The Old Federal Road Storytelling Festival at the Ridge Interpretive Center in Warrior Stand, South Macon County has become a wonderful and memorable tradition! This festival was born to strengthen community arts and rural place-making in Macon County Alabama. To do this requires building trust and sharing vulnerabilities with the communities with which we work. The Festival honors the layered histories, the unsung herstories, the rewritten our stories of South Macon creating a place of sharing and exchange. The 2017 performers, musicians, historians and community leaders that shared the stage were absolutely excellent!
Through the sponsorship of the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Alabama Humanities Foundation, AL 200 and Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts, this festival is free to the public. It is part of the larger initiative to catalyze sustainable economic growth and community development throughout the County and capital of Tuskegee. As Lindsey Lunsford, featured storyteller who brought back Mrs. Nellie Reid, founder of the South Macon Training School, says of her own work it ” draws on Black Power and cultural sovereignty to strengthen and reshape the modern environmental ethos that reclaims community, food and space.” Already looking forward to 2018!
San Francisco is now the first major US city to build a new memorial to the ‘Comfort Women’. Mobile Studio served as Project Managers for this major World War II Human Rights Memorial and worked hand in hand with the City of San Francisco Arts Commission and SF Rec. and Parks to make it happen. After hosting an international call for artists, acclaimed sculpture Steven Whyte was chosen to honor and interpret the suffering, resilience and courage of those women and create a beacon within this great international city that calls for the continued fight for justice and serves as a place of peace and reconciliation.
It was an absolute pleasure to build this Memorial with our San Francisco based crew on behalf of the ‘Comfort Women’ Justice Coalition. There really are no more competent and talented builders than Sheedy Drayage, who hauled the steel for the Golden Gate Bridge, and Hathaway Dinwiddie, General Contractors who built the TransAmerica Tower. With the architectural direction of Heller Manus and our project management, these gentlemen handled the corten steel column, internal armature and bronze figures with with absolute expertise. We hope you will visit St. Mary’s Square , discover the history and vibrant culture of the Pan Asian community of San Francisco and make a pilgrimage to the “Women’s Column of Strength”, ‘Comfort Women” Memorial. It is a very special public gathering space at the crossroads of Chinatown and SF’s Financial district, a landscape of memory and inspiration.
In partnership with Mobile Studio and local civic leaders, the Auburn University Master of Community Planning students have developed a strategic action plan for the revitalization of the City of Tuskegee and greater Macon County. http://tuskmac.businesscatalyst.com
The Tusk-Mac plan researches, analyses and generates a projection of sustainable futures for the involved community. From small business eminence and the implementation of reliable public transportation, agritourism to green industry sector growth, affordable housing to historic preservation incentives, the project advances pathways towards prosperity. Urban design proposals and policy recommendations are aimed at improving overall community health, food security and economic growth, overturning a legacy of systemic disenfranchisement. The 2030 plan is regionally interconnected, organically grown, resourceful and strategic. We the people of east Alabama, are planning for success and hold every intention of creating a beautiful, progressive future for Macon County, Alabama.
For more information, please visit: http://tuskmac.businesscatalyst.com and please share your thoughts and comments!
Mobile Studio is honored to serve as project managers for the “Comfort Women” Justice Coalition to give the gift of a new piece of public art to the City of San Francisco, a Memorial to the “Comfort Women”. Working with leaders in international human rights and justice issues around the world dedicated to ending violence against and sexual trafficking of women and girls, this memorial remembers the suffering, resilience, strength, courage and on-going struggle for justice of the so-called “Comfort Women”. Mobile Studio’s leadership resides our ability to orchestrate a project of this complexity with transparency, and best practices between multiple agencies and civic groups including the SF Public Art Commission, Rec and Parks, a fantastic team of engineers, architects and builders, and the amazing Artist Steven Whyte. Please follow along as we choreograph and deliver this important new landmark and beacon of hope to visitors from around the world, the citizens of the Bay Area, and the residents of St. Mary’s Square in Chinatown.
Of many submissions around the globe, the “Women’s Column of Strength” by Stephen Whyte was selected to serve as the Comfort Women Memorial! Whyte is a classically trained figurative sculptor, whose work has recently been accepted into the Smithsonian Institute of Art. For this project in particular, he has created a powerful and inspiring piece that captures the story of the Comfort Women, soon to be cast in bronze. “Women’s Column of Strength,” is due to be installed in September of 2017. As approved by the San Francisco Public Art Commission and Department of Recreation and Parks, the memorial will be displayed proudly in St. Mary’s Square- to be looked upon with admiration and remembrance.
