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826 Valencia is the brainchild of writer Dave Eggers (Author of the fabulous, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius). The project encourages young people to try out creative writing by taking part in workshops, word games and one-to-one sessions with writers who have volunteered their time. The first writing centre was founded in San Francisco and because of complicated laws, was set up as a shop. In order to appeal to children, Eggers came up with the idea of a Pirate shop, selling essentials for the modern day pirate!
There are now eight writing centres attached to themed shops all over the USA. They include a Superhero supply shop in Brooklyn, The Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company in Seattle and The Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute in Boston.
UK writer Nick Hornby liked the idea so much, he recently set up The Ministry of Stories, hidden behind Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, selling everything any monster, or lover of monsters could ever need. Children enter the Monster shop, to find a secret door, where they have to make up a password to enter the writing centre. They can then take part in work shops and one-to-one sessions.
All the events are free to young people from 8 - 18 and the Ministry's Mission is to inspire a nation of story tellers.
We love the idea of the Monster Supply shop and will be making a trip there for Christmas presents for our young nephews. The events and writing workshops sound really inspiring, it's a shame they don't do them for adults!
The centre is run by volunteers, so, if like me, you think it's the kind of thing you might be able to get involved with, join up now. The Ministry needs you!
The Ministry of Stories,
159 Hoxton Street,
London N1 6PJ