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.
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.
Many memorials honor the courage, bravery, and sacrifice of soldiers during wartime. Few, if any, honor women. This memorial is in honor of the 300,000+ women and young girls from Korea, China, the Philippines, and other countries of Japanese occupation, who suffered human trafficking and sexual slavery as ‘Comfort Women’ by the Japanese Imperial Military during World War II. Their violent exploitation and abuse was a crime of war, and their courage to speak out has changed the Human Rights and Justice landscape around the world forever.
In San Francisco, the “Comfort Women’ Justice Coalition,” led by the indomitable, retired Judges, Julie Tang and Lillian Sing (seen above with Grandmother Lee) has written a resolution, now approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, to build a Memorial to the ‘Comfort Women’ in this capital city of freedom. Mobile Studio, as project managers, will be running an international design competition and call for artists proposals. The competition, which will be launched in the upcoming weeks, seeks visions for the selected site in St. Mary’s Square Park that address the desire to honor and remember those who have suffered, to commemorate their courage and bravery, to inspire a commitment to truth telling, and to fighting for the safety and equality of women and children around the world.
Memory, Dialogue, Peace and Reconciliation, Transformation, Resistance and Justice. The memorial will offer a place for community members and visitors to remember, grieve, learn, find peace, and commit themselves to human rights. The work of bringing justice to the Japanese Government regarding this violation of human rights is yet unfinished. Denialism is not acceptable. Token gestures are not enough. All nations that profit from denialism are implicit. This addition of public art into the City of San Francisco at the crossroads of Chinatown and the Financial District will serve as a touchstone of memory, a beacon of hope, and a call to action for years to come.
MOBILE STUDIO has replicated itself: model and methodology, and taken up residency at University of Richmond, Downtown in collaboration with the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement! Last February, early spring 2015, Daniel and Jocelyn traveled to Richmond, Virginia, and with the young activists and artists in the American Studies course, “Public Art and Social Change in the River City,” led by Drs. Sylvia Gale and Alexandra Byrum and the awesome Grace Leonard; built this unique version of the 10 x 10 drawing box and investigated the terrain together.
Over the course of a week, we set the studio up in three different river city neighborhoods to take the pulse of this relationship: river to city, heron/ child/ storm water/ grandmother/ native fishery/ freeway/ kayak… Over the course of the semester, we designed a block-long mural for the Cary Street neighborhood to evoke these complex intertwined stories of the James River and its people, the living river city.
The mural was painted in March by many hands, a co-creative process led by local artist, Heide Trepanier. It speaks of risk, of love, of shad and eagles, of the physical, systemic ways we make our world and the tenuous flow of lifeblood, of water throughout. The lovely wooden studio, designed to convene public gatherings for thinking together, through drawings and mappings and storytelling, now lives downtown, ready to sail again.
And most excitingly, a call has just gone out, an open call for next generation of MOBILE STUDIO community engaged projects this spring 2016… we can’t wait to see whats next!
Check it out: http://downtown.richmond.edu/gallery/mobile-studio.html
What is NOT possible? The possibilities are infinite when we reconnect with the land!
Saturday, January 31st 2015, Mobile Studio hosted a Local Foods, Local Places grant kick-off meeting and winter picnic at the Macon County Food Pantry, in partnership with Tuskegee Youth Safe Haven, the Macon County Minister’s Council, Tuskegee Housing Authority, Tusk-Mac Community Development Corporation, and the Carver Integrative Sustainability Center. The meeting brought together a diverse group of community members already engaged in work related to food security and health in the region. Strengthening the capacity of the food pantry to feed people and transform lives, the Made in Macon, Homegrown in Tuskegee Proposal invests in the food pantry as a critical food hub. Mobile Studio’s proposal includes a Co-Op Kitchen & Design Lab, Community Garden & Teaching and Learning Workshops, and Mobile Market & Food Truck. Civic Leaders such as SEED (Students for Education and Economic Development), TULIP, (Tuskegee Unified Leadership and Innovation Program), and Farmscape Solutions underscored the importance of these initiatives to create sustainable, green, and creative economic development opportunities.
Preparation for the Winter Picnic began Wednesday morning at the Macon County Farmers Market in beautiful downtown Tuskegee. A day of visiting local farms across Macon yielded the bounty and inspiration for the meal. Mobile Studio served up a vegetarian and meaty version of West African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup and Cornbread Cornucopia inspired by Dr. George Washington Carver. The meal featured produce from across the county including cabbage, kale, collard greens, and sweet potatoes from Hooks Produce in Shorter, pecans and yogurt from Pecan Point Farm near Creek Stand, hibiscus, tumeric, ginger and honey for Sunbright Organic’s Happy Heart Tea, as well as leeks, green onion and turnips from their hoop houses. With the help of our most amazing studio partners, Gabriella Arevalo and Rachel McGraw, we fed about 65 people throughout the deliciously sunny afternoon. A truly amazing convergence took place around this comprehensive food systems initiative and savory winter meal, as film makers and musicians from Chicago shared stories with blueberry goddesses and snack shack sweeties from Tuskegee, well-water drinkers traded tales with the Vietnamese spring roll artist, and the radical justice activists and Auburn’s philanthropists brainstormed the future.
For More Information on the Local Foods Local Places Grant and the community partners and farmers mentioned above, please see: