For ten years the City of Boston and the writing center Grub Street have collaborated on The Memoir Project, offering eight-week writing workshops to seniors in all neighborhoods of Boston and then publishing anthologies of their short memoir pieces. Ever since I heard about the project several years ago, I have been proud of Boston’s involvement in such a worthwhile endeavor and the support of our late, beloved Mayor Thomas Menino. I treasure my copies of all the volumes and have read every essay with keen interest and enjoyment and attended some of the public readings.
On Wednesday evening May 11 there was a celebration of the release of the fifth and final volume, Streets of Echoes: Stories from Boston’s Most Enduring Neighborhoods, Back Bay-Fenway, Beacon Hill-West End, and Dorchester. It was a beautiful spring late afternoon, and I walked over the bridge to the Seaport District, stopping to have tea at a table on Fan Pier looking back at the downtown skyline. The event was held at the new District Hall, in the midst of all the intense construction in the Seaport.
Michelle Seaton, who taught writing workshops in all the neighborhoods, told us the senior participants generally start out saying nothing important ever happened to them, so they don’t know what they’ll have to write about. By the end of the eight weeks, their notebooks are brimming with stories and they don’t know how they’ll fit them all in. Each person is then assigned to a writing coach to help them hone their selected story for the publication. Some of the seniors have had previous writing experience, and others are quite new to writing. Continue reading