“Much of what we learn about life comes from our families,” said David Aft, president of the Community Foundation. “Our parents, grandparents and other relatives shape our approach to the important things in life, like the way we raise our children, worship and take care of one another. The foundation understands that a person’s approach to giving is often a reflection of habits and practices he or she learned at home.”
“We are offering the writing series as part of our family philanthropy initiative,” added Ed Brush, chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. “Our foundation promotes philanthropic values, vision and excellence across generations of donors and donor families.”
Brush noted that so much family history is lost with the death of older family members, and that recording family stories preserves much of the rich histories.
“At some point in life, most people consider who their ancestors were and what gave their lives meaning,” he said. “The writing family stories workshop will help individuals record these pieces of a family’s past and create an opportunity to strengthen and pass on family legacies.”
Local freelance writer and memoirist Amber Lanier Nagle will facilitate the four-session workshop. The first three sessions will focus on the writing and editing process, and the fourth will allow participants to read their writing aloud and critique the works of others. Participants are encouraged to attend all of the sessions; however, each session will stand alone.
“The sessions will focus on the creation of short narrative nonfiction pieces that present both basic information about family members, as well as more colorful accounts,” said Nagle, who also works as the Marketing and Technology director of the foundation. “For example, census records show that my grandmother raised nine children during and after the Great Depression, but that’s only part of her story. She attended North Georgia Agricultural College in Dahlonega from 1915 to 1918 and received her teaching certificate from the state at a time when few women went on to college. At 17, she travelled to south Georgia during the Spanish flu epidemic and taught school in a small country schoolhouse. I have copies of her attendance register and grade book from 1919. She kept them in her cedar chest until she died in 1997, and that’s how I know that teaching and education were priorities and passions in her life.”
Nagle has chronicled the lives of her grandparents, her parents, her siblings, and many of her aunts and uncles. She’s pieced together information derived from family stories, photographs, old letters and other documents.
“Some of my family stories have been published in hardcover history and heritage books. Others have been published in newspapers and magazines,” she said. “And I’ve also published a collection of personal narratives describing my family and my Southern upbringing in an eBook available on both the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites.”
Nagle said that the workshop is open to both seasoned and aspiring writers. The ultimate goal is to help every attendee learn the process and craft at least one family story by the end of the series.
“We will discuss key elements of successful storytelling, as well as basics such as collecting stories and information, organizing information, drafting stories and revising stories,” she said. “We will also offer a writing exercise during each session to get everyone in the mood to write. We want to motivate workshop attendees and help them take their first steps toward writing about their families.”
Nagle will post the agendas for each session online at www.CommunityFoundationNWGA.org. Space is limited to 35 attendees, so anyone interested in attending the workshop sessions is asked to reserve a space by calling the foundation’s main office in Dalton at 706-275-9117.
“Attendees should bring pen and paper,” Nagle said. “They should bring their memories and their creative juices, too. I guarantee the sessions will be fun and informative for everyone who attends.”
“We are happy to host the workshop and open our facility to the public,” said Leslie McMillan, Government and Community Development director at the chamber. “We believe that the workshop has a lot of value. It’s just another example of the many enriching activities and events offered to the Cartersville-Bartow community.”
The Cartersville-Bartow Community Foundation is an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia. The organization’s mission is to promote and facilitate charitable giving among individuals and families living in northwest Georgia, secure discretionary resources to meet the current and future needs of the region, and strengthen the community by fostering collaboration and awarding grants to qualified organizations. For more information about the Foundation or Writing Family Stories workshops, visit www.CommunityFoundationNWGA.org or contact David Aft at 706-275-9117.