Announcing New Writing Fellows!

Our first year at You Are Here stories has been an adventure and a delight. From the very beginning, we loved the idea of inviting a range of people to share their experience around common themes, but until we dove in we had no idea how rich and rewarding the story-sharing experience would be.

As we began to dream together about year number two—how we might expand our perspectives, engage new voices, and invigorate our collective explorations of place—it seemed fitting that we would invite new Writing Fellows to join our core team.

Some of these faces will not be new to you. Most of our new Writing Fellows have guest posted here in the last year. They immediately got what we were up to and wanted to be a part of it. Others might be unfamiliar, but they each have somehow been a part of our broader storytelling community, and we have great admiration for their hearts, minds, and ways with words. Whether or not you know them already, we’re sure you’ll be drawn into their experiences and viewpoints as they share about their unique places in the world.

In November, you will see stories by some of these Writing Fellows about their experiences with “Losing Place.” Next month, all of these new team members,along with the You Are Here regulars you have come to know, will share stories under the theme “Finding Place.” We hope you’ll come back again and again.

We also want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Sam Turner and Jonathan Bower, founding members of You Are Here, who are cycling off the core team.

With that, please help us welcome the 2015-16 You Are Here Writing Fellows!

Shawn Smucker (1)

Shawn Smucker
Shawn is an author, co-writer, and blogger, and he lives with his wife and their five children in the small city of Lancaster, PA. Having grown up in the country, he’s rather awestruck at how the city can provide such a powerful place for contemplation. On any warm day, should you be walking down James Street, take a peek at 41 West and you might see him writing away on the porch. If you’re not in the area, you can find him at

red stripeJ. Nicole Morgan
Nicole lives near Atlanta, Georgia, surrounded by the trappings of suburbia and many, many oak trees. There’s a nature preserve across the street from a big box store, and the rippling creek and rocky path are a welcome place to retreat. Nicole works-from-home-or-coffee-shop as both a ministry assistant and as a freelance editor. Connect with Nicole on Twitter or at her blog.

IMG_8758 copyMeredith Bazzoli
Meredith has spent her whole life orbiting around Chicago and its suburbs. She currently resides just west of the city with her husband Drew, who grew up a Hoosier. She never thought she could marry one of those. Meredith calls herself a “recovering teacher” and has taken a break from inner city education to write, perform improv comedy, and tutor. Wherever she can, Meredith seeks to start conversations about the life we stuff under the bed and keep off our Instagram feeds. Join the conversation on her blog.

Ed Cyzewski Author Cafe (2)

Ed Cyzewski
A former New Englander now temporarily in Columbus Ohio, Ed is an author and freelance writer with an obsession for vegetable gardening and hockey. When he isn’t chasing after his two very busy young sons, Ed can be found writing from the same cafe six days a week with a mug of light roast coffee. He is the author of Coffeehouse Theology; Pray, Write Grow; and A Christian Survival Guide. You can find him online at or on Twitter.

Amy Maczuzak (1)Amy Maczuzak
Amy spent the first 18 years of her life craving a home base. Since graduating from high school, Amy has found home in the hills and valleys of western Pennsylvania, ultimately settling in Pittsburgh. She works in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood, as a member of the marketing and communications team of the CCO, the campus ministry that changed her life during her college years. Amy loves reading, drinking good coffee, and spending time with friends, family members, and her cat, Charlotte Brontë.

Elena Contributor Pic (1)Elena Sorenson
Elena lives in Denver with her husband, the artist Dan Sorensen. She seems to always have a book and journal in hand, even at parties and the movies. In particular, she can’t get enough of Victorian novels and murder mysteries, and can often be found sitting on a camp chair on her apartment balcony, absorbed by treacherous outlaws or spirited wives and daughters. Elena is a freelance writer by day, and a fairy tale and fantasy writer by night and early morning. New to Colorado, she blogs about exploring life as a Connecticut Yankee in the wild West at



6 Thoughts.

  1. Some good comments on diversity…and when you are so forward about it, I’m not sure how I would feel if I were a person of color being asked to write…am I being asked based on my the merit of my writing or because I’m the “token diversity choice?” Now that this has been aired, I sincerely hope people take it in good stride that they are considered more for their fit than for their melanin quantity. But I have to admit, it was one of the first things I noticed too.

    • Yes, sadly it’s true. We did invite some people of color to join us as fellows, but they weren’t able to commit at this time. Do you have suggestions about how to help usher in more diversity in collectives like this? We’d love to hear them, because this is important to us.

      • My thought would be to save one or two spots and not fill them until you find someone. There’s got to be someone out there who wants to? My other thought was if there is a reason they couldn’t commit….is it a time luxury to be able to produce one good essay a month? If that’s the case, could you reduce the commitment? Get 4 POC to each do 3 pieces or something? idk what your requirements are, but it is a little disconcerting to see that most of these people seem to be full-time freelancers. And if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes, but my assumption would be that that is not a field teeming with POC. <3

        • Thanks for the thoughts. We can certainly make spaces available if we meet or hear of people who are interested! We’re just making it up as we go, trying to find our way.

          It is a frustrating situation, though, because we were very intentional about inviting a diverse group of people to join us—not just people of color, but also men, people who are single, a range of ages, etc. It matters to us a lot, but the line between nurturing a diverse space and forcing it is a tricky one to tread.

          Having said all of that, I’m saddened that the six individuals who have joined our modest efforts here are being lumped together as something negative rather than welcomed and encouraged for who they each are and what unique stories they have to share.

          • Yes, let’s be careful about defining ‘diversity’ solely in racial terms. Kristin is right about our process, we did try to prioritize diversity, including racial diversity, but when wonderful writers of color said no and this wonderful group of white writers said yes, I think that it would have been a disservice to diversity to force the issue, begging someone to join us just to have more color in the mix.

            Caris, I think that you’ve asked some really good questions here–is it a luxury, a privilege, to be a freelance writer? And is this what makes it more difficult for people of color–who are statistically and historically less privileged–to have time for something like You Are Here? This seems to be to get closer to the heart of the issue, but it’s hard to know how to go about tackling something this big within the confines of the “modest effort” we are making here. Still, we will certainly continue to try.

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