2015 News

owlphotocurrenthappeningsCommunityShare Selected as “Fast Pitch” Finalist
As founder of CommunityShare, I applied to participate in Social Venture Partner’s inaugural “Fast Pitch” Competition. I was incredibly thankful to be one of 15 nonprofit initiatives selected to participate in a month long “fast pitch” training. After three rounds of practice pitches in front of judges, 7 of us were selected to present at the final event. We had 3 minutes to explain our work and funding needs in front of 400+ people and a panel of judges/funders (yes, like the show Shark Tank!). Needless to say the process was both exhilarating and completely terrifying. In case you want to check out my little pitch here it is. Though CommunityShare did not receive the final cash awards, we were hugely honored to receive this broad public exposure.

CommunityShare Part II
After launching CommunityShare in Fall 2014, we began fully piloting the online platform at four Tucson schools during the Spring 2015 semester. We were excited by the 200+ community partners and 175+ teachers who joined CommunityShare during the pilot. Community partners bring a wide diversity of backgrounds to Tucson’s classrooms – ecologists, chefs, engineers, poets, inventors, sculptors, filmmakers, web developers, TEDx speakers, paleontologist, and many more! We learned a tremendous amount from the feedback we gathered from both teachers and community partners and are in the process of raising the funds to refine and improve the website’s functionality and interface in early 2016.

Community Media Workshop at UA College of Public Health
As part of a week-long service learning course for University of Arizona College of Public Health graduate students, I facilitated a hands-on workshop entitled: “Creating Social Change Through Community-Based Media.” It was an exciting opportunity to explore the power of engaging the community in telling their own stories through photography, digital storytelling and other media.

Living River of Words (LROW) Artist Residency
In January 2015 I was hired by the Pima County Natural Resources, Parks & Recreation Department to undertake an artist residency at DeGrazia Elementary school. During classroom sessions students explored photography basics and then documented visual metaphors along the Santa Cruz River. The students also learned about the wildlife and aquatic ecology of the region through hands-on activities with two environmental educators.

Tucson Pima Arts Council Grants Committee Member
As a recipient of many years of funding from the Tucson Pima Arts Council, I was invited to join their Grants Committee. It has offered an exciting window into the process of reviewing grant proposals and developing new pathways to support artists in our community.

Arizona Rural Women’s Health Network Digital Storytelling Workshops
Jen Nowicki Clark of Creative Narrations, and I co-facilitated two one-day digital storytelling workshops with promotoras (community health workers) from San Luis and Nogales, Arizona. The promotoras created digital stories about their experiences delivering gender-related and sexual violence trainings to women in these two border communities. I was truly humbled and inspired by their courage to tell their own stories and then publicly share them in their own communities to inspire other women to speak out about sexual violence.

Balance Unbalance International Conference Presentation
My long-time artist colleague, Kimi Eisele, and I had an exciting opportunity to present our collaborative work using photography, movement and other art forms to create awareness and critical dialogue about the proposed Rosemont Mine just south of Tucson, Arizona. You can see the photography aspects of the work here. The conference attracted practitioners from across the globe who are passionate about the intersection of art, science, water, climate, and new technologies.

Arizona Trail Association Youth Photography Workshop
As a nature fanatic, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to facilitate a photography workshop with a youth group in Patagonia, Arizona who were exploring the Arizona Trail. We had a blast photographing nature and dipping our feet into the local creek on a hot June Arizona day. The workshop was part of a series of nature-related experiences organized by the Arizona Trail Association.

6th International Digital Storytelling Conference Presentation
In September I joined an amazing gathering of digital storytelling practitioners from across the globe – Brazil, Netherlands, Portugal, Iran and beyond – for the 6th International Digital Storytelling Conference at Smith College in Massachusetts. I presented a talk about “Building Community Partnerships that Transform Youth Voice into Civic Agency” for a panel about working with refugees. One of the other panelists is doing amazing visual storytelling work with refugees in Colorado and Nepal, check it out: Picture Me Here

101 Youth Center & Oro Valley Library Teen Advisory Board
After over three years of working with the Youth Design Team (YDT) to plan and create the new 101 Youth Center in the main library in Tucson, my focus has shifted to supporting the Teen Advisory Board (TAB) at the Oro Valley Library. I am collaborating with YDT and library staff to support the TAB in conducting research and outreach to determine what youth in Oro Valley want to see in their library’s Teen Center. Much like the process we followed with the planning of the 101 Youth Center, the youth will use these data to help determine future programming at the Teen Center.

