Last week, I got to go to school. When I first walked in to the larger and newer office of the afterschool program, I noticed old caricatures of all the staff members in black marker on white paper, taped up on the wall. I scanned the faces until I found the one that had claimed to be me, two and a half years ago… and I still don’t see the resemblance. GLO is the afterschool program where I worked during the endless San Francisco winter of 2007-2008, and the site of my latest On the Move workshop.
Even better, with a feat of mathematical magic the site coordinator and I arranged for my workshop to target the 3rd grade Ultimate Tigers, once upon a time the kindergarten Bumblebees of 2007-2008. The first day of my workshop was a reunion with the students who have shaped the majority of the past two years for me, and they are bigger and brighter than ever. With only two short sessions, we made a Kaavad for the class instead of a banyan tree, telling some travel stories of the group.
I love what happened last week.
Standing on a rooftop, all covered in plants
we thought that an art piece might enhance the expanse
but papier mâché can’t survive a winter of rain
so we used fabric to weave a tree that shall remain.
(Thank you, Graze the Roof)
I have a wee article published in the August edition of USIEF’s “Indian Fulbrighter” about my experiences in India – click here to read all about it.
Writer’s note about the editors : Small liberties have been taken. Don’t worry, I haven’t changed my name to be spelled with a Z.
San Francisco is like this!
It's all full of fun and beautiful public art. Here you have some newfangled playground technology. Photo credit : Lael Goodman
This place is a nice menagerie.
Strange fact : I sort of love Los Angeles. It’s horribly big, but that means there is a space here for everyone. It’s a sprawling mosaic of subcultures, and I’m lucky enough to have friends in subcultural places. It’s just – I just keep meeting all these people doing fantastic things.
I less-than-randomly walked into a community center called CARECEN last Monday, and the woman whose work I interrupted happened to be the director of a K-5th educational program that happens to be based in the methodology of popular education. It’s called Aprendamos, it’s a project of IDEPSCA, and I love it. I love it in that seriously impressed way.
Today I wrapped up a 4-day On the Move workshop with the 60 students there and left a tree of stories swaying, a little unnervingly, in the entranceway. Powerful, colorful stories. I learned so much this week from the students, from the incredible staff, and from my own reactions to the information being shared every day –
so much to consider.
This has been a very substantial week. I’ve learned so much, met so many, and been so amazed. The US Social Forum is easily and beautifully worth the enormous amounts of energy put into planning, arrangements, organizing, building, and arriving there.
There were so many choices. The choices went beyond the 4 pages of workshops available during each two hour time slot over three days, beyond the extra page of workshops running throughout the entire afternoon, beyond the breakdancing, capoeira, live performances, and parades popping up in lobbies and on streets all over downtown Detroit, and way beyond basic necessities like eating and sleeping. I felt pulled in many directions. It was almost a surprise to sit down in each workshop once I arrived and find out what incredible topic had finally grabbed me most forcefully; it was definitely a surprise to find out what themes trickled out of those mad grabs. I found myself particularly chasing media related workshops, like “Movements begin with the telling of untold stories” with the Media Mobilizing Project and “Grassroots media networks v. immigrant criminalization” with Deep Dish TV. I found myself helping to conduct a media-based workshop which we had planned although I hadn’t really realized how important the issue is to me, “Digital Storytelling for Social Change” (in collaboration with A2S and GOT BP).
And it’s a good thing too, because now I’m a journalist. Check out what I’m going to write. I pitched the story of my workshop tour to a website for community-funded journalism – a wonderful idea, I think, because community-funded should mean pertinent and important to the community. Even cleverer, advertising revenue is also community-directed, so anyone can go onto the website, take a survey (click the button that says “EARN credits”), and apply some dollars/credits to whichever story they’d like to see written. Like maybe mine –
And it’s a good thing too, because now I’m in Oberlin, Ohio conducting my first workshop based on the curriculum I developed in India. And that’s not the half of it.
Wheeling my way out west for a pair of workshops at the front of the room and a superabundance of intriguing talks/people. To the US Social Forum first, in Detroit, and then the Oberlin Early Childhood Center near Cleveland. I’m mostly packed up and all loaded down with stories from India and pieces of PVC piping.
Literally. Seriously. Wheatpasted, newspapered, and ready to go.
Interesting news is on the way.