Tag Archive | advocacy

Artists Within Spotlight: Y-LLEAD – Healing the Self to Heal the Community

Created by designer and activist Melissa Moore, the Youth Learning Lab of Education and Applied Design (Y-LLEAD) in Greenmount West is a youth-led + intergenerational supported design, build, and community activation program.

A typical Y-LLEAD session begins with setting an intention and closes with similar activities. Youth participant Talayia Bowman explains, “We come and sit in a circle to keep our energy and circulation between us. We start with our meditation/contemplation practice where we ground our feet and sit in an upright position with our backs erect… It’s beneficial. We are still young and pulled in a lot of directions but this helps us be more open to what we want to be, kind and decent to other people.”

Y-LLEAD Learning ExchangeBowman also described the benefits of being in an intentional collaborative learning environment. “I’ve been in programs where the ripple effect only lasts as long as the duration of the program, but here, this is stuff that directly deals with how we view society and how we carry ourselves.” Bowman smiled, and then continued, “I deal with regular challenges… when I leave here, it’s like taking a little ball of optimism outside into the world with me. Being young, people don’t expect us to think through stuff as much as we do. Design thinking means taking something apart layer by layer. This program has helped me learn how to unpack hard situations and I can use [these skills] as soon as I hit the sidewalk outside. Overall I would describe my experience as enlightening,” Bowman explained. “What makes [Y-LLEAD] different is how it is run.  Most programs lie about wanting participants to have a voice, but this place does not.”

Y-LLEAD Participant   Using a combination of healing practices and design thinking, Y-LLEAD    helps participants and facilitators work together to solve complex social  problems. Y-LLEAD learning exchange facilitator Thea Ganlas said, “We  spend a lot of time really listening and hearing everyone’s voice.   It’s  therapeutic for me and it’s almost unfair to get paid for doing it. We learn  how to approach communal work. We talk about everything. We see this  space as safe and whatever we bring to it, we deal with in the healthiest  way possible. I have not seen this work out with other programs – other  programs I’ve been a part of were focused on the business end of the work, not the healing that can come through doing arts-based practice.”

As a facilitator, Ganlas sees Y-LLEAD as a chance to be an ally in communities that are not her own. “I came to Baltimore as a student.  I did not feel connected to the neighborhoods because I stayed inside of a bubble. It is really easy to do. I decided finally that I should find out what it means to live in Baltimore and not let others speak for those experiences. Being a part of Y-LLEAD helps me feel connected to the city I have decided will remain home for now.”

As a Baltimore native, youth participant Bowman offers another perspective on allyship. “I don’t live around [Greenmount West] and a few months ago I would have been like, ‘I don’t live around here, I don’t hang around here and I don’t care about what goes on around here.’ But now I realize I don’t have to live here to care about the neighborhood.”


Continuum of Impact: Policy

Our final video addresses the way that art can be used to impact Policy. Jennifer Pelton from the Public Justice Center describes some of the ways that the PJC has incorporated art into advocating policy changes. Through the use of photography, music, youth created art, and other mediums, the PJC knows that art is an effective tool for providing a face to an issue and making the policy changes personal.

To view the complete interview with Jennifer Pelton of the Public Justice Center: Click Here 

To view the rest of the Continuum of Impact videos please visit the Baltimore Art + Justice Project YouTube channel

The Continuum of Impact Video Series is based on the Continuum of Impact created by Animating Democracy, the videos each highlight specific ways that social justice and art collaboration create an impact.

Continuum of Impact: Capacity

Capacity involves the efforts to build strategies for organizing along with raising the status marginalized and disenfranchised communities. Our Capacity video features the Youth Resiliency Institute who provide cultural arts programming and training to youth and their families in Baltimore City. Navasha Daya and Fanon Hill describe the organizations’ methods of using multiple forms of art from dance to poetry to provide an outlet for agency building. Using the creative skills developed through YRI, youth have become become engaged politically, culturally, and locally engaged.

To view the complete interview with Youth Resiliency Institute: Click Here Part 1 | Part 2

To view the rest of the Continuum of Impact videos please visit the Baltimore Art + Justice Project YouTube channel.

