Teacher Power: Deep's Teacher Writing Community at East Broad

Deep Center is building a village of support for Savannah’s public school students. We do this by directly nurturing our youth as writers, learners, creative spirits, and community leaders. And we do it by fostering networks of care around them—networks that include parents, school administrators, teachers, mentors, siblings, social workers, and other invested people in the institutions meant to serve Savannah’s young people.

So we jumped at the chance when Dr. Stephanie Renee Jones of the Red Clay Writing Project (the National Writing Project site at the Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of Georgia) asked Deep to collaborate on fostering a writing community among teachers at East Broad K-8, a Title 1 school in Savannah.

Savannah Morning News Features the East Side Block Party

Arts and culture journalist and former Deep writing fellow Kristopher Monroe has penned an article in today's Savannah Morning News describing Block by Block and reviewing our recent East Side Block Party.

The centerpiece of the party...was the performances by more than 30 teens from Deep’s Block by Block program...an ambitious youth leadership program that uses what’s called Participatory Action Research to investigate the personal struggles within communities and uses person-to-person communication as a means of collecting information. It places culture at the center of research and emphasizes active engagement.

Block by Block youth and teaching artists spent the past eight months listening to stories from east side residents and exploring those stories through methods that included writing and visual art. The resulting work is collected in a full-color 230-page book that includes art, prose and poetry titled “Reclaiming Savannah’s East Side” (the same was done for Savannah’s west side). The performances at the block party also grew out of those community interviews and for those in attendance, it was a vigorous example of the incredible power of speech — particularly speech that seeks to combat the damaging words that have been slung for generations.

Read the full article: "Deep Center Celebrates Savannah's East Side with Block Party."

Connect Savannah Features Deep's East Side Block Party

Connect Savannah writer Jessica Lebos has written a feature on our Block by Block program and the upcoming East Side block party. A taste:

“The place we started from was looking at how the community they live in affects the person they are becoming,” explains Keith Miller, director of Block by Block.

“Now we’re seeing how this model can be used to create successful community engagement projects and give a platform to voices that have historically been overlooked and unheard.”

For the most part, that means challenging perceptions of places not included in Savannah’s mainstream narrative. Last year’s group focused on the city’s West Side, inspiring poems and prose based on their explorations of places like Wells Park and the Garden City Gym.

This year, the blocks of the East Side have yielded rich stories about under-sung Civil Rights Movement leader Benjamin Van Clark and memories of Tin City, the off-the-grid African American community that had its own gardens and commercial district in the early 20th century.

Read the full article here.

Meet the "Star Exploders" at Deep's East Side Block Party, July 1

Deep Center invites you to the East Side Block Party, a celebration of our city's young writers and the stories, history, and culture of Savannah's East Side on Saturday, July 1 at the East Broad K-8.

Eating Our Words: Writing about Family, Migration, and Grandma’s Black-eyed Peas

Deep Center recently hosted a delicious and enlightening event that goes to the heart of how we use creative writing and storytelling as a tool for youth learning, leadership, and community celebration.

Savannah’s young authors invited their family members and community chefs to Deep to write, eat, and talk about how their favorite foods reflect the ways their families came to Savannah.

Every family that walked in the room brought with them a dish they had cooked themselves from a beloved family recipe. Some of these recipes go back three and four generations. Because we’re Deep, we specifically requested folks bring dishes that carried a family story.

Meet Our Youth Leadership Team 2017

We are thrilled to announce our new Youth Leadership Team for 2017.

The Youth Leadership Team is made up of eight young authors who have participated successfully in both the Young Author Project and Block by Block, identify strongly as creative writers, are passionate about engaging with hearts and minds in some of Savannah's and our nation's most challenging topics, and are committed as experts in their own right to helping support and improve Deep Center's programs and organization.

Team members meet regularly to provide feedback to Deep staff, facilitate community events, and write.

Team members also go on periodic leadership trips around the region and the nation to share their and Deep's work, engage in dialogue about culture and the critical issues facing our communities locally and nationwide, and learn from national peers.

Meet Deep Center's Youth Leadership Team for 2017:

Deep's Youth Leadership Team 2017. From left to right. Top row: Antwon, Sam. Middle row: Mariah, Alexandria, and India. Bottom row: Abreona, Trent, and Justin.

Executive Director Dare Dukes's Op Ed in Savannah Morning News Advocates for Arts and Social Services Funding

In response to the City of Savannah's recent draft budget for FY17, which includes deep cuts to our city's arts and social services sectors, Deep Center's Executive Director Dare Dukes has penned a passionate Op Ed in today's Savannah Morning News advocating for the importance of funding the arts and social services: 

This sector is the culture and care of Savannah — the space that cradles most of what is right and lovely and exuberant about our complicated city. And it is our culture and care that toils — late nights and weekends for low or no pay — to address what most urgently needs fixing.

