By E-MAGINNE GRANT/South Kern Sol
The Venice Arts Project is returning to South Kern to follow-up on last year’s teen pregnancy photo project.
Representatives and members from South Kern Sol, Dolores Huerta Foundation and Building Healthy Communities Youth Group came together to discuss this year’s plans for the Venice Arts project at the Arvin Veterans Hall on Feb. 10, 2012.
Jerri Allyn from Venice Arts gave a brief summary of the project from last year, which was the Venice Arts Picturing Health project.
Allyn said last year’s focus was on teen pregnancy and this year they will be focusing on the same trend.
“(The purpose of Venice Arts is to) train young people to take striking photographs and tell stories,” said Allyn. ”How do we use art and media to bring change in our communities.”
The meeting started off with an introduction by Lily Catalan, Interim Director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.
Followed by an ice breaker of each person had to take a desired amount of squares from a roll of toilet paper. With each square the person then had to tell the group something about themselves. The purpose of the activity was unknown until after all the squares were chosen.
After the ice breaker, Amerika Niño, Youth Leadership and Advocacy Collaborative Coordinator of Building Healthy Communities, began with establishing the ground rules for the meeting.
“I think it would be good if we came together and made up the rules,” said Niño.
Every time someone suggested a rule then Niño wrote it down.
In the end these were the eight rules that were agreed upon. 1) One mic, one person. 2) Agree to disagree. 3) Don’t ick my wow, which simply means not to shoot someone else’s idea down. 4) Don’t judge. 5) Be respectful. 6) Participate. 7) No side conversations. 8) Confidentiality.
After the rules were established, Allyn showed a photo essay from last years project, which featured photographs of teen mothers and their children along with captions and voiceovers. The photo essay highlighted the joys and challenges of teen pregnancy.
Allyn said this year they are looking to create the same type of project. Venice Arts wants to give photographers and reporters an opportunity to investigate what makes a picture or a story stand out.
“We think it has something to do with tapping into that emotional drama,” said Allyn, “we’re not looking to judge situations, we strive not to take position. How do we flush out the issue and listen to one another with the artwork we make.”
Allyn outlined the goals for this year’s project. One of those goals included creating a public forum about the issue of teen pregnancy in the community. Another goal is to seek out healthcare workers and activists that work with teen moms.
“How do you shape that one story that’s really going to capture someone’s attention,” said Allyn. “One of the goals is to explore what makes a story.”
The group then discussed possible focus areas for the project, which led to a discussion about the possible elimination of Planned Parenthood and the general issue of teen pregnancy. Everyone was given the chance to voice their opinions.
The meeting ended with a distribution of applications for the Venice Arts Project and a discussion of what’s required with the project. Each participant will be required to attend a workshop on March 3 and participate in the actual project during Spring Break, which will be the time when the story is developed and interviews are conducted.
A final workshop will take place on April 14. At the end of the project – a public forum will be scheduled around May or June to discuss the issues learned from this project.
Those, who would like to participate in the Venice Arts Project must filled out an application before the Feb. 29, 2012 deadline.