Posts Tagged ‘ArtCorps’

Experiencing Leadership Development for Social Change

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

President of the ArtCorps Board of Directors, Liz Gibbons, attended a recent ArtCorps workshop in Guatemala so she could experience creative leadership firsthand and better support the development and promotion of our Education and Training services.

Liz Gibbons at ArtCorps workshop in Antigua, GuatemalaFor the past year, ArtCorps has been embarking on an exciting journey, one which carries the lessons of twelve years of using art to uncover new solutions to enduring community problems. These lessons have been distilled in a transformative training curriculum which develops the leadership capacity of organizations supporting citizen action for a better world. And this journey is taking us to new places, people and institutions committed to social change on a significant scale.

I felt very fortunate to be able to attend a three-day intensive training, held in Antigua, Guatemala in October 2013. In a flower-filled garden beneath the Pacaya volcano, I joined participants working for various Central American grassroots environmental conservation and human rights groups, supported in their work by the New England Biolabs Foundation. The compelling facilitators led us through a crescendo of exercises that aimed first to promote self knowledge and motivation, then to build community collaboration and finally to catalyze creative strategies for systemic change. The whole workshop was invigorating and captivating, and as far as I could tell, my fellow participants stayed “in the moment” just like I did throughout the three days. Some of the many highlights were:

  • By creating our personal Tree of Life, we realized how much the values of our families and childhood guide our life’s work, while also reflecting on what dead leaves it was time to shed so as to make room for new growth.
  • Teams were tasked with developing “useful and attractive” objects from a box of recycled materials, leading to a reflection on how much influence our leadership styles have on the creative process and product.ArtCorps trainees
  • We explored the sensitive topic of machismo through a theater exercise in which audience members replace the cast and change the outcome of the skit, resulting in poignant reflection and dialogue on our own roles in contributing to oppressive behaviors.
  • A kinetic exercise, in which we connected ourselves mentally with two others in the 25-person group, revealed that failure of just one of two connections could collapse an entire community system!

These exercises, powerful individually, built upon one another in superbly designed sequence. By the end of the workshop, I was part of a creative community of empowered leaders ready and eager to bring new approaches to the preservation of Central America’s environment and culture.

Learn more about ArtCorps’ Education and Training program.

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Experimentar el Liderazgo para el Cambio Social

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

La presidenta de la Junta de Directores ArtCorps, Liz Gibbons, asistió a un reciente taller de ArtCorps en Guatemala para experimentar el liderazgo creativo de primera mano y así poder apoyar mejor el desarrollo y la promoción de nuestros servicios de Educación y Formación.

Liz Gibbons at ArtCorps workshop in Antigua, GuatemalaDurante el último año, ArtCorps se ha embarcado en un viaje emocionante, uno que lleva las enseñanzas de doce años de utilizar el arte para descubrir nuevas soluciones a los problemas comunitarios que perduran en el tiempo. Estas lecciones han sido parte de un programa de capacitación para la transformación que desarrolla la capacidad de liderazgo de las organizaciones que apoyan la acción ciudadana por un mundo mejor. Y este viaje nos lleva a nuevos lugares, personas e instituciones comprometidos con el cambio social de manera significativa.

Me sentí muy afortunada de poder asistir a un entrenamiento intensivo de tres días que se llevó a cabo en Antigua, Guatemala, en octubre de 2013. En un jardín lleno de flores debajo del volcán Pacaya, me reuní con participantes que trabajan para distintos grupos de conservación del medio ambiente y de derechos humanos con bases en América Central, apoyados por la Fundación New England Biolabs. Los convincentes facilitadores nos condujeron mediante una serie de ejercicios cuyo primer objetivo era promover el autoconocimiento y la motivación, para entonces construir la colaboración de la comunidad y, finalmente, para catalizar estrategias creativas para el cambio sistémico. Todo el taller fue estimulante y fascinante y, por lo que pude ver, mis compañeros participantes se compenetraron al igual que yo durante los tres días. Algunos de los puntos destacados fueron los siguientes:

