Tag: Side Street Projects

Meet our Hatch Content Contributors

The deadline for the Fall 2016 Hatch Training Intensive is closing in! We are so excited to meet our next cohort. In anticipation of the next training session, we thought you might like to meet some of the wonderful folks that have helped us to develop this program along the way:

CenterForward President Heather Alhadeff shares case studies with our Hatch pilot cohort about Art + Planning.
CenterForward President Heather Alhadeff shares case studies with our Hatch pilot cohort about Art + Planning.

CenterForward, lead by Heather Alhadeff, President: Places that people cherish and thrive in are ultimately achieved via rigorous and thoughtful dialogue across disciplines. Transportation Planning and Engineering combined with sincere and effective community involvement represent a collaborative and ultimately implementable decision making process – a core principle of Center Forward. With that philosophy in mind, Center Forward Inc was established in December 2012 as a transportation and land use planning firm.

Heather has over 19 years of Atlanta-specific Planning experience. Center Forward is a big proponent in helping the city integrate artistic principles into all stages of planning. Center Forward helped C4 Atlanta develop content that introduces artists to planning, trends in planning, and how the artist may fit into planning projects that engage community members and community stakeholders.

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 at a her keynote last March, Conscious Creativity.

Ebony Noelle Golden: Ebony Noelle Golden is the CEO and principal engagement strategist at Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, LLC. BDAC is a NYC-based cultural arts direct action group that works to inspire, instigate, and incite transformation, radical expressiveness, and progressive social change through community designed, culturally relevant, creative projects. The Houston, TX native is also an accomplished performance artist, poet, director, and choreographer who stages site-specific rituals and live art performances that profoundly explore the complexities of freedom in the time of now. Ebony holds a Master of Arts degree in Performance Studies from New York University, a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry from American University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from Texas A&M University.

Attorney Jim Grace, Executive Director of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, teaches our Hatch pilot artists about negotiations and contracts.
Attorney Jim Grace, Executive Director of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, teaches our Hatch pilot artists about the importance of copyright.

Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, lead by Jim Grace, Executive Director: The mission of the A&BC is to strengthen a vibrant arts community by providing quality direct legal and business services and ongoing educational programs to the creative community. Programs include business training for artists and creative entrepreneurs, pro bono legal services, nonprofit board service training and placement, microlending, fiscal agency, estate and legacy planning, human resources support, insurance programs, and corporate art lending partnerships.

Emily HopkinsEmily Hopkins is an artist and the executive director of Side Street Projects. Emily works to develop sustainable, community-based systems that connect working artists directly to communities.

Emily Hopkins from Side Street Projects talks about Expanding the Definition.
Emily Hopkins from Side Street Projects shares a quote by Pablo Heguera.

She is committed to hands-on, standards-based art programs for K-12 that appeal to multiple intelligences and incorporate into core curriculum. Emily serves on the art curriculum advisory committee for the Pasadena Unified School District (DAT CAT), and the advisory board for John Muir High School’s Arts Entertainment & Media Academy. Emily has a BFA & MA from CalArts and lives and works in Pasadena.

Katina Parker, filmmaker, pictured here during her time documenting Ferguson, MO.
Katina Parker, filmmaker, pictured here during her time documenting Ferguson, MO.

Katina Parker: Katina Parker is a Durham-based filmmaker, photographer, writer, graphic designer, cultural curator, social media expert, and communications consultant who has advised both the Ford Foundation’s Just Films and the Association of Independents in Radio’s Makers Quest 2.0 initiatives. Parker teaches social media and film through the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University and serves as an Instructor for North Carolina’s Community Folklife Documentation Institute.

She is the Co-Chair of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Task Force and the Vice President of the Association of Wake Forest University’s Black Alumni (AWFUBA) group. Prior to this Parker worked as a creative director in Los Angeles. She spent several years working as a Media Strategist for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), where she fine-tuned her public relations and communications savvy.

