Community Journal Project

The Western Flyer Foundation’s Community Journal Project focuses on environmental literacy through the integration of art, science, and creative writing. Middle and high school students work with art and writing mentors as they create Community Journals. Students’ journals feature observations about their local environments and communities: natural and built, human, animal and plant. Mentors teach techniques of scientific illustration and creative writing, which students use to record and communicate observations in their journals. The curriculum for this program is modeled on Steinbeck and Ricketts’s ideas about full “participation”—careful observation and reading—as well as Ricketts’s discussions of ecological levels from his Outer Shores Transcript.

Each class is paired with an art mentor and a writing mentor who visit the classes four times throughout the curriculum. Art mentors, who are professional scientific illustrators, teach field sketching and nature journaling techniques in art lessons that are integrated with concepts in ecology. Writing lessons blend creative writing prompts with literature by Steinbeck, Ricketts and other writers who explore themes of community. Writing mentors visit classes to share examples of their own work and to provide feedback on students’ creative writing. Students’ Community Journals will be presented in a public event at the end of the school year and displayed in the Western Flyer Foundation’s Gallery.

Image by Sami Chang, Art Mentor. See more of Sami's work at:

How can the poem and the stink and the grating noise - the quality of light, the tone, the habit and the dream - be set down alive? When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book - to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

This program was made possible with support from the Kathleen and Austin Barrows Fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County and support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.