Write by the Rails
Okra’s is a corner hub of yellow brick
and wrought iron café tables
with paper napkins wrapped in mardi gras beads
one block from the train depot.
I walk into the sanctuary of a side room
To meet with other placemakers
Fillers of landscapes
Breathers of life
Writers.
We put on name tags
gulp down Purple Haze and Cajun Burgers
Exchange genres and rejections
Threaten editor effigies with voodoo pins
Pluck words as from a cornucopia
Laughing until we snort
A camera phone
Marks the moment for a Facebook page
As if a year from now
We might look back
And grasp the significance
Of this restaurant
These writers
This launching point.
If you believe that all places
have a guardian spirit that engenders life
Then Okra’s just gave birth tonight
To us
Placemakers
Fillers of landscapes
Breathers of life
Writers.
Cindy Brookshire
August 2011
_______________________
 
Write by the Rails was born August 8, 2011 when a group of writers, organized by community advocate, Prince William Arts Council member and writer Cindy Brookshire, met to brainstorm ways to get Prince William County/Manassas/Manassas Park writers more exposure.  The first official networking meeting was held later in August at Okra’s.  
For more than 30 years, Cindy has been telling the story of  the people and life of Manassas, Virginia.  Her feature articles have appeared in the Prince William Journal newspaper, and Community Connections, Prince William Living and Prince William Business magazines.  She produced the City’s Utility Connection, Public Works and Town Hall newsletters, and currently writes a neighborhood blog for Manassas.Patch.com.  Cindy is a Charter Founding Member of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, a 2010 graduate of Leadership Prince William, and a member of the Board of Directors for Manassas Midwifery and Women’s Health Center.  As a volunteer, Cindy directs Unity in the Community’s Prince William Study Circles — a project that brings together diverse people to get to know each other, talk about common issues and increase their engagement in the community. She is a remarried widow, the mother of two adult children and a parishioner at Trinity Episcopal Church, Manassas.
At the 2012 Arts Alive! arts festival, Cindy was presented with the  Kathleen K. Seefeldt Pioneer Award for launching Write by the Rails. The Pioneer award is given only when a new, innovative artistic group or project comes to life.
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