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10 Week Public Allies Report
November 15th, 2006 - February 2nd, 2007
The Public Allies Internship facilitated for Nathaniel Gordnattaz by the Cultural Arts Coalition has completed a 10 week block of designated programming. The primary objectives were to introduce Nathaniel to the arts learning process "Best Practices" utilized by the Cultural Arts Coalition:
Below is an overview and assessment of the Objectives following the CAC 9 Guiding Practices for Community Arts:
Practice One: Participant Centered and Inclusive of All Ages and People. Programming is responsive to, even directed or initiated by, the participant community. Nate interacted with persons of all ages and cultural backgrounds meeting elders of the community like Dr. Eugene Grigsby (Professor Emeritus ASU, artist & Director and Founder of COBA) and the Tuskegee Airmen; youth from his own NM community, Professionals at OIC, Madison Park School, Arizona Commission on the Arts and Phoenix College/ the governor and mayor of Phoenix; artists: Robert Miley (Release the Fear), Jeff Falk and Brent Hirak (photography).
Practice Two: Issue or Theme Driven.
Programming deals with themes that have a universal focus and promote dialogue and/or creating a rich, interdisciplinary learning experience in safe community settings.
The universal theme for this first block of the internship has been for Nate to examine, explore and reflect on who Nate is and to begin to view himself as an adult and leader in the community where he lives.
He has been answering these questions:
Practice Three: Experiential and Expressive. The environmental setting, the sense of place, engages children and/or adults in active learning and participation, drawing on a full range of communicative media: storytelling, writing, literature, dance or movement, theatre, music and visual arts. Nate attended workshops on the arts and multicultural leadership. He also visited and participated in activities at Phoenix Art Museum, Botanical Gardens, The Bead Museum and Burton Barr library reading art history and other literature relevant to these arts spaces. Nate utilized the visual, performing and literary arts in a combination of these activities that were many times based on a sequential, developmental process.
Practice Four: Holistic and Authentic. Participants encounter ideas, events and materials in meaningful contexts with complex, life lessons at the heart of the learning process. Field trips to the Phoenix Art Museum and the Botanical Gardens were ones that were with a specific theme relevant to the over all lesson of "Seeing Clearly" and "Understanding the Interconnectedness of all Life". Nathaniel also participated in a weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. events where he was not only mentored through the use of a camera in capturing images of the event, but later Nate mentored youth from NM. All of these specific activities focused around the words and deeds of Martin Luther King, Jr. "Stand Up For Justice".
Practice Five: Reflective and Evaluative. Arts programming provides opportunities and vehicles for participants to reflect on feelings, thoughts and new information, as well as a means for community organizers and participants to evaluate themselves, others and the effectiveness of the process. Through this camera project and the varied activities that Nathaniel has participated within during the past 8 weeks he has kept a journal of what each activity has meant to him as well as document what he learned about himself through mounting the photographic exhibition at NM. A questionnaire is being written in Spanish and English to ask viewers of his exhibition to answer.
Practice Six: Social, Collaborative and Democratic. Programming encourages learning in a social-cultural context, preferring cooperative over competitive approaches to achieving goals and creating a shared space for meaningful work with a collective purpose. It is about understanding self in relation to others and community. Interactions with persons of the various nonprofits and mentors have encouraged Nathaniel to achieve his highest potential artistically and to understand how his development of these newly achieved arts making and leadership skills will benefit many individuals in his community. We are all interconnected. "I am because WE are" (an African Proverb).
Practice Seven: Developmentally Appropriate. All programming is age appropriate, following child and adult development guidelines and providing learning environments that enable all participants to create connections between content areas and understand context as well as absorb content. Learning experiences involve investigative processes, self-monitoring and problem-solving skills that engage higher-order thinking. The expectations of Nathaniel were put at a high level by all who interacted with him. These were not unrealistic; challenging yes, but totally attainable as he has proven through his completion of the final artistic tasks as well as his leadership of youth in his community.
Practice Eight: Relationship Oriented. Relationship building and processes have priority over projects and products in the development, implementation and evaluation of community arts work. When speaking of the products these objectives were artistically completed; but more importantly the processes to create these material forms meant interacting with behaviors of respect, restraint and responsibility by Nathaniel that endeared him to many.
Practice Nine: Celebrative. Participants are recognized and honored both individually and collectively through community celebrations. Nathaniel not only participated in the completion of an OIC photographic documentation booklet of the MLK, Jr. events; but mounted a photographic exhibition for the Neighborhood Ministries congregation. He has received the highest of praise from many for these artistic endeavors and achievements.
When using these guiding practices for building and evaluating programming, it is important to understand that many, but not all of these practices, will be present in a single project. Over the course of a longer program or initiative, all of these practices may be evident in different aspects of the work.