Project: TLDR

Tuka Al-Sahlani

I am working on a digital project for my ITP course that centers care and compassion as a pedagogical framework for a writing classroom. I am exploring the format of the digital garden (both metaphorically and technically). Presently, the working name of my project is Writing Pedagogy from Compassion: A Community Digital Garden.

 A digital garden simply stated is a blog that encourages knowledge creation and writing as a process by setting the premise that the posts are incomplete and/ or developing. This notion, for me, allows teachers, especially writing pedagogues, a space to think and write about compassionate strategies and practices in their writing classrooms while embodying the vulnerability of writing their students and most ( if not all) writers experience in the act of writing. 

Metaphorically, the garden as a place of nurture, growth, and community is appealing to me. In that sense, my grand idea (hence TLDR) is to have a community digital garden. As of now I have a sketch of a website with three main sections: rows (the digital garden where “gardeners” post ideations/projects/questions), commune ( the forum for members to ask and respond to each other), and the harvest (resources for teaching writing from compassion). 

This is the landing page of the sketch. I learned about better ways to design my page last week at a GC Digital Fellows workshop that I will implement. 

In my meeting with Nelson, he suggested using Miro, a collaborative platform for the Rows aspect of my website. I explored some of the templates on Miro for education and reflection and found them helpful, but I have yet to figure out if or how to embed Miro into my website, but I also believe I can replicate one or two of the reflection templates in the Rows section. ( Thank you Nelson!)

My concerns now are, what section should I tackle first? I think the resource section might be the easiest (if such a thing exists) since I will be curating resources and not creating them. This will allow me to think of the digital garden aspect and how to curate the seasonal gardeners ( writing pedagogues) who will think and write in the space. I am not too sure I want to include the commune section. I would like some feedback or questions to help me through the choice to keep or eliminate or revise the commune ( forum) section. 

Yes, this is a large project, but presently I want to work on the minimum viable product. 

If you would like to learn more about a digital garden, here are a few resources:

The Garden and the Stream:

Maggie Appleton’s garden 

Amanda Pinkser’s reading list 

Tom Critchlow’s personal digital garden 

Sindhu Shivaprasad’s garden Garden Terms of Service:

10 thoughts on “Project: TLDR

  1. diana ballesteros (she/they)

    love this iteration of your project Tuka; even just this image of the landing page gave me a sense of *aaah*…a fresh breath, as if I was strolling through a garden. I’m curious …would this tool only be available to CUNY educators?

    1. Brieanna Scolaro (They)

      HI Tuka,

      Your idea warmed my heart in a day full of stress. Thank you for that.

      In regards to commune, or even the other sections, what are you biggest dreams for how folx show up to that space? What do those folx feel like? Are they inspired, what are they inspired to do, and how does that show up? If not commune, what could be 1 or 2 other options to replace it? In the metaphor of garden, what comes between rows and harvest? Well as a gardener, a whole damn lot of work. Trial and error, random condition changes and challenges, a process of refining and feedback. I nurture my garden, i protect my garden, and if i am lucky, intentional, and have planned well, i can harvest. I wonder in navigating your questions, what you could draw on from the process of gardening itself to fill a second pillar.

      See you in class ! -B

      1. Tuka Al-Sahlani Post author


        Thank you for your questions. I need to think more about them, but you saying that the project warmed your heart is exactly what I want writing teachers to feel coming onto this site. I want to feel calm and inspired when reading and thinking and writing about compassion ( hooks is my inspiration here). The process required from row to harvest is exactly why I thought of commune–a space of reflecting, problem-solving, and/or sharing ideas.

    2. Tuka Al-Sahlani Post author

      Thank you D! Yes ( at least in the foresable fututre) this will be for CUNY educators. Initially, I imagined this for the world of writing instructors, but in reaity I shoul dkeep it small and managable. Also, the technical and economic affordances of hosting this on the Commons is a factor.

  2. Jen Hoyer (she/her)

    Tuka, this looks really amazing!

    One question that you could maybe ask yourself–especially in relation to thinking about including the Commune–is: what ongoing maintenance would you want to put in, to make each of these spaces meaningful? And, considering that, what content/sections would you prioritize in a way that feels sustainable? I guess what I am saying is: maybe there’s a need to balance what feels impactful for others with what feels most possible for you to create and maintain. And, if it feels like the resource section is easiest for you, allow yourself to do that first…and then perhaps make other decisions after that…

    1. Tuka Al-Sahlani Post author

      ” maybe there’s a need to balance what feels impactful for others with what feels most possible for you to create and maintain.”
      This^ is my concern! Thank you for the questions, I am writing creating a doc for all these thoughtful questiosn you all posted!

  3. Adrianna Rios (she/her)

    Tuka, I love this! It’s truly a heartwarming project and I can tell that you really care about it. I don’t know what changes you’ll end up making, but please keep the pastel colors! I feel that they make the space seem very warm and welcoming. As Jen mentioned, start with what seems more meaningful and sustainable. If it were my project, I would keep the commune section. It seems like a space for questions and hands on participation that I think is very important for creating. That being said, perhaps you could incorporate the commune into the rows section? Not sure if it’s feasible or if it will complicate things for you. In the end, choose what’s more important and what aligns the most with your vision. Please make this available to us when you finish. I assume that I’m going to be assigned writing classes as an adjunct next semester. I know I speak for everyone in my cohort when I say that we would really benefit from tools like this.

    1. Tuka Al-Sahlani Post author

      Thank you! Your response makes me more eager to have at least some form of the project up and ready in the Fall. The idea for this project or the need I felt for this project came from my first time teaching FYW last fall. I do like the pastel colors, but I worry about accessibilty , and I want to make this site as accessiible as I possibly can because after all that is a form of care and compassion. Yes, I need to find the balance of imporant, sustainable, and beneficial.

      Also, I can share some teaching tips with you before or while or anytime! Feel free to reach out anytime!!!

  4. Katina Rogers (she/her)

    Tuka, thanks for sharing this! And many thanks to everyone who has offered ideas and questions—this is clearly striking a chord. I think Jen’s question about maintenance is a good one to consider. One option might be to invite submissions (for the resources or questions or both) via a google form, and then embed the responses within the site so you’re not constantly having to go back in and add things. Not ideal, but it’s similar to what I adopted for posting the syllabus on the site for much the same reason—it’s constantly evolving, and having a live document there means I don’t have to remember to update a bunch of different pages.

    You could also consider letting the forum live in a more discussion-oriented space, like slack or discord, and link out to it.

    Either way, great start and looking forward to seeing how it evolves.

    1. Tuka Al-Sahlani Post author


      Yes, a live document is what I need. I should start searching for other “live” applications that I can embed into the site. Thank you !

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