Tag Archive | justice

Baltimore Uprising Art Archive: Series 2

“When the water is boiling, its foolish to take it off the heat.” – Nelson Mandela This is a living archive designed to highlight the cultural production efforts of Baltimore’s citizens in response to the Baltimore Uprising.  Please contribute your images of protests signs, homemade t-shirts, clothing, photos of art making, stencil images — anything reflective of […]

Baltimore Uprising Art Archive: Series 1

“Art is not the handmaid of politics. It is its own remedy! And its healing is sacral.” – William Everson Today begins a series we are dubbing the Baltimore Uprising Art Archive. It is a living archive designed to highlight the cultural production efforts of Baltimore’s citizens in response to the Baltimore Uprising.  Please contribute […]

Artists Within Spotlight: Coming Out – Dance, Memory and Hope at J. Van Story Branch

“We have seniors here that have been here for years and they don’t want to come out and mix with DAB_LOGOthe new population.”

This sentiment was met with approval from other residents and visitors of the J. Van Story Branch apartment following an interactive workshop developed by Dance and B’More for Artists Within. Dance & B’More provides biweekly movement classes and multi-disciplinary workshops with the residents of the J. Van Story Branch Senior apartments. Dancers and residents collaborate to create new memory based works in movement and spoken word intended to increase activities for the residents, improve memory and increase residents’ mobility.

Artists Within is a coalition of award-winning arts and activist organizations engaged with social practice. Working with Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc., the Central Baltimore Partnership, and MICA’s Baltimore Art + Justice Project, the Artists Within coalitions seeks to bring new energy to the community development efforts underway in the Station North Arts & Entertainment District.  The coalition includes Dance & B’More, FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, Single Carrot Theatre, and Youth Learning Lab of Education and Applied Design.  Working with local residents ranging from middle school students to senior citizens, the coalition activates and cultivates the artists, designers, and performers within these residents with the intention of increasing local participation in the arts and in community development efforts.

On this brisk October day, five senior residents and one visitor participated in the hour-long Dance and B’More workshop led by CJay Phillip.  Participants told stories of their favorite concerts and childhood memories. These stories were set to music and movement led by the musicians, therapists and dancers.  Ranging from ages 62 to 80, participants completed warm up activities, sang Motown and moved their bodies to African drum and keyboard.  After the workshop, residents sat down to talk about their experience, their hopes and their challenges living in J. Van Story Branch. More importantly, the seniors talked about coming out. 

“Sometimes, some people do [come out] and some people don’t.  Some people don’t even speak.” 

Coming out at J. Van Story Branch has multiple layers of meaning here.  Coming out is not just about leaving one’s apartment; coming out also means feeling safe, being heard and having a sense of kinship with other residents and visitors in the building.

“Older people used to come out more but then other people was being nasty to them.  They don’t have no security or nothing so the older people just stay in their rooms now.”

Eight years ago, the population at J. Van Story branch changed from seniors only to a mixed population of ages and abilities.   As the population has shifted, the number of activities designed to engage residents has decreased, while fears, insecurity and isolation has increased.  But things may be changing for the good.

“It’s a good thing, this is something we need. When they [Dance and B’More] come out, I always come out.”

Through Artists Within, Dance and B’More is bringing in activities residents enjoy and helping residents feel connected across population through movement, memory and community building.   Over the next year, Artist Within and Dance and B’More will be able to see if by consistently coming in, residents will feel safe coming out.

 

Profile Spotlight: Jeff Brunell

What’s your name and organization?Jeff Burell Image
My name is Jeff Brunell, and I work on a project called The Revolution Within at the Center for Grace-Full Living.

How old are you?
I am 31 and 3/4 years old.

Which neighborhood do you live in and which neighborhood do you work in?
I live in Charles Village and work in McElderry Park.

Describe your art or organization?
The CGL is a community wellness center. TRW is about engaging in healing practices (from storytelling to martial arts; acupuncture to quilting) as a way of working through trauma on both individual and community levels. The idea is that working on this kind of urgent but difficult material helps free up our energy – which we can then apply to social action, arts, and all the good stuff.

I also write songs and poems in fits and starts.

What are you currently working on?
TRW just hosted its first session, and we’re going to be having these events every Tuesday evening for the rest of 2014. They’re happening here, at 2424 McElderry St (21205), between 6:30-8pm. I’m trying to balance my time between coordinating our facilitators, building a case for what we’re doing through the literature on trauma informed community work, doing outreach and connecting with other folks working on similar issues, hunting for grant support, and preparing for a kickoff workshop that we’re hosting at the end of this month.

What social justice cause(s) are you particularly drawn to, and why?
It’s hard to pick just one, but I’m particularly interested in any effort that expands access and participation for people whose hours and mojo are too often chewed up with the day-to-day of survival against an inhumane economic backdrop – stuff like stable housing, free and relevant education, community ownership in development processes, minimizing barriers to health care, etc. I hope that TRW – with free one-on-one counseling and specialized holistic courses – can contribute in a small way to a larger movement toward actualization and power building for both individuals and communities. Why – because I’ve watched myself and people I love put real passions and justice work on the backburner in the pursuit of survival and too often, distraction. So I get excited about anything that brings more voices into the conversation – not just politicians, academics, and foundation folks – particularly voices which might have lost faith in themselves or the use in trying somewhere along the way.

Who or what inspires you?
For starters – time in nature, peoples’ movements, music, and my excellent cat. Enough sleep, good food, and walking a lot help, too.

What’s the best part about being an artist or running an arts organization in Baltimore?
There’s enthusiasm and a wide-openness – it feels like being part of a very large and organic thing which hasn’t yet been co-opted and sold back to its participants.

