We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. We have a responsibility to those who will come after us.
These simple yet powerful concepts have been echoing in my head the past few days in New Mexico where I participated in a roundtable discussion held at the Institute of American Indian Arts sponsored by the Open Society Foundations, First People’s Fund, and Arts and Democracy Project. The people I met and the stories I heard reinforced the power of the arts – and more importantly culture – in transforming our communities.
Six case studies were presented at the roundtable: KUYI Hopi radio (Hopi Nation), Jikaat Kwaan Heritage Center (Alaska), Penn Center (South Carolina), Tamejavi Festival (Central Valley, California), STAY Project (Appalachia) and Cornerstone Theater (Los Angeles).
Despite the differences in geographic location, populations or medium, these exemplars all shared common elements: they were place-based, holistic approaches that engaged both youth and elders, and, perhaps most importantly, put culture at the center.
Place-based: When in New Mexico, it is obvious that place matters. This is, of course, true everywhere. Place informs who we are, how we act, our thinking, our relationships. Place is more that just a setting, but rather is an active participant that informs what can and should be done. Read the rest of this entry »