Such Potential: reflections on a semester’s project.
Last week, I met a roomful of Say Yes elementary school site coordinators at their monthly meeting. These are the folks bent to the task of improving success in school for all Syracuse kids. Add one more humbling encounter to a growing list of humbling encounters I’ve had as a student in Marion Wilson’s Art and Social Profit class and a resident of 601 Tully.
I am not new to community activism, to working for and with people trying to make a difference in disadvantaged communities. Yet, witnessing other folks’ generous efforts to improve this world is always moving. And 601 Tully is located right in the heart of the movement to make the Near West Side a better place. Community members, artists and activists regularly meet in the center’s light-filled spaces to plot new initiatives. A large handful of neighborhood kids have made the center their “hang-out.” The Butterfly Effect exhibit, 601’s inaugural exhibit, (which my class curated) will hang until February. The coffee at Café Kubal is great. There is such potential in this place!
If you wander down the street and around the corner, you’ll encounter the West Side Learning Center, site of English as a second language classes for over 300 new immigrants from more than 30 countries. Walk in on any weekday and the joint is jumping! Witnessing so much positive energy harnessed to the task of learning a new language, becoming part of a new culture, was humbling encounter #3…or #4. I met the director, Ed Butler, when I asked him to submit photographs (for a class project) of the people, places and things that inspire him. He and Julia Robertson, another Tully neighbor, submitted their photos of loved ones and treasured community landmarks. They are embedded in this video sketch of the neighborhood that Sara Pfohl, Charlette Caldwell and I put together. This was a sketch we made during the planning phase of The Butterfly Effect. Come see the exhibit and absorb the positive energy of things happening in the Near West Side.