No One Wakes Up Wanting to Be Homeless: A Case Study in Applied Creative Writing
co-authored with Francesca Rendle-Short, Ronnie Scott, Stayci Taylor, and Michelle Aung Thin
Published in: Social Capital and Enterprise in the Modern State, Edited by Éidín Ní Shé, Lorelle Burton, and Patrick Danaher (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).
What does it mean to write the city? And how do you write the city if you live on the streets? This chapter explores the implications of writing (and editing) the city through a collaborative creative project that non/fictionLab at RMIT University has developed in Melbourne in conjunction with STREAT, a social enterprise that provides homeless youth and young people who are experiencing severe disadvantage with supported pathways from living on the street to a sustainable livelihood. As an experiment in applied creative writing, #STREATstories aims to foster a meaningful sense of belonging and connection through the making and distribution of place-based urban stories and poetic expression as a way to create prospects for social change. If we take maps to be representative documents, this case study asks: what is the potential for the act of mapping through a process of collaboration, and the maps themselves, to reconfigure representations of homelessness? Furthermore, if we explore the ways this project might be expanded, transferred, and shared, what are the implications for who is represented; how they are represented; and how the material outcomes are received by varied audiences? Through facilitating workshops, collecting stories, and ‘composing’ the stories into material artefacts, we have explored both the potential for shared storytelling to positively affect participants and their communities – and the potential for applied creative writing to enrich the aims of social enterprise itself.