Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cross Keys High School Gets SCAP'D

Today marks a special occasion for AFSC's Student Career Alternatives Program(SCAP) for two different reasons. First, this was our first day of tabling this school year, second, this marks our fourth year working with students and faculty at Cross Keys High School! When I first started making monthly visits to the school today's current senors were freshmen. It's been really awesome to watch Cross Keys students grow up into adults while watching SCAP grow as a project as well.

Today was about reuniting with familiar smiling faces in the student body, as well as faculty. Each year we've been at Cross Keys we've escalated our presence on the campus, we're excited about what that's going to look like this year.

Today we decided to focus on promoting SCAP's new monthly events, which are youth planned and facilitated. This year every month SCAP will be hosting an event somewhere in Atlanta. We also promoted our migrant youth voice video workshop to students. The workshop is designed to give students a crash course in video production with hope that youth will record, edit, and share their own stories. Students get paid a $25. stipend to attend the five hour workshop.

We'll be back at Cross Keys next month and we can't wait!

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Monday, August 22, 2011

SCAP SAT Tutoring In Full Effect!

Now that school's back in session students and parents have the SAT test back on their minds.

This year the SAT scores are more vital than they ever have been for students, especially those that don't have tons of money to cover college. Due to cuts in the HOPE scholarship students must now not only maintain a 3.7 GPA, they must score at least 1200 (combined verbal and math) on the SAT. SAT tutoring usually costs around $500. Youth through SCAP get it for free!

How do we provide this service? Well in a sense, you do it. Unpaid volunteers looking to step up for their communities provide this service, and we're always in need of folks that have a few hours to donate to this cause on Monday nights. Have you ever done tutoring for youth? Did you recently ace the SAT? Are you a teacher?

If you think you might be able to help us make this service continue to happen please contact Dell MacLean at delldot@gmail.com

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

If You Don't See The Change, Be The Change!

This past Saturday youth who attended this year's, "Be The Change" youth convergence held a follow-up meeting to discuss the direction of their campaign create awareness around the lack of accessibility to the k-12 and public higher education system for Georgia youth.

I personally would have been excited if this Year's youth convergence inspired 8-10 young people to get active and stay involved.

We ended up having 23 youth(13-18 years old) come out to a campaign strategy session on a hot summer Saturday! They not only came, they brought fresh ideas, and new energy. The "Be the Change Crew", is already working on establishing multiple high school clubs, t-shirt designs, open mic nights, and concerts! Pretty ambitious for our first follow-up meeting.

After our meeting we had a pool party with pizza! Tons of fun!

If you're 13-19 years old interested in plugging into the "Be the Change Crew" contact Dell McLean at: bethechange@gapeace.org

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Monday, August 15, 2011

Living Walls 2011 Breaths New Life Into Atlanta

The second annual Living Walls Conference popped off this weekend in Atlanta.
The conference was founded in 2009 by Monica Campana and Blacki Li Rudi Migliozzi with the intention of putting the work of a very small subset of the population (street artists, graffiti writers, etc), people who actually interact with space, and people who spend their time in discourse about public space all under the same roof. One hope is to simply broadcast to the attendees a wide spectrum of ideas about public space, hoping that everyone leaves the event looking at the city, its walls, and how we interact with space differently.

This year's conference brought street artists from all over the world to Atlanta. There were over 26 walls that Living Walls conferences artists transformed over the weekend and I must say, they are all pretty impressive.

The weekend brought more than amazing murals, it also created space for discourse on public space, the arts, and community organizing.

American Friends Service Committee was honored to be asked to sit in on a panel that addressed Conscious applications of street art to develop, criticize, and better communities. During a Q&A session someone asked, "How can street artists and community organizers build better relationships". One of my answers to that question was, "It's happening now, thanks to Living Walls organizers".

The weekend also brought several film screenings and a pretty amazing party at the Goat Farm that was free and open to the public. The party featured a gallery of art pieces by Living Walls artist, presentations by Living Walls artists, an out of this world performance by Atlanta's own Backpockets, and a ton of great vibes.

On Sunday there was a film screening of, "Megunica", a film about BLU by Lorenzo Fonda, followed by a 20 mile bike tour of all the official(I should note that I've seen a lot of amazing unofficial pieces)Living Walls murals around the city. I decided to go along for the ride and take a few pics with my less than amazing phone cam. Those are the pics I've included in this blogpost. Please visit the official Livings Walls website, or better yet, the map of all the murals to see them in all their glory.

We've all experienced the transformation power of art. Art has the power to open doors in our imaginations, doors of new possibility, doors to new unconsidered perspectives, and in some case art can even change the course of our life path. It must be should be said that art has also had a key role is every popular social justice movement. Art and activism have forever been intimately linked.

American Friends Service Committee applauds the Living Walls crew for what they bring to our city and we're excited to explore opportunities plug into organizing efforts for the conference next year.

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Deport Hate" Mural Pops Up In Little 5!!

Who's seen the, "We Are Human" posters around the Atl? There's been a crew of LA artist and activists traveling around the country trying to spread the love and deport the hate laced immigration legislation that has been introduced in dozens of states.