Clarkston Community Center Executive Director McKenzie Wren leads the artists through an exercise in asset mapping.
McKenzie Wren leads the Hatch pilot artists through an exercise in asset mapping.

McKenzie Wren: Mckenzie has a background in public health, alternative medicine and variety entertainment.  Since 2007, she has worked within the refugee community of Clarkston, GA – a community called “the most diverse square mile in the nation” by a NY Times article. She was previously the Executive Director of the Clarkston Community Center for six years. McKenzie uses arts-based and place-based strategies to bring about change. Her particular areas of focus are helping businesses and nonprofits strengthen culture through participatory processes and identify new processes for information and resource flow. She is a skilled facilitator who believes in the power of community to identify and solve its own problems.

The Hatch Training Intensive is specifically targeted towards readying artists to work in community-centric art projects in ways that are both sustainable and meaningful to all involved stakeholders. Deadline for application to the 2016 Fall Hatch Training Intensive is August 15th at 11:59pm. To learn more or to apply, see our Hatch Training Page.

We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends

As the year comes to a close, we are all to happy to thank everyone who has helped to make this year at C4 Atlanta such a success! Looking back, there have been many tremendous milestones for our organization, and we are so happy to be able to have the resources and support to continue our work in the Atlanta arts community. We’d like to take a moment and highlight some of these amazing people and organizations who have helped us get to where we are:

Hatch

This year we launched a brand new class initiative called Hatch. The focus of this program is learning the “soft” skills to work in community and public art. C4 Atlanta would be remissed if we did not first thank the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation who has financially supported and mentored this program from just a small idea into an important next step for our organization and the artist we work with. We also owe a lot of the success of our initial pilot program to our content contributors: McKenzie Wren from Clarkston Community Center, Emily Hopkins from Side Street Projects and Heather Alhadeff from Center Forward. In the new year, we are looking forward to the contributions of Jim Grace from the Arts & Business Council Greater Boston and documentary filmmaker Katina Parker. Our program quality would not have have been the same without the input of these wonderful arts leaders. In addition, we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to our pilot program artists for their participation in the process. These artists have graciously volunteered their time and energy to be a part of this initial education process, and we are grateful for their dedication, contributions and feedback as we continue to develop our curriculum. Our initial pilot program artists are: Jessica Caldas, Nick Madden, Michael Jones, Hez Stalcup, Angela Davis Johnson, Lauren Pallotta, Charmaine Minniefield, William Massey III, Scottie Rowell, Danielle Deadwyler, Kris Pilcher, Orion Crook, and Shannon Willow. Thanks for being such wonderful artists and individuals! – Audrey Gámez, Education Manager

Photo by William Massey III of Hatch artists in discussion regarding community and identity.
Photo by William Massey III of Hatch artists in discussion regarding community and identity.

 

Artoberfest

Back in August of this year, C4 Atlanta moved into it’s 6th year of incorporation. An achievement of this kind only happens with the help and support of many different people, specifically the individual artists who have taken our classes and advocated for C4 Atlanta’s mission since our inception. It seemed only fitting that C4 Atlanta host a celebration in honor of our 5th birthday for the people who helped to get us here. In October C4 Atlanta hosted an inaugural event, Artoberfest, to do just that. With plans already in place for a second annual event in 2016, C4 Atlanta wants to thanks all the people and artists who brought this event to life.

Wild Heaven Craft Beers was our host sponsor for the event, and thanks to their kind staff and fantastic beer everyone who showed left that evening filled the brim with joy.  Our Host Committee provided the funding, people, and manpower to bring this event to fruition. Without them it would have just been the C4 Atlanta staff standing around drinking beer, so special thanks goes to every individual that moved a table, donated money, or provided their expertise to make this event happen. And last but certainly not least, C4 Atlanta wants to thank each artists that came out and shared a glass with us, especially our entertainment for the night. Without the talents of Bad Sausage, The Marvels of Justice, and Gold Griffith Artoberfest would have been just another evening. Their music lightened our spirits and inspired us to dance into the night. – Chelsea Steverson, Operations Manager

Some of the many happy faces enjoying good music, great beer, and even better company.
Some of the many happy faces enjoying good music, great beer, and even better company at Artoberfest.