Teachers Applying Whole Language (TAWL) Conference Presentation
My long-time teaching colleague, Julie Kasper, and I presented a hands-on workshop entitled: “Finding Voice Project: Language Development through Civic Engagement, Multimedia Storytelling and the Arts” at the 2015 TAWL conference in Tucson. We worked with an enthusiastic group of teachers on integrating Common Core Standards with visual storytelling and literacy development.

Inside the Labyrinth Film
Friend and Belgian filmmaker Caroline D’Hondt asked me if I wanted to shoot stills for her documentary film, Inside the Labyrinth. I loved her last film Ex-Voto so was thrilled to be asked. She came to Tucson in October to explore issues of identity, immigration, memory, militarization, and culture through interviews with elders and others on the Tohono O’odham Nation. My assignment was to make portraits of the interviewees, which was a real treat as I had the opportunity to listen to and learn from the stories of Tohono O’odham elders. Hopefully in 2016 her film will be coming to a screen near you!

2014 News

Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC) Arts Educator Lumies Award
I was humbled and honored to receive the 2014 TPAC Arts Educator Lumies Award. The highlight was getting to share the evening with my very first photography student, Jannell, who I worked with at the afterschool program VOICES, Inc. in 1999. Her humor, perseverance and kindness helped me find the courage and inspiration to believe in myself as an arts educator.

Lens on the Land – Rosemont: What’s at Stake
After nearly 3 years of planning, photographing and gathering images, we exhibited 50+ photographs, images and audio celebrating the natural and cultural heritage that would be destroyed by the proposed Rosemont copper mine, just 30 miles south of Tucson. The Lens on the Land exhibit opened at Fluxx Gallery to a packed house of 350+ folks – standing room only! We were humbled and inspired by the turnout. The exhibit then traveled to Tubac and is at the Tohono O’odham Museum & Cultural Center through January 2015. If you are interested in exhibiting this work contact us through the Lens on the Land website. After exhibiting the work at Fluxx we printed a small selection of the photos up to 15 feet tall and pasted them on the side of the Steinfeld Warehouse along 6th Street just west of Stone Avenue. Here is a short video that Arizona Public Media created about the exhibit and wheatpaste project. To stay updated and provide support in stopping Rosemont Mine, visit Save the Scenic Santa Ritas website.

CommunityShare Launches
After many months of planning and web development, we launched the “Beta” version of the CommunityShare website in October 2014. We are piloting CommunityShare with teachers at four Tucson schools. We are excited that over 225 community partners have already signed up, ready to share their skills, passions and experiences with students and teachers. For those that are not familiar with CommunityShare, CS is an online platform that connects K-12 teachers in Tucson with local experts/community partners who are excited to share their passion, expertise and career experiences with students in the classroom. We have had illustrators share with elementary school students how to create their own children’s books, engineers help kids design and build their own mechanical mouse trap cars, and videographers share how they use film to make change in the world. CommunityShare helps students see the real-world application of what they are learning in school, exposes them to new career possibilities and helps students imagine a future they never knew existed. CommunityShare also provides a simple and meaningful way for us all to give back to our schools, community and support our next generation of learners, entrepreneurs and leaders. If you live in the Greater Tucson region, we would love to have you sign up (takes just a few minutes).

Buffalo Exchange Emerging Artist Award Nomination
I was kindly nominated for the 2013 Buffalo Exchange Emerging Artist Award. Recognition like this makes me so thankful for all the artists and amazing folks in our community who have supported me since I arrived in Tucson in 1999.

Finding Voice Project
In March 2014, Julie Kasper and I presented our work with the Finding Voice Project at the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) national conference, one of the largest gatherings of educators and administrators in the U.S. Our talk was entitled: “Finding Voice: ELLs Developing Multi-literacies through Creative Civic Engagement.” We met some amazing folks from throughout the U.S and globe and were inspired by keynote talks by Sir Ken Robinson & Daniel Pink. Check out the Finding Voice website, as we added all our students work from the past 8 years. Julie is now working for Refugee Focus and we continue to work together supporting refugees and youth in Tucson.

Reconnecting Youth, Arts & Culture in Artesia, New Mexico
I was invited by the Artesia Arts Council to explore with local youth, adults and community leaders strategies for engaging Artesia’s youth more in arts & culture. After touring the sites and sounds of this booming oil town, I had the good fortune to meet with about 50 elementary kids to share my own photography experiences and learn about their hopes and dreams for arts programming in Artesia. After that I facilitated a session with the Artesia Arts Council, local arts organizations, and educators to explore the strengths, challenges and opportunities for Artesia’s youth. Together we developed some initial strategies, one of which was engaging youth in the planning of arts and culture programming. I wrapped up my visit with a photography workshop with a small group of teens passionate about the arts.

