Testimonials and Photos

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Here's what people have said after taking a
Green Windows Workshop:

(More to come!  Send us yours!)

Green Windows both invites & creates authenticity.  There's a simple, no fluff energy in the room.  Peggy can hold circle, encourage without over praising.  The writers that walk in & write have voices, stories, opinions that can breathe freely.  These voices of the Bay have rhythm that feels appropriate alongside the pulse in the Art Collective where the workshop is held (Rock Paper Scissors). These voices are worth hearing, absorbing, being inspired by.  The whole two hours shifts your stories, making you better at being yourself; being a writer or a Writer that's more true to your own word.  At the same time, you seamlessly join a diverse, genuine community.  There is no judgments, no expectations.  There are chocolate chip cookies.  Intermingled creativities.  

Allie Cuozzo, May 2015, Monthly workshop participant

Bertrell and Joseph at the Monthly GW workshop at RPSC

Bertrell and Joseph, regular writers at the Monthly Green Windows workshop. (At Rock Paper Scissors Collective.)

I have done some of my best writing in her workshops. Just two days ago I ran into someone I used to see at those workshops and she said the same thing. Some of her best writing. We are a varied bunch, college graduates and dropouts, comfortably off and just getting by, and we produce, under her guidance, writing worth listening to.

Nancy Schimmel, October 2015, Monthly workshop participant

Elena and Nancy at the Monthly GW workshop at RPSC

Elena and Nancy, regular writers at the Monthly Green Windows workshop. (At Rock Paper Scissors Collective.)

What did you like about this workshop?
  • I used to think writing was boring and tiring. Now it’s the best way to express myself.
  • What I like about this workshop is how people get to express their feelings and put their mind on a topic then write about it and share with other people and get feedback. I think this is a great way for people to get things off their minds and chest. And this also helped me express my feelings in a different way.
  • That you get to write about what you want. I learned to just write what’s on your mind. Something I might use is to just say what’s on your mind.
  • I learned to put how I feel on paper. What stood out for me is when someone else reads their poem, I can relate to them, and I can give them feedback about their writing.

Excerpts from the youth evaluations of workshops in
the maximum security unit of Alameda County's juvenile hall.  (January - April 2015) 

The youth felt valued and listened to in our groups. Though some were not serious or were negative, we still respected and valued them. Peggy really shined in this area. She was firm and structured with them, but encouraged and respected them with unrelenting drive.

This workshop became the bright spot of the week.

Sonia Osborne, English Teacher in
the maximum security unit of Alameda County's juvenile hall.  (January - April 2015) 

Peggy is vested in the well­being of the youth and has a desire to see them express themselves in creative and expressive ways. I’m always appreciative of her ability to relate and connect with the minors and even inspire minors that have writing and or comprehension challenges to express themselves as well. Through her instruction, minors have been able to utilize writing as a coping skill that will ultimately help them develop into well -rounded young men who have more to offer than when they first came into custody. The youth look for her every day, and are excited about the opportunities extended to them to publish and polish their work. Others may view the young men by their offenses, but I appreciate Peggy Simmons for viewing them by the potential that they possess.

Brian A. Bingham, Juvenile Institutional Officer in
the maximum security unit of Alameda County's juvenile hall.  (January - April 2015) 

If anyone needs this method of approaching writing­ it's these young people who are locked up and who knows how the opportunity you are providing with the AWA method for them to get their voice onto the paper might change them. To be witnessed right where they are,​to be heard. [....]

As the witness,­ as the recipient of these rare, beautiful voices­ receiving these difficult painful stories, funny stories, beautiful raw poems and seeing where they go over the course of the workshop is a rare gift. There are things to be learned in this process­ not just for the participants in the writing but in the participants receiving or assisting or facilitating.

Renee Garcia, volunteer typer and editor of youth writing from
the maximum security unit of Alameda County's juvenile hall.  (January - April 2015) 

What did you like about this workshop?
    -  The openness and freedom of expression.
    -  It's a chance to see and hear how wonderfully you and your fellow neighbors can create.
    - This class was great, it was really encouraging. It gave me time to work on my poetry and the communities time to come together.
    - My creative writing teacher. My new creative writing family. My reading and writing. 
    - I like how we can be ourselves, express ourselves, and at the same time, have fun. It gave people a chance to open up.
    - What surprised me is how good I got and that I'm not scared anymore to share. I'd love to do this again, can't wait. Everyone should have a chance to do this.

What did you learn in this workshop?
    - That I can do it! Even though I felt I couldn't. I loved hearing the different types of thought that come from everyone's mind.
    - Everyone has their own style.       
    - To be my own voice.

Excerpts from the evaluations from a ten-week workshop at Chestnut Linden Court Apartments in West Oakland, summer 2010

Jade Signing. GW Chestnut summer 2010

Jade signing the chapbook
In Written Color, a collection of writing from the summer 2010 workshops at Chestnut Linden Court Apartments.

I learned that I can write in many different ways.

I learned that people have different styles of writing.

I'll encourage people to come [to the workshop] to learn about great stories other people tell.