Coming up next week……. Action Part 2!

The Continuum of Impact Video Series is based on the Continuum of Impact created by Animating Democracy, the videos each highlight specific ways that social justice and art collaboration create an impact.

Continuum of Impact: Attitudes

Changing the way people feel about an issue is a difficult task to undertake but art can be a helpful medium to do so. Using art, organizers and activists can generate feelings of hope, pride, and respect in both those who engage  in the creation of art and those who view or experience it. Our Attitudes video highlights the work of DewMore Baltimore and 901 Arts who use art to change people’s thought’s and attitudes towards specific issues. Devlon Waddell from DewMore Baltimore describes how they use literary arts to encourage individuals to explore their understanding of themselves to then develop a stronger connection with their community.

To view the complete interview with DewMore Baltimore: Click Here

To view the complete interview with 901 Arts: Click Here

To view the rest of the Continuum of Impact videos please visit the Baltimore Art + Justice Project YouTube channel.

Stay tuned next week for……. Capacity!

The Continuum of Impact Video Series is based on the Continuum of Impact created by Animating Democracy, the videos each highlight specific ways that social justice and art collaboration create an impact.

Continuum of Impact: Discourse

Through art we are able to create safe, affirming, comfortable, or even humorous spaces that allow many to engage in dialogues that couldn’t have happened elsewhere. Our Discourse video highlights the work of Hollaback! Baltimore and Theater Action Group who use art to open up and continue conversations. Shawna from Hollaback! Baltimore describes how individuals who have experienced street harassment have chalked the areas where they have been harassed; creating not only conversations about harassment but empowering experiences of reclaiming spaces. Theater is described by the Theater Action Group as a place where individuals can come together to play, engage, and create a temporary community that engages in dialogue which leads to further social change.

To view the complete interview with Hollaback! Baltimore: Click Here

To view the complete interview with Theater Action Group: Click Part One | Part Two

 To view the rest of the Continuum of Impact videos please visit the Baltimore Art + Justice Project YouTube channel.

Stay tuned next week for……. Attitudes!

The Continuum of Impact Video Series is based on the Continuum of Impact created by Animating Democracy, the videos each highlight specific ways that social justice and art collaboration create an impact.

Guest Blogger Devlon Waddell: Music

I found myself, on an ‘empty bucket’ day, with the first real chill of the season blowing against me, losing myself. I was on the bus stop and sad for no tangible reason. Then, something happened. My head nodded rhythmically. I tapped my foot in the same time. It was comforting. It was familiar. It was music.

When I consider music, an artform so pervasive in my world, as an advocacy tool, I cannot help but conjure images of a motley crew of young folk who have been paraded in front of a crowd and are desperately in search of something that remotely resembles harmony. Such an image almost always touches my heart. It is, indeed, a beautiful thing to witness. But what of the heart-rending lyrics of Soul music? What of the deeply percussive reverberation of House; the aggression of Jazz; the inevitable uplift offered by Gospel; the audacity of HipHop, Rock and Metal? Where do those independent artists, who, for pennies, bleed their truth on any available stage, fit into this paradigm of advocacy and justice?

Peter Bruun, in his September 13th post, said this in an attempt to define “art”: “I believe the notion of art is itself a construct; a cultural invention to imply certain shared understandings on value, meaning, and status…”. Assuming this construct (art) is indeed about the assignation of value, and there is value in music as a form of entertainment (as evidence by the gross amount of money moving through the mainstream industry), why, then, am I not, often enough, engaged in discourse regarding the spiritually restorative value of music?

I wonder what happens if we choose to see those things, like popular music, as accessible avenues in our pursuit of justice. If an aggressive song puts me in an aggressive mood, and likewise, a love song is evocative of love, shouldn’t I leverage that state of being?

While we are not necessarily creating out of a sense of social consciousness, it still strikes me as appropriate that we might leverage said creations, nonetheless.

Continuum of Impact Video Series and BA+JP Kiosk

Exciting things are happening with the Baltimore Art + Justice Project! This summer we interviewed different Baltimore based groups for our Continuum of Impact Video Series. The Continuum of Impact was created by Animating Democracy and our video series is inspired by their awesome investigation into what works in art and social justice based practice.

