Social Justice Sewing Academy
A Peacemaking Project by Sara T.
What is the injustice we are solving?
Young people are presented in the popular media to be apolitical, deviant, and in need of intervention. Some have even relegated youth, particularly youth of color, to be a problem population that needs to be controlled. In spite of popular discourse that suggests young people are problems, young people have always been the vanguard of social change. From the Civil Rights Movement to the current Black Lives Matter movement, youth have been the ones to lead progressive social movements that have fundamentally transformed the daily lives of so many marginalized populations. After attending UC Berkeley and learning the impact of social inequality on communities of color, particularly youth; my educational experiences inspired me to develop the Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSA). This program facilitates free programming that teaches youth methods for engaging in social change in community context while creating participatory art as a vehicle for personal transformation and social change.
Our Compassionate Solution:
To solve this injustice of youth voices being underrepresented.
we will address the lack of youth voice by empowering students to use sewing as a medium to amplify their artistic voices and become agents of change.
by providing free programming to ingrain resources and tools into our students so that they can work toward solving a social justice problem that resonates with them, specifically with art activism.
Our Project Plan:
- Develop a SJSA Ambassadors Program
- Have 100 workshops a year
- Create a year long curriculum, complete with homework assignments, in class activities and discussion questions
We will increase my / our compassion by...
The Social Justice Sewing Academy is a critical education program that fosters participatory art as a vehicle for personal transformation, community cohesion, and social change. We bring together artist-mentors, local youth, and community members to learn and experiment through place-based projects. We promote the model of the artist as citizen, actively engaged in conversations with our surrounding community through the lens of contemporary art. We support participants to become civically engaged artists as they are challenged to tackle current social issues in their community that directly affect their lives.
How will you show courage?
Students involved in SJSA programming will show courage by creating art with a message - even if other people may not agree with their voice.
How will you collaborate with others?
I will use ZOOM to have monthly meetings with ambassadors, and reach out to potential mentors from Peace First.
How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)
When students are sharing they are enjoying the program and feeling like they are making a difference.
- 1. Develop the platform and theory of change for SJSA ambassadors
- 2. Reach out to Peace First network to see if anyone would be interested in becoming an SJSA ambassador to enhance their own projects
- 3. Develop a fundraising campaign (to fund the SJSA ambassadors)
- 4. Create a media press kit regarding SJSA to submit to media outlets
- 5. Run a pilot session of SJSA ambassadors this summer
- 6. Collect pre-and post surveys on participants expectations and experiences in the SJSA ambassador program
How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?
I’d say it deepened the teams understanding of the injustice by helping first hand with workshops. Hearing youth stories and narratives from their mouths and the impact and trauma it has caused them- is eye opening and usually demands a lot of empathy from a workshop facilitator- along with a desire to make change happen.
How did your community change as a result of your project?
I think these results are too soon to determine, however, schools have asked to have workshops and spaces to talk about social justice issues and ways young people can get involved.
How many people were impacted by your project?
Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?
We did 5 workshops of over 30 kids each, and each block was sent out to an embroidery volunteer across the US. The blocks were then compiled into a quilt where it’s now currently hanging in a museum in San Jose, CA! I’d say easily 700+ people were impacted because at least 250+ people helped create the quilts and there were hundreds of people who have seen the art since the exhibit opening.
How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?
In the artwork the young people created, often times they shared stories and alternative narratives through their social justice quilt blocks. For example, one young man made his block about gentrification and his block featured a silhouette of he and his grandma being evicted from their apartment in Oakland, Ca.
What did your team learn?
We learned how under resources many public schools are and although kids may have never done it- sewing is really a timeless art form that should be used more!
What challenges did your team overcome?
I think our curriculum design challenge was something the team overcame - how do we decide what type of programming to do with each group; we want youth to feel challenged but not at the potential cost of exploiting another youths lived experiences.
How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?
Our entire process is based in community art. We have free workshops with youth and involve remote, but talented embroidery volunteers to enhance and embellish the youth design.
What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?
I’d say start with mind mapping out what you want your projects objectives to be and hen outline out a realistic timeline and tangible goals! Making progress weekly makes things happen in the end.