and build stronger communities as a result.
OTB’s programs will continue largely unchanged; we’ll gradually incorporate an intergenerational facet into each. We’ll also reveal a new logo representing our refined name/mission and create one central website for all initiatives.
We’ve been mulling over this shift for a while, and a few key factors motivated our decision to act.
Firstly, we love the name “Own the Boards,” but it requires too much explanation, which isn’t ideal when seeking funding and community partners. We want our name to be easily recognizable and to more clearly represent our mission. That being said, we’ll always retain “Own the Boards” as a rallying cry.
By refocusing our mission and incorporating intergenerational elements across the board, we hope to better connect our different initiatives under a common theme, something beyond literary arts empowerment as an end in itself.
Finally, we also need to better differentiate our mission from other arts and literary arts organizations in the area. Our current programs are distinct from what’s offered in Knoxville, but, when looking at our mission statement, our uniqueness doesn’t stand out. Our distinct organizational identity becomes clearer when we use the literary arts to better connect generations and build communities rather than simply empower people through the literary arts.
How Will This Shift Affect Our Programs?
The reading and discussion format for LifeWords Reading Circles will remain unchanged. We will, however, be inviting college-age adults to join our groups, either for individual sessions or entire semesters. In particular, we’re reaching out to students in Education, English, and Social Work. Such participation will be relevant to their interests, provide pertinent experience and community service opportunities, and facilitate the intergenerational connection we’re so keen to establish.
The Bridge Summer Reading Program will move forward unchanged. Our goal for Summer 2017 is to more widely promote the program and increase class sizes.
Knox Generation will remain a teen-only slam program for the rest of the 2016-2017 school year. We’d like to give the program time to take root with teens before opening it to older adults in some capacity in Fall 2017.
We haven’t done much with Origins Poetry Project to date, but that’s about to change. Each semester, we pick one accessible creative writing assignment that can be adapted to varying ability levels. Our LifeWords students will be completing these poems, and we’re also reaching out to area poets and creative writing teachers to encourage submissions from different age groups.
We can’t wait to introduce you to Generations Literary Alliance. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, and we’ll keep you all posted as we make these transitions.