Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Free Knowledge

Since I began the Milwaukee Writers' Workshop in 2006, there have been four major groups in the city for writers. One is a group that has dues; one is a non-profit that charges for its classes. The other two were the Milwaukee Writers Group & MWW. Now there will only be three. Since Trevor and I first talked about combining our efforts and making the two groups one, one question has continued to plague me: why are we doing this?

Over the weekend, I think I finally came to a solid answer.

I began MWW with a slightly selfish goal in mind: I wanted my writing to be looked at, so I could get it published. I think any writer who joins a group can admit to that. Now, though, my goal is more altruistic. I enjoy providing this community. I thrive on it. I think that Milwaukee deserves a community like we have because education like we provide ought to be free.

I look at events like BarCampMilwaukee and MilwakeeDevHouse, and even Bucketworks, and I'm envious that the tech community has such a broad network to host so many free events. Even our eager art community has MARN. Writers in Milwaukee, though, don't have that same option outside of our group, and I think part of it is because we're archaic. Our art form is one of the oldest, and we like to stick to tradition. Every writing conference or convention costs something; most of the famous workshops are expensive. MWW costs nothing, and I hope to keep it that way because I think what our small community provides is value enough, and writers ought to come together for free.

Come the beginning of the year, MWW will be a much larger group with bigger goals. Perhaps a free conference in the city is in our near future; perhaps more local events will be offered. Whatever we do, it will remain free, because that is how I foresee the way of the future in the realm of disseminating knowledge.

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