Archive for July, 2009

EPA Teens Practice Yoga for Inner Peace: Week 5

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Week 5 of EPA TMP was an eventful week, both fulfilling and saddening. With the loss of a good friend in a local shooting teens were grateful of the Yoga, Breathing and Meditation Practices that helped them cope with their loss. As a staff we were also glad that we chose actual practices rather than curriculum in order to aid the teens in understanding and achieving inner peace. Here are a few words from Co-Director, Olatunde Sobomehin in regards to our closing week of research:

Today was our closing day of research in East Palo Alto, and with the eventful week of Regional and Inner Peace, including Structured Academic Controversy, Yoga practice, Project Happiness and Breathing and Meditation practices, I felt like we ended it the way we should.  It was a great suggestion by Mr. C and a wonderful challenge by Fred (Just Be Cool.) to wrap up Inner Peace with what it means to us and to have the young people share.  Frankly, I think this is the most important element. If we can facilitate something where the young people can find peace within themselves, find the inner courage to tackle obstacles and challenges, and be themselves, it will have such lasting impact and make the change that we seek.  So today, we spent the last 30-40 minutes sharing out some very personal observations of individual choices, peace – especially in the midst of our friends, community and “worlds.” With Paris Meacham being shot on Wednesday (Paris was an 18 year old young person in EPA and friend to many of the teens), the talk about peace was even more relevant.  What came out in the circle wasn’t everything, but it included thoughts from teens who were involved in gangs but decided to give it up after losing a friend.   One other TMA stayed after to share stories of the family pressure to get involved with gangs and the street life and how and why they chose to do otherwise.  We all will continue to support his efforts. Other teens shared their thoughts and even those who didn’t share, their silence and attention confirmed their thoughts.  I am thankful we gave them this opportunity to think about everything we have done.

All in all, another wonderful day that just confirms that MMAP – and the MMAP staff – is helping to shape positive lives.



After Palo Alto Daily News Photographer,  Konstandinos Goumenidis, left the scene of the shooting he came to meet us at the City Hall to report on something that does not happen very often, especially in the city of East Palo Alto. Teens practicing Yoga:

Stretch & sketch

Carla Hernandez, 17, of East Palo Alto, participates in a yoga class on Wednesday at East Palo Alto City Hall as part of a mural project. The Teen Mural Program, the flagship program of the Mural Music and Arts Project in East Palo Alto, is in phase one of this summer’s mural project themed “envisioning peace.” Phase two of the project starts July 29, when members will start prepping and painting the mural on their new building on Euclid Avenue.

Konstandinos Goumenidis / Daily News

All in all it was a great week for the TMA’s and I’d say they finished up pretty strong. Next week they will begin their design workshop and be one step closer in finishing this summers mural entitled “Envisioning Peace.”

Just Be Cool for Inner Peace in TMP SF Week 3

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

With the last few days of research winding down and the design workshop around the corner Teens in week 3 of TMP SF were able to bring the topic of peace to a more relative framework. For regional peace, they interviewed Retired Oakland Police Department Sergeant Ray Petty and engaged in a Structured Acadamic Controversy (SAC) surrounding community policing and the effectiveness of police in peace keeping efforts. For their inner peace segment they spoke with Rolandor Sandor and Project Happiness and were introduced to the “Just be Cool” campaign and the new definition of “Cool.” This was an effort to encourage teens to control their emotions and think before acting. Before being introduced to the design workshop coming up next week, teens were able to practice turning ideas into images while designing their own logo that represents their own personal ideals. This was a a very productive workshop that allowed the teens to express themselves to their peers.

SF Teens Design Their Logos

SF Teens Design Their Logos

On Thursday, teens were given an opportunity to meet with Orthopedic Surgeon and MMAP Co-Founder Adam Warren to discuss how he must achieve inner peace in his daily work. This discussion followed their final inner peace workshop where teens realized that if they “keep a positive attitude about life and contribute to a world of peace, unity and progress” they would be considered “Cool.” They realized that they had the power to influence peace in the world by keeping their cool and finding peace within. Dr. Warren was able to confirm the findings by referencing examples from his daily work. As an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Warren is faced with issues everyday that require him to remain calm and think with a cool head.