  • Al crear nuestro Árbol de la Vida personal, nos dimos cuenta de lo mucho que los valores de nuestras familias y de la infancia guían el trabajo de nuestra vida, y nos hizo reflexionar acerca de qué hojas muertas debíamos dejar ir para poder seguir creciendo.
  • Se indicó a los equipos la tarea de desarrollar objetos «útiles y atractivos» de una caja de materiales reciclados, de modo de lograr reflexionar acerca del grado de influencia que nuestros estilos de liderazgo tienen en el proceso creativo y el producto.
    ArtCorps trainees
  • Exploramos el delicado tema del machismo a través de un ejercicio de teatro en el cual los miembros del público sustituyen a los actores y modifican el desenlace de la obra, lo que resulta en la reflexión y el diálogo punzante en lo que respecta a roles que desempeñamos para contribuir a las conductas opresivas.
  • Un ejercicio cinético, en el cual nos conectamos mentalmente con otras dos personas del grupo de 25, reveló que el fallo de una de dos conexiones podría hacer colapsar el sistema de toda la comunidad.
    Estos ejercicios, poderosos individualmente, iban conformando una secuencia magníficamente diseñada. Al finalizar el taller, me había convertido en parte de una comunidad creativa de líderes fuertes, preparados y con ganas de aportar nuevos enfoques a la conservación del medio ambiente y la cultura de América Central.

    Obtenga más información acerca del programa Educación y Formación de ArtCorps.

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A Metamorphosis: ArtCorps Trainees Discover their Creative Capacity

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Nicaraguan community development staff and teachers practice arts-based tools and strategies to boldly and creatively challenge the status quo.

Mercedes, a teacher in the Nicaraguan public schools, walked into the Creative Leadership for Social Change workshop with a guarded and somewhat fearful look on her face. The first thing she said to me was “I am not an artist. I don’t know how to draw.” My hope was that by the end of the end of the workshop, she would have a different concept about art and a different opinion about her capacity to be creative.  My intention was for her to discover that she, like everyone, is an artist, creating and recreating our lives and our world through our thoughts and actions, our relationships and dreams. We are limited only by a conditioned belief that we do not have power to affect change.

Miguel and FSD traineesThe Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) convened sixteen educators, community workers and youth in Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua (just outside of Managua) to participate in ArtCorps’ intensive course in Creative Leadership for Social Change. Most of the participants walked in the door with the idea that art is something you hang on a wall. Over the course of three days, we challenged that idea by giving them arts-based tools and strategies to critically analyze issues, to discover and deepen our sense of purpose, to explore the pros and cons of different leadership styles, to develop a shared vision of the future and to generate constructive dialogue about how we might take action to achieve it.

Little by little, their idea of art, and of themselves as artists, began to change. Norma, a teacher from Pipitos who was shy at first, said: “I am learning that together, through art, we can discover our own solutions to the problems we face. I started the workshop thinking I can’t do this. I have discovered that I can.”

Woman covering her face in skitI watched Mercedes carefully through the workshop to see if her self-concept was also transforming. In a Forum Theater skit that one group created about violence against women, the husband emotionally abused his wife, telling her she was old and ugly and not worth his time. Forum Theater requires that audience members come onto the stage to replace a character and try out different possibilities to resolve a conflict or confront an oppression.

Mercedes raised her hand and yelled “Stop!”, taking the place of the abused wife and firmly standing up for her self-worth and the rights of women, citing the new Nicaraguan Law 779 that criminalizes acts of violence against women. Later in the day, I watched her boldly dance around the room with a colorful scarf embodying the collective vision of her group.

Mercedes literally let down her hair, rolled up her sleeves and got creative in ways she had never dreamed of. She was not the only one. All of the participants worked collaboratively to write poetry, create a mural, act in theater skits and make sculptures with recycled materials.

On the last day, each participant designed a creative project that they would implement at work to apply their learning from the workshop. Their project plans included: facilitating a leadership workshop for the directors of other organizations using Art Codes, the World Café and other techniques they learned in our training; organizing a school-wide contest making recycled art from trash; and a youth theater project to discuss the issues of gangs and bullying.

Women dancing with scarvesAshley, one of FSD’s new volunteers, shared with the group: “I now think of myself as an artist, which is something I’ve always wanted but never saw how it could be true.” Our training is designed to create the opportunity for every participant to discover their creativity. We don’t have to be born with an art gene, or have the ability to draw in order to be creative. We simply have to uncover the inherent capacity within each one of us to dream of a better world and to creatively put our hearts and hands together to build it.

When Mercedes approached me to say goodbye, I asked her if she could say that she identified as an artist now. Tears filled her eyes, and mine too, as she looked at me and firmly said, “YES.”

Aryeh Shell is ArtCorps’ Education and Training Officer.

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What is an Art Code? Poem opens discussion about gender at ArtCorps workshop in San Francisco.