The Continuum of Impact of Video Series Trailer is here and gives a glimpse of the great work people are doing in Baltimore.

Stay tuned for the full videos coming soon!

Baltimore Art+Justice Project Kiosk!

The Baltimore Art + Justice Project has a new registration kiosk! The kiosk will be moving across MICA’s campus throughout the month of November. The kiosk is currently located in the lobby of MICA’s Fox Building and will be moving to the Bunting Building the week of November 18th.

If your organization is interested in hosting the BA+JP registration kiosk let us know!

photo 4

Guest Blogger: Devlon Waddell Credentialization: A Social Construct

I am Devlon E Waddell; author of three published works (and contributor to others), publisher of a dozen, founder of an organization that has sent youth across the country and shifted the operating budget of a high school by well over a million dollars, developer and implementer of high school creative writing curriculum, founding member of a BCPS middle/high school, public speaker, mentor, coach, husband, father and the grinch that stole poetry…

What does this mean, toward the end of Social Justice? Absolutely nothing. In the realm of employment, a resume offers key indicators as to skill, will and fit, in terms of performing a specific task. Beyond a practical application of a certain skill-set, past experience serves only as a historical context for the work that lies ahead. However, with issues of equity, we are faced with “the fierce urgency of now”. There is no room for the revisiting of days gone by. And, by virtue of our humanity, we are all equal contributors in the building of a larger community.  It is with that in mind that I choose to engage. I find no hierarchy in interpersonal relationships. Regardless of credentials, we are equal; in voice, contribution and authority. The manifestation of such principles is simple. How is it done? At your next convening:

1. Don’t ask the folk you meet about their organizational affiliation. It doesn’t matter.

2. Do genuinely ask the folk you meet about their day. You may learn something meaningful.

3. Don’t present your agenda as if it is everyone’s top priority. It isn’t.

4. Do listen intently AND respond appropriately. Validation of voice does matter.

This notion of inherent authority beyond that which comes along with experience is laughable. Even as ‘do-gooders’ we cannot seem to escape such divisive constructs.

The Art of Justice

Bringing together the artwork of over 40 local and national artists is an exhibit to honor the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington is “The Art of justice.” The exhibit is organized by Michael Anthony Brown, Toni George, and Greg Scott and features works from a range of different genres. The Art of Justice reflects the artists’ perspectives of the historical and current state of justice in the U.S, as well as the continuing fight for racial equality. The Art of Justice is striving to encourage a “new generation of social awareness” to shape future activism for social justice.

Organizers of the exhibit are currently raising funds for the exhibit to further expand in size and continue spreading its message by traveling nationally. The opening reception for The Art of Justice will be held on Friday, August 23, 2013 from 5-8pm at the Mount Rainier Artists Loft Gallery. There will be a pre-march celebration featuring performances by Ayanna Gregory from her play, “Daughter of the Struggle.”  The gallery itself will be open daily from 12 noon to 7pm and the exhibit will run through Sunday, September 8th 2013.


For more information on the exhibit please visit theartofjustice.org

Profile of the Week: Cycles: Women’s Health Project

Cycles: Women’s Health Project is a project lead by community artist Whitney Frazier that is focused on addressing women’s health concerns in East Baltimore neighborhoods. Frazier is collaborating with women and girls to create an illustrated resource book about women’s health topics. Cycles uses art and social justice to educate about women’s health concerns and the issues with the western medical system’s treatment of women’s health. Once the book has been created, the female participants of Cycles will distribute the book within their communities and host their own visual storytelling workshops addressing the books topics.

Additionally, Frazier has used public bathrooms as a research tool by posting drawings and written prompts to spark responses by those using the public bathrooms. These stories and concerns collected from public restrooms are added to the different ways that Frazier has been doing research and collecting the stories of women and girls in Baltimore. Cycle’s Tumblr also encourages anyone interested in participating in the Cycles Project to contact Whitney Frazier.


**If you would like to be highlighted in our Profile of the Week please visit artplusjustice.org and put yourself on the map!**

%d bloggers like this: