February 18, 2011

It’s organic, didn’t you know?

Your ideas count, or rather, my ideas count. That seems to be the unspoken motto of the Literacy Coalition. As the newest member of the team and plucked from a bureaucratic giant, words like “run with it” are not something I’m used to hearing.

Landing in such an organic, fluid, and intellectually-charged environment is daunting for someone like me who’s more familiar with the concepts of “top-down,” “vertical hierarchy,” and “boundaries” than the ideas of empowerment and cooperation. There’s no time clock. It’s you, your ideas, your team, and the community. All are dependent on each other for sustainability, expected to create an ever-evolving synergy with more direct impact than thought possible. It’s something I can get behind.

The bar is set high here where initiative, direct interaction among team members, and open communication allow for creation and flexibility. I witness community impact and capacity- and coalition-building, once vague and ill-defined notions for me, on a daily basis. It’s a collective force of energy and ideas, and I can’t wait to jump aboard. Wait, I am on board. I hope I can hold on…

February 15, 2011

The Invisible Challenge

When we tell people that one in five adults struggles with literacy to the extent that they can't fill out a job application, we almost always see shock and disbelief in their faces. I, too, doubted the statistics, until I really dug in to the data and the validity of the sources. And I have to say, it's true. Not only is it true, but I now understand why it's so unbelievable. The issue of illiteracy is, by nature, an invisible one. You most often cannot tell when you come across someone who is struggling with literacy issues. Which makes this issue one of the most pervasive challenges in our community and communities across the nation. There is very little attention to the literacy challenges of families around us; very little government dollars are invested in literacy instruction in the state of Texas and locally. General awareness of the prevalence and consequences of the issue is very low. So, we continue to allow the snowball of a problem to silently worsen. Because of our collective low investment in literacy instruction for adults, kids enter school way behind, and are much more likely to drop out. Then they have children that struggle in school, and the cycle continues. The beauty of the issue of literacy is that the solution is so simple. When people have access to high quality instruction, they change their own lives, and the lives of their children. We hear everyday about the transforming effect of literacy programs. It's not uncommon to hear things like "I never really though I could learn," or "I never had goals for myself, but now I know I have what it takes to become a nurse." Research shows very clearly that when a parent enters a literacy program, the child does better in school and is much less likely to drop out. And when those parents have access to good instruction, they are finally able to lift the invisible weight off their shoulders and pursue their dreams. That's why we do what we do! Thanks for helping us make it possible.

February 14, 2011

Comic Book Literacy

So you might be asking yourself what do Comic Books and Literacy have in common?  In early January I came across a documentary called ... Comic Book Literacy and was intrigued.  I looked into the documentary film exploring the positive potential of comics in community education and was blown away by the love of the film. The film features interviews with a number of comic book creators, publishers, artists and fans...many of whom attribute their own love of reading to comics. I had it on my "to see" list to check out ... 

Fast forward to February and I receive an email from Uncle Staple of the
STAPLE! Independent Media Expo and as luck would have it he informed me that as part of the programming this year the Comic Book Literacy documentary will be screening!  The film will be shown at 4:00pm Saturday March 5th, after which there will be a Q&A panel with the film's director Todd Kent & James O'Barr, the creator of The Crow, who appears in the film as one of the interviewees.

Comic books and literacy are two subjects Uncle Staple feels strongly about, and the more I read the more I have to agree with him.  I believe that this film has an important message that needs to be shared with those in the educational and literacy communities who may not see the connection between literacy and comics.  I would encourage all of our providers to check out this film!

STAPLE! runs from 11-6 Saturday March 5th and from 12-6 Sunday March 6th... $15 for a two day pass gets you into everything but LCCT providers and friends I have news for you! I have passes for the expo & film screening that will be given away over the next few weeks at our Annual Meeting and on our FaceBook page!  LCCT will be joining the STAPLE! family for the weekend, so look for our booth and come by to say hello!

Check out these awesome trailers Uncle Staple passed to me today ... 

this one is an animated trailer, by local artist Yehudi Mercado: 

...and here is a trailer for the Comic Book Literacy documentary we will be screening at the show: 

February 11, 2011

The gift of health literacy!

A few weeks ago, a program called Austin GiveCamp offered the Coalition a belated Christmas gift. In cities across the nation, the Camp brings together area web developers and designers to do pro bono work for nonprofits over a weekend. They came to us at exactly the right time, because some pretty big plans were brewing over in the Health Literacy Department.

Next week, the Coalition will be launching its new and greatly improved Health Literacy webpage, fully equipped with a searchable library of every health literacy resource we know about. You'll be able to go to our page and search resources based on your perspective as an adult educator, healthcare provider, or patient. The page will be premiered at the Literacy Coalition's Annual Meeting for our network providers on February 16th. Have your clicking fingers ready, because overlooking health literacy just got a whole lot harder!