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2019 RMWCA Conference Address

First of all, I want to thank Justin and all the folks in the Colorado Wyoming Writing Tutor Conference for their excellent job in organizing the conference this year.  The workshop sessions yesterday were evocative and gave me a lot to think about. I’m looking forward to the sessions today.
Secondly, out on a table near registration you will find stickers [hold up stickers] and buttons [show off button] for the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing and International Writing Centers Association joint conference in Columbus, Ohio held from October 16th to the 19th next fall.  I encourage you all to adapt your presentations here at TutorCon or propose new ones for that conference.  Also, keep and eye out for travel grant opportunities, and don’t let he  price tag deter you from proposing. Our region represents some of the most innovative writing center work in the world. 
Finally, I bring greetings from the Rocky Mountain Writing Centers Association.  It has been a banner year for RMWCA. For the first time, we officially have dues-paying members, and as of today we have 239! RMWCA members can look forward to webinars for both peer tutors and directors such as an upcoming webinar with co-authors Lori Salem, John Nordloff, and Harry Denny on their recent article “Tell me exactly what it was that I was doing so bad:” Understanding the Needs and Expectations of Working class writers”.  You can find out about the webinars and other benefits of joining at
The vast majority of our new RMWCA members are Peer Writing Tutors: the people that TutorCon is by, for and about. It is appropriate, as well that our gathering here today takes place during International Writing Centers Week: a time when we celebrate the vital role that writing centers play in education.
Neal Lerner writes the following in the epilogue of his rich history of writing centers  The Idea of a Writing Laboratory (Southern Indiana University Press, 2009):
The idea of a writing laboratory is an old idea...yet an idea somehow always ahead of its time….Perhaps we need to stop and let it catch up. Or perhaps we need to move a little more quickly and ride its draft. Whatever the strategy, teaching writing as an experiment in what is possible, as a way of offering meaning -making opportunities for students no matter the subject matter, is an endeavor worth the struggle…. It is an ongoing experiment in teaching and learning that beckons us all to don those white coats and safety glasses and discover what works. (196-197)
Lerner, of course is making reference to the history of the work we do in writing centers and how it was cast as a “laboratory”--or a place where experimentation and exploration can take place. Laboratory, in this sense, is an apt way to describe our work, and perhaps even more apt for the kind of work that can take place here at TutorCon. Ideally, we will share in the making of knowledge that influences the practice in our home writing centers. We learn new ways of responding; we learn methods of respecting writers, and helping them to learn about writing without compromising their identities. The work we do here today at TutorCon is like the work we do in our Writing Centers and, indeed, what we do in the entire Rocky Mountain Writing Center region: we are exploring new ways of consulting--new ways of writing----new ways of understanding the world--new ways of writing centering--even if you don’t have a lab coat or safety glasses. Thank you.


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