Movement of Belonging

MOVEMENT OF BELONGING is a long-term arts-based social justice initiative that aims to cultivate deeper awareness around Othering and Belonging, instigate meaningful community dialogues, birth collective imagining, and foster Belonging in real ways.

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Key project phases include

(1) SPARKS: inquiry + multi-sensory awareness, story sharing, and movement,

(2) ROOTS: collaborative arts-based investigations, and

(3) RIPPLES: participant-driven public showcase and engagement.

Movement of Belonging reveals all humans as creators (aka, Artists) with the potential to transform realities. As the project propagates, a Public Imagination Collective grows into a repository of activated projects to be adapted by other schools, community groups, municipalities, and organizations - locally and around the world.

Kate Spacek
SPICE STAR

SPICE STAR is a commission by No Immigrants No Spice intended to provide an interactive art experience at the organization’s inaugural fundraiser, BBQ Without Borders.

More than 120 attendees add their spicy light to the SPICE STAR!

 
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i designed SPICE STAR with a few goals in mind:

  • Foster belonging through participation.

  • Be aesthetically beautiful, while amplifying uniqueness of contributions.

  • Use simple, accessible art-making techniques that take less than 5 minutes.

  • Be relatively large-scale and “grow” visually throughout the event.

A trademark of much of my work is this process of curating the parameters of a design, and then inviting any and all creative contributions within these parameters to build the overall artwork. (i call it “contributary art” because the multiple creative contributions make me think of tributary streams coming from different places, and flowing into the unity of the river.)

These collaborative projects of creative improvisation may be tangible and visual, like this one, or can be based in other mediums, like physical movement or video or even social initiatives. i’m always nervous for what will occur, and i’m always astonished and inspired by the creative force of humans, when given the chance to co-create.

 
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Below are some process photos leading up to the event, before more than 120 attendees added their own spicy light to the SPICE STAR.

 
Kate Spacek
No Immigrants No Spice
 

No Immigrants No Spice (NINS) is a Bay Area not-for-profit organization that works to shed light on the positive impact immigrants have on this country and our collective culture. For the past couple months, i’ve had the opportunity to support NINS Founder, Vibha Gupta, in producing the inaugural fundraiser, BBQ Without Borders (aka, the Oakland installment of the New Americans Festival, put on by New American Economy). Vibha truly is a powerhouse - she makes sh*t happen - and more importantly, she is a pleasure to work with.

BBQ Without Borders was a HUGE success, selling out to capacity with 480 attendees and 170 on the waitlist! Attendees enjoyed incredible food, music, storytelling, art, dance, and community — and raised $12,000 for NINS partners Pangea Legal and The National Immigrant Justice Center.

Wait, did somebody say ART? My newest co-created artwork, SPICE STAR, was the featured interactive art installation at BBQ Without Borders. More than 120 attendees added their creative light to the collaborative mosaic mural made of spices. Check it out!

 
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Given the current political climate, we feel that people really need a safe place to celebrate immigrants and diversity. The inaugural event will feature Indonesian, Northern Iranian and Mexican barbecue plus Indian desserts — and incredible performances by Diana Gameros, Rahill Jamalifard, Gamelan Sekar Jaya, the Cal Bhangra team, plus flamenco, street dance... as well as interactive art, a film premier, on-the-spot education, and a whole lot of community!
— Vibha Gupta, Executive Director and Founder
Kate Spacek
Journal of Belonging
Front cover

Front cover

Today design for the Journal of Belonging was completed, and files were sent to Project Kalahati to be published! This is a major milestone in a larger concept, Movement of Belonging (MOB). And currently I am in conversation with multiple potential participant groups: secondary and higher education, not-for-profit leaders, corporate teams, and neighborhood coalitions. Momentum is rolling!

Movement of Belonging combines the superpowers of curiosity, diversity, and creativity to cultivate awareness, instigate meaningful dialogues, reveal deeper understandings, birth collective imagining, and foster Belonging in real ways. Key phases of Movement of Belonging include (1) journal entries and group sharing, (2) collaborative art projects, and (3) public engagement. 

Phase I: Journal entries and group sharing. 

Back cover

Back cover

Participants use the Journal of Belonging to record their day-to-day experiences of Othering and Belonging. The journal is designed to encourage multi-sensory reflection and creativity, prompting not only verbal documentation, but also emotional, visual, and kinesthetic inputs. In a concise, user-friendly format, the user is invited to consider what the eyes see, what the heart feels, and how the body reacts. 

Participants are from pre-existing groups that already meet (e.g., KIPP King Collegiate High School’s sophomore history class). Each group forms weekly reflection circles to share their experiences of Othering and Belonging from their journal entries. I co-facilitate the group with a male of color, who also has deep experience in social justice-related facilitation of both youth and adults. Facilitation guides each group towards systems thinking and explores key questions, such as “What are ways to encourage deeper self-reflection, empathy, and cultural humility?”, “When and how does Othering at the human level morph into Othering at the systemic level?”, and “What might be pathways to institutionalize universal Belonging?”