SF Teens meet with MMAP Co-Founder Adam Warren

SF Teens meet with MMAP Co-Founder Adam Warren

The teens were fully engaged in this conversation as they were able to ask questions and get answers that helped them to see the larger picture. This conversation along with the days workshops moved staff and youth to understand what it takes to achieve inner peace and how it manifests into peace in the world. Special thanks to Project Happiness, the “Just Be Cool” campaign and Dr. Adam Warren for his commitment to MMAP and the success of our youth.

Posing for PEACE: TMP SF with Dr. Adam Warren

Posing for PEACE: TMP SF with Dr. Adam Warren

Historical Interviews with Historical Figures in TMP EPA: Week 4

Saturday, July 18th, 2009
With 4 major interviews during week 4 of MMAP’s Teen Mural Program in East Palo Alto, teens are itching to get to their design workshop and the wall. This week was a very special week as TMA’s in EPA were able to interview 4 friends of the Mural Music & Arts Project who are also very prominent and high ranking officials in their respective fields.
The first interview, being the most physically engaging, was with the father of our TMP Director, Jeff Camarillo (Mr. C). Professor Al Camarillo, who is a nationally recognized historian and professor of American History at Stanford University, is someone who looks forward to speaking to TMP youth every year. This year he was able to really connect with the youth and allow for them to truly understand how far their ancestors have come and how they must work hard to carry on the efforts of those that came before them. As the youth are focused on non-violent protest and ways to actively effect change peacefully, Professor Camarillo gave a few demonstrations in order to help the youth conceptualize some of the most effective protests of his era.
Other interviews in week four included, Retired Oakland Police Sergant Ray Petty, East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis and the wonderful Ret. Judge LaDoris Cordell.

Retired Judge Cordell sits with EPA Teens after their interview on Monday 7.12

EPA Teens with Police Chief Ron Davis and Reitired Oakland PD Sergeant Ray Petty
EPA Teens with Police Chief Ron Davis and Retired Oakland PD Sergeant Ray Petty
MMAP – Public Service Announcement 07.15.09
East Palo Alto Teen Mural Assistant Alex Johnson, and artists Laura Nagle and Francesca Dubrock work with rising high school freshman at College Track, East Palo Alto to create a mural about a global call to action. The mural is expected to be completed by August 1, 2009.

The Mural Music and Arts Project is proud to offer free summer art classes for children in the East Palo Alto community. Each Wednesday, The Mural Music and Arts Project welcomes children ages 5-12 to the MMAP Office for a morning of creative exploration. Children work with professional artists and community volunteers to draw, paint, collage, and create custom beadwork. The culmination of the summer program will be a large tile mosaic that children will work towards completing each week. Like our Teen Mural Program, the central theme of the Summer Open Studio Art Classes will be “PEACE.” Open Studio Art Classes for Kids has been inspired by the children of the East Palo Alto Community and made possible through the generous support of Pagemill Properties.

SF TMA's Share Artistic Expression in Week 2

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

In the second week of our San Francisco ’09 Teen Mural Program the arts were in full effect as Teen Mural Assistants (TMA’s) really began to come out of their shells in true expression. Although, we are still in our 2nd week of the research phase, TMA’s are showing their eagerness to get to the wall and share the findings of their research. This group of Teens, who had no idea what  they were getting themselves into, is now showing signs of respect for the arts, respect for their staff and most importantly respect for and appreciation of their fellow TMA’s.


In this art exercise, teens were givin the opportunity to create four different pieces using four different techniques. After completing their pieces Teen Artists were told to choose their favorite piece and share out why the chose that particular piece of artwork. Rather than select their own art, TMA’s all selected works done by someone other than themselves. Youth and Staff alike were highly impressed by the talent that was displayed on Tuesday and saw the beauty in the true expression of self amongst this diverse group of TMA’s.

