Teri’s Update – June 2016
by Adam / Jun 1, 2016
Teri’s Next Adventure (A True Story)
Let’s cut to the chase:
In October I will be stepping down as leader of BFI. (I’m not kidding.)
In 2003, after many years of teaching children in wildly interesting settings (rich kids in Honduras, migrant kids in California, and all sorts of kids in Seattle for cancer treatment at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center), I had this idea to start a writing and tutoring center. If I have a gift, it’s finding the right people to help make stuff happen, and the early stages of BFI were powered by crucial alliances with such like-minded folks as Sherry Prowda, Ann Senechal, Bill Thorness, Jennie Shortridge and Ted Dworkin, to name just a few of the early adopters who are still working hard for the organization.
We started, we grew, and BFI has become something I never could have dreamed of: a terrifically fun, perfectly oddball place that helps thousands of children every year write and share their stories. In other words: my kind of place.
Now after 13 years of remarkable rewards, a ton of laughs, hard work, good cheer, and so many remarkable children and families in my life, I’m ready to start new projects, write new stories, and make time for yet more fearless adventures.
The timing is right. We have weathered some big changes in the organization and will be returning to our remodeled post-gas-explosion site in a few weeks. BFI has a terrific, inventive professional staff in place that promises to take the organization to new heights. We just had our most successful PEG ever, and the outpouring of support from the community after the explosion was truly moving. It’s time for big new ideas from big, new thinkers.
Before we charge into the future, allow me to look back and spread around some gratitude. I am so grateful to:
- the folks who started with us in the early days and have remained loyal and true supporters of our important cause through thick and thin.
- Dave Eggers and Nínive Caligari, who invited Seattle to come along on the early 826 wild ride (and continue to be friends).
- the staff, board, and dedicated volunteers who’ll be the pillars that take BFI to the next level. Somebody had to start the place (me) but equally important are the somebodies who will continue to cement BFI’s essential place in the community (you all).
- the families, many of whom have been coming to BFI for years: such a wonderful and diverse group of people that have made my world so rich.
- and giant thanks to my Jim Smith, who for the past 13 years has built walls for the store, advised me on neighborhoods (“Go to Greenwood!”), listened to my every concern (or at least pretended to), and graciously abandoned our trip to Cuba to return to Seattle when the neighborhood exploded. (This is but a fraction of what Jim's done for BFI.)
Every big change we’ve had at BFI has been the right change and I’m pretty darn sure handing the leadership reins to another will fall into that category.
BFI is a place of stories and there are many ways to tell them. I could think of no better way to tell my departure story* than to collaborate (again) with my dear friend, the genius graphic novelist David Lasky, and to ask the writers and imagination wizards among you to help finish the story…or perhaps it could be described as starting a new story.
Here is an illustrated explanation of my journey to now and beyond, and a writing assignment for all who dare to take the challenge!
*(Oh, by the way, I wouldn’t exactly call this a departure story. Stay tuned to learn about new ways I’ll stay connected to BFI.)