 

Friends, Mentors, Advisers, All-Around-Kick-A-People

I have so many people to thank this year. 2015 has been a tremendous period of growth for me personally and professionally. The first person I think of is Margaret Kargbo. I wish she were still around to see and share C4’s accomplishments. I have so much to say about Margaret but I might start crying at my desk. She is missed.

I also have to thank my staff. I really care about them. They are hard-working, smart people whom I am proud to know. They are also pretty funny–which face it, it is people who make the difference between a job and a passion. I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention my co-founder and friend, Joe Winter. He is my sounding post. He is a fantastic board member.

Speaking of board… C4 has a great board. People who really care about not just the arts but Atlanta as a whole city. They represent different perspectives and background, yet they share passion for our community.

I am thankful for two new partnerships this year with the College of the Arts at GA Tech and MOCA GA. We have so many partners in the arts but these are our newest program partners.

I want to give a special shout out to Georgia Lawyers for the Arts. Seriously. This is a great resource.

I also want to thank the people who take my phone calls or sit with me over a cup of coffee.  Or they have supported me in ways that I can’t repay. These people go the extra step because they believe that the arts make a difference and they believe in me–which is humbling to say the least (in no particular order): Kurt Ronn, Heather Pontonio, Beverly & Jeff Winter, Jennifer Kimball, Heather Alhadeff, the M Rich Staff, Melonie Tharpe, Lisa Neidermyer, Bill Gignilliat, Alexander Acosta, City of Atlanta Council member Kwanza Hall, Jay Tribby, Debbie & John Holland, Jim Tolbert, my family, Shelly Elman,  Jessica Caldas, and to my husband, Spencer Holland (the silent C4 partner).

To our donors, funders and sponsors: we can’t do this with out you. That’s the truth. Thank you.

And lastly but not least: thank you artists and arts administrators who choose to call the greater Atlanta region your home. We are better for it. You inspire me. Everyday. – Jessyca Holland, Executive Director

with-kwanza
C4 Atlanta team with Kwanza Hall

Working with (Not for, or to) Community – Hatch Artists’ Blogs – Part 3

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!

Photo Nov 22, 10 16 05 AM
Danielle Deadwyler (left) with William Massey III (bottom right) participating in an activity called “What can I teach? What can I learn?”

I have always run to where the people are to connect/present/manifest my work. If not for or with the people, then what conversation or connection or relevance of the art. However, the Hatch: Expanding Definition of Community/Managing Expectations workshop query turns things on their head for my sometimes guerilla efforts in the community. My peers’ work (Angela Davis Johnson and Jessica Caldas) also forced me to reconsider my impact on the community. These peers in the programs, in a previous outside artist talk, once spoke about their wish to connect to the community in conversation. They were eager to have the casual/informal talks about their work, their intent, the feelings the work solicited for the viewer, et.al. I’m always down for dialogue. I’m down for silence too. I’m down for fleeting moments of connection, surprise engagements, raw reaction…but the origin of my inquiry, I now recognize, as wholly privileged. I’ve known long before I can remember that as a person of color and as a woman in my nation/global society I am in a place/space of being without privilege. However, my privilege as an artist lies in my ability to ponder, to make abstract, to create…I tussle with the value of that privilege alongside my lack of privilege as a black woman. What does it mean to work within the community, to create socially engaged work because you are who you are in the community, but not with the community? Isn’t the work I do always of the community? Especially when my work is a reflection of me, of where I live and reside and exist day in and day out. How can your work be reflective of colonial practices when you live there? Is it not of the community and with the community if you are an insider/observer and insider/participant all at the same time?

I know this much…my community deserves dialogue. My community deserves dialogue, if they choose.