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Phase II: Collaborative art projects

The stories and fresh perspectives serve as inspiration for continued exploration via collaborations of visual art, storytelling, music, and performance. Both my co-facilitator and I possess significant experience guiding artists and “non-artists” to generate works exploring particular social themes. (Over the course of four years, I oversaw the development, implementation, and exhibition of more than 65 public projects in 13 countries. Coaching the development of collaborative art projects is a passion, and one of my artistic talents!)  

Planning…

Planning…

Prototyping

Prototyping

Constructing

Constructing

Phase III: Public engagement

This is where the meta-learning comes in! Participants will be coached to design their projects in a way that invites the public to contribute to the expansion of the project. This can look one hundred different ways, but the idea is to allow the spark to ripple into new impacts. In doing so, participants are able to apply what they taught themselves - how to foster Belonging - by being challenged to co-design a public experience that fosters Belonging.

To complement the collaborative projects, I will create an aesthetically-beautiful, artistic multimedia representation of the work. Large-scale elements of journal entries, including participant sketches, word excerpts, image and video of body movements and postures, and audio recordings will draw the public audience into the tangible realities of authentic experiences of Othering and Belonging. This installation serves as the foundational backdrop to the collaborative work that may include visual art, storytelling, music, and performance.

Additionally, an online platform invites the public to download the Journal and upload content to be incorporated into the exhibition and an online repository.

So, would you like to join the Movement of Belonging? Everybody’s doin’ it… But for real, being heard and seeing yourself in another break down these artificial barriers we have created.

Belonging grows when diversity co-creates. Let’s imagine something different, together. 

Kate Spacek
Art for Social Change JAM

On June 9, i ventured into the Santa Cruz Mountains to join 29 other ARTivists (artist activists). We were musicians, visual artists, dramatists, dancers, graphic recorders, spoken word poets, and so many other “categories” of creatives who aim to use their art (at least sometimes) as a tool for social change. For the next five days, we were going to JAM.

Never heard of a JAM? Neither had i - until Gino Pastori-Ng (dear friend and co-founder of Youth Impact Hub) suggested i check it out. And so i did. Not only did i discover Gino would be a co-facilitator, but also Annie-Rose London would be another of the five facilitators. (Later, i learned their preferred term, facilitant, which now makes sense to me; they were engaged as participants almost more than we were.) Annie-Rose (aka, A-Ro) was one of the teachers at my InterPlay workshop earlier this year, and embodies the kind of playful unapologetic expression i aspire to.

Trees are my jam. The JAM was in the Redwoods.

Trees are my jam. The JAM was in the Redwoods.

This 7th annual Art for Social Change JAM focused on mutual support, interconnection, collaboration, visioning, and lifting up the essential contributions of artists in social transformation. What did that all really mean? For me, it was a beautiful and much-needed mix of self-examination, creative expression, and connecting with other creatives — all in a safe space of experienced guidance, Redwood forest nature, and that kind of vibrant, healthy, home-cooked food you wish could magically appear on your table at home every day! (Gratitude shout out to Jocelyn Jackson of People’s Kitchen Collective!) Most importantly, it was about the other humans i shared time and space with; we became family (aka, JAMily). Now i have a support team, 29 deep, rooting for me and there for whatever i need - and vice versa. Nothing beats that.

Words don’t do the JAM justice. It was laughing, and crying, and cabin bunking, and creative exchanges, and group improvisation, and dish duty, and music, and dancing, and the kinds of group activities that help you see your blind spots, and the kinds of humans that help you sort through what you just saw in yourself, and all that —- i walked away 110% inspired to fully embrace the Artist in me, the one who wants to do the work and instigate the play and co-create with other humans all freakin day, because that’s what feels most alive, and because that’s what i bring to the world. Connecting with and learning from other humans through the process of making together, moving together, playing together.

You can learn more about the Art for Social Change JAM — and about the organization YES! that puts on all the different kinds of JAM events around the world in an effort to connect, inspire, and collaborate with change-makers to build thriving, just, and regenerative ways of life for all. i say YES! to that.

 
Kate Spacek
Pitch Day for the Youth Impact Hub Fellows!
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Benjamín Gonzalez on the mic! Each Fellow has 5-7 min to present their plan for their social enterprise, with each presentation culminating in a Community Ask. (i believe this idea of making requests to your community is a key take-away of the program - for ALL of us! When’s the last time you recognized a need you have, and then made a request of your family, friends, or extended community? We are conditioned to perceive this as weakness, when in fact, it builds strength for all involved.

Benjamín Gonzalez on the mic! Each Fellow has 5-7 min to present their plan for their social enterprise, with each presentation culminating in a Community Ask. (i believe this idea of making requests to your community is a key take-away of the program - for ALL of us! When’s the last time you recognized a need you have, and then made a request of your family, friends, or extended community? We are conditioned to perceive this as weakness, when in fact, it builds strength for all involved.

 
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MCs Jasmine Honey Gold and ab commanding the stage in front of a packed house. These two program alumni now co-facilitate the Fellowship meetings with Gino Pastori-Ng. It’s been awesome to watch them emerge into their visions and goals these past years.

