Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Gumbo: Community Arts Project

Washington DC: A couple weeks ago I talked to you about my friend Josef's new arts foundation in Columbia Heights called CHARTS. So, I wanted to tell you about a project that he is working on. Every couple months CHARTS hosts a Salon Series and the next one is on May 22. Josef and his co-conspirators are creating an art installation of our obituaries. And they need submissions.

Here what Josef says:
Please help me create a new art installation to be exhibited at the next Columbia Heights Salon Series, presented by my new community-based arts foundation, CHARTS, by sending your handwritten obituary to me. The theme for the event itself is based on creation/life due to the spring season, which is why I find it intriguing to challenge people to think about death as an inevitable component to life, rather than something that's stigmatized or not openly discussed. You can write, not type, your obituary on anything — a page from your Moleskine, a cocktail napkin, a painted canvas, anything — and I'll assemble my installation on a wall to be displayed at the upcoming Salon Series on May 22.
You can send your submission to directly to Josef at josef.palermo[at]gmail[dot]com.

Amsterdam: Next Sunday I'm hosting a drinks and writing games at my favorite local bar with a bunch of Amsterdam based writers. I asked everyone to bring a writing exercise with them and I'm going to bring the obituary one as mine. A local writers magazine offered to print our final pieces from Sunday's event, which I thought was pretty great.

I managed this internship program a couple jobs ago and one of the pre-written questions I had to ask during interviews was, "If the New York Times wrote an article about you in ten years, what would it say?" I ran into a former intern a couple months back and he brought that up to me. He said he still thought about how he should have answered it. I'm not sure it's worth a couple years of thought, but it might be another good writing exercise. Except maybe for Sunday's event, I would change it to how would the headline of a New York Times article about you in ten years read.

Oakland: As I'm on the job hunt these days, I recently discovered this arts community center in Oakland called Community Rejuvenation Project. It's mission is:

The Community Rejuvenation Project cultivates healthy communities through beautification education, and celebration. We achieve this mission through experiential programs that promote professional development, artistic, and cultural expression and community empowerment. 
They paint murals with local artists to pretty up neighborhoods. It's pretty amazing stuff! Check out the webpage, there are videos and photos. This is one of my favorites.

Trail of Dreams: There is a really great blog by Favianna Rodriguez. She is an artist and social justice advocate and received notice this week that she will be inducted into the Women's Hall of Fame in Alameda County. Established in 1993, the purpose of the Women's Hall of Fame is to recognize outstanding women for their achievements and contributions to the overall well being of our county and its citizens. In addition to honoring outstanding women, in the past, the event has generated funds to help provide comprehensive breast cancer prevention, education, and treatment services in Alameda County.

I first read about the Trail of Dreams on her blog. The Trail of Dreams is a 1,500 mile walk from Miami to Washington DC by four undocumented young people. They are hoping to raise awareness about our broken immigration system and the reality of talented and hard working young people slipping through the cracks while undocumented in the US. You can follow their journey here.

They are currently in Gwinnett County, Georgia. A county known for its fierce (not in the good way) Sheriff who under the 287-G program is being called dangerous by the local community. The 287-G program trains local law enforcement to enforce nation wide immigration laws. But has proven in recent years that all this power easily goes to some local authorities heads, especially those of the xenophobic variety. Most notoriously used by that swine Sheriff in Arizona. His qualifications were taken away in the Fall of 2009 because of severe abuses, racial profiling, violence, and harassment of the latino community.

The three Latinos and one Latina on this journey is planning on talking with the Georgia Sheriff and are being met by hundreds of activists along the way. Just before entering Atlanta they were also met by a KKK anti-immigration rally. Oh, America . . .  you're disgusting at times.

And just because I have a huge tattoo of a skull. 

Renee Claire

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