One TMA who was exceptionally praised was the talented Mimi (last in video below) who used her artwork to share her Culture and commitment to PEACE. Mimi, a high school graduate and first year college student of Filipino descent is fully engaged in this summers research topic and grateful of her opportunity to share her talents, express herself and pay respect to her ancestors.


National, Regional, Inner PEACE: TMP EPA – Week 3

Saturday, July 11th, 2009


After a long Fourth of July weekend, the Teens in East Palo Alto came back ready to be set off like the fireworks in their city’s streets on Saturday night. They came back strong and ready to work in a Week 3 that was exceptionally interesting to say the least.

On Wednesday, when half of the group traveled up to San Francisco to assist the teens in SF with interviewing SF District Attorney Kamala Harris, the other half put in work in EPA interviewing UC Santa Cruz Professor Emeritus in Sociology, John Brown Childs. In this interview on national/regional peace, Professor Childs gave us a brief history of his family, their connection to the Iroquois and Haudenosaunee tribes and how his family’s ideals and those of these Native American tribes directly relates to his theory of Trans-communality. He also gave EPA Teen Mural Assistants an introduction to the power of their thought and what it means to have inner peace; a topic the teens will be discussing in their final week of research.

This interview with Prof. John Brown Childs (video clip above) was perfect for supporting the teens in their research of this summers theme of PEACE. Prof. Childs, who was so loved by the teens, enjoyed himself just as much and has agreed to come back during the week of Inner Peace to discuss his theories. Here are a few notes from Prof. Childs’ interview:

His mother’s family is Native American. They belonged to a Massachusetts tribe who created a refuge for Native Americans to live in peace. His father’s family is African-American. His fathers ancestors created one of the first schools for African American children in the south after the civil war. He wanted to honor his ancestors in his work by teaching about both sides of his Ancestry. In both sides of his family, they were concerned about education and keeping peace in the community. He always sees education as a necessary tool for any community and its peace keeping efforts.

His theory of Trans-communality essentially means across communities. With this ideal, community to community, groups of people can maintain their own identity but live together harmoniously. The key here is respect for difference. Opposed to the melting pot theory which means that we melt our identities and assimilate into one identity. Trans-communality recognizes the differences and allows people to live together peacefully.

“When the Peacemaker said that thinking will replace violence. He knew that we needed to control our emotions via the management of our thoughts. He had a whole ceremony of sustenance to encourage rationale thought. It is called the condolence ceremony. This is really about inner peace.”

“It is important to have ceremonial moments. It does not have to be super formal but, life is so full of tension, problems and worries that having a moment to chill is very important. Even if its just for one moment. It is useful because it reminds the body and the mind that it can be at peace. ”

When asked “How can youth get their voices heard?” Prof. Childs mentioned that what they are doing in the Teen Mural Program is a great way to make their voices heard and that art and culture are one of the main ways to really send a message. He said that we all have different strengths. He mentioned that he is a writer and he contributes to society via this strength. “We all have one strength.”

This interview was certainly one of the best to date as the teens were fully engaged, interested and questioned almost everything that Professor Childs had to say. We were truly grateful to have him visit with us as we were all moved by what he had to say and are looking forward to having him back on the 22nd for an Inner Peace workshop!

The Teens finished off week 3 with an art activity where they were able to revisit scaling by using pictures of two highly influential peace keepers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. This was a head start in the right direction as teens are now thinking about who/what they would like to see in their mural and how will these images be depicted. A brilliant idea by our EPA resident artist, Laura Nagle, a workshop that nearly perfected their ability to scale a drawing and really recreate masterPEACE!