My big question concerns the content I’m interested in ‘vibing’ with the needs of the community. My themes of sexuality and motherhood can be challenging to viewers. I’m forced to consider how to satisfy what intuitively comes up for me and how the community chooses to deal with controversial work (especially work that leans towards censorship in commercial/public spheres/media). Pedagogy of the oppressed was integral in my collegiate studies. No one is a trash receptor just taking in what a ‘master’ gives them. Rebellion happens, macro and micro. Emulating that in anyway is the antithesis of where I seek to grow. Calculating, individually and with the community, how to assuage the conversation of controversial themes in my community at large is one I haven’t discovered quite yet. My conversation spheres have been small. Expanding the dialogue is my aim. I do think with my work the outcome can come in more than one way, though. It can manifest in two or more ways that may/may not agree. It can be just my view, me and the community, just the community, and others. Inclusion is the ultimate factor moving forward though. LISTENING!

By Danielle Deadwyler

My outlook concerning the impact of my work has changed somewhat recently.South Broad Street, my current place of work and residence, is seen by most Atlanta residents as a wretched hive of crime and villainy, a forgotten wasteland that is best used for post apocalyptic movie sets, or a hurried pass through for lost tourists. This is rightfully so. At any given moment one may witness a frenzied blur of criminal activity, blatant and unafraid drug transactions, drug use,and violence. I hardly even bat an eye at a crack pipe any longer. Here, on our block, they are as ubiquitous as vaporizors on the Eastside of town. My friends and I are intruders here. We are conducting a grand experiment in creative placemaking that has been referred to by some as simply the first wave of the now typical gentrification process. As creatives and optimists, we wholeheartedly disagree. We are here to build a community we say, one that can’t be touched by the greedy hands of overzealous developers. What we can’t ignore, however, is the community that already exists and has established its own customs, friendships, routines, and hierarchies. A population of human beings, living within their own mutually defined parameters, whose hopes and Dreams are as connected and universal as our own, regardless of the legality of their actions or their stature in society. These human beings, in fact, are a valuable asset in our quest to create a new type of community.

“ It takes people. That’s what community is, people who look out for each other throughout their ups and downs. It takes a whole collective, cause you gotta realize that no one is better than anyone else.” says Patrick, a fixture in the neighborhood, he’s 46. Patrick is known to keep an eye out for things. He also has his ear to the street and enjoys sharing information. He’s friendly and outgoing. He’s willing to lend a hand, whether it’s taking the trash out, or sweeping the sidewalk. He’s the definition of a good neighbor. He also doesn’t have a home.

According to TC, another neighborhood denizen, “Everybody is out here working on something. It might not be the same things, but everyone has a little good in their hearts. What you gotta do is listen when people talk, it gives them hope, and we’re all out here looking out for each other.” There’s Victor, a regular on the street, who has become extremely involved in our burgeoning renaissance. When a recent Creative Loafing article concerning our actions in the neighborhood came to print, Victor spent hours on the street spreading the gospel to passersby. He carefully taped the article to the wall the way a proud parent posts a stellar report card on the fridge. He is now part time employed with two spaces on the block. Victor says he likes to earn his keep. The rapid progress on our space would not have been possible without him. That makes him an extremely powerful asset. Not only has his physical labor helped to propel the community forward faster, he has unknowingly acted as a sort of bridge between our group of hopeful artists and some of the more skeptical and “criminal” people on the block. Such as Rashad. Rashad deals drugs. I’m not quite sure what kind, and I’m not interested in knowing. He is a giant of a man, easily 6’5” and 300 pounds. He’s soft spoken at times, thunderous at others. When a building a few blocks down was left open and unsecured for a time, his crew sent a delegation to let me know that we should have it closed up for our own safety. He also helped me clear the building of unknown residents, while providing his own ski mask and gloves. He makes it a point to say hello, letting it be known that we are with him.

Kris Pilcher (center) with Charmaine Minniefield (left) and Shannon Willow (right) participating in an activity called "Yes, and..."
Kris Pilcher (center) with Charmaine Minniefield (left) and Shannon Willow (right) participating in an activity called “Yes, and…” Kris gets the Hatch award for best sweater ever.