 
Ben and i attempting to form the In Lak’ech symbol with our hands…

Ben and i attempting to form the In Lak’ech symbol with our hands…

 
aManda Greene, Co-Founder of Youth Impact Hub and creator of the Fellowship program transitioned on February 12, 2019. The loss was devastating for her co-founders Gino Pastori-Ng (pictured) and Galen Silvestri, for the young people who have received so much love and guidance from aManda, and for the United Roots and Bay Area social justice communities at-large. The picture of aManda on my door at home reminds me each time i leave the house that i aspire to embody her graceful balance of strength and kindness. Love you, girl.

aManda Greene, Co-Founder of Youth Impact Hub and creator of the Fellowship program transitioned on February 12, 2019. The loss was devastating for her co-founders Gino Pastori-Ng (pictured) and Galen Silvestri, for the young people who have received so much love and guidance from aManda, and for the United Roots and Bay Area social justice communities at-large. The picture of aManda on my door at home reminds me each time i leave the house that i aspire to embody her graceful balance of strength and kindness. Love you, girl.

aManda Greene, 1981-2019

aManda Greene, 1981-2019

It’s finally here! Pitch Day 2019!!!

The ten Youth Impact Hub Fellows present their pitches for their social enterprises to the public, and the “judges” decide if each Fellow is ready for their seed funding now - or later, after some revisions to the plan.

Ben and i have been working since early January on his social enterprise, In Lak’ech Productions, a project that leverages his existing screen printing business to support the immigrant community in Oakland. So cool, right? The concept is to make a series of workshops in which immigrant participants are guided to tell their stories and then develop collective designs that embody these stories. These designs then get printed on apparel that will be sold to Oaklanders and the world at-large. Immigrant stories get amplified, and proceeds go to local immigrant support services. The goal is to have the first workshop and correlated designs and screen prints complete by December, when the Fellows will showcase their goods and services at a public Marketplace event.

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In Lak’ech is a traditional Mayan greeting, meaning “I am you and you are me.” Ben wants to embody that sentiment in his social enterprise, and really in everything he does.

In Lak’ech is a traditional Mayan greeting, meaning “I am you and you are me.” Ben wants to embody that sentiment in his social enterprise, and really in everything he does.

Emani Holyfield, a mentor in this year’s program, adds feedback to one of the Fellows’ projects. Wait, that’s her mentee’s project! :)

Emani Holyfield, a mentor in this year’s program, adds feedback to one of the Fellows’ projects. Wait, that’s her mentee’s project! :)

Kate Spacek
Designing VALUES-driven business development with Alliance for Community Development
 

The Alliance for Community Development is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, founded in 1999, dedicated to promoting investment in low-income Bay Area communities. They do this by increasing access to capital for underrepresented entrepreneurs including but not limited to women, people of color, immigrants, and veterans.

And they invited me to join the team for awhile and support this mission! The Alliance has got to be one of my favorite all-time clients. The small yet nimble team is made up of four superstar women of color (CEO Nayeli Maxson, along with Melanie Nuni, Naima McQueen, and Cinthya Flores).

Working closely with Nayeli, i had the opportunity to help develop the concept for a system that will allow local businesses to show their VALUES. The VALUES System identifies and strengthens local businesses by verifying their efforts in each of six areas: Viability, Access, Local, Unity, Equity, and Sustainability. Imagine if you could spot a business walking the talk in these six areas simply by looking for a symbol on the window or package, like those Yelp stickers or a “certified organic” label. Well, now you can!

 
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To help explain what this all means, this is from the Alliance for Community Development’s website:

Our VALUES System articulates our VALUES in a transparent and accessible way for our Bay Area Entrepreneurship Alliance members

  • Our VALUES System serves as a system for identifying and strengthening community-based, community-serving businesses

  • Our VALUES System helps us to consistently vet resources we refer local underrepresented entrepreneurs to in navigation sessions

  • Our VALUES System provides a VALUES adoption roadmap to our members and to our broader community, rewarding the creation of plans and progress.

  • Our VALUES System was built by a team representative of the communities we seek to serve: women, people of color, mothers, youth, children of immigrants, parents of people with disabilities.

 
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Kate Spacek
Mentoring the Youth Impact Hub Fellowship

The Youth IMPACT Hub Fellowship at United Roots is a year-long social enterprise incubation training program for low-income youth ages 18-24 to create enterprise projects that increase personal income and directly address problems in the communities. Ten Fellows are selected in a competitive application process, and paired with ten mentors from a variety of backgrounds.

Every Tuesday evening for five months, we gather to share a meal, connect with ourselves and one another through mindfulness activities, and apply business curricula to progress the Fellows’ projects. These beautiful souls quickly have become like family to me.

 
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And my mentee… Benjamín Gonzalez, my newest teacher! Ohmigosh, this guy truly is a superhero - running his family’s property maintenance company, being a devoted partner and father, and running an ever-growing successful screen-printing business.

I can’t wait to see how his project evolves. Ben and i will be working hard until Pitch Day in May. This is when the Fellows present their business plans to the public, and find out if they receive their $1,000 seed funding on the spot (otherwise it is contingent upon plan improvements). Stay tuned!