Marta Oslin Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

What is an Art Code? This moving poem opened a discussion about gender during ArtCorps’ Primer Course in Creative Leadership for Social Change at the San Francisco Women’s Building on October 1, 2013.

Maisha shares her poem "the enlivened women's trial" at ArtCorps Creative Leadership for Social Change workshop in San FranciscoThis poem about gender oppression was written by Maisha Z. Johnson during one of our recent creative leadership workshops. It is an example of an Art Code, a technique practiced by Maisha and the other trainees. An Art Code is an artistic representation, such as a video, poem or image, which is used to facilitate dialogue and reflection on the specific issue it represents. After listening to her poem, the group applied the four simple steps below to hold a meaningful discussion about gender:

  1. Perceive (describe the issue they observed in the Art Code)
  2. Relate (connect the issue to their own experience)
  3. Analyze (uncover the root causes) and
  4. Act (explore solutions).

the enlivened woman’s trial

does she float or does she sink?

does she speak or is she silent?

how does her hair
fall from her head—
soft and silky
as a gentle woman’s hands,
or wild and thriving
as an unkempt garden?

black magic woman,
why haven’t you learned
the notes to your song of silence?

black magic woman,
why have you listened
to the call of your own voice,
and not the voice set for you?

witch woman, witch woman,
cast your eyes down.

witch woman, witch woman,
don’t turn around.

Maisha Z. Johnson is a community organizer and poet based in the Bay Area.

Learn more about ArtCorps’ Education and Training Program.

Meet the 2013 Creative Activists

ArtCorps Friday, October 4th, 2013

Meet the 2013 Creative Activists, Anthony Trecek-King and Karla Lara.

Music is a potent force for sparking our imaginations, connecting us to others and motivating us to do our best (think the Rocky theme song). For our 3rd Annual Creative Activist Awards (drumroll please), we are pleased to honor Anthony Trecek-King, Artistic Director for the Boston Children’s Chorus, and Karla Lara, Honduran Singer and Human Rights Activist, for using music to creatively advance social change in Boston and Central America.

Their awards will be presented on Thursday, October 24, 2013 at ArtCorps’ annual fundraiser, Raising Spirits: A Masquerade Fiesta.

Read the full press release announcing the 2013 Creative Activists here.

Championing a New Kind of Citizenship
Karla Lara, 2013 Creative Activist
Honduran Singer and Human Rights Activist
Listen to her song “Antes del puente” >>
Read Karla’s full bio >>

Encouraging Voices of All Ages to Reach their Potential

Anthony Trecek-King, 2013 Creative Activist
Artistic Director for the Boston Children’s Chorus
2012 Most Stylish Bostonian
Listen to his Boston TEDx talk >>
Read Anthony’s full bio >>

Educadores Sensibilizan sobre Temas Medioambientales a través del Cuento Ilustrado

Isabel Carrio Friday, October 4th, 2013

Con un cielo cargado de agua, la Artista ArtCorps Isabel Carrió, los profesores de las escuelas de Xeman y Rancho de Teja y Josué Morales, el artista local quien lleva dos años colaborando con nosotros parten rumbo a las comunidades más lejanas del área de Los Rocosos en Totonicapán, Guatemala.

Student shows his illustration, environmental picture book workshop, courtesy of ArtCorps Artist Isabel CarrioEl taller de cuento ilustrado es una continuación de los talleres previos con maestros de Panquix, con quienes concretamos el libro Sabiduría de los Rocosos.

Quisimos definir más las actividades para los maestros y separamos el taller en dos partes: escritura e ilustración. Entre los pasos habían previas dinámicas de movimiento corporal, juegos de palabras, ejercicios de dibujo con música, lectura compartida y presentación de imágenes visuales. Todas estas prácticas de sensibilización son las que van a ir acompañando todo el proceso hasta llegar al resultado final: un cuento ilustrado.

Pero no es cualquier cuento. Trabajamos sobre temáticas tan interrelacionadas como la reforestación, las prácticas ancestrales, el reciclaje y el control de la basura, los desastres naturales, el cuidado del bosque y el poder comunitario. Todos estos temas, aunque abarcan mucho, están íntimamente relacionados y son una cascada de causas y efectos.

En tan sólo una mañana de cuatro horas de trabajo, indagamos estos temas y también incorporamos momentos en los cuales la autoestima individual de cada participante pueda fortalecerse. Entre aplausos y felicitaciones, todos tuvieron oportunidad de leer su historia en voz alta, mostrar su dibujo o posar para una foto frente a su obra maestra de tizas de colores en el piso.