While the lonesome tourist or hurried government worker’s heart may skip a beat when taking a wrong turn down our misunderstood street, my heart warms a bit knowing that I am finally back home, a part of a community, whether our morals and values are the same or not. This unexpected sort of community interaction has made me realize that the impact of my work can be much more than some sort of physical artifact of creativity. I am privileged to be in a position where I can use the idea of creating as a sort of catalyst for real quantifiable change in not only a community, but in an individual’s life. This sort of interaction has a reciprocal impact on the direction and thoughtfulness of my work. By simply inhabiting a space together, we are creating something much bigger than ourselves.

Our latest Hatch session, led by community organizer Mckenzie Wren, helped me to be able to understand in more direct terms what exactly it is that we are building in our community. We are individuals coming from a place of privilege and inserting ourselves into the fabric of a pre-established communal entity.It is our responsibility not only as artists, but as human beings to make sure that our actions embrace the assets that this community already has available, while offering our skills and ideas in return.

Working with (Not for, or to) Community – Hatch Artists’ Blogs Part 2

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!

The jumbled and conflicted thoughts I had filling my brain after Session #2—artist-as-outsider; expectations; semantics—were duly unraveled and reconstructed in Session #3—artist-as-conduit; asset-based development; appreciation.

I left Session #2 with my brain buzzing—recalling my graduate courses in educational leadership, my non-profit management days, my memories working as a grassroots organizer for school improvement, language arts advocacy, art programming, writing grant proposals. I left, however, feeling vulnerable and somewhat frustrated—that my ability to be a community-based artist in the South is hindered or disingenuous because of growing up white in a suburb of Boston. I know that I’m a privileged white girl, but does that automatically make me less credible? Perhaps it was my own insecurities—the on-again, off-again feeling of displacement I’ve faced in Atlanta, but I had this unsettling feeling that my authenticity was in question.

Lauren Pallotta, left, with Michael Jones (center) and Charmaine Minniefield (left), in discussion with her Hatch peers about wage equality for artists working with community
Lauren Pallotta, left, with Michael Jones (center) and Charmaine Minniefield (left), in discussion with her Hatch peers about wage equality for artists working with community.

At Session #3, the energy was completely different. We deconstructed the process of community building in a way that brought people together, cultivated confidence in oneself and each other, emphasized ethnography and encouragement. Artist-as-outsider became irrelevant as collaboration dismantled judgment.

Artists tend to be their own worst critics. To emphasize our assets over deficiencies shifted our thinking towards the positive. I for one am guilty of putting energy into what I’m NOT doing (or doing enough) more than all the things I AM doing. In feeling frustrated by what I have yet to accomplish, I overlook my own library of assets: cultural competence, painting, illustration, graphic design, education, non-profit management. Recognizing and having contentment in our assets is critical to making progress.

Things really came full circle for me in the appreciation circle, when Jessyca acknowledged my vulnerability and recognized my underlying spirit. The words she spoke rang deep; she knew exactly what I needed to hear at that moment and was so genuine, it made me feel much closer to the Hatch community. It gave me a sense of belonging.

This feeling of acceptance seems to underpin socially engaged art. As artists we are meant to amplify the voice of a community in such a way that each member of the community feels accepted, validated and heard. It requires a participatory process that culminates in an artwork—however tangible or abstract—that tells a unique story. Just as a community is built on the assets of its individuals, a community art project is built on the experiences and voices of its stakeholders. These abundant resources become the artist’s primary art-making materials.

by Lauren Pallotta

I’m a pretty reckless artist. In my own practice, over thinking things is not my strong suit. Sometimes this method works for me and sometimes it doesn’t. I can think of works that I’d love to go back into and correct or fine tune. Other works that I’ve created seem to have just materialized in a frenzy of movement and magic.