 
Kate Spacek
Social Movement

Finally it’s here!!! A collective movement opportunity that does not require special skills, lots of money, or being groped after dark. A collective movement opportunity where EVERY body feels welcome!

Wednesdays, February 6 - May 15. Come to one, come to all. Warning - it’s addictive, and you just might feel like YOU BELONG!

Social Movement is moving the body in ways that feel dynamo -- to you. You will be guided, and can respond to the prompts as you wish. Looking for a workout? You can have it. Looking to take it slow? It's all yours.

Keeping it light, with freedom and respect.
Be in your zone with other humans who just wanna move... and you can be in bed by 10pm.

Barefoot or socks (unless you need shoes). Layers are good.
ALL are welcome (kids, too). Venue is 100% accessible.

Begins promptly at 7pm. Suggested donation $10 - but Social Movement is fun, easy, and FREE if you want it to be. :)

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Kate Spacek
Featured artist at CultureBank!

https://www.culturebank.org/storybank/2018/11/28/kate-spacek

CultureBank is mobilizing community cultural assets in order to achieve shared health and prosperity. Their StoryBank feature explores the role that artists play in fulfilling upon this mission. They introduce artist entrepreneurs to the world, share stories about their enterprises and their community impact, and illustrate the impact we can have when we understand artists as essential ingredients in any productive investment.

And they interviewed me for their first edition! Here it is…

CultureBank Questions:

Where – in what community – do you primarily do your work?

My recent work has been both local and international, in specific urban areas across 15 different countries over the past 7 years. I am now anchored back in Oakland, intent on supporting and collaborating with underserved communities, specifically young adults ages 16-30ish.

What gets you going each day and inspires your current work?

The evidenced belief that a sense of belonging, agency, and co-ownership is fostered by inclusive engagement in collaborative community project development - using innate and universal tools of art, movement, and play. The spark of collective invincibility I feel and see in others when two or more humans are co-creating and have that moment when they both envision the same exciting possibility, over and over again! It's human beauty in its purest form.

When you work in your community, what are the most valuable assets of the community that you experience aside from real estate and money?

  • Lived experience

  • local knowledge (from vendors to rituals to history to core issues)

  • relationships

  • hyperlocal influence

  • resourcefulness / innovative thought and application

  • personal commitment to the community’s well-being

  • passion to be seen, heard, expressed

How does your artistic practice inform and/or is integrated into your enterprise?

My artistic practice and enterprise are one in the same on a good day. I design programs and experiences that foster belonging and equity. Often, these programs and events are arts-based, and frequently require my own and others’ art to fulfill upon the project. Although it can be a challenge to convey the immediate value in monetary terms, I “sell” these experiences in service of the client’s own mission. This hybrid mission-based curation in itself is part of my artistic practice, and i believe is a progressive approach to social equity overall. Fostering belonging rarely excludes other objectives.

What is the impact of your work on your community? Today? Over a long period of time?

Historically, the most valuable impact of my work has been the relationships formed among stakeholders with seemingly varied or even opposing objectives. The city council member now has lunch regularly with the student activist. The CEO calls upon the longtime community elder for advice.

I have had participants write me years later to say the community-driven art-making and project building were pivotal experiences for them to learn that they indeed possess the capacity to ask questions, identify challenges, and take leadership around issues in their own communities. Others say the feeling of collaborating in circles of mixed race, culture, and class has opened them to the possibility that their stereotypes can be false.

My work connects people and ideas, instigates fresh and relevant dialogue, and encourages sustainable collective actions. Ten years from now, it will be better understood and embraced that humans are creations, built to create - and that when we create together, we birth true co-ownership and are on our way to solving our most wicked problems.


The Nitty Gritty

When was your organization or project founded?

2011

What is your staffing situation like?

I am solo. I have hired service providers for things like web design or artistic consultation in a specific project, but otherwise i am an independent contractor who leads or co-develops projects.

What is your annual budget?

In this moment, zero. All project costs are coming out-of-pocket from savings or compensation earned in non-arts employment. My revenue fluctuates wildly because it is project-to-project based. Rarely does funding come purely from my art practice; more often, I take on consulting or event production gigs to support the art, or shape the corporate and municipal projects to include art. Every day, I imagine what becomes possible if I were to have the resources to dedicate myself full-time to the community-based and community-driven arts and culture projects.

Kate Spacek
2018-19 Fellow: Pathways to Equity
Credit: Open Architecture Collaborative

Credit: Open Architecture Collaborative

Equity: just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential
— PolicyLink

PATHWAYS TO EQUITY is a design leadership experience for social equity, grounded in the values of inclusion, access, co-creation, equity, diversity, justice and reciprocity. And i get to be one of 24 Fellows for this inaugural program!

The Fellowship runs Sept 2018 - Apr 2019, is led by Shalini Agrawal and Garrett Jacobs, and is a collaboration between Open Architecture Collaborative and Association for Community Design

We are learning proactive processes such as active listening, engaged research, personal self-reflection and responsive iteration towards responsible social impact design methods. And we get to absorb these rich lessons through designing and implementing public projects side-by-side with community partners. The lessons are not without their pain points, yet overall, i’m squealing with excitement to have this opportunity.