I was excited to be able to get up to speed with sixth son organizer Mario Rocha about their visit to Georgia while their crew was working on an amazing new mural in the heart of little 5 Points. The mural's done, ya'll need to go check it out. It's at the corner of Euclid and Colquitt where the Pink Elephants used to be.

Sadly the phone video I shot is half sideways, but take a look anyway:

There was a street poet that was hanging out during the mural painting, he offered to spit a quick freestyle about AFSC, here it is filmed in amazing sideways vision:

Check out local news footage on Mario's visit.

We hope to have Mario's crew back out in the next few months. They said they would be excited to through more murals and posters up if anyone wants to donate a wall or two.

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Back To School Block Party!!

This past weekend historic Ebenezer Baptist Church held their annual Back to School Block Party, and this year we were honored to be a part of it. Our Student Career Alternatives Program(SCAP) gave out buttons, Before You Enlist DVD's, and copies of "It's My Life" to high school and middle school aged students.

Our goal at the block party was to promote exciting under promoted non-military post high school career options, plug youth into our free services(SAT classes and career counseling), and connect youth with all the fun events SCAP has planned for the fall.

The vibe was festive and fun with face painting, dancing, music, delicious food, and lots of free stuff from all the vendors.

Our booth was really popular, and we had a ton of folks stop by and ask for a quick explanation for what are table was all about. I found myself say, "We're here to promote really cool under promoted alternative careers, we believe that young folks shouldn't have to participate in systems of violence and oppression in order get get cash for college".

The event was really uplifting and we're excited to explore new opportunities to work with Ebenezer Baptist Church!

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Be The Change Day 3

To be honest day three was the day I had been most nervous about. Our goal was to have youth self facilitate session focused on creating a campaign around an issue they want to change in their communities. These sessions have proven stressful in years past when most participants were college students, how would middle and high school students work together to create unifying projects?

They actually did quite well. I must admit that once they got to flowing out ideas they found themselves at conscientious with an ease experienced organizers often don't have most of the time, and their ideas were super fresh. One challenge the group had to overcome was picking an issue to focus on. This was especially difficult because we had just spent the weekend articulating the connections between all systems of oppression, repression, and violence.

After much discussion youth chose public education as the issue they want to focus on. The highlighted that a campaign around demanding a fair, just, and equitable public education system in Georgia will of course include conversations around military spending, undocumented immigrants access to education, education access for the disabled, and the school to prison pipeline.

I wasn't sure how down this group would be to really make next steps, but they were. The group unanimously decided to meet again in August to discuss next steps on a campaign!

I believe that one of the greatest challenges for organizers is to get out of the way. We often struggle to create space for new people to grab the mic, yet we find ourselves annoyed at the workload we're left with at the end of the day. Be The Change Youth Convergence is about not only building community, educating ourselves, and sharing tools, it's about passing the pic and lifting new leaders up. Sometimes we have to be okay with following new leaders, even when they don't walk just like us.

Be The Change Youth Convergence was a big success thanks to everyone that made it happen. All the volunteers, the facilitators, local businesses that contributed food, the Horizons school, and of course all the amazing youth who came out by choice to be the change our communities need right now. THANKS YA'LL!!!!

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Be The Change 2011 Day 2

Day two of Be The Change was all about rolling up sleeves and getting down with what movement building is all about, learning how to identify root causes of problems in our communities, and effective tools to create the change we want to see in Georgia.

The day started off with a workshop on movement building. It's a workshop that I've done the last few years, but this year the lovely and talented Dejah Ault did the bulk of facilitating. The workshop focused on solid models designed to start conversations and build relationship with communities you're working in.

After the workshop there was a social justice market place. Several amazing organizations set up tables with literature and spoke with youth about their work. Atlanta Indy Media, Georgia Students for Public Higher Education, Women's Feminist Health Center, Student Career Alternatives Program, and Art as an Agent for Change were all there.

After lunch the day brought a bunch of high impact presentations on not only what Dr. King referred to as the giant triplets of evil(militarism, racism, and poverty), but also on effective tools to create change in the community. We were blessed have a crew of super talented, dynamic facilitators from some of our closet ally organizations including Anton Flores from Alterna, Allie McCullen from Georgia Students for Public Higher Education, Dawn Gibson from Atlanta Indymedia, Charmaine Davis from Working Women 9-5, Jeremy Foreman from Hands On Southeast Georgia, and Pablo Paredes from the Bay Area American Friends Service Committee kept the energy high, and the information flowing. I was surprised at the amount of information participants were able to soak up. During youth report backs I remember thinking, "dang, these youth are ready to facilitate the workshops that they just got out of!"

Every social movement has used art to express ideas. Some so art is the essence of human expression. We've all had moments when art spoke to us in ways a speech could never do. Art as an Agent for Change worked with WonderRoot Community Art Center to put together a program Saturday night called, "The Art of Activism" and they invited youth to plug their talents into it. I gotta say it was by far the dopest thing I've every seen AAC put together. Not only was there a barrage of amazing spoken word, music performances, and youth putting their talents out in front of folks, there was also live painting going down during the show.Folks were just blown away by the work of artist Corey Barksdale.

We ended the night with a big bonfire with smores, and a lot of great conversation at the lovely landtrust.

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee