Category: social entrepreneurship

Ebony Noelle Golden talks about Conscious Creativity

Ebony Noelle Golden, CEO of Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative, speaks about Conscious Creativity.
Ebony Noelle Golden, CEO of Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, speaks about Conscious Creativity.

What does it mean to use creativity in an intentional way for community building and social change? Ebony Noelle Golden, CEO of Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative recently visited Atlanta to share thoughts and ideas for using a conscious creative practice to build engage community in a collaborative, constructive way.

In partnership with the Center for Civic Innovation‘s South Downtown Initiative and the M. Rich Center for Creative Arts, Media and Technology, C4 Atlanta presented Ebony Noelle Golden’s keynote talk on March 11, 2016. Aimed at getting those interested talking about using the arts across disciplines, this talk brought together city organizers and planners, studio artists, organizational leaders, business owners, property developers, and many more to explore the topic of conscious creativity.

Below are some photos from her talk. The transcript of her speech is available to download as a PDF here: Speech Transcript.

Ebony invites all in our community to sing and dance and share their communal creative spirit.
Ebony invites all in our community to sing and dance and share their communal creative spirit.
Attendees were asked to turn to their neighbor, introduce themselves and talk about why they were here.
Attendees were asked to turn to their neighbor, introduce themselves and talk about why they were here.
Ebony asks audience members to share their conversations about who they met. Many community members spoke with leaders in other sectors whom they might not have met otherwise.
Ebony asks audience members to share their conversations about who they met. Many people spoke to a neighbor who was involved in a different community building sector than themselves.
Ebony talks about the need for community building to start as a regular practice within the community. Issues cannot be solved by "outsiders" who "have the right answers".
Ebony talks about the need for true community building and conversation to start as a regular practice within organizations and groups. Issues cannot be solved by “outsiders” who “have the right answers”. She urged us instead to take her experiences and include the knowledge as a part of an ongoing practice of love for the community.
A community leader from Alternate Roots discusses concerns and questions regarding community building with a member of the Urban Land Institute.
A community leader from Alternate Roots discusses concerns and questions regarding community building with a member of the Urban Land Institute.

 

 

Working with (Not for, or to) Community – Hatch Artists’ Blogs Part 1

Part of the ongoing Hatch blog series, today’s blogs are reflections by our Hatch artists on their experience from the previous weeks’ classes by Emily Hopkins from Side Street Projects in Pasadena, CA and McKenzie Wren from Clarkston Community Center in Clarkston, GA. Staff recaps of both sessions are available on our blog in the links above.

For these two classes, we ask the artists to reflect on the following thoughts:

Session #2 – Themes to consider:

  • depositing information vs. sharing information through dialogue
  • artists coming from a place of privilege
  • managing expectations through all aspects of working with community and with all of the stakeholders involved.

Session #3 – Themes and questions to consider:

  • What are the assets offer by the arts community of Atlanta?
  • What assets are available to you?
  • What are your personal assets?
  • What are the reflections that you had after the discussion about doing with the community (vs. for, or to) based on your own personal experiences?

We hope you enjoy their thoughtful responses!

These past two Hatch sessions focused on active methods of engaging community and gave us artists a lot of concrete examples of how to do so, either through experiencing methods as a group, or through the breakdown of other projects that had been effective or not. Through this process, we learned about mistakes that can be made and were given a chance to examine our own work through the lens of this learning.

Jessica Caldas (center) with Angela Davis Johnson (left) and Hez Stalcup (right) after her performance of her work "#3everday" at Oakland Cemetary.
Jessica Caldas (center) with Angela Davis Johnson (left) and Hez Stalcup (right) after her performance of her work “#3everday” at Oakland Cemetary.

I was able to reaffirm something I have known about my work: that it doesn’t truly and deeply enter the realm of community work, mine is, thus far, a social practice. This is okay, but my ultimate goal is to develop a practice which also works with the communities I care about and am invested in. What I understand better through these lessons is how to approach that goal. What is seems to involve most is trust, because you have to let go of so very much control if you actually want to work with people, not dictate to them or for them. That requires trust given to them, and building trust in them of you (a herculean task of time effort, energy, and consistency).