Yale Hixon Center for Urban Ecology Lecture
As an alum of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, I was invited in October 2014 to present “Finding Voice: Engaging Youth in Re-Imagining Urban Ecosystems Through Visual Storytelling” to students and faculty. It was exciting to reconnect with professors and mentors after having ignited my passion for youth photography 15 years earlier as a Master’s student at Yale! Where does the time go?

Transit Talks
A group of Tucson artists (Liz Burden, Kimi Eisele, Denise, Uyehara, Sara Gonzales & myself) has been working in partnership with transit advocates to promote community conversations about transit in the metro Tucson region. Together we identified and designed short-term creative actions, like “re-imagining” a bus stop, to engage the public in public transit issues. You can learn more about Transit Talks here.

101 Youth Center Launched
After nearly 2 years of planning, youth on the Youth Design Team (YDT) began seeing the fruits of their labor at the opening of the new 101 Youth Center in the main library in Tucson. The opening featured cool art activities (animation, ocular rift, photography), endless pizza, spoken word poetry and a rockin’ youth band. The 101 Youth Center offers youth access to free arts programming, computers and other cool stuff most afternoons afterschool. For 3 years I have been working with library staff and the YDT to develop the vision, design and programming for the space.

Women’s Oyster Cooperative Photoessay: Edible Baja Magazine
Edible Baja — featuring all things foodie in Southern Arizona & Northern Mexico — published a photoessay I had created several years ago about a courageous and entrepreneurial group of women who run a women’s oyster cooperative near Puerto Penasco, Mexico. You can read more about the cooperative and see some of the images here.

Digital Media Learning (DML) Conference Presentation
I was excited to have the opportunity to present “Building Community Partnerships that Transform Youth Voice into Agency” at the March 2014 DML conference, an amazing gathering of practitioners and academics focused on digital media and learning.

Tohono Chul Park Exhibitions
I was invited to contribute photographs for two exhibitions in Tohono Chul Park’s main gallery: “Sky Islands” & “Road Trip.”

2013 News

Pima County Public Library Youth Media & Innovation Center

I continue to work with the Pima County Public Library in planning a youth center. 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 in Pima County. 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 youth are playing a central role in facilitating the planning process for the center. In January and February 2013, we received nearly 250 youth applications and after much anguish hired 15 youth to help us plan the youth center. Since February, the youth have formed three teams – research, outreach & documentation. The research team has been researching and collecting information about leading youth centers across the country, such as Artists for Humanity in Boston and The Point in the South Bronx. The outreach team developed a survey to assess what youth in Pima County would like to see in a youth center.  Through surveys and focus groups they have gathered input from nearly 2,000 youth. The documentation team has developed video and photography skills and is documenting our entire planning process, so others can learn from our trials and tribulations. By June 2014 we will have a vision and implementation plan for the youth center based on input gathered from the community.

Museum as Sanctuary: Giving Voice to Tucson’s Refugees
In January 2013, thanks to a grant from the Tucson Pima Arts Council, I was able to work on the Museum as Sanctuary (MAS) project, collaboration between Tucson Museum of Art and The Hopi Foundation’s Owl & Panther Project (OP). Owl & Panther works with refugee families in the Tucson area who have been impacted by torture, trauma, or traumatic dislocation. Refugee youth and adults produced truly inspiring self-portraits, photographs, sculpture, drawings, landscapes, collaborative story-telling paintings and illustrations, and nature-inspired tiles. I worked with the youth to create photographic portraits of their peers and families. The work resulting from this three-year project was exhibited in the Tucson Museum of Art in the summer and fall of 2013. The response from the community was heartening, as over 6,000 folks viewed the exhibition. We continue to look for other venues around the country to share the work. You can learn a bit more about the project in this BBC piece here.

Lens on the Land – Rosemont: What’s at Stake
Over the past two years I have been coordinating a collaborative photography project called Lens on the Land with the Sonoran Institute, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas and photographer Brian Powell. Brian and I have created and gathered powerful photographs that visually celebrate the natural and cultural heritage that would be destroyed by the proposed Rosemont copper mine, just 30 miles southeast of Tucson. Photographers, biologists and community members have generously donated many of these photographs. The proposed mine site, which includes the northeastern slopes of the Santa Rita Mountains and surrounding watersheds, is home to nine threatened and endangered species, including the only jaguar in the U.S. The mine would also destroy 118 cultural sites sacred to the Tohono O’odham people and other Native communities. An exhibition of approximately 50 images will tell this story and will open at Fluxx Gallery in Tucson on February 1, 2014. We are also collaborating with a team of other local artists on this project – New Articulations Dance Theater has produced a video that celebrates different species in the Rosemont area through dance, faculty at The Drawing Studio have created landscape paintings and drawings, and a team of Tucson poets have created poetry about the region. We will be sharing this work through exhibitions, film screenings, public projections, and other venues. We shared selections from the artwork created by this collaborative at the exhibition, “Seeing the Santa Ritas,” at The Drawing Studio in October 2013.