Fue una actividad especial porque estuvieron Luis Quino de ArtCorps y Barbara Vallarino y Melissa Haley de nuestro socio EcoLogic Development Fund para compartir la experiencia. Nunca nos alcanzan tantas sonrisas y tanto agradecimiento de los 60 y pico estudiantes y de los maestros. Pero los agradecidos también somos nosotros, de que nos abran un espacio para compartir y proyectar juntos un futuro mejor.

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Educators Raise Environmental Awareness with Picture Books

Isabel Carrio Friday, October 4th, 2013

Under rain-heavy skies, ArtCorps Artist Isabel Carrió, teachers from the Xeman and Rancho de Teja schools and Josué Morales, the local artist who has collaborated on this project over the past two years, head to the most remote communities in the area of Los Rocosos in Totonicapan, Guatemala.

Student shows his illustration, environmental picture book workshop, courtesy of ArtCorps Artist Isabel CarrioThe picture book workshop is a continuation of the previous training workshops with the teachers with whom we created the book Wisdom of the Rocky Hillsides.

To break down the process for the teachers, we divided the workshop into two parts: writing and illustration. The steps we covered included body movement dynamics, word games, drawing exercises with music, shared reading and presentation of visual images.

Mind you, we are not telling just any story. We study and communicate such interconnected topics as reforestation, indigenous practices, recycling and garbage control, natural disasters, forest management and community empowerment. All of these issues are closely related and represent a cascade of causes and effects.

In just one morning consisting of four hours of work, we delved into these subjects, gently encouraging each student to fully participate. At the end of the session, amidst applause and congratulations, everyone got a chance to read their story out loud, show their drawing or pose for a photo in front of their colored chalk masterpiece on the floor.

It was a special activity because we Luis Quino from ArtCorps and Barbara Vallarino and Melissa Haley from our partner EcoLogic Development Fund shared the experience, and the 60-something students and the teachers were brimming with smiles and appreciation. But we are equally grateful to them, for having opened a space for us to share and, together, project a better future.

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Success Stories from the Stretch Zone

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

ArtCorps Program Officer Aryeh Shell reports back on how trainees from a recent course are integrating creative methods into their environmental education and outreach work.

A mind, once stretched by a new idea,/ never regains its original dimensions. ~OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, JR.

Panic, Stretch, Comfort ZonesIn May 2013, we landed by a small puddle-jumper plane in Punta Gorda, Belize to pilot ArtCorps’ three-day course in Creative Leadership for Social Change. Eight men and seven women from six environmental organizations responsible for managing twenty protected areas in Belize and Guatemala came together seeking new ways to promote the responsible and sustainable use of natural resources, and nearly all admitted that they weren’t quite sure what to expect.

We started the intensive training with a discussion on the value of having a comfort zone, and the importance of being in the “stretch zone” where things can feel uncomfortable but where learning and growth takes place. Over the course of the training, we invited the participants to try on new things and put themselves into the stretch zone as much as possible.

Trainees, Punta Gorda ArtCorps WorkshopWe witnessed every participant rise to the challenge by stretching outside of their comfort zones to acquire innovative skills and strategies to strengthen their work. They tried on many things for the first time, from making masks to creating and performing theater skits. The gratification has continued through our follow-up coaching calls as we hear about the success they are having as they put these new tools and strategies into practice.

Cordelia Requena of the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) described how she stretched to facilitate a “World Café” dialogue about alternative livelihoods in a binational meeting of twenty-eight community leaders from Guatemala and Belize. Five tables were set up for conversation with paper and markers for participants to draw and capture the key insights of each round of conversation. The Belizeans played the role of host and rapporteur, while the Guatemalan leaders rotated tables to share their experiences and questions about projects, challenges and strategies. Since language can be a barrier at these gatherings, the process offered everyone an opportunity to contribute through small groups and drawings, generating new ideas for collaboration and sharing best practices.

Ya'axché Conservation Trust theater activity

Courtesy of Ya'axché Conservation Trust

Participants are also stretching to adapt the activities they learned to their unique context. Omar Sierra of the Southern Environmental Association (SEA) has reported great success in modifying the “Exploring Leadership through Creative Recycling” exercise for public school teachers. The activity creates the opportunity for teachers to experience and reflect on the benefits of participatory education.

