Six months ago, talk of the recession would have barely registered with 13-year-old QocTavia Shabazz of St. Paul. “When I think of the economy I relate that to politics, government,” she says. “I think, ‘That’s not my problem. Why do I have to deal with it?’ But it is my problem.”
Her perspective changed after Twin Cities artists worked with QocTavia and three other teens to connect what’s happening in the economy to what’s happening in their personal lives, and then to express those experiences through song and video.
QocTavia, her sister Aunrika, Jalil Shabazz (no relation) and Tony Gonzalez met weekly with spoken word artist Desdamona and multi-media producer Patrick Pegg. The artists helped these young people to make sense of the economic downturn’s devastating impact on their lives through art. The project, called My First Recession, is a unique collaboration between Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts that fosters civic engagement through arts and culture; American Public Media’s Public Insight Journalism initiative at Minnesota Public Radio, which cultivates diverse voices that deepen and enrich news coverage; and Neighborhood House, a multi-cultural center in Saint Paul. It was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
What do you remember about your first recession? To see the amazing creative work of these young people, learn more about the project, and add a story about your own first recession, visit My First Recession on the MPR NewsQ Web site.
We know that across the country, artists and arts organizations are applying the power of art to problems in their community. What’s happening where you are? Share your stories with Animating Democracy and public radio and become a trusted source in the Public Insight Network. Your insights will help us learn how creativity can be a catalyst to change on issues that matter!