2012 News

$100,000 MacArthur Foundation Grant for Youth Media Center

For the past year I have been working with the Pima County Library to develop a youth media program called CreateIT. In November 2012 we received notice that we were awarded a $100,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation & Institute of Museum and Library Services to plan a youth media center and mobile media lab in Tucson. We’re one of 24 communities nationwide – and the only one in Arizona – selected to receive the grant. We are particularly excited about this opportunity because over the next 18 months youth will be play a central role in facilitating the planning process for the media center.

Who’s Your Farmer?
Over a four-month period I collaborated with youth participating in the Community Food Bank’s Youth Farm Project. The Youth Farm Project (YFP) works to engage youth in the food they eat and fosters consideration of how what they eat affects their health, community and the planet. I mentored a small group of youth, the Youth Media Crew, in photography and media with the inspiring support of local videographer, Noch. The youth documented the lives of youth (in the YFP) working at the Marana Heritage Farm. Their photographs and video were exhibited in the Dragonfly Gallery in downtown Tucson in February 2012. I approached the Pima County Library to see if they might be willing to allow us to install the photographs on the front of the main library. The timing seemed ripe since the library was launching their Seed Library Program (which allows people to “check out” seeds like a book). They agreed and we wheatpasted (using a mix of flour, water and sugar) the images (up to 30 feet tall) on the front of the library. We had the amazing help of wheatpaste guru Chip Thomas and staff at the Main Library, Food Bank, BICAS and Flam Chen. Click here to see a video of the wheatpaste process.

Keynote Lecture: Arizona Summit on Volunteerism & Service Learning
I was asked to deliver a keynote lecture at the 2012 Arizona Summit on Volunteerism & Service Learning organized by the Governor’s office. I decided to focus my talk on “Listening is an Act of Service,” as I feel that listening to the communities I work with is one of the most enriching and critical aspects of the work I do. Listening is one of the greatest gifts we can give to others and ourselves.

Youth in Action Media Smart Project: Communities Putting Prevention to Work
In 2012 I continued working with the United Way of Tucson to undertake a media literacy and photovoice project around issues of obesity prevention and nutrition. We offered train-the-trainer workshops with youth development providers throughout Pima County to help them incorporate media literacy and youth photography into their programming as a path towards promoting healthy living. The youth took photographs of things in their schools and communities that contributed to healthy and unhealthy choices and opportunities. Using their photographs, they identified pressing health concerns and then undertook projects to address those concerns, such as planting a school garden or advocating for changes in school menu options.

Barrier2Bridge Artist Residency: San Luis High School
I was invited by the Arizona Commission on the Arts to work undertake an artist residency at San Luis High School on the US/Mexico border near Yuma. I had the good fortune to coordinate this residency with art teacher, Lorenia Casaus. I taught photography to her students as well as students in three other art teachers’ classes. The students used disposable cameras to document what they liked and wanted to change about their communities. I joined them in February 2012 for about a week and they documented Yuma and other parts of the region using digital cameras. They selected their favorite images and then produced paintings and ceramic pieces inspired by the visual imagery in their photographs. Their work was exhibited at the San Luis’ Barrier2Bridge conference. One of the students, Yamayra, entered her photo and painting of her grandmother picking lettuce into the 2012 Congressional District 7 art contest and she won top prize. Her work was exhibited in Capitol Hill for one year.

Bridging Generations: Connecting Armory Park Seniors and Youth Through Art
This collaborative project brought together youth and elders from Armory Park neighborhood to explore the past through storytelling and photography. Young people interviewed present and former residents of the Armory Park neighborhood to learn about the games, songs, washes, work, and downtown Tucson life of the past. Elders learned from young people about stilt-walking, singing, piano playing and bicycling! A selection of photographs collected from the past and taken in the present were enlarged up to 10ft tall and wheatpasted by youth, elders and Armory Park residents onto the Armory Park Senior Center and Safford K-8 Magnet School (located across the street from the Senior Center). You can read a newspaper article about this project here.

Arts Integration Solutions
In September 2012, I started working with Arts Integration Solutions, an organization that works to transform the education system by bringing the classroom practice of arts integration to every child, in every classroom, every day. I co-facilitated teacher trainings with a group of amazing arts educators with the goal of helping teachers integrate arts with literacy development, STEM and the Common Core standards.

Finding Voice Project
During the 2011-12 school year, the students examined the complexities of identity though the lenses of culture, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sex, gender, and religion. They shared their own identities through photographs and writing in a 170-page book titled “the cover is not the book.” This book is available at www.blurb.com and the content can be read on our website. During the 2012-2013 school year, students took on two projects. They worked in groups to create digital stories about why they left their home countries in a effort to help the larger Tucson community better understand their lives, cultures and stories. They then conducted research projects about social and environmental issues (e.g. bullying, deforestation, sexual assault, immigration, etc.) that were important to them. We invited over 20 community organizations and individuals specializing in these issues to meet with the students. These community visitors ranged from local environmental education nonprofits to individuals working on anti-gun violence campaign. Based on their issue research and personal experiences, they designed social action posters using a lino-cut process to share with their schoolmates and the online community.

Tohono Chul Park Gallery Exhibitions
In 2012, I had one photograph of a large stack of mesquite pancakes accepted into Tohono Chul Park’s “Mesquite” Exhibition and another image selected for their Arizona Centennial Exhibition.