Love Prevails: A Comparison of a Writing Desk at Adrian College and the University of Michigan

Recently, The Michigan Daily published an article discussing their findings on a semester-long project where students of Canopy Magazine set out a small desk on the lawn at the University of Michigan. The only materials on the desk were a notebook, some writing utensils, and an assortment of books, with the only instructions being to write or draw something. The project itself was simple; however, the impact was—and will continue to be—much larger. In collaboration with the Writing Center, I conducted a small-scale version of this project at Adrian College to compare results to the University of Michigan and promote writing on our campus. The abounding similarity between the two notebooks was the theme of love. 

While Canopy Magazine set out their desk on multiple occasions throughout the semester, I only had the opportunity to set out the desk for a single day. Saturday, April 15, was a warm and sunny day on campus, with many events happening throughout the day, such as Springfest and Sneak Peek Day. I assumed that the combination of the warm weather and the diverse group of people wandering around campus would increase the number of those contributing to the notebook. Other than the difference in the number of days conducting the project, I matched the setup and procedure exactly to that created by Canopy Magazine.

The desk was positioned at the Caine Student Center around 9:00 a.m. Like the members of Canopy Magazine, I did not monitor the desk besides quickly stopping by every few hours to check in. The notebook sat empty for the first hour; however, as people began to fill campus throughout the afternoon, so did the notebook. I most commonly saw people gathering around the desk to read what others had previously written. 

The notebook remained on the terrace for about eight hours when I finally had to pack everything up as it began to rain. In those eight hours, almost a quarter of the notebook was filled with unique doodles, quotes, or brief statements. Most interestingly, however, was that “love” was the most repeated word throughout the notebook, which was also true for the notebook set out at the University of Michigan. 

Less than forty miles separate Adrian College from the University of Michigan; however, their student populations are vastly different. The University of Michigan is a large public research institution with an undergraduate student population surpassing 30,000. On the other hand, Adrian College is a small liberal arts college with less than 2,000 students. Nevertheless, despite the differences, both communities’ love for themselves, each other, their campus, and the world prevailed. 

Canopy Magazine will be publishing a larger collection of the creative work that came from their tiny desk project. But, for now, a small selection of the pieces captured from the project on Adrian College’s campus is pictured below. 


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