St. Louis #StoryStitchers Artist Collective use art to fight #gunviolence

Screen Shot 2017-09-11 at 9.04.36 PM.png

It's urban storytelling with an anti-gun message. “We do a lot on gun violence because it is the main issue that the youth want to work on,” said Susan Colangelo, president of St. Louis Story Stitchers Artist Collective, a nonprofit based in University City. “We work collaboratively here, so we look at and listen to what’s happening in the community and we generate ideas.”

Story Stitchers provides a creative outlet for young artists ages 16 to 24. Ideas for Story Stitchers include dance, spoken word, hip hop, videography, photography, writing workshops and publishing.  

“We help them get their voices out,” said Colangelo. “We do discussions with youth that are youth-led. We take that information and generate books, songs, plays. We are picking the city up. I think what we’re doing is community building.“

Story Stitchers member Antonio Clark is a student at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School. “It’s a habit. I can’t stop dancing,” he said. “I love it and that’s why I do it.”

Clark, who enjoys dancing, joined Story Stitchers to be a role model.

“I like standing out, you know what I’m saying? You’re not gonna see me with guns or anything like that,” he said. “I just want the rest of my youth, the rest of my generation to understand that there’s no point in what they’re doing. I know a lot of people that lost their lives to violence, family members, friends, people that I knew from school.”

The message to drop the gun is personal for some of the Story Stitchers and that’s why many of the organization’s performances take place in the neighborhoods where members live. “We have been going into the neighborhoods where our youth live, so Walnut Park, Jeff Vander Lou, we’re going to the juvenile detention center.”

Story Stitchers goes beyond performances, organizing community forums like gun violence summits featuring stakeholders and experts from the community. It’s young people using their skills to be part of the solution.

Click here for more.

#UrbanYogis Offer Free Yoga for Youth in Queens

people-2573198_1920.jpg

Urban Yogis operates in schools and prisons. The group takes the mission around the country, like in Chicago.

Life Camp's Shanair Hogan said they introduced yoga to kids in Chicago and got a lot of push-back at first. But then the kids became excited and yearned for it each day.

Urban Yogis operates in South Jamaica, Queens, on Fridays. Juquille Johnston is one of the instructors. Originally introduced to the practice for his own good, he is now one of the leaders. His passion is rooted in his personal evolution.

This is all part of Life Camp, an anti-gun violence nonprofit organization committed to changing the mindset of youth and community norms. The group's work has become a real draw. Urban Yogis falls under the Life Camp umbrella. The impact of the work is undeniable. They believe yoga has played a role in the drop in crime in the neighborhood.

Click here for more.

New Documentary About Cleveland Youth Advocacy and Arts Organization

 Photo courtesy of Amanda King.

Photo courtesy of Amanda King.

Less than a year since being founded by 28-year-old law student and artist Amanda King, Shooting Without Bullets has developed a dedicated core of teens telling their stories through art.  Their stories will be showcased in Under Exposed, a documentary film.

King began Shooting Without Bullets as a response to the tumultuous local socio-political climate kickstarted by the death of Tamir Rice in the fall of 2014. After she was named to the ensuing Cleveland Community Police Commission and serving on it for a year, King realized that it still fell short in communicating with portions of the population it was created to serve. 

“The way it was structured – very meeting-oriented, very recommendation-oriented – wasn’t conducive to interactions with teenagers in particular,” she says. 

This notion of invisibility and disconnection is echoed by the young people involved in the program.

“Some people acknowledge us, but for others it’s in one ear and out the other,” 16-year-old photographer Leilani Williams, a student at John Hay’s Cleveland School of Architecture and Design, comments. “Especially as black youth, we get pushed off so easily.”

“People shake us off like we’re not there or only acknowledge us for the bad things,” reiterates 20-year-old Charles Mosley, also a student at CSAD.

Follow the link to find out more about their work.

Obama's use of unreliable gang databases for deportations could be a model for trump

PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP’S reaffirmation of his campaign trail vow to immediately deport 2 million to 3 million undocumented immigrants has roiled communities across the country. Local leaders have attempted to calm their constituents, with authorities in California offering particularly strident opposition. California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León called Trump’s plan “catastrophic” and vowed that the state would “aggressively avail ourselves of any and all tools” to protect the rights of undocumented residents.

Remarks by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck about his agency not cooperating with any new deportation push garnered the highest praise from the national press and immigrants’ rights advocates.

“We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job,” Beck said on November 14.

The reality of street policing in California is quite different. Police and sheriffs in California — including the LAPD — and across the country have been routinely cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for years to deport people accused of gang ties. Joint federal-local gang task forces targeting transnational gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street were formed during George W. Bush’s presidency as part of Operation Community Shield, and they have continued to operate through Barack Obama’s two terms. Today, the deportation of people accused of gang membership or association is strongly emphasized under the Obama administration’s Priority Enforcement Program, which focuses on identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

Click here for more from The Intercept.

#ProjectAttica participates in #StopTheViolence Basketball Tournament

Over Labor Day Weekend, Project Attica was invited to collaborate with the group Stop the Violence in their basketball tournament in Cheraw, SC. Stop the Violence is an organization that annually conducts basketball tournaments in Cheraw that engage all the neighboring counties in an effort to build community through sports while also spreading the message of peace and non-violence. We supported the tournament by inviting the community to come and create a peace-based artivist t-shirt in commemoration of the day's theme to end violence. Check out the photos below!


Would you like to host one of our Artivism workshops at your school or non-profit? We would love to hear from you! Contact us!

Since 2011, Project Attica has brought Artivism – a free, dynamic, visual art, interactive workshop to students in New York City. Held in middle schools, high schools and community organizations in the city, Artivism provides students with a space to create works of art by expressing their views about social justice issues on wearable canvases.