Using the pen to connect: One Earth Writing

lynne-golodnerThe pen, mightier than the sword or not, is inarguably the better implement for creating peace. And writer Lynne Golodner is teaching teens to use it for just that purpose.

Golodner, who was raised Jewish in Farmington Hills, is hoping to help local youngsters to connect to each other with a greater sense of their commonalities than their differences. It was a lesson Golodner was glad to learn herself as a 22-year-old living in New York. Invited to visit a friend in Dublin, she arrived in time to attend Good Friday Taize service in her church. The candlelight, the music, and the poetry that comprise the service all felt surprisingly comfortable to Golodner.

“I was sitting there in a church in Ireland thinking about how familiar this is to me. It made this friendship with my friend very possible,” she says.

Golodner is a long-time journalist, PR professional, writing teacher, and author of several books including an interfaith book of stories and recipes called The Flavors of Faith: Holy Breads, and Hide and Seek: Jewish Women and Hair Covering. Reaching her mid-forties, she says, she felt that there was a bigger calling for her.

“If I can do something that’s about children, help youth today realize that we’re more alike than different, maybe we can change the future and put the world on a more peaceful path,” says Golodner.

From this idea, came One Earth Writing, a non-profit whose mission is to “build harmony in the world through writing workshops that connect tweens and teens from different communities.”

Golodner and her team work through schools, community groups and the faith community to bring together youth from different backgrounds and communities in workshops where they write about topics of commonality. By exploring subjects like food, sports, and feelings, youngsters explore their own identities and points of common interest in a way that helps them look across the table and see people who are also unique individuals.

One Earth Writing is working with school districts to bring in writing workshops on social justice. They have conducted a Food and Faith series with Jewish and Christian students that culminated in tasting a variety of foods and writing about the experience. And they have implemented an Ambassador program that accepts 10 students each year to attend a series of monthly writing workshops to explore their identities and learn skills to become workshop facilitators. Applications for the Ambassador program are open until October 10. Click here for info.

This fall, One Earth Writing will partner with Religious Diversity Journeys to bring that experience to 600 of Southeast Michigan’s 7th grade students. Each of the 24 journeys will culminate in a 45-minute session that includes a writing exercise and the chance for students to share and learn about each other through what they’ve written.