Archive for July, 2011

Design Workshop: Empowering youth through the arts

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

The last two days of East Palo Alto’s program were filled with inspiring stories of young people taking the lead to make changes in their communities.

The East Palo Alto organization Youth United for Community Action (YUCA) bestowed inspiration amongst the TMAs about how they could, despite age, fight against injustices in their communities through a multitude of mediums. YUCA fights for Environmental Justice in East Palo Alto by addressing major problems that face the community such as Environmental Racism and Gentrification.  Anna, the program director at YUCA, started working with the organization when she was 14 years old and is upon her 13th year with them. Testaments such as hers showed the TMAs that getting involved at a young age has major benefits and fruitful outcomes for the cause that one stands up for and can lead to endless opportunities.

YUCA visits with the TMAs

With this in mind, ideas for imagery exploded in the Design Workshop with the youth drawing ideas for youth empowerment and vision from past interviews and research.  It was an inspirational day as youth make the transition from research to the expression phase.

Imelda shares her vision

Lucia, Mr. C. and Yeli watch intently

Teen Mural Assistants depict, define, dicuss and DESIGN!

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Last Thursday, our San Francisco Teen Mural Assistants gathered their research and began reviewing interviews, lesson plans, and song lyrics to decide on imagery for the mural they will create in the coming weeks.  Elements of hip-hop, technology, and social networking surfaced as teams illustrated symbols and presented their ideas to the class.

As teens drew from their interview experiences, youth empowerment and technology surfaced as prominent themes in discussing how to make change in their communities. The energy in the room was astounding.

In just the prior meeting the TMAs met with Executive Director of the University of California Student Association, Matt Haney ( Haney revisited his experiences as a college student and spoke about his abilities in organizing young people, highlighting the value and potency of youth demonstrations. More specifically, he spoke on his involvement with the Obama campaign and the way technology was used to target young voters and how social media provided an outlet for college students to spread their political beliefs and be heard.

Another interview that proved to be extremely influential over the TMAs in San Francisco occurred a few weeks earlier with Davey D (, a nationally recognized Hip Hop artist, journalist, producer, and community activist also known as “the Hardest Working Man in Hip Hop.” Speaking largely from his experiences as a youth in the Bronx, he emphasized the important of using art, both visual and expressive, to cope with the personal struggles in a positive way. Davey D encouraged TMAs to be fully engaged in and informed about the cultural, social and political contexts around them. He highlighted the artistic and activist legacies of the Bay Area and urged Mural Assistants to “soak up” and build upon those histories as they generate new ideas. He also prepared TMAs to face challenge, “be grounded” and be resilient, assuring them, “you’ll need to dip into your well of knowledge and be able to re-adjust yourself. It’s improvisation.” Teen Mural Assistants appreciated the opportunity to speak with Davey D about how his career demonstrates art as a means of personal development. In his own words, “Hip hop is just an expression to center you to the larger truth: to be all you can be.”

By the end of the Design Workshop, TMAs had come up with 57 ideas for imagery to be included in the mural!

Remi, Jamari and Mauricio present an idea for imagery

TMA's encourage their fellow artists

Every problem is an opportunity in disguise

Monday, July 18th, 2011

On Monday, July 11, 2011, patent lawyer Munes Tomeh took the EPA TMAs on the frontlines of the tumultuous times in Syria.  He spoke about the importance of recognizing, accepting and reconciling one’s multiple identities to respect oneself and just as importantly, respect other people.  Mr. Tomeh ended his talk with a memorable and thought-provoking statement of “the means are just as important as the ends,” and left all the students really pondering the most efficient and moral ways to achieve positive social change.

Munes Tomeh and TMAs against a fitting background urging us to "Strive"

The TMAs got an amazing opportunity to explore the world of venture capitalism when they spoke with 500 Startups’s Enrique Allen. Much of his conversation dealt with the process that is involved when innovation occurs. He spoke about how most innovation that occurs is because there is a need for a solution to some problem. Furthermore, he went on to say that “every problem is an opportunity in disguise,” and that everyone should take advantage of them. It was a very interesting lecture that left many of the youth thinking about the ideas they could come up with and provided more insight as to how the private sector has influenced web 2.0.

Enrique speaks to the group at 500 Start Ups

TMP Socially Networked

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Facebook, check-in, like it, snap a pic and post it to the wall.  Mural Assistants experienced The Social Network on July 1, 2011.  In the most inspirational manner, Randall DeVaul, Facebook employee, & MMAP Advisory Board member and empowered the Mural Assistants to make moves and invest in their own future through an education.  Mural Assistants explored the campus and talked about the impact that Facebook as a vessel for communication has on the social and geopolitical uprisings .

Randall DeVaul with Teen Mural Assistants

Randall DeVaul with Teen Mural Assistants

Conversation was passed back and fourth and sheer “Jewels” as Coach Tunde would say we’re picked up everywhere. Signs and symbols from some of the boldest and brightest minds in Silicon Valley will lay next to the monikers and characters of the TMAs.  While being shown through the same work spaces and micro-kitchens as Mark Zuckerberg, not to mention President Obama, Kanye West, and Katie Perry, one couldn’t help but being inspired. Facebook made a mark on MMAP and MMAP Teen Mural Assistants made a mark on Facebook.

Teen Mural Assistants Exavier Rushing and Shadie Shephard sign "The Wall"

The sky is the limit

Friday, July 1st, 2011

On Friday the East Palo Alto Teen Mural Assistants interviewed three local leaders who embody MMAP’s commitment to the arts as a means of social change: Professor H. Samy Alim, hip hop expert, Stanford University Associate Professor,  and Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts; Edward “Scape” Martinez, graffiti virtuoso of more than two decades and writer of “GRAFF: the Art and Technique of Graffiti” and “GRAFF 2: Next Level Graffiti Techniques”; and Sonya Clark-Herrera, Executive Director of MMAP. In their own way, these three leaders have made a tremendous impact on MMAP youth.

Through their respective art forms, Professor Alim, Scape and Sonya have crafted a life dedicated to achieving progress in society.   For them, vision is looking beyond the status quo, breaking out of a socially prescribed box and taking what you love to run with as fast and as passionately as you can. Scape sums up the power of the arts, “If you can capture that energy [of the arts] and steer it in the right way, the sky is the limit.”

Prof. Alim, Scape and Sonya with the Teen Mural Assistants

Listen as Christian Salinas, TMP Intern and recent graduate from East Palo Alto Academy High School, describes the interview:

The creative, driven group of Teen Mural Assistants participated in art workshops to learn more thoroughly about the technical aspects of graffiti, mural-making, and hip hop.  At the same time learning about the youth-led uprisings of the Civil War in the 1960s, and more recently in Egypt and Tunisia, the Teen Mural Assistants are grasping their ability to make change.  They are on their way to designing nothing short of a brilliant, historically-centered, community-driven mural in East Palo Alto.

Thank you again to our panelists! Here you may learn more about our guest speakers:

Professor H. Samy Alim:

Edward “Scape” Martinez: