On July 22nd, Vision Quilt joined over 300 other Bay Area residents and activists at the Road to Change BBQ Rally, in Oakland, CA. Cathy DeForest and our team of Bay Area volunteers displayed Vision Quilt panels on the grass in DeFremery Park. People gathered around to ask questions about the artwork and many were eager to get involved, including the Bay Area alumni from Marjory Stoneman Douglas School.
Local artists and community leaders from Youth ALIVE!, the Burns Institute, and the Urban Peace Movement spoke at the rally. Afterwards, the students on the Road to Change bus answered questions on a panel and met with people in the crowd.
Parkland survivors David Hogg, Jaclyn Corin, and Ryan Deitsch were in attendance, along with Alex King from St. Sabina in Chicago. Vision Quilt offered the students a kit and materials for panel making, along with handmade journals for their trip.
Alex Caulderon, a Parkland student and member of March for Our Lives #RoadtoChange tour said, “We all experienced something that should never have happened because of gun violence and because the laws that could have prevented it weren’t in place.”
They will continue their national campaign through mid-August. Vision Quilt looks forward to meeting again with the core members of this powerful youth-led movement this September for a Brady Campaign fundraiser.
We’re pleased to announce that Vision Quilt’s short film focused on our work at Lighthouse Community Charter School was selected for inclusion in the SAQA exhibition. The students created Vision Quilt panels and then organized a community exhibition in downtown Oakland, California, as part of their three-month unit focused on gun violence.
The intention of Guns: Loaded Conversations is to spark conversation and make bridges across an often polarized conversation. “Artists have been a catalyst for difficult societal conversations throughout history,” says the exhibition website. “Guns: Loaded Conversations seeks to engage viewers of differing opinions to listen to each other and to encourage community initiatives that may inspire action in seeking solutions.”
We hope to see you at the exhibition opening later this month or at an exhibition near you!
Father Pfleger and Arne Duncan, the former US Secretary of Education, along with community activist Pam Bosley, reached out to the Parkland youth after the mass shooting there. At the invitation of Emma Gonzalez's mom, teens from Chicago's South Side visited Parkland, where the two groups formed a strong connection. The Chicago youth then invited the Parkland youth to visit Chicago; the New York Times produced a powerful short film about this meeting. Rie'Onna Holmon, who is featured in the Times video was also a participant in the ARK's recent Vision Quilt workshop.
Later this month, Cathy DeForest will travel to Portland, Oregon, where she will participate in community workshops centered around the National School Walkout on April 20th, which commemorates 19 years since the Columbine school shooting. Cathy will also present at the Cultivating Community conference, an arts therapy conference hosted by Marylhurst University in collaboration with the Portland Creative Arts Therapies Association and Returning Veterans.
By creating beautiful handmade journals, Albie, Barbara, Bridget, Suzanne and Mary provide Vision Quilt participants with a means of reflection and introspection, a place where the youth can document their impressions, thoughts and feelings evoked by the Vision Quilt workshops. The bookmaking team has created journals for our youth in Chicago, at the Lighthouse Charter School in Oakland, and for the incarcerated youth at Camp Sweeney.
Note: This blog is the second of two entries about Vision Quilt’s experiences in working with students at Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, California. In the first entry, Founder Cathy DeForest shared her thoughts on working with students in the classroom. In this blog, Board Member Jack Harbaugh shares what it was like at the student exhibition.
By Jack Harbaugh,
Vision Quilt Board Member
What an inspiring day. The eighth graders from Lighthouse Community Charter School were hosting an exhibition at E 14, a cool, new art gallery in Oakland. You could see and hear their excitement as they set up for the event that evening. The exhibition was the culmination of their three-month learning expedition on gun violence. Vision Quilt had been an important part of this journey, and many of the panels created by the students would be on display.
Families and friends of the students were invited to attend so there was a lot of pride and energy as they went about their tasks of getting the various booths constructed, the musical instruments set up and tuned, and the information tables organized.
The students were curating the exhibition themselves, and while the teachers were there to give direction and lend a hand, the eighth graders were responsible for getting everything ready for the event.
They also prepared themselves to be docents for that evening, rehearsing what they would say to each guest as they viewed each exhibit.
By Cathy DeForest, Vision Quilt Founder
Sometimes there is a moment when you realize the work you are doing matters. It is making a difference. You can see it, feel it, hear it in the voices of those around you. This is happening for me every time I walk into Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, California.
Over the past couple months, Vision Quilt has been working with 7th and 8th grade students and teachers at the school as they study gun violence. It is an extraordinary three-month expeditionary learning program, and Vision Quilt is honored to be a part of it.
We are sharing the mission of Vision Quilt with these young students and we are working with them as they made their own panels. Many of these students are exposed to gun violence on a regular basis and to hear them talk about it is powerful and sobering.
By Cathy DeForest, Vision Quilt Founder
Upon returning from the Codex Book Fair I feel energized, even exhilarated. With more than 200 exhibitors from 26 countries, Codex is one of the largest's book and fine arts fairs in the world. Lasting the better part of a week in Richmond, California, I was thrilled to be an exhibitor, surrounded by so many creative and inspiring people. It was also an opportunity to introduce the Vision Quilt to more people.
This mural at RYSE Youth Center depicts youth overcoming challenges through working together in Richmond, CA.
With dozens of panels from the Vision Quilt on display, we shared the project's message with hundreds of people, and I met a number of inspiring individuals also working to prevent gun violence. Individuals like Francisco Rojas and Jed Rodriguez from Richmond's Ryse Youth Center, who work to create "safe spaces grounded in social justice that build youth power" with a focus on empowering young people to "love, learn, educate, heal and transform lives and communities." Ryse Center staff visit hospitals to support gun violence victims and their families as well as offer young people counseling, academic support, job support and opportunities for artistic expression.
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