GEAR UP 4 LA: Writing the City

As part of a new ongoing series and the newly formed California Partnership Initiative, a collaboration of GEA RUP Programs in California, we will be posting stories from other GEAR UP programs across the state.

From July 13th-17th, one of the amazing GEAR UP Partnership Projects in Los Angeles, GEAR UP 4 LA, sponsored a one week, field based writing workshop in partnership with Bard College Master of Arts in Teaching, with the goal to create better writers and prepare for the kind of writing valued in college.

Research shows that kids who graduate from HS and college participate in high impact practices one of which is participating in summer enrichment opportunities. This is what GEAR UP is all about. –Paula Crisostomo, Occidental College Assistant Dean of Students

Here is the breakdown:

Writing the City: Los Angeles

A one-week, field-based Writing Workshop in the dynamic city spaces of Los Angeles

“I’ve been all around the world and I haven’t found a city that I’d rather be from, or rather come back to, than Los Angeles.” –Ice Cube

What does exploring a city and writing have in common? How can you find your writing voice as you rediscover Los Angeles? Grab your notebook and come write with us.

This summer we are sending small teams out into Los Angeles–with pen, paper, and camera. The city will be our campus and inspiration. Together we will figure out makes writing so useful, important, and powerful. We will build on the writing you already do everyday—texts, posts, tweets, and email. We will help you expand your skills to communicate your ideas to others.

Our goal is to become better writers and prepare for the kind of writing valued in college. We will explore the place you call home with new perspectives. We will feed our curiosity through writing. We will discover how to use words to build out ideas and become more confident.

This five-day workshop is designed to get your moving through Los Angeles, energizing your summer, rewarding your creativity, making new friends, and kicking up your writing.

In preparation for college-level writing, you will be pursuing big questions:

  • What is real about Los Angeles and what is imagined?
  • How do Angelinos see this city differently than outsiders?
  • Can we see our city fairly?
  • How can writing about Los Angeles help others see our city more clearly?

Our week-long adventure begins at Heart of Los Angeles in the Rampart District; each day we explore different parts of the city and the arts–walking, observing, talking, and writing together:

  • Downtown L.A. • Mid-city & LACMA • Occidental College & East L.A. • Hollywood • Arts District

We will write on location–and along the way. We will write for fun–for ourselves and each other. We will write informally and we will write with purpose. We will write to discover our voice. We will write to have our voice heard. And together we will give L.A. a new song.

I wished it were longer. It opened my mind and that early on it was hard to write for even 10 minutes and now I write for 30 minutes. When I am done I say “I’m not done I have more to say “.

—-Writing in the City Participant.

For more pics and information about their experience check out the Writing the City LA Facebook page.

Students who participated in The Writing the City program this week were able to spend time walking around the city with the question “What is Los Angeles to you?”as their theme. They wrote in parks, on the train, at museums, and in public spaces such as Pershing Square and Olvera Street. The students got the chance to share their ideas and challenge themselves to think differently about the city they call home. At the end of the week they presented some of their work to their peers.  They all agreed that it was a great week; several wanted to keep going for another week.

— Kristin Didrickson, GU4LA Program Coordinator.


Check out the websites for more information on California GEAR UP and GEAR UP 4 LA.

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