Blog Posts for Social Change

At the Crossroads of the Rustbelt and the Artist Belt

Posted by Ms. Roseann Weiss, Apr 24, 2012 0 comments

Roseann Weiss

In the second week of April, when St. Louis was blooming with an early spring, 292 people came for Rustbelt to Artist Belt: At the Crossroads—an arts-based community development convening—to be part of the discussion about the arts and social change.

This conference combined the three Rustbelt to Artist Belt meetings that took place in Cleveland and Detroit with the At the Crossroads convening that took place in St. Louis in 2010.

I proposed this combination when attending the conference in Detroit and the idea stuck with Seth Beattie from Cleveland’s Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC), the organizer of Rustbelt. With phone calls and emails back and forth and with a grant from the Kresge Foundation, we did it!

I wondered whether our gamble—combining the people who talk about creative regeneration of neighborhoods in the Rustbelt with people who practice community arts and social engagement—would pay off.

Would we all be able to significantly connect these threads that make up the fabric of positive social change?

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They've Got the Blues...The First Grade Blues

Posted by Jon Schwartz, Apr 24, 2012 3 comments

Jon Schwartz

Throughout my career as a teacher, I’ve been faced with many situations that required some creative ingenuity to help insure my students received the best chance at education in my classroom and beyond.

In my first grade classroom at Garrison Elementary in San Diego this year, I’ve been faced with helping non-native English speaking students learn English while assimilating in the classroom and culture at large.

In the past, I’ve successfully adopted out-of-the-box approaches to connect with my students (such as the student blogging program I started with my fourth and fifth graders last year) and this situation seemed ripe with the possibility of doing something similar.

As I watched my students tire of the old classics like “Old MacDonald” and “B-I-N-G-O” I decided to try a different tactic. I loaded my iPhone with some good, old-fashioned Blues standards and got those kids rocking! I could never have predicted what came next.

As you can see from our YouTube video below, there was something about the Blues that really seemed to reach the kids on a foundational, universal level.

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Advocacy is the New Yoga: Just Thirty Minutes a Day Can Make a World of Difference

Posted by Ursula Kuhar, Apr 23, 2012 4 comments

Ursula Kuhar

I love yoga. It’s all the rage—even Nancy Hanks Lecturer Alec Baldwin is a fan. Yoga practice is a great fitness activity that has physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. A thirty minute workout comprised of sun salutation, downward facing dog, and accompanied by a little “om” action provides the energy and balance needed to chug through the day.

What about arts wellness? I propose this: advocacy is the new yoga.

I promise, I’m going somewhere with this. Just hear me out.

Every year in April, hundreds of arts advocates arrive in Washington, DC for Arts Advocacy Day.

The two-day summit covers advocacy training, break out sessions regarding current arts issues, the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and a day on Capitol Hill—meeting with legislators to discuss the state of the arts and future objectives.

It’s an empowering and inspiring experience. Even as a seasoned veteran, I discover new information, meet and discuss issues with colleagues from all over the country, and leave Washington knowing that somehow, in some way, I planted a seed by educating and encouraging my elected officials regarding the positive power of the arts and their support and continued funding benefits the country in countless ways.

But what happens when we leave our nation’s capital? It is all too easy to “fall off the wagon”: to put our Congressional Arts Handbook and other resources on a bookcase in the office, only to be revisited the following April.

Here’s where yoga comes in.

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