Writing Wrongs, Doing Good

“It could be sketchy, you don’t know. You don’t know what’s gonna happen.”

All Amanda Maisto knew when she headed out on Labor Day weekend was that Writing Wrongs is a non-profit organization that recruits students to create a book on a hot topic. And with that bit of knowledge, she headed off to Reading, PA-ready to be part of the current Writing Wrongs project.

According to their website, Writing Wrongs is a “community journalism project” which seeks to raise awareness about and “promote understanding of various societal issues.” It is the brainchild of Dawn Heinbach, and she’s been working to grow it since she got the idea in 2013. The first Writing Wrongs was held in 2015 and since then, the projects have tackled topics like homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault, immigration, and addiction.

This year, the group of 15 students was gathering to make a 66-page book about the LGBTQIA community. The students hailed from 10 different colleges and were writers, designers, illustrators, photographers, and more.

Maisto is a third-year student at Northampton Community College and was part of the design team. She was the only student representing NCC at the event.

“It was really fun to work as a team. We all have the same mindset and we’re all here to do the same thing.”

During the first day, the writers interviewed members of the LGBTQIA community while the designers brainstormed the general layout and certain features like a glossary of commonly used terms in the LGBTQIA community.

The next few days were spent laying out the book, placing stories, and “tweaking what we had.”

Since Maisto is not part of the LGBTQIA community, the weekend served to teach her about the community. “I learned some new words…like agender and cisgender. Agender is someone with no or very little connection to the [accepted] system of gender”

The opportunity also served to teach her more about design. “Gayle [Gayle Hendricks, an NCC professor and this year’s adviser for the project] really helped me out a lot. I understood the basics, and she really helped me dive into the [software] program…InDesign.”

What is the cost of being part of something like this? “Gas,” Maisto said. “Dawn doesn’t want anyone not coming because they can’t afford to come. She gets so many generous sponsors who paid for us to eat all weekend.”

For those interested in taking an opportunity like this but unsure if they should, Maisto said “Do it. Don’t be afraid of anything.”

The book Maisto helped design Outgrowing will be available on Amazon by October 2019. The application for the next Writing Wrongs project opens up in May and has a June deadline. More information about this project can be found at seekreporttruth.com.

Glossary of Terms

LGBTQIA: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual and/or ally

Trans*: Umbrella term which refers to all the identities that exist within the trans identity

Intersex: someone who’s born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male

Asexual: (also known as ace) someone who does not experience sexual attraction for any gender

Ally: someone who does not identify as LGBTQIA but supports the rights and safety of those who identify

Cisgender: someone who identifies as having the gender that corresponds with the gender they were assigned at birth.