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Equity is a big word. What do the leaders of this Fellowship mean by Equity? In this context, equity is “just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential." 

Feeling deeply grateful and inspired by this opportunity to continue learning such a critical life lesson, being a human in these days and times. I have a lot to learn - about the grossly imbalanced privilege and pervasive oppression built into our everyday systems and structures, about showing up as a middle-class white woman in my work, and about what it takes to be a true ally. 

Kate Spacek
Movement Club
Now I see the clear metaphor for how I’ve been handling a project at work, and feel more prepared to make some decisions.
— R.M. - a Mover @ Movement Club

Movement is an innate need that brings us truckloads of benefits. Sometimes, though, we're not very good at incorporating this cure-all antidote into our everyday lives, and being in a facilitated group environment can help. But... not everybody feels welcome walking into a dance/fitness/yoga class - and not everybody has $15 to do so. 

Movement Club is a free, facilitated, creative movement experience. Although structure and prompts are specific, the Movers can use those parameters to explore exactly what works for their individual bodies. Want an intense workout? You can have it. Prefer a slower meditative experience? It's yours. All bodies, every body is welcome at Movement Club. 

All humans have a sense of movement, technically called the kinesthetic sense. Other senses (sight, sound, touch) give us information about the world around us, while the kinesthetic sense tells us what is going on within ourselves.

What happens when we shift our awareness from the external visual to the internal kinesthetic?

After attending Movement Club, common feedback includes seeing patterns in the body's movements that reflect patterns in life. For example, one Mover shared, "I noticed I had difficulty making sudden movements; I realized I was scared to not be certain of what comes next. Now I see the clear metaphor for how I've been handling a project at work, and feel more prepared to make some decisions." 

Movement Club offers a unique playful way to be with your own body, at your own depths and your own pace. 

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Calling all "non-dancers" (who secretly want to be dancing like they don't give a f***)! Movement Club might just be what you're looking for. 

Kate Spacek
Creative Dance Teacher Training

I just returned from two weeks in Tucson, Arizona, where I was extremely fortunate to be trained in Barbara Mettler's approach to dance. Referring to the seemingly generic name she gave her life's work (i.e., Creative Dance), Mettler insisted no other words better describe the ongoing process of improvising our movement impulses, both on and off the dance floor.

(Upon arrival to the airport, i took a tumble off the curb and sprained my ankle, hence the cast in the photos. It turned out to be a gift, spending much of the time observing the teaching process and student response from the sidelines.)

Creative Dance is rooted first and foremost in Freedom. It is not about choreography or performance, but instead about dance being a basic human need. The art of movement is central to all other arts (e.g., there must be motion for us to hear a sound). 

We typically think of dance as a visual art, but in fact, it first is a kinesthetic art - feeling the movement impulses from the inside. The body is not the creative material; it is the instrument that "plays" the material, aka the movement impulses.

The teacher training helped me see new ways to make movement accessible to all, especially "non-dancers." Dancing has been my sanctuary. After even a few minutes shaking it out in my living room, I am a new human animal. These primary experiences have shown me the power of physical movement - that when we move our bodies, we open new possibilities to move our thoughts, our actions, our world.

And we understand more about what a person is communicating through their movements than through their words. Like Play, i believe Movement is a universal language. To continue this study, I will be facilitating Movement Club in Oakland with the intention to make it a weekly gathering of movers and shakers and twisters and wigglers.

Kate Spacek
Red Bull Creation 2018

Red Bull Creation is a 72-hour innovation competition that gathers Artists, Makers, and Hackers to create something new in response to a specific design challenge or topic. The ongoing event is produced by New Creatures in partnership with Red Bull.

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In its 6th edition, we brought Red Bull Creation home to Oakland, CA. And the theme is fitting: Bridges Over Walls. Red Bull Creation 2018 has two key differences: (1) individuals apply instead of teams, and (2) all Participants are local to the Bay Area. What this means is that the teams are made up of strangers who never have worked together, and likelihood of fostering future relationships and collaborations is greatly increased. We worked hard to bring as much skill diversity as possible to the "un-competition;" a team may include a metalworker, a software programmer, a social engagement artist, and a carpenter!

On June 18, Participants met their teammates at the Team Announcement Party - and learned the design challenge. These experts came together across age, gender, culture, discipline, and geography to respond to this year's challenge:

Build a Creation that connects strangers in public space.

After 3 full days of brainstorming, designing, prototyping, refining, and making, 35 exhausted Participants were high on collaborative accomplishment. All agreed they built countless intangible bridges to overcome both internal and interpersonal walls, and walked away having gained new self-awareness and friendships.

Immediately following the live build, teams presented their Creations to the esteemed judges. Then we revealed their 10 interactive Creations to the public and announced winners at the afternoon street party... complete with live DJ sets by Oakland favorites the B-Side Brujas and Indy Nyles, as well as a special panel hosted by Gray Area Foundation for the Arts exploring the power of public art and technology to build community.

