Sandbox: An interdisciplinary group’s mission to foster creativity

MTSU Behavioral and Health Sciences senior Easton Horton leads a discussion at a Sandbox meeting. (MTSU Sidelines / Michael Patton)

Photos by Michael Patton

It’s being talked about in popular spots on campus. It’s a subject of whispered conversations in quiet buildings. Chances are, you’ve already heard the name of this little group that could: Sandbox.

“If people ask me what it is, I call it a collaborative collective,” said Alvin Knox, English faculty member and a project coordinator for this up-and-coming student-run team. “And then hopefully they’ll say ‘What does that mean?’ And then we’d tell them our mission statement is ‘We Foster Creators.’ ”

We’d hazard a guess that many freshman are well aware of what it means. After all, since Sandbox’s formation last year, the group has been busy running the circuits, recruiting most of its membership from incoming freshman at CUSTOMS, MTSU’s student orientation program, last summer.

The concept of Sandbox came about when the faculty advisor, Adam McInturff, and the president, Easton Horton, were a part of another writers’ group that fell apart. The nameless group’s demise was unfortunately the byproduct of too much competition among the Writing Center and numerous other writing groups across campus, and also because there were not enough bodies to make it work. So they decided that they wanted to make a new group, which turned into Sandbox.

But this group isn’t just for writers, and its sole purpose isn’t only to create written content. Opening its doors to all disciplines, Sandbox hopes to gain members from those interested in English, film, art and photography to student’s knowledgeable in business and copyright law.

Sandbox group
A group of students hold a discussion at a Sandbox meeting. (MTSU Sidelines / Michael Patton)

“I’m a stop gap for those things right now,” said Knox. “We want to give students as many opportunities as possible for them to be doing whatever their job field will be. If I’m doing it then that means someone’s not getting that experience.”

Still in its infancy, this new creative group, which has over 100 members on MyMT, has already met several challenges and seen some success.

“Last semester we set up a one-issue release because the idea was just to enter Southern Literary Festival in the e-zine category,” said Knox. “And we set it up as an interactive story on our WordPress site. We created a basic storyline and the people created stories around it. It was a little too complex of an idea for our time frame, and people got their stories to the web designer maybe a week before we had to submit it.”

The effort was definitely worth it seeing as Sandbox would go on to place first in their category — that is, of course, since they were the only entry.

“I’m relatively proud of what we accomplished in a month and a half,” said Knox. But the group has also had its fair share of struggles. With the down-to-the-wire timing of the SLF submission, some important things fell through the cracks, such as the site not featuring the names of the contribution authors. “Basically we have to start over from scratch now. We’ve been coming up with this idea to have a special issue once a semester, and now it’s just about deciding what that’ll be.”

Sandbox Nausheen Qureshi
MTSU Behavioral and Health Sciences senior Nausheen Qureshi speaks at a Sandbox meeting. (MTSU Sidelines / Michael Patton)


And with great power comes great responsibility. With a core group of intelligent writers whose personalities and creative energies jive together, the weaker spots of their membership involves a lack of filled committee positions. In a recent post on their social media page run by Knox, the group has put out a call for “creator’s of all types from a variety of fields of interest,” including graphic and media design, illustration, business management, writing, copyright law, sound engineering, photography, editorial, web design, CGI and music composition.

Ultimately the group hopes to fill the void left by some print publications, such as Collage: A Journal of Creative Expression, which publishes art, photography, prose and poetry, and SHINE: A Tribute to Lightyear, a photographic magazine sponsored by the MTSU Photo Society. Without the expense and limitations of print media, Sandbox hopes their e-zine format will provide a space for creators whose works have fallen through the cracks.

Follow Sara Snoddy on Twitter at @Sara_Snoddy.

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To contact Lifestyles editor Tanner Dedmon email

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