826DC Open House to the Community This Saturday

The Museum of Unnatural History

When we first heard the scuttlebutt that an an organization called 826DC would be opening up in the old Score space in the Columbia Heights Plaza, I thought it sounded cool but after visiting them yesterday afternoon – I am blown away.

I chatted briefly with Joe Callahan, Deputy Director 826 DC, Mike Scalke, Program Manager and Erin Archuleta Development and Site Director from 826 National. The DC open house is this Saturday:

“On Saturday, October 23 from 12 to 4 PM, 826DC will be throwing open our doors for our community open house. We’re located at 3233 14th St. NW.

Come explore our fantastic storefront, The Museum of Unnatural History, and hear about our workshops, field trips, in-school, and after-school tutoring programs for kids. The event is open to the public, so please: stop by. Say hi.”

Their Mission Statement explains what they do:

“826DC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around our understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.

With this in mind we provide drop-in tutoring, field trips, after-school workshops, in-schools tutoring, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. All of our programs are challenging and enjoyable, and ultimately strengthen each student’s power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice.”

If you are interested in volunteering you can sign up at the open house or on their Web site (you can also donate here.)

All I’ll say is that the space is amazing (see tons of photos after the jump) and the people I met are filled with a contagious enthusiasm. And at the very least the store itself is worth checking out (from a press release):

“The newest chapter of the nationally renowned 826 writing centers – founded in San Francisco by bestselling author Dave Eggers and award-winning educator Nínive Calegari, and with eight centers across the country – officially opens its doors in Columbia Heights on Saturday. 826DC has operated workshops and provided assistance to teachers in DC Public Schools since fall 2008, reaching more than 1,000 students and publishing two books compiled from students’ writing. The opening of its own dedicated space will expand the nonprofit’s reach to thousands more District students.

To raise funds, inspire creativity, and advertise their programs to the local community, 826 centers also include a street-front retail store filled with unusual products, entertaining signage, and, of course, their books for sale. San Francisco’s Pirate Supply Store sells glass eyes and one-of-a-kind peg legs, 826NYC’s Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company offers custom-fit capes. Located on the heavily trafficked 14th Street in the hub of this vibrant neighborhood, 826DC will also house its own storefront, The Museum of Unnatural History, an homage to fictional scientists that will spark creativity and create a fun and safe atmosphere for field trips, after-school tutoring, and weekend workshops.”

Lots more photos after the jump.

The Museum of Unnatural History

The Museum of Unnatural History

The Museum of Unnatural History

Student space

Reading area with Joe Callahan, Deputy (right), Mike Scalke, Program Manager, (left)

Examples of student produced books and newspapers.

Bookcase and art leading to a doorway to nowhere fostering creativity

7 Comment

  • I’m disappointed, but also heartened, to see that their volunteer orientation sessions are full. I wish them lots of success!

  • Awesome and, considering I live around the corner – awesome2! But what’s with all the dead animals? I have nothing against that btw and none of those threatened or endangered as far as I can tell. I’ll have to stop in and see what’s up.

  • This is awesome. The pirate store at 826 Valencia in SF is fantastic. I’m glad they went with a new theme for DC.

  • I’ve got dibs on the picture of the kid with the epic ‘stache.

  • @cookietime420 your comment about the “dead animals” prompts me to write, as they are on loan from the Pember Museum, on whose board I serve as a trustee in Granville, NY.

    The specimens on loan to 826DC as well as those on display at the Pember Museum are the 19th century collection of a single 19th century naturalist, Franklin T. Pember who personally collected every piece in the collection as well as doing the taxidermy.

    The hunting and shooting of specimens was the only method of scientific study available to naturalists of the time — to say nothing of the artists…how do you think James Audubon managed to create all those beautiful paintings? In fact he shot them and posed them.

    Please try to contain your 21st Century dudgeon and understand that the ways and means of one age may not particularly jive with the ways and means of another, which doesn’t necessarily make either of them wrong. In this instance in particular it represents a teaching moment for all concerned.

    I extend an invitation to all who visit 826DC to come visit the Pember Museum in Granville New York. It is an amazing, individual collection in pristine 19th century condition and the unique reflection of one, single, 19th century naturalist whose work provides specimens not only to educational projects like 826DC, but the the Peabody Natural History Museums at Harvard and Yale and the New York Natural History Museum on Central Park West in NYC.

  • holy hell this places looks AMAZING and their mission is beautiful. wow.

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