I am a proud member of this sector, and, like most of my sector’s laborers, I seem to have been called to it. My colleagues dedicate their lives to enlivening hearts, breaking down boundaries, creating safe spaces for vulnerable people, fostering joy, celebrating the idiosyncrasies of our local beauty, and correcting, one story at a time, a history’s worth of injustices and bad decisions baked into the bricks of our civic, social and fiscal structures.

Read the full Op Ed: "Budget Should Include Strong Investment in Arts, Social Services."

Jepson Center for the Arts Gets Deep

The impact of our Block by Block youth continues to spread across Savannah.

Artist Jerome Meadows installs Block by Block-inspired artwork at the Jepson.

Artist Jerome Meadows installs Block by Block-inspired artwork at the Jepson.

Today artist Jerome Meadows installed his sculptures, products of his collaboration with Block by Block youth and exhibited at our West Side Block Party, at the Jepson Center for the Arts.

 

Deep Center at the Urban Word NYC Preemptive Education 2016 Conference

Megan Ave'Lallemant at Urban Word NYC's Preemptive Education 2016

Megan Ave'Lallemant at Urban Word NYC's Preemptive Education 2016

Deep's been getting around this year. 

This past week Deep Center was in New York City at Urban Word NYC's Preemptive Education Conference 2016 at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. At the conference Deep's Megan Ave'Lallemant and Keith Miller ran a workshop on our Block by Block program's innovative approach to creative writing and youth leadership.

Keith ended up closing out the conference with a poem, one that was published in "Investigating the West Side," the book of Block by Block writing that was released at the West Side Block Party. Watch this video to see Urban Word NYC ED Michael Cirelli's introduction and Keith's reading.

In the last nine months alone Deep shared our work and unique context in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Athens, GA, and New York City. And in the next two months we'll be representing our work in Atlanta (at the gatherings for the National Writing Project and the National Council on Teachers of English) and, as one of just 200 invited guest of the National Endowment for the Arts, in Washington DC at the Future of Arts & Creativity convening.

Deep is spreading the word.

Savannah Morning News: Deep Center's Block by Block students recite poems, stories about Savannah's west side

The Savannah Morning News today published a stunning review of yesterday's West Side Block Party, and especially the live reading of Deep youths' original work.

Deep youth celebrating at the West Side Block Party

Deep youth celebrating at the West Side Block Party

Some highlights:

The students in Block by Block are middle and high school students who have passed through Deep’s other programs and decided to continue to hone their writing skills. Megan Ave’Lallemant, Deep’s senior director of programs, said Block by Block is more than just technical writing training, it’s a unique chance to see Savannah through the eyes of the next generation.
“The idea was that Block by Block could use art and creative writing to build the community and answer the essential question of: How is my community shaping who I’m becoming?” Ave’Lallemant said. “It was made to become a space where those conversations could happen amongst young people, and then intergenerationally, too.”

Read the full story here.

PRESS RELEASE: Deep Center Selected as One of Six Creativity Connects: National Demonstration Projects Nationwide

SAVANNAH, Ga. (September 14, 2016) — The U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, have named Deep Center’s Block by Block program as one of six nationwide recipients of the Creativity Connects: National Demonstration Projects award. Each honoree will be awarded $75,000.

The Creativity Connect: National Demonstration Projects initiative, part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ 50th anniversary celebration, investigates the ways in which the arts can connect creativity with other key community sectors, including education, healthcare and social justice. The grantees, one selected from nominations from each of the six RAOs—Arts Midwest, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, South Arts, and the Western States Arts Federation—promote collaboration, experimentation, and overall growth in their individual communities.

Savannah Morning News: West Side Block Party showcases Deep Center's impact

Former Deep writing fellow Kristopher Monroe is now a journalist for the Savannah Morning News, where he writes weekly stories on art in Savannah. He's written a great article on Block by Block that previews our upcoming West Side Block Party.

PRESS RELEASE: West Side Block Party Celebrates Savannah’s Young Writers and Artists

SAVANNAH, Georgia—Deep Center will host the free and public West Side Block Party and Dramatic Reading, on Sept. 18, 3 to 7 p.m., at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum.

The event celebrates the stories, history and culture of Savannah’s West Side and presents the work of young writers who participated in Deep’s Block by Block program along with the works of Savannah’s leading artists.

Beginning at 3 p.m. inside the museum annex, Deep youth will present dramatic readings of their work inspired by their research of the history and culture of the city’s West Side, the seat of its Civil Rights movement. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. and seating is limited. Deep will release a full color, 170-page book featuring the writing and artwork of the participants in the Block by Block program.

Block by Block Investigates Savannah's I-16 Flyover

Block by Block Investigates Savannah's I-16 Flyover

Block by Block youth are continually investigating the landscape of the West Side to determine how history has shaped the present, and how structural inequities are made manifest on the street corner, in the schools, and—on this particular day—in the boardrooms of urban planners and developers.

On a Saturday in June, Block by Block educators and youth partnered with the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority to facilitate a very special Block by Block workshop that focused on the past, present, and future of a specific block on Savannah’s West Side.