Wednesday, March 12, 2008

better waverly

an idea from jennifer granholm @ the diversity round table about a year ago. it has stuck with me. and increasingly it represents an idea bigger than i could have imagined when she first mentioned it. it is a problem and a solution all rolled into one statement...

last wednesday i went to better waverly (a neighborhood in baltimore) with my friend stephanie. she does her cap internship there at a community arts center (which is a row home that has been converted.) they do after-school art classes (the group stephanie works with) and other things like free piano lessons. in an article about the center, someone from the better waverly community organization states, "you turn on the lights at 901 montpelier, and there's going to be a child's face pushed up against that door." it's a pretty cool place. totally part of the community. kids can walk out of their house, literally walk a few doors down, and make art.

it was a good day for me to visit. stephanie was starting a new project with them, a video that would showcase better waverly. to start to brainstorm ideas, the group (about 12 kids) took us on a tour of their neighborhood. they carried around little notepads and were told to keep three things in mind. 1. what am i proud of? 2. where do i hang out? 3. what would i like to see for my neighborhood in the future.

the weirdest/scariest thing for me was how aware these kids are of everything going on around them. and i mean everything. they talked openly and eagerly about recent shootings and gangs, and took us to the "rapist park" as one of the tour stops. i cannot imagine being born into an environment with such an inherent burden. i worry that there is no outlet for these kids about these things. and i worry art can only go so far.

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