The Creation of Gifford Street Community Press

Most recently, Syracuse University WRT 300 students finished work on the Gifford Street Community Press website.  During class, they broke up into the following groups to complete the website: community outreach, website design, and writing.  Each group had independent tasks to complete every day of the week and consulted with Professor Steve Parks.  In order to make the website, the community outreach group went to the Near Westside, interviewed residents, and took pictures of the community.  The writing group created content for the website, providing information about the press and its policies.  Finally, the website design group put all of the information together and created certain graphics featured on the website. Next week they will send a link to the Press Board for their suggestions, revisions, and approval.

This past November and December, Westside Resident Coalition members (including Isaac Rothwell, Jeff Bellamy, Mother Earth, Richard Vallejo) and graduate students from the writing program met to formulate a mission statement for the press.  Over the six week period, we focused on developing a mission statement that insured the press would be community led, focused on the Westside, and open to all voices of the neighborhood.  We decided to name the effort, Gifford Street Community Press.

During the week of January 24th, the Gifford Street Community Press Board was formed, which includes Gary Bonaparte, Mother Earth, Susan Hamilton, Isaac Rothwell, and Richard Vallejo.  At the initial board meeting, an agenda was established that focused on creating a set of publications and writing groups, which would meet the needs of the community. We decided on a book project focused on the meaning of “home,” as well as writing groups centered on certain populations and themes (i.e. young adults, education, crime).  We also started setting the gears in motion for a website.  Finally, the board plans to reach out to other populations and organizations in the neighborhood, seeking their insights and participation.

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