Less than one week later, Participants were proud to put their Creations to the true test -- 10,000 strangers attending Oakland's First Friday Art Walk. I overheard one attendee say, "These inventions are so cool. And I love how you can hear a sea of giggles at every piece!" Success.

Social >Movement Lab
 
 

Social >Movement Lab combines the superpowers of curiosity, story-sharing, listening, movement, imagination, and co-creativity to instigate meaningful dialogues, to reveal deeper understandings, and to birth belonging.

 

Work In-Process: Vision + Design + Prototypes

 

SUMMARY

Paid Community Researchers share with one another their observations and experiences of Othering and Belonging. With key words from their stories, they are guided to respond with physical movements and body shapes. These movements and shapes then are transformed to anonymous digital silhouettes. These silhouettes, along with physical journals, audio stories, drawings, choreography and other outputs, make the creative material for a public installation that births new awarenesses around Othering vs the Belonging.

WHY?

Othering vs Belonging

Othering is the source of our most wicked problems, whether political, social, environmental. In their article "The Problem of Othering: Towards Inclusiveness and Belonging," john a. powell and Stephen Menendian define Othering as "a set of dynamics, processes, and structures that engender marginality and persistent inequality across any of the full range of human differences based on group identities." In its simplest form, Othering is when we believe "our way is right, their way is wrong," "i am better, you are worse." If we can find ways to eradicate Othering in humans and within the structures run by humans, we can move towards universal Belonging. To activate these radical shifts in our social fabric, we must better understand Othering and Belonging.  

  • How do Othering and Belonging show up in our most routine human relationships?

  • What are ways to encourage deeper self-reflection, empathy, and cultural humility?

  • How and why do symbols and rituals that embed Belonging become tools to fuel Othering?

  • How does systemic exclusion prevent universal participation in imagining a collective future?

  • When and how does Othering at the human level morph into Othering at the systemic level?

  • What pathways exist to unveil systemic Othering and inject institutional accountability?

  • What does systemic cultural humility and inclusion look like?

These questions represent a deep curiosity i have had since before i could understand anything beyond my feelings of shame for having a facial anomaly, or my feelings of confusion at the "important difference" between Tyler and Tyrone. Still i peel away layers of naïveté every day. Using this project as a tool, i am eager to deepen my own and others' learning, to co-discover new approaches, and to expand the sense of Belonging in East Bay communities and beyond. 

WHAT?

Stories > Movements > Artistic Co-Creations

Humans will be paid as community research artists and scientists. They each will be given a Journal of Othering & Belonging. This custom-designed, professionally printed notebook is a place to record daily observations and experiences of Othering & Belonging, from multiple perspectives. The current prototype being tested includes verbal, emotional, visual and kinesthetic documentation options.

On a weekly basis for four weeks, Community Researchers form a Circle to share their stories of Othering & Belonging with one another. Ideas to explore could include (1) when and where individual othering morphs into structural othering, (2) why symbols and rituals of belonging become tools to enforce othering, and (3) what is each Circle’s collective vision of inclusion. While maintaining Researchers’ privacy, noninvasive systems of documentation gather findings. (Consent underlies every element of Social >Movement Lab.)

  • Will patterns emerge?

  • Will definitions change over time?

  • How will the sense of belonging evolve within the group?

  • How do the Circles compare and contrast with one another?

The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.
— Audre Lorde – The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action

For the next four weeks, Community Researchers form Movement Club. In response to my structured facilitation around anonymous key words and images from the journal stories, and possibly other stories sourced from the public, Researchers move their bodies. For example, verbs and adjectives extracted from the Othering and Belonging stories elicit movement impulses. Curricula is rooted in my yoga, meditation, and dance trainings (although a casual observer may not recognize any of those modalities in this less formal, more playful experimental style of facilitated movement).

Movement Club is not about creating visual choreography, but rather focuses on increasing awareness of internal sensations and what the body wants to do with a given prompt. Ultimately, when the Community Researchers are ready, we record the shapes and movements and transform them to digital silhouettes. Being recorded always is optional, and can be done in ways that maintain anonymity. Reason #26 why i love working with silhouettes.

The digital silhouette images will be the artistic foundation of an immersive environment (e.g., large grid of various black body silhouettes on solid color backgrounds, on each of four walls). Imagine this! The images derived from shapes and movements with Othering stories will be displayed. Then each silhouette tile in the grids change to images derived from shapes and movements with Belonging stories. Will the difference be obvious, either visually or viscerally? 

By the end of Movement Club, Researchers are ready to perform live! They are guided to either co-choreograph a performance or prepare for an improvisational piece. i have frameworks to facilitate either method, depending on group desires. Using elements of force, time, and space, the group's shapes and movements spawn from their felt senses of Othering & Belonging. 

Throughout the multi-phase project, a huge quantity of creative material is generated. Possibilities for public exhibition are endless.

  • Stories can become audio and video files.

  • The public can contribute stories of Othering and Belonging via online platforms and in-person participatory research stations.

  • Journals themselves can be displayed en masse (e.g., Othering stories from the ceiling, Belonging stories outreaching in an embrace from the wall).

