We will post the latest news and events for this budding non-profit.
For bios on the new mentors, please check out our mentors page here.
Also don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow A Little Creative Class on Instagram!
On Saturday June 18, 2016 A Little Creative Class Inc. held the first in a series of Creative Round Ups for prospective mentors to meet and share ideas both concrete and conceptual, as we prepare to receive the inaugural group of young people in the summer of 2017.
*The Round up was directly followed by A Little Creative Class Inc’s. First Executive Board meeting.
Throughout the round up I was deeply grateful to learn that almost all of the amazing mentors, who attended, have had extensive experience in engaging with young people through non-profit arts organizations. Many of the mentors also, either presently or have in the past been board members of these organizations.
The ideas the mentors shared during the meeting will be invaluable as we carry out Our Mission.
Here are a few:
“It’s important to stay away from deficit based language to describe the nature of the project and to consider “wrap around learning” and nurturing to determine what each person’s individual needs, “We should aim to acknowledge the strengths that upstate kids have and honor those as a source of empowerment for them to build on.”
“The lasting relationships that these young people will build with their mentors will sustain them when the youth return to their communities. These relationships (more than a thing that they might produce) are the “deliverables.”
* The definition of deliverable in the corporate sector, which includes non-profits – and is often as way for funders to gage the success of a non-profit organization…
“A thing able to be provided, especially as a product of a development process.”
This idea of having to justify one’s place is counter intuitive to the mission and Vision of A Little Creative Class Inc. and in our opinion it further stifles the freedom necessary to a healthy atmosphere of creative entitlement… so the above mentor quote was particularly poignant and so well put.
“We need to be aware of what not having these conversations about class, race, social issues do to young people and need to boost that awareness to start the discussion.”
“The residency is meant to offer possibility …Poverty really is the lack of possibility”
“We need to look at ways that we can partner with programs that serve the young people who would be candidates for our residency”
“We need to figure out ways for people who live in isolated communities to take advantage of arts and creative programs and not feel a class difference or that these programs are not for them.”
“In life you have to make this choice: Will I not offend anybody and not put anybody at risk and nothing changes, or will I take the risk at speaking out and defending my beliefs to actually make changes.”
“Just being in New York City and navigating it is life changing. ” There can be a great sense of accomplishment and agency in mastering it.”
PERHAPS THE MOST EFFECTIVE MESSAGE OF THE DAY CAME FROM THE HEART…
Three of our Executive Board members have come to us through their relationship to The Upstate Girls: Unraveling Collar City Documentary. Two of them, Dana and Elliott Wells attended the board meeting and during the mentor’s round up, Dana read a beautiful piece that she wrote on her cell phone in that back seat of my car during the previous night’s drive to from Troy to The Brooklyn for the meeting. Dana, who is now 28 years old and a mother of four, has been sharing her life through the Upstate Girls Documentary Project since she was 16. Dana’s writing powerfully reflected what she had learned since her own coming of age in Troy. In this “cell phone soliloquy” Dana writes her concerns about how best guide her own children through some of the pitfalls that she had to navigate as a young girl. The Following is what Dana read during the meeting and below that are links to the scrapbooks that Dana Elliott made and recorded as part of the documentary project that lead to the idea for A Little Creative Class Inc. Listening to their recorded stories after reading Dana’s writing is the most powerful way to understand the strength and insight of the young people that will build A Little Creative Class Community.
Written by Dana Marie Wells
June 17, 2016
While I believe structure is important in day to day living and raising children I also believe that too much of anything is poison. We live in a world where the slightest difference is frowned upon. What happened to creativity and self-expression? I can remember kindergarten being half days, finger painting and singing in the auditorium. Now I watch in agony as my five-year-old cries because she doesn’t want to do homework because she’s so drained from her six-hour school day. Children are reading and writing in Pre-K, which is certainly amazing, but the problem is if your child is not doing these things he or she is considered “behind.” How can you be behind in life when it hasn’t even started? Children are being taught from the very beginning that if they aren’t like the rest of the kids then they aren’t good enough or smart enough. They are being taught that one way is the only way. If they miss an assignment they are punished by missing recess, which is the only time they get during the day to be themselves.
My point is that from the very beginning, our children are brainwashed into thinking that being different is bad. I know for me I grew up within a church. I lived in constant battle of right and wrong. There were things I needed to do and learn on my own that I couldn’t because I was so afraid I would be making the wrong choice. I was so focused on what others would think of me. I think that alone ruined a lot of the things I would have done and places I would have gone. Although I am content with my life and as happy as ever with my family, I have suffered a great loss just because I felt like I couldn’t really express myself. For instance, Brenda commented that we should take up a residency here when all is said and done and try to do something here with the kids, and automatically my brain went to “I CAN’T!” I have to work, I have to do this, I have to do that. This one will be upset that one will be mad. It’s like my mind was auto-tuned to find reason why we could never. The thought of taking a chance and entertaining it was so small that I couldn’t even imagine it in my head. It’s like the person I was destined to be is nothing more than a small voice in my head. Not to mention society has almost made it damn near impossible to follow your dreams. It’s simply unaffordable.
I think this organization could help that one person with a dream, that one person who isn’t already saturated with the belief that they have to do this or they have to do that. Our youth need to know that it’s ok to believe; it’s ok to have a dream. Your voice matters. Your choice matters. It may or may not be too late for me but it’s not too late for the 15 year- old girl who wants to write a novel but her dad is an alcoholic, mother is absent and younger sister depends on her. It’s not too late for the 17 year- old boy who wants to backpack through Europe but he thinks he can’t since all his siblings worked immediately upon becoming of age and that he would have to also.
I am 29 years old and a mother of 4 children. I am constantly fighting the battle of good structure and wanting my kids to simply be who they are. It wasn’t until recently when I came to the realization that I have become a product of my own bringing up that I have had to take a step back and analyze the way I am raising my own children. I think if it wasn’t for my youngest child I wouldn’t have even given it a second thought. I have been blessed with a child who has been a free spirit from day one. She is a natural born leader and I find myself struggling to keep her who she is but also teaching her that there are rules that she needs to follow because that’s just the way it is. Every day with her is different. There are no repeats with her. She is the child I once was and I would give my life if it meant she could make it into adulthood without tampering with her personality. I feel like the world really is full of opportunities but humans have become endangered in a sense. We all have creativity within us. We all have dreams. Happiness isn’t written out for you, you have to find it or better yet let it find you!
Here’s a link to Dana and Her Husband Elliott’s Scrap Book – The two grew up together and in many ways their stories are intertwined.
Creative mentors Don Shearer and Tishka Tuprera with junior visionary Dasaun Hill of Troy,NY
Creative mentors Jamie Welford and Tishka Dupera
Jamie quickly introduced himself to one of Don’s designs
The day after the meeting Myself, Dana, Elliott, their four children and our friend Billie Jean and her son Dasaun, who had also come form Troy went to Rockaway Beach. It was The Well’s Family’s first time seeing he Ocean… after hours of body surfing in the rough waves I heard Elliott say to Dana “It’s better than I ever imagined it would be”.
Meeting the ocean for the first time…
From Troy NY to Times Square NY!
Getting the bus in Chinatown for the long ride back to Troy.
Look for details of Our Fall Fashion Party and Art Show Fundraiser with the date in December TBA…