Casey Family Programs have selected Opelika, Alabama, to become a Community of Hope, or city where the foundation will work to strengthen struggling families and reduce the need for foster care intervention overall. In order to face such an imposing and complex issue, project leaders and community members alike must collaborate to reach a solution. Mobile Studio is excited to participate in this significant quest as project managers to the Opelika Community of Hope. Currently, we are in the process of working to analyze and understand relevant background data in order to develop a solution. Mobile Studio has met and will meet with many partners from the Lee County Youth Development Services, city officials, Carver Jeter neighborhood leaders, and members from Casey Family Programs to discuss the projected path moving forward. We all share the vision and hope to support local families, create safer and happier environments, and eliminate the necessity for foster care as completely as possible.
A day-long storytelling festival on the Old Federal Road will celebrate South Macon County’s history and events encompassing the Creek Indian Nation to Alabama Fever to Reconstruction up to the 1950s. The slate of activities includes: stories told about community life, people, cultural traditions and folkways, music, artifact displays, and tours of The Ridge Interpretive Center. The great Dr. Lorenzo Pace will be this year’s featured storyteller. Family-friendly, children’s activities, and delicious “tastes of the ridge” will be a’ plenty.
For Immediate Release:
The Comfort Women Justice Coalition in partnership with the City of San Francisco, California have released a Request for Proposals for the design of a Memorial to the “Comfort Women”, the victims of sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army 1932-1945, to be built in St. Mary’s Square in the heart of Chinatown. This call is open globally to all artists and public place-makers, and seeks proposals of the highest artistic caliber. A public art panel consisting of community leaders, arts and design professionals will review submissions. The public will be invited to review the submissions at an open exhibition of all entries. The submissions deadline is September 30th 2016, at which point three finalists will be selected, each of whom will receive a thousand dollar stipend to refine their final designs. The winning submissions will be announced December 5th, 2016. The proposed installation date is the spring/summer of 2017.
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT: http://remembercomfortwomen.org
A public exhibition of the 36 submissions of design proposals for the “Comfort Women” Memorial SF was held at the Chinatown Branch Library on October 15th, 2016.
All of the submissions for the call for artists can now be seen here: http://remembercomfortwomen.org/sf-memorial/artist-proposals/
This garden has been built with hundreds of hands, big and small, across the communities of Storybook:
University and diverse community volunteers, children of all ages, caretakers, retired military, and the amazing gentlemen from Alabama Power. As Co-Director of the Design Team Mobile Studio along with my partner Daniel Neil, we have framed the landscape transformation as a community-based planning, design, building and growing project.
The seed of the garden came from a student on the Committee of 19, Allie, who dreamt of growing fresh healthy food here, for the Storybook family and beyond, raising awareness about global hunger issues and local food insecurity. Talented local builders including Fleming Blackburn, Jesse Dallas, Sage Construction, and Robert of Fix It Auburn, and the tireless efforts of Andrew to coordinate teams of volunteers, have shaped this magical site as you see it today.
The vision is to extend the therapeutic programs and moments of Storybook here, offering a place of respite, of healing, of the delights in the bounties, and living processes of the Garden.
We are pleased to share with you the result of the first six months of planning design and construction, and I’d like to take just a moment to tell you about what is ahead. Please picture in one corner, a pizza oven, here a demonstration backyard compost, a seed starting shelter/green house, an arching entry to the Secret Garden. And in the middle- a protected bench, birdbath, and fruit tree. The next phase includes a fully accessible outdoor classroom with bathroom, storage, and teaching-kitchen.
Over time, with the guidance folks such as: Tia Gonzalez of Auburn’s Medicinal Plant Garden, Jimmy Wright of the Wright’s Market in Opelika, King Braswell and Donna of Blooming Colors, and many more hands, this garden will grow to provide healthy produce, flowers and herbs, stories, and memories while enabling informal and formal gatherings, rest and respite, and special occasion (such as the annual Derby Party).
Your gift today will help Storybook extend their role as a place where peace and hope grow. We hope to see you back in the fall for a pizza oven workshop and/or to read to children in the garden, or to harvest a first tomato, or host a garden soiree.