  • Elements of journals can spawn installations (e.g., emotions as data visualizations, sketches of symbols and images, body charts of physical sensations, etc.).

  • Community Researchers can develop tangible objects from their shapes and movements (e.g., shadow tracings), displayed digitally or otherwise.

  • Movement Club can generate sounds to amplify the rhythms and irregularities of Othering and Belonging.

  • Community Researchers can develop virtual reality objects to produce a VR immersion of silhouettes.

  • Online and analog portals can gather artistic contributions from the public, while forming a repository of Othering & Belonging.

Although i see clearly the design, processes, mediums, and formats to be used in the exhibition, i absolutely am open to and expecting new ideas born from the co-creative process and stakeholder feedback as the project progresses.

 

WHO?

Circles of 12 > Venn Diagram > The S'MOB

The core of Social >Movement Lab is its humans. East Bay residents of all kinds are invited to apply to be paid Community Researchers, and once selected, form three groups of 12. (12 is based on work of Edward Hall, Priya Parker, and others.) Using the right outreach methods are crucial to inform residents of the opportunity. Collaboration with community partners, such as neighborhood coalitions and social justice organizations, guides outreach and selection. Time will be invested in getting to know the communities upfront. Hyperlocal geography makes meetings most accessible and increases potential for sustaining meaningful relationships.

  • Could "decision-makers" in the systems and structures of Othering be engaged to join us?

  • How might we welcome and encourage all spoken languages?

  • What are benefits of more diverse versus less diverse groups?

i am not the most appropriate facilitator. A cohort of Community Leaders co-creates with me the framework for the Circles of 12, including structure, agreements, and prompts. They are experienced in supporting diverse groups to maintain safe, respectful space. My Pathways to Equity Fellowship begins September 2018. i am strengthening my muscles in active listening, participatory public research, personal self-reflection, and responsive organizing methods - through the lens of equity and justice.) 

 
 

Some Community Researchers may not wish to continue into Movement Club. (Payment milestones correlate with levels of participation.) The Circles unite for Movement Club, specifically designed for every body, regardless of perceived skill or ability.

The Researchers then embark on Artistic Co-Creation. (Those who do not participate in Movement Club are welcomed back into the mix.) By now, a "Social Movement of Belonging," or S'MOB, is emerging. The mob that so often is a mechanism of Othering transforms into an exploration of "Movements Of Belonging." What might a Social Movement of Belonging look like, act like, move like?

Community Researchers are supported to step fully into the role of Artist. With past projects, i have seen hundreds of participants enter as self-defined "non-artists" and exit knowing they are artists. In Social >Movement Lab, these community artists become stewards of Belonging. The co-creation process includes ideating, designing, and implementing ways to Expand the Circle at the public exhibition. An important element to me is that the artistic outcomes contain ways to invite real public interaction in deeper ways, whether by (1) contributing artistic material that enhances the artwork in real-time, (2) offering their own ideas for application, adaptation, and/or expansion of the project, or (3) receiving resources to implement [elements of] the project in their own worlds.

We celebrate and honor the Community Researchers and their efforts.

HOW?

Eyes & Ears > Sensing Kin > Public Imagination

From the onset, trusted longtime community resident organizers are being consulted for feedback on each phase of Social >Movement Lab - and are being compensated for their wisdom.

After being introduced to the concepts of Othering & Belonging, Community Researchers are tasked with documenting examples in their day-to-day lives.

  • What will be the impacts of this new awareness muscle being exercised each day?

  • Will their own definitions of Othering & Belonging transform? Will their actions begin to change?  

On a weekly basis, the Researchers choose which stories to recount to the Circle. Facilitators guide the group in ways of sharing and ways of listening that foster a sense of safety and respect, while aiming for collective empathy. Every Researcher arrives to the Circle with a different context, and offer something of tremendous value in sharing their stories.

  • What will be the experience for each Researcher of being listened to, of being seen?

  • What will be the obstacles to sharing these stories? By opening eyes and ears, will minds open, too?

  • How will this meta-activity of Belonging impact their journal entries and sharing?  

When the whole person, including body, emotions, and mind, is involved in a movement, we can experience ‘movement feeling.’ This feeling cannot be named. It is not specific like fear, hunger, pain, rage. It can be identified only by its qualities. For example, a dance called ‘Slow Dance’ can express all the emotions associated with slowness without being limited to any single one. It is an abstraction. Abstract form is universal. Different people have different daily experiences of slowness, but all can understand the meaning of ‘slow.’
— BARBARA METTLER, DANCE AS AN ELEMENT OF LIFE

The journal provides space to record kinesthetic experiences, in the form of physical sensations, postures, and movements. This initial practice of noticing "felt senses" is a warm-up for the second phase of the project, Movement Club. Movement - like art, play, food - is an innate human requirement for well-being and a universal system of expression. Often we can communicate in body postures and movements what words cannot, and we can hear ourselves through different ears. All humans have a sense of movement, or kinesthetic sense. Other senses (sight, sound, touch) give us information about the world around us, while the kinesthetic sense tells us what is going on within ourselves. What happens when we shift our awareness from the external visual to the internal kinesthetic? 

