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.

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.

Deep Awarded an NEA Our Town Grant

Deep Awarded an NEA Our Town Grant

Check this out!

Deep Center was named as one of only 64 recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town awards today, announced NEA chairman Jane Chu. Deep will receive $50,000 to support Story Map, a project of our Block by Block program. This is Deep’s second year as a recipient of this highly competitive grant. And Deep is the only nonprofit in Savannah’s history to receive NEA funding for youth educational programming.

Block by Block: Seeing What's Right In Front of Our Eyes

Photo: Linneah Anders

Artist Jerome Meadows of Indigo Sky Community Gallery invited Block by Block youth to his studio this past weekend to create works of art out of community and family artifacts.

In Block by Block we're engaging with Savannah's communities to document, celebrate, and reimagine what is often missed or undervalued because it's right in front of our eyes.

Deep's Keith Miller in the Spotlight!

The Savannah Morning News today featured the fantabulous Keith Miller, Deep's program manager and one of the teaching-writers for our Block by Block program. 

In the article, Keith says:

It’s empowering to students to know that their voice matters. And in that, they realize that so does their mom’s, so does their aunt’s, so does their grandparents’,  and it doesn’t matter if you’re from Savannah or not. …  If we aren’t pursuing to inspire and support them, then we are playing our own role in silencing them.

Keith's energy, experience, and intelligence are a huge force at Deep and in Savannah. He embodies the power and imagination of community artist leaders.

Check out the article here.

Deep Featured on National Writing Project Podcast

The National Writing Project (NWP) is featuring Deep Center and our NWP partner site at University of Georgia (UGA), the Red Clay Writing Project, on NWP Radio, a monthly podcast. 

The National Writing Project is the nation's preeminent clearinghouse for research, reflection, and professional development around writing and language literacy. Deep began partnering with NWP in summer 2015, when program staff members attended an NWP training at UGA in Athens, GA. Now all of Deep's program staff are certified teaching consultants of the National Writing Project. Deep relies on NWP and their networks constantly for advice, expertise, and other resources. Their scholarship and guidance have significantly evolved our programs, practices, and thinking about literacy.

Listen to the podcast here:

"Finding Deep Center at the Red Clay Writing Project"

Block by Block Midterm Community Reading

On Saturday morning March 5, 24 youth from both Block by Block teams came together at the Live Oak Public Library on Henry Street to read, perform, and share their works-in-progress with 50 of their peers and family members, as well as community partners. The day was a joyful culmination of Block by Block's research and documentation process, in which youth went on site visits, embarked on neighborhood tours and walks, and interviewed family members and community artists and leaders about the West Side's stories.