Project Flow, Teen Writers, and the Color of Life at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Take a look at those faces (well, all except for the old lady in orange pants). This is the company I had the privilege of keeping earlier this day, as a guest of the Project Flow program sponsored by Karen Young and the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center. Rising ninth graders—young souls brought from schools all over the city. A medley of projects created and taught by teachers who love words, science, and art. The leadership of Ellen Freedman Schultz, the FWWIC education and outreach coordinator.

This morning, I had the chance to talk to the young people about my three Philadelphia books—all of which have pivotal scenes on the river. One, FLOW, is entirely about the river, while DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS finds its protagonists skating on its frozen skin (with calamitous results) and DR. RADWAY'S SARSAPARILLA RESOLVENT features an historic river race. But mostly we talked about rivers and transcendent language and mellow yellow fish (as well as gold ones). By way of introduction, I asked the students to reflect on the colors of their lives. Their work was so exceptional that I promised to share it here, after shedding a little tear (so did someone else in the room! twice! we caught him!).

I like nothing more than chilling with people like these young souls.

The color of my life is a pink and a blue fighting over a green. Pink wants green to be pink and the blue wants green to be gold when green just wants to be green and left alone.

— Tiara

The color of life is a red orange flame, when blue cooler yet warmer, and black when deceased.

— Rafael

The color of my life is a deep shade of blue. A cool, calm, collected blue. A quiet silent in the night blue. And sometimes a sad blue. But on some days, this blue turns as bright as an afternoon sky.

— Liam

The color of my life is magenta. It's a color that's different and vibrant but can also be very mellow. I believe that magenta can never blend in. It's a color that can and always will stick out.

— Kai

Shades of yellows, oranges, reds, pinks, and purples along with the pale blue that I recognize wherever I go. As we travel back home from any city when I say goodbye from the car window. As well as before I doze off on the plane ride home from another country.

— Olivia

The rainbow, for all the crazy emotions I feel and when and how they come out.

— Rashae

The color of life is a brilliantly bright orange that shines pure, untouched. It is like the age of the sun except with a perfect unblemished glow.

— Jake

The color of my life is a light blue. It was once a very dark blue close to black-purple. As the story of my life goes on the blue gets lighter and lighter defining the very exciting and depressing point in my life.

— Erika

The color of my life is red because it's passion. The reason why I pick red is because it is the color of my passion.

— Nafese

So the color of my life is nothing. I don't think my life has a color or will ever have one, well, not until I'm gone from this world, but my life would be what I want to make it be. If I want it to be red I'll make it red. If I want it to be blue, I'll make it blue. But until I'm on my deathbed I will never know because I didn't live it yet.

— Juan

A brief P.S. When I returned home today, I had three notes about our river. One included a link to this gorgeous new review of FLOW, a book published several years ago. My thanks to Tina Hudak of the St. Albans Lower School Lower School Library Collection, in Washington, DC.


Melissa Sarno said...

Wow, these are really beautiful reflections. Very inspiring.

Tina Hudak said...

Inspired! Juan, I especially love your "color!"

patti.mallett_pp said...

Chills started on my legs, then ran up each arm, as I read these amazing descriptions. (Gonna bookmark this page to read and reread. So Awesome!!)

How wonderful for you and them - and it's clear you all understood that!!

So happy for you, (all of you)!!! xo

Serena said...

I love all the colors and explanations!

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