Blast off for Mars via Sydney at stellar new kids' workshop

Blast off for Mars via Sydney at stellar new kids' workshop

Interplanetary education has never been so far-out, thanks to the Sydney Story Factory
Martian Embassy
Take us to your leader -- or at least the place he keeps his best books.

NASA may be spending US$2.5 billion on the tricky feat of getting its Curiosity Rover to the Red Planet right now, but visitors to Sydney can top that by seeking asylum at the new Martian Embassy there, completely free of charge.

Admittedly, the Australian facility isn’t an outpost for our neighbors’ interplanetary outreach -- instead, it’s a creative-writing center designed to aid kids’ literary endeavors.

The non-profit complex is run by the Sydney Story Factory, an organization set up by former journalists Tim Dick and Catherine Keenan from The Sydney Morning Herald and inspired by a 2010 TED talk by author Dave Eggers.

As of this month, and with countless hours of pro-bono help with planning, design and construction behind it, the Martian Embassy is now open for business in Redfern.

Volunteer tutors help kids with everything from writing basics to story development. Building enthusiasm and confidence in their work is fundamental to the center’s ethos.

All children leave with a published piece of work, as well as the thrill of having spent a day in the stunning LAVA-designed Embassy.

And if they exit through the gift shop, picking up an educational souvenir on the way, so much the better.

“When we decided to open The Sydney Story Factory we knew two things,” said the founders on announcing the completion of the project.

“One, that we wanted it to look so amazing that kids would be excited just to walk in the door. Two, that we had very little money.

“Thanks to the extraordinary kindness of many people and companies, we managed to get 'one' despite 'two'.”

Martian Embassy, Sydney Story Factory, 176 Redfern St., Redfern, New South Wales, NSW 2006, + 61 (0) 407 165 622; open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Friday; www.sydneystoryfactory.org.au

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