Excerpts from the evaluations from a six-week workshop at Camp Sweeney, an Alameda County juvenile detention facility, spring 2010.

Roxanne reading GW Chestnut summer 2010

Roxanne reading to a community audience from the chapbook
In Written Color, a collection of writing from the summer 2010 workshops at Chestnut Linden Court Apartments.

[This workshop] has opened new writing worlds to me - worlds of freedom of exploration of my darkest of places, with complete anonymity. By becoming a voice, I could explore my own. The method works.

The prompts were great - evocative and exciting but never narrowing.

Peggy succeeded in creating a safe, encouraging, creative setting to write. She was friendly but always kept the focus on the writing, which I know can be hard to do given everything that writing evokes.

I doubted the method a bit in the beginning. I thought I needed the critical peer feedback I became so accustomed to in undergrad.  I was wrong. This was a very powerful, wonderful experience.

This workshop changed my life.

Green Windows helped to give me self-belief about my fiction writing which I've never shared with anyone before.

It installed a sense of structure in my life with regards to my fiction writing: once a week, at a set time, with people who I came to trust.

It has given me such a sense of confidence and well-being and it has meant a lot to me that [Peggy] valued my feedback on [her own] writing!  I am so grateful.
- Catherine

I've worked on pieces and let out emotions through these exercises that I didn't even know I had. The atmosphere was warm and friendly but not patronizing or hand-holding. We really grew to respect one another quickly and could offer honest, helpful feedback.
- Matt

It's been a commitment that is easy to keep. I'm always amazed at the writing shared by each person, enjoying and discovering their particular voice and talent.

Each week I leave wanting to write more  = practice.

Peggy keeps the boundaries clear and protects our writing voices whether just beginning or around the block a few times.
- Andrea

Excerpts of testimonials from members of Green Windows' weekly group.
Laney College workshop fall 2008

Elena and Becka write during the Laney College diversity workshop, fall 2008.

It was amazing to see the different perspectives. It was an Oaklandish hodgepodge of experiences in your own language.

Writing brings people together. The positive feedback eliminates hostility. It's a very peaceful process.

The workshop played an important part of my week. I love to have a space to express myself. Peggy Simmons did an incredible job running this group. The homemade goods were delicious. We were writers of all different levels and it helped me find my authentic voice.

I've been writing for as long as I can remember, but I've only ever been somewhat confident in my writing. I really enjoyed sharing my work and getting very positive feedback. I write outside of the group a lot now and my confidence in my work has really increased. 

Excerpts from the evaluations
after the diversity workshop at Laney College, fall 2008 

The prompts were diverse and inspiring, and I ended up liking either the character, situation, setting, concept or idea of everything I wrote. The feedback from the class helped me hone in on the aspects of each piece that I would want to develop. After the class ended, I surprised myself by developing the one story I thought had no future beyond the class exercise.

I appreciated that Peggy joined in with the writing exercises and acted not only as the facilitator, but as a member of the community of writers in the class. She provided homemade cookies and snacks, lunch even, personal touches that made the experience special, more intimate and less generic than other classes I've taken.

Nina, after a Green Windows one-day intensive workshop December, 2007

Peggy and Brenda - one-day workshop

Peggy and Brenda write during a one-day intensive workshop.

I just love how this class lets you be yourself.  A free-for-all writing class, just the way I like it. 

Although I only participated in this workshop once, it motivated me to become part of a team.

Excerpts from the anonymous evaluations
after the workshop at Youth UpRising, summer 2008 (ages 14-23) 

I just wanted to thank you for such a wonderful workshop. I found your workshop to be not only helpful but also inspiring to my writing practice. I wish you the best of luck with your wonderful endeavor.

Denisse, after an introductory workshop for teachers and youth workers.  

What did you enjoy about this workshop?

I liked the confidence it gave me and how my writing grew.

I really enjoyed the prompts, the freewriting time, and the method of critiquing and giving advice. 

I liked the whole thing, especially the themes of the writing.

I liked the writing I did. It was fun.  I would do it again. 

I enjoyed how we could express ourselves freely and with comfort. 

I really enjoyed the writing prompts we had. There was a good variety of prompts that focused on the details of outside, characters, or objects and they really helped me find my unique style of writing. 

I enjoyed reading my work out loud and getting feedback but also hearing what others wrote. 

What could we do to improve the workshop?

More writing time. (two participants' response)

Nothing  (everyone else's response)

From the evaluations after the "Uniquely Yours" workshop with 826 Valencia 
(ages 14-17)

826 Valencia "Uniquely Yours" May 2008


 "Uniquely Yours" workshop with 826 Valencia

Nisha and I have received the newsletters and have often reminisced about the Saturday class we took with you. We tried a few other writing classes after yours but none of them compared or resonated for us.

Alison, when Green Windows general public workshops
were on hiatus to develop its youth workshops.  

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We are a Member of Intersection for the Arts. Intersection provides resources, community and cultural space in order to contribute to the sustainable practices of artists and arts organizations the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit www.theintersection.org.