These movement sessions are playful yet insightful. We start with very basic movement activities and build towards integration of themes from the journals. For example, the first session's prompts may include words like "wiggle," "stretch," and "twist." Eventually, we add the adjectives and verbs from the journal entries to derive shapes and movement impulses. The trust grows with each phase.

 
trust stairsteps.jpg

As the movement facilitator, I utilize my training as a professional coach to support someone through any intense moments, though my light and experimental style provides participants with the experience best-suited for them.

Community Researchers use all the creative materials produced to co-develop artistic installations and performances. Starting with the general concept and i've envisioned, i guide the group through designing and testing various inputs (e.g., colors, sounds, patterns, rhythms, layouts). Adapting co-creation approaches i've used in Public Imagination CollectiveAmerican Arts Incubator, Art of Play, Mad Libs in Motion, Knot Network, and other initiatives, we make art together. These artistic outputs are customizable to partner goals, and ready for exhibition, public interruption, and more! 

 

Universal Belonging invites all humans to imagine a collective future.

Public Imagination exists where diversity co-creates.

Kate Spacek
Meet My Shadow @ YBCA's Public Square 2018

Public Imagination exists where diversity co-creates. Meet My Shadow reveals tangible, dynamic symbols of public imagination, activated through playful collaboration in real-time. Creators must work together to add a human form that interacts with the existing silhouettes. Attention is placed on the intersections, the meeting of self and other. In these basic yet intimate interactions, our differences can be celebrated and our collective power amplified.

This work was co-created by the public audience, guided by simple instructions:

  1. Choose how you will intersect with an existing silhouette on the wall.
  2. Find a playmate to trace your outline in black.
  3. Fill in an intersection space with a color.
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This project was co-created as part of Public Square 2018, where YBCA Fellows unveiled their yearlong projects through workshops, visual and performance art, dance, music, and more. Made up of the most daring artists, thinkers, and creative citizens from across the Bay Area, each Fellows cohort has been studying a provocative question and exploring ways to spark community engagement and action around these crucial questions:

  •         How do we find and empower TRUTH?
  •         Where is our PUBLIC IMAGINATION?
  •         Can we make CREATIVE DISSENT matter?

My cohort explored Public Imagination, and I loved every minute of it. Gratitude to my fellow Fellows for stretching me and expanding my artistic reach, and to the staff at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for investing in programs like this and granting me the opportunity.

Kate Spacek
malabarear // juggling

Cannot give up on it

in the micro-moments -

one last little stretchy effort

discovers the success.

Lack of presence

loses future

of what you wanted 

in the past.

Trust myself

to respond well

- present -

without a plan.

Kate Spacek
Public Imagination Collective: SF Bay Area

WORK IN-PROCESS.

A coalition / of cultural research projects / informed by radically inclusive collaborations / across cultures and geographies / integrating ART, science, technology, all the disciplines / to develop ongoing participatory public engagements.

Kate Spacek
El Hormiguero (The Ant Farm)
logo-hormi.jpg

Have I mentioned I live two lives? To foster an open mind, I prioritize spending time outside the United States. In Medellín, Colombia, I collaborate with El Hormiguero, a collective of artists, designers, and environmental and social justice workers.

For more than a decade, this motley crew has been fighting the good fight through community arts initiatives, public workshops, neighborhood outreach, design consulting, and human rights campaigns. From amplifying the voice of discriminated and displaced populations to facilitating youth mural-making, this group of intensely passionate humans puts everything they have towards the endless fight for basic equality in Colombia. 

Kate Spacek
Public Imagination Collective: Durban, South Africa

The 2018 International Symposium for Electronic Art (ISEA) happens in Durban, South Africa. At last year's ISEA in Manizales, Colombia, the Durban planning team invited me to support their efforts to engage local communities in a more integral and co-creative way at ISEA. I gladly accepted this exciting challenge and spent five weeks in South Africa in late 2017.

Meanwhile, I was almost halfway through my fellowship at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, exploring the question "Where is our public imagination?" The ISEA team's vision seemed to overlap with this notion of public imagination, and two weeks after landing in Durban, the Public Imagination Collective was formed. How did this come about? 

First, I met with Durban University of Technology, the City of Durban, and as many arts, culture, and community organizations as I could in the first weeks of my visit. Through these meetings and conversations, we gathered an intrigued group of creatives. These dancers, film makers, technologists, graffiti artists, poets, digital artists, community organizers, and data scientists agreed to meet regularly to explore overlapping interests and invent potential public projects.

The topic of social inequity was voted unanimously as the research theme of choice. We took field trips to observe the very tangible inequities in high-density transportation hubs, popular markets, and central plazas. Multidisciplinary project groups formed and work was underway!

As often is the case, I had to depart just when momentum was picking up speed -- but what remained and sustained was a handful of cultural research projects informed by radically inclusive collaborations integrating art, science, technology, and other disciplines to develop ongoing participatory public engagements.

Many of these engagements were featured at ISEA in June 2018, and continue to be developed. More importantly, new partnerships are envisioning new possibilities for social equity in Durban.

Kate Spacek