What’s the worst part about being an artist or running an arts organization in Baltimore?
Part-time jobs on the weekends help make ends meet, but mean missing some great happenings.

What sort of and/or social justice projects would you love to take on?
When I have a little bit more bandwidth – by November, maybe? – I want to get more involved in housing issues. Connecting people experiencing homelessness in Baltimore to some of the city’s extensive vacant housing seems obvious and urgent.

Who would you like to collaborate on a project with?
So many people in so many arenas – for now, I’m focusing on all the different ways that TRW is linking up with other projects and amazing folks.

What’s one social justice organization that people need to know about, and why?
I think that YES (Youth Empowered Society) is really awesome. I was homeless on and off as a teenager and wish that there’d been such a place at that time – but living in the suburbs, I might not have heard about it even had it existed. So I hope that the word has gotten out to young people who are in a similar position now.

What type of ways do you see artists addressing social justice issues in Baltimore?
Countless ways – from the subtle and coded to the really representational and documentarian. And not just in artwork but, perhaps more importantly, in personal practices and values – communities that are engaged in the trial and error process of modeling a more just society on a small scale, day-to-day, in hundreds of different ways throughout the city.

How do you think artists or arts organizations are changing Baltimore?
Again – countless ways, and some have their downsides. But I think that Baltimore’s becoming known as a center of energy and artistic freedom, and that’s both great and true. And I think that there’s a reverberating effect there – that tone and mood become infectious, and more and more people claim the space for art in their own lives.

Stop by the Center for Grace-Full Living (2424 McElderry St.) to participate in The Revolution Within:
Upcoming Schedule
9/16 – Physical Fitness and Nutrition
9/-23  Martial Arts for Mind, Body, and Soul

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 Art is Important?

You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discover that it happened 100 years ago to Dostoyevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone. This is why art is important. Art would not be important if life were not important, and life is important.~James Baldwin, Conversations with James Baldwin

I submit that life is justice, and the pursuit thereof. The correlation of life and art can be made in any number of trite, uninspired ways. I imagine that my movement toward my own artistic self was, directly, a byproduct of life–living. I would always find myself experiencing a special sort of alone. Suffering through a oppressively mundane existence; struggling to announce a me that is indeed alive and present. Beyond the platitudes of elders and encouragement of contemporaries there was a void left. The irony seems always to be that one is, too often, unaware of the missing piece.

I’ve only adopted the “artist” moniker to offer society the opportunity to frame what it is that I do to survive. And, I was so inclined only because I read something that I thought only happened to me, and discovered it happened 61 years ago, to someone else.

Where does art and justice intersect? In a full-on, speed limit be damned, unapologetic, unashamedly reckless attempt at experiencing the most rewarding life possible. This approach is predicated on the notion that one’s success, happiness, validation, affirmation and joy are all, at once, utterly dependent on those things being equitably experienced by his/her community. Without regard to religious leanings, certain truths remain:”For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”  So what of the fullness of life, if it is experienced in a vacuum?

I am alive. I am living. I am art. I am justice.

Devlon E Waddell
Co Founder/Director
www.dewmorebmore.org

Guest Blogger: Camilla Roberson Just Kids

October 23, the Just Kids Partnership will be hosting its second annual “Art with a Story” at the Creative Alliance, from 6-8 pm.  This event features visual and performance art as part of Youth Justice Awareness month in an effort to raise awareness about the practice of automatically charging youth as adults.  Art with a Story includes a gallery showcasing artwork by youth who have been in the adult system, an installation simulating a solitary confinement cell, and live performances by poets and musicians, including the nationally traveled spoken-word poetry meets hip-hop soul group, the 5th L.

But what is the Just Kids Partnership?  Consisting of organizers and youth leaders at Community Law in Action and lawyers from the Public Justice Center, we are a collaboration seeking to end the practice of automatically prosecuting youth as adults.  We use public education, community organizing, and legislative advocacy as we work towards this goal.  Art is integral to our advocacy.

Youth 14 and up, charged with any of 33 enumerated offenses will be automatically sent to the adult criminal justice system, based solely on age and charge.  Once there, youth are subject to adult jail, adult process, and adult sentences.

This policy is fundamentally flawed.   The practice casts far too wide a net; almost 70% of the youth direct- filed to the adult system are eventually sent back to the juvenile system upon judicial review or are released outright, but this often occurs months after the initial charge.  Youth charged as adults are usually held in adult jails where they are at serious risk of abuse, harassment and suicide.  A youth prosecuted in the adult system is more likely to re-offend upon release, and offend more violently, than comparable youth processed in the juvenile system.  In addition, this practice has a severely disproportionate impact on minority youth.  Finally, youth charged as adults face all the collateral consequences associated with an adult criminal record upon release, including problems getting a job, housing, financial supports, and higher education.  The practice doesn’t work to keep our youth safe or to make our communities safer.  We can do better.

These statistics come to life with the stories and art that illustrate how truly harmful this practice is for our youth and our communities.  Thus, Just Kids integrates art throughout our campaign in order to bring these stories to the public and the legislature.  The artwork – from poems, to stories, to photographs and multimedia visual art – is how we reach the hearts and minds of the only ones who can push our representatives to change the laws that mandate automatic prosecution.  One can see or hear the individual stories of youth caught in the adult system, who lose months if not years of their life to adult jail, before trial or transfer, and then must spend the rest of their lives trying to overcome the trauma of the experience and the barriers created by the charge alone.

This art, created by youth organizers and leaders, will be showcased at our October 23 Art with a Story event.  So check us out – at the end you will have seen experiences great art, will understand why we are fighting so hard to end this practice, and learn how to take action!  For tickets go to http://justkidsmaryland.org/ or http://artwithastory.brownpapertickets.com/

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