"I Hope There Are Ghosts" by Nick Madden, an interactive sculpture recently displayed at exhibitions by The Creatives Project and Phoenix Festival
“I Hope There Are Ghosts” by Nick Madden, an interactive sculpture recently displayed at exhibitions by The Creatives Project and Phoenix Festival

When it comes to public art, slow and steady wins the race.I’m in awe of how much discipline and care it takes to make successful public art. Craftsmanship, safety, beauty, all of these are relevant and necessary when creating a piece for the public. But the amount of sensitivity and vulnerability it takes to reach out to a community, to put ego aside, and to deeply discover what is needed or wanted by the people of a certain area is something that fascinates and inspires me.
We drive by public works of art in this city everyday. We may be stuck in traffic and wander and wonder about a sculpture on a sidewalk. We may be flying down the highway, worrying about the merge lanes, and glance out of the corner of our eyes a mural competing for our attention. But rarely, until now, have I thought deeply about what an image does for a community. What it represents about the artist and the area, and where those two things meet. Is it a success? Does it complement or detract? Is it necessary? How do the folks who’ve been living across from that building for 40 years feel about it? Is it changing their lives for the better or for the worse? Or is it just a cool thing an artist wanted to put up for themselves? A resume check mark? An ego boost?

by Nick Madden

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

 

Hatch Session #2 – Expanding the Definition & Managing Expectations

“Art is made by those who show up.” – Mel Chin

Emily Hopkins from Side Street Projects talks about Expanding the Definition.
Emily Hopkins from Side Street Projects talks about Expanding the Definition.

Last Saturday, Emily Hopkins from Side Street Projects in Pasadena, California was our guest facilitator at C4 Atlanta for our pilot Hatch program. Per their website, “Side Street Projects is an entirely mobile artist-run organization that gives artists of all ages the ability and the means to support their creative endeavors.” We were so excited for Emily to share both her expertise with working in diverse communities as well as best practices for managing the size, scope and expectations of your arts projects.

The day was divided into two sessions. The morning session, called “Expanding the Definition”, focused primarily on the different types of community engaged art and how their implementation and authorship differed depending on their stated goals. Emily gave a brief historical context for art in community and explained that artists could borrow practices for working in community from other fields such as anthropology, community organizing, sociology and urban planning so as not to “be a wombat”, as she put it. Artists were encouraged to do ample due diligence to make sure that their best intentions didn’t do more harm than good in the community through improper execution. We then focused on several case studies of art projects within the community with highly successful community engagement models. Our artists particularly liked the Operation Pay Dirt/Fundred Dollar Bill Project and enjoyed making their own Fundred Dollar Bills.

Hatch artists hard at work making their Fundred Dollar Bills.
Hatch artists hard at work making their Fundred Dollar Bills.

After the end of the session, we allowed time for rumination upon the artists’ concerns regarding community. Questions of race relations, sensitivity to hierarchy of authority, authorship and effective communication permeated the conversation. Emily provided some fantastic insight for our artists, but the group also had a lot of dynamic input for their peers.

After lunch, everyone reconvened to hear Session #2, Managing Expectations. Since we had identified all of the stakeholders involved in our projects through the morning session’s due diligence, we were ready to define the kinds of roles and relationships each stakeholder party would take on during the project. By having clearly defined roles and delegation, the artists could avoid any miscommunication with the community and key stakeholders regarding how their projects would be implemented. From there, we discussed funding opportunities and the expectations funders might have regarding how a project is presented. Emily urged the artists not to “chase the money”, or rather not to create projects just for the sake of applying to grant opportunities that don’t already fit your core values. Instead, pursuing the opportunities that already align with your core values as an artist and the work you are already creating is much more likely to bring about higher success in securing funding as well as be more meaningful to the artist. Finally, our Hatch artists worked on an exercise to flesh out communication and language used by the different stakeholders involved with their projects. By working out the different needs, wants, values and perceptions of each community, we can look for patterns of overlap and see the variations and subtleties necessary to manage the interests of all involved parties.