Office McSweeneysPublication 826
May 04, 2020

Check out Unnecessarily Beautiful Spaces for Young Minds on Fire

Back in 2007, Dave Eggers asked us if we’d help him refresh the 826 Valencia Pirate Supply Store that he co-founded.

A few years earlier, Dave and some friends had rented a building in our neighborhood for a nonprofit youth writing and tutoring center. When they learned that the location was zoned for retail, they decided to add a storefront that sells pirate supplies (for real working buccaneers). “It was a ludicrous solution to a bizarre problem,” wrote Dave in the intro to his new book. “And it ended up being the key to everything. Every kid in the world needs a safe, welcoming, and even weird place to write.”

826 Valencia and its pirate-themed storefront inspired similarly unconventional writing centers around the world —from Boston’s Bigfoot Research Institute to the Midcontinent Oceanographic Institute in Minneapolis. More than 40 of these organizations make up The International Alliance of Youth Writing Centers. The Alliance’s recent book, Unnecessarily Beautiful Spaces for Young Minds on Fire, is the story behind how these centers got built, and why — with images, tips and inspiration to start one in your community.

Office's work with 826 Valencia, 826 Tenderloin, 826 Mission Bay and The International Alliance of Youth Writing Centers appears on some of the pages, along with many other contributors around the world. You can order the book from McSweeney’s.

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