Breaking The Ice: Week One of TMP SF

Saturday, July 11th, 2009


After the great success of last years Teen Mural Program (TMP) pilot in San Francisco it was only right that we would bring TMP back to SF for another strong summer of research, design and mural installation. Teen Mural Assistants were really able to shine in their first week as they jumped right into the action with 3 big interviews, icebreaker activities (video above) and group work to identify and solidify their theme of peace. The three returners Brock, Larry and Marissa (pictured below), never missing a beat, were able to set the bar high in week one. Although, this years group of TMA’s were all brand new and had no idea what they were getting themselves into, they broke the ice and jumped right in starting week one of TMPSF 2009 with a bang

On Tuesday, our new group of SF TMA’s came together to break the ice by sharing their background, their own personal definition of art and how they are able to best express themselves through art. After sharing they would break into groups and briefly introduce themselves to their theme for the summer. And after getting a taste of PEACE, they would prepare for their first interview with Sri Lankan immigrant, MMAP friend and Santa Clara Law Professor, Pratheepan Gulasekaram (pictured below). Professor Gulasekaram would discuss the conflict in Sri Lanka surrounding the Tamil Tigers and how they were fighting for PEACE within their nation.

On Wednesday, TMA’s from East Palo Alto traveled up to the city to assist SF TMA’s with one of the biggest interviews of their summer. TMA’s were given the opportunity to interview District Attorney of San Francisco, Kamala Harris, at her offices on Bryant Street. DA Harris, with her efforts towards achieving a more peaceful society, mentioned “the number one issue in achieving peace is education for our youth.” She linked art to education and spoke about art being a way to express ourselves. Her words were inspiring as she was able to give TMA’s professional insight to assist them in their primary source research. Teens and staff alike were truly appreciative for this opportunity, as DA Harris is in the middle of her campaign for California Attorney General!

Closing off the week strong with a third interview, SF TMA’s were able to meet with Mark Anquoe of the American Indian Movement to discuss theories of PEACE from the perspective of one who’s people have been oppressed over the years. This was a good opportunity for the youth to be able to put things into perspective with a rather controversial issue that has been a topic of discussion throughout their school years.

This years group of SF TMA’s, coming from all different parts of the world, would form one of the most heterogeneous groups that TMP staff have seen to date. Young, clothing designers, writers and musicians came together this week as a unit and proved themselves ready for the journey to which they are preparing to embark, PEACE!

SF Teens Pictured with Professor Gulasekaram

Gallery Walks for International Peace: Week 2

Saturday, July 4th, 2009



With momentum on the rise, week two of the Teen Mural Program (TMP) started off with some pretty heavy discussions. Teen Mural Assistants (TMA’s) conducted two solid interviews and are now beginning to unify as a team. From art workshops to group work activity and gallery walks, this group of teens has proven that they are fully focused and invested in their efforts to find PEACE. The question they are all left asking: How does one effectively bring about peace?

Monday’s interview, focused on International Peace and featured a discussion surrounding the conflict between Tamil and Sinhalese people of Sri-Lanka. This interview was prefaced by an intense lesson plan where teens were able to compare their definition of a terrorist versus a positive revolutionary and give their opinion on the Tamil Tigers in this regard. There was no conclusion as to whether the Tamil Tigers were terrorists or positive revolutionaries but, in comparing the violent approach of the Tamil Tigers to the non-violent, civil disobedience of Mohandas Ghandi, TMA’s agreed that Ghandi’s approach was favored as the most effective in bringing about peace amongst people.

On Wednesday, the teens were exposed to the conflict surrounding the American Indian Movement here in the US . The interview with Mark Anquoe opened up some interesting discussion as teens made inferences and connections to previous research.

The week finished strong with a Gallery Walk that highlighted the current Crisis in Darfur. (See videos above) This was a very intense activity which provided a space for TMA’s and Staff to share their personal experiences and conceptualize the reality of this heart-wrenching research. Before Friday’s end, teens dove into an art activity that introduced them to Scaling, step four of the mural making process. Next on our agenda: National Peace!!