Omar has also obtained permission from the village chairperson for a youth mural project. The aim of the mural is to generate dialogue about local issues and how residents can be part of the solution.

Ya’axché Conservation Trust has stretched internally as a team and extended its learning into its community outreach and education. The Executive Director Christina Garcia has used appreciation and trust exercises at staff meetings to strengthen the bonds between colleagues and to model arts-based methods as part of the culture of the organization.

Ya'axche Conservation Trust workshop

Courtesy of Ya'axché Conservation Trust

In leadership trainings with local residents, staff are not only applying the theater, drawing and collective visioning exercises that they learned in the Creative Leadership course, but they are stretching to invent entirely new activities on their own!  For example, Ya’axché staff developed a game called “Fishing for Life” which used toothpicks, water, corn and cacao seeds to represent dwindling resources over time. The activity allowed community leaders to reflect on their current practices and generate new strategies to conserve and manage their resources for the long term. See photos.

In a few short months, they have successfully applied creative facilitation to engage community members in addressing complex issues such as participatory land use planning, natural resource management, women’s leadership and participation, forest fire prevention and conflict resolution. And we can’t wait to hear what’s next! Here are more photos of community members laughing and actively participating in their workshops.

ArtCorps is excited to continue supporting these efforts and to stretching and growing together!

This training was made possible thanks to the vision and support of the New England BioLabs Foundation.

Aryeh Shell is ArtCorps’ Education and Training Officer. Learn more about ArtCorps’ Education and Training Program.

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Jóvenes Revitalizan Espacio Público con Arte Reciclado

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

El pasado viernes 12 de julio la abandonada plaza principal de Totonicapán fue transformada por gigantes mosaicos hechos con tapas recicladas. Fueron 22 señoritas y 20 jóvenes maya quichés de la telesecundaria del cantón Xolsacmaljá quienes impulsaron esta revitalización, bajo la dirección y acompañamiento de la Artista ArtCorps Isabel Carrió.

Mosaic mural made from recycled bottle caps, ArtCorps Artist Isabel CarrioDesde lo lejos se escuchaba la marimba, señal de una celebración, en la comunidad de Xolsacmaljá en Totonicapán, Guatemala. Con la presencia de jóvenes, niños y adultos se inició el acto de presentación de los coloridos murales de los jóvenes en la Biblioteca Comunitaria. Los representantes de la Junta de Recursos Naturales de los 48 Cantones de Totonicapán, agradecieron y felicitaron el trabajo de los líderes juveniles en coordinación con ArtCorps.

Luego se presentó una obra teatral por parte de un grupo local de jóvenes que hicieron reflexionar a la audiencia sobre el problema de la contaminación y motivaron a soñar para solucionar creativamente estos problemas. Un joven explicó el motivo principal de estos trabajos al público:

En la cabecera municipal de Totonicapán están construyendo un nuevo sitio donde antes había un parque antiguo muy bonito con árboles donde vivían muchos pájaros que recuerdo muy bien cuando cantaban al caer la tarde. Eso ya no existe y ahora sólo vemos láminas feas y mucho polvo. Nuestros trabajos quieren hacer conciencia sobre esta situación como un llamado a la reflexión a los encargados del desarrollo urbano de las ciudades para que en sus planes sea prioridad mantener áreas verdes y recreativas para el bienestar de los habitantes.

Mosaic murals on walls of former Totonicapan park, ArtCorps Artist Isabel CarrioCuando los jóvenes se tomaban fotos frente a sus trabajos, se podía ver en sus rostros el orgullo y la satisfacción de ver terminadas sus obras después de muchos días de esfuerzos.

Al día siguiente se cerró la calle principal de Totonicapán para realizar la instalación en el muro de láminas que rodea el espacio del antiguo parque. Poco a poco las obras fueron tomando su lugar cubriendo las láminas y dándole al espacio una vista totalmente diferente. Al ver las instalaciones, las personas que pasaban tenían mucha curiosidad y se detenían para felicitar y preguntar si las obras estaban a la venta. Se oían expresiones como “miren como usaron la basura,” “miren patojos como aprovechan lo que ustedes tiran,” y “qué bonito, ya estaba cansada de ver láminas feas.”

La admiración y los comentarios de la gente confirman que además de transformar la calle principal de Totonicapán, esa iniciativa ha transformando el ánimo y la conciencia de un pueblo.

Este proyecto se realiza en colaboración con EcoLogic Development Fund.

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