The main letting go is of false expectations, which I call “shoulds.” These are process focused methods, the process is where the art is, and the product, or the should, is secondary. I have a mentor who talks a lot of about the fallacy of “should” and this session also reinforced that idea. It may be cliche to say, but in life “should” is a lie we tell ourselves which really only hurts us, and this is as true for art practices as it is for anything. We make the best decisions we can in every moment, everyone who is present are the best people for that conversation, and everything that is said is what needed to be said. When we worry so much about shoulds we do damage, because we are trying to predict something that is unreal and it feels inherently negative because it assumes we somehow did less in the reality of what has actually taken place. That “should” deems less valuable the actual work being done. The asset based community development work we did in the session speaks strongly towards acknowledging only what actually exists, focusing on the reality of what we know, what we can do, and how we can use it to create positive, powerful, solution oriented conversations and I pretty much adore that idea.

As much as I love these ideas, I struggle to apply them to my own life, and I certainly believe that how we engage our communities should be equally reflected in how we work and care for ourselves. So it’s scary to know I am so bad at believing in the reality of what I can do, of what I am capable, and yet to expect myself to use all of these tools to work with others.

by Jessica Caldas

Asset Based Community Development = Looking at the “Haves,” Piling the Bounty

I work in art. Because I always have worked in art. Growing up in rural Georgia: Art, storytelling, puppetry were my solo means of personal fulfillment.
Ironically I kept thinking of this as McKenzie Wren facilitated Hatch Session #3…
My art growing up always began with looking at a pile. A pile of…fur, craft supplies, paints, whatever! And then saying, “Okay, what can I create?”

Scottie Rowell's illustration of "piles" from a deficit based mindset vs. an asset based mindset.
Scottie Rowell’s illustration of “piles” from a deficit based mindset vs. an asset based mindset.

Asset Based Community Development is that. Collectively looking at the “pile.” The skills, resources, and offers of individuals to better a community as a whole…”Okay, what can we create?”

By utilizing the Community’s bounty, their “pile,” the community is intrinsically involved at the core. It is theirs. The project or mission doesn’t exist without the community. The “pile” of assets doesn’t exist without them.

We as artists hold the ability to actualize, curate, and help the community utilize the assets to the fullest.
“Okay Community, what should we create?”

by Scottie Rowell

 

C4 Welcomes 14 Artists to its Hatch Program

At the end of September, we announced that we would be receiving funding from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation to launch a new program called Hatch. This program was not conceived last month, or even last year. Hatch is a program that has been in development for a little over two years. The original program (explored three years ago) was not intended to be a program about community-based art. The decision to focus on “working in community” came from hours and hours of research, noticing trends locally and nationally, and exploring new challenges facing artists in our professional development courses–as many of them were already navigating this field.

Michael Jones
Image courtesy of Michael Jones

The political and economic climate has changed over the last decade…heck, even over the last two years. We can’t ignore it. This program seemed, well, like the right thing to do. We have focused in the past on arts-entrepreneurship and because we are working with artists, that began to look little more like social entrepreneurship.

It is written into our core values that we believe in the power of the individual artist to help transform communities–with communities.

Teller Productions
Scottie Rowell, Teller Productions, stitches a puppet.

Hatch will explore the many facets of working in community: from the “soft” skills of budgeting and planning to leveraging assets to community organizing. We will talk about equity, inclusion and privilege.

The definition of “community” will be deconstructed. It isn’t limited to social activism, or public art–although, those will not be excluded. Community may include: k-12 audiences, healthcare, neighborhoods, working with planners and more.

The first phase of the program is building the curriculum. The first cohort of artists have agreed to be apart of the “pilot” phase. We don’t want Hatch to be created in a vacuum. This group of very talented and dedicated artists will help us explore what learning/teaching models work (and don’t work), what content artists really need to fulfill their artist goals, and to create a support network for artists working in community.

Shannon Willow
In Progress: Shannon Willow works on a mural in the East Atlanta Village.

So. Without further ado, It is my honor to introduce the 2015/16 Atlanta Hatch artists:

Jessica Caldas
Orion Crook
Michael Jones
Angela Davis Johnson
Danielle Deadwyler
Nick Madden
William Massey
Charmaine Minniefield
Lauren Pallotta
Shelia Pree Bright
Kris Pilcher
Scottie Rowell
Hez Stalcup
Shannon Willow