Blog Posts for social change

Rural America’s Art of Connection: Building Community through Exchange

Posted by Savannah Barrett, Jul 25, 2017 0 comments

As a field focused on demographic similarity across great cultural and physiographic difference, rural artists explore their commonalities by exchanging projects, strategies, and challenges. Relationship to place is our tie that binds, so the field is increasingly prioritizing projects that connect people and organizations across distance and divide. These relational projects, conferences, and digital resources use cultural exchange as a vehicle for social transformation by expanding connections between people and places.

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How Art is Creating a Youth-led Vision of Justice

Posted by Jeree Thomas, Jul 25, 2017 0 comments

When artist-activists Mark Strandquist and Trey Hartt contacted me about partnering on a project to make people see, through art, that youth are more than their crimes and more than statistics, I felt both completely out of my depth and finally understood. This was something I wanted to do for years, but I didn’t have the partners, the talent, the language, or the framework to make it happen. I knew instinctively that if decision-makers could see, feel, and hear the experiences of youth, they would empathize with them, and that could open up new possibilities. 

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A beautiful & eclectic voice in a family of frameworks

Posted by Käthe Swaback, Jul 25, 2017 0 comments

Animating Democracy’s new beautiful Aesthetic Perspectives framework gives voice and importance to the myriad aspects that work together to create strong art for social change. With this lens, it adds important ways of seeing “quality” in general, offering an eclectic voice in the family of other frameworks that describe what quality and excellence is—in product, in process, and in programs. Able also to hold the paradoxes, it states, “Ambiguity, contradiction, and co-existence are essentials for a tolerant democratic society. Art can help us live with the ambiguities and contradictions of our world; it can show us how each thing contains its opposite.”

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Seeking a Common Language for Community Development and the Arts

Posted by Victor Rubin, Jul 24, 2017 0 comments

The worlds of community development and art for social change are intersecting frequently these days, and this leads, at least, to a need for simultaneous translation and patience if not treatment for outright culture shock. How do we talk about and track these new types of interactions? How are the respective practitioners getting along? And what happens when a planner, researcher, and evaluator steeped in 35 years of relatively conventional assessment of community development issues and organizations—that would be me—needs to understand, appreciate, and gain insights about the radically different styles, motivations, and ways of seeing and interacting that are employed by artists engaged in social change?

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Of Distinction: Community-engaged notions of value

Posted by Ananya Chatterjea, Jul 24, 2017 0 comments

Animating Democracy’s new Aesthetic Perspectives framework spawned multiple parallel scenarios in my head. In one, I was continuing my conversation from a few weeks ago with a foundation grant officer, who told me that their organization was “not so interested in social justice”; you simply had to “have artistic excellence.” I had presented my most cogent argument that artistic excellence is often conceptualized in dangerously narrow ways, to the detriment of appreciating arts and social justice work—only to be brushed aside. What would have happened if the framework, offering many different ways of reading “excellence” in socially engaged art, had been at my fingertips then? 

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A Humane Framework for Creative Practice

Posted by Linda Essig, Jul 24, 2017 0 comments

Aesthetic Perspectives is described as “a guide for description rather than a scorecard.” This is an apt explanation; it provides a framework for use by an evaluator rather than a rubric for evaluation itself. As such, there are aspects of Aesthetic Perspectives that are particularly useful or important and a few elements that raise some questions for me.

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