Largely as a result of my collaborations with public school teachers for the past 10+  years, I have been searching for a way to make it easier for teachers and professionals in the community to support each other. For teachers, time is limited and resources scarce. I kept thinking how powerful it could be if community professionals, businesses and organizations could more easily share their skills and experiences with our youth and teachers. This would expose youth to all kinds of career possibilities and make classroom learning feel more “real” and connected to their aspirations and the community at large. It would also offer pathways for professionals to contribute meaningfully to their community by sharing their unique skills and experiences with youth. So over the past two years I have been working with a group of educators, organizations and community members to develop a regional, online network called CommunityShare. CommunityShare will make it quick and efficient for teachers to match the goals and needs of their classrooms and schools with the skills and experiences of community partners in the greater Tucson region. Sort of a “match.com” for learning. A community partner might be a local historian, ecologist, web developer, solar engineer, neighborhood elder, physicist, photographer, athlete, or community organization. These are people who could support classroom learning by presenting to students, collaborating on class projects, mentoring students, or hosting fieldtrips. We surveyed 9,000 teachers and they expressed loud and clear that they want more community engagement in their classroom. We are currently working with a web developer to launch an online beta test of CommunityShare by February 2014. So keep your eyes peeled!

Finding Voice Project
For my eighth year, I am working as artist-in-residence and co-founder of the Finding Voice Project with ELL teacher Julie Kasper at Catalina Magnet High School in Tucson. This year Julie and I have started the year asking our refugee and immigrant students to explore careers they would like to pursue through writing and photography. As part of this research, they are shadowing a professional in their chosen career areas (travel agent, nurse, engineer, accountant, etc.) and producing mini “day in the life” photoessays.

Arizona TESOL Conference Presentation
My Finding Voice Project colleague Julie Kasper and I facilitated an interactive workshop entitled, “Finding Voice: Developing Literacies & Community Connections for ELLs,” at the statewide AZ TESOL conference in Tucson in October 2013.

University of Arizona Public Political Ecology Lab Presentation
In October 2013, I was asked by Assistant Professor Tracey Osborne to give a presentation to the Public Political Ecology Lab entitled, “Creating Social Change Through Community-Based Storytelling.As a result of this connection, we are currently exploring opportunities to create dialogue and collaboration between different departments within the University of Arizona and practitioners of community art in the region.

Tohono Chul Park Small Works Exhibition
I was invited to contribute two works of art for Tohono Chul Park’s 2013 Small Works Exhibition. Two photographs are being exhibited in their main gallery in November and December of 2013.

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.

Read more about 2012 News

2011 News

Parks in Focus

Parks in Focus, a federal program based at the Morris K. Udall Foundation in Tucson, connects underserved youth to nature through photography. I have been working with Parks in Focus to develop new curricular strategies and to deepen and expand their impact locally and nationally. Since I have a deep passion for nature, photography and youth this has been an exciting opportunity for me. Read more about 2011 News

2010 News

PhotoPhilanthropy 2010 Activist Award

In November 2010 I was kindly recognized for my work with teacher Julie Kasper in creating the Finding Voice Project with refugee and immigrant youth in Tucson. We received PhotoPhilanthropy’s 2010 Grand Prize Activist Award for Community-Based Organizations. PhotoPhilanthropy’s mission is “to promote and connect photographers with nonprofit organizations around the world to tell the stories that drive action for social change.” As a result of this award, Finding Voice was featured in a PhotoPhilanthropy book and in an exhibit at the World Affairs Council in San Francisco in March 2011. Read more about 2010 News

2009 News

Finding Voice Project

I continued working with refugee and immigrant students in ESL classes with teacher Julie Kasper at Catalina Magnet High School. This school year we are working with two classes of excited students exploring and sharing their voices around the theme of “Building a Stronger Community.” The students are producing digital stories and other pieces about issues ranging from discrimination to changing ESL policies in Arizona. They will share their work at a community presentation at 6:30pm on May 14th at Catalina Magnet High School. From October 16-November 13, 2009 we exhibited student work from the past three years of the Finding Voice Project at the Union Gallery in the Student Union of the University of Arizona. The photograph on this page is one of many student images we exhibited. To see additional photos and learn more about the Finding Voice Project visit: www.findingvoiceproject.org. In connection with the exhibit, I joined a panel of local art organizations and art educators to discuss “Voice & Identity – Issues of Representation in Visual and Literary Art.” Read more about 2009 News