Social Justice Sewing Academy

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.
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 Plan
Our Project Goals
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?
When students are sharing they are enjoying the program and feeling like they are making a difference.
Create a list of key steps you will take
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
Fish S.

November 29, 2017

Hey Sara! Love the new list of key steps you shared with us. Where does the curriculum you're developing fit into that? And -- where can we help?
Fish S.

September 26, 2017

Hey Sara! Thanks for sharing your project with us.

This work sounds cool. Like, really, REALLY cool. It's critical to teach social change, and I think your insight about needing to create safe and creative spaces for young people to learn about social change is really neat. (I also love how you incorporate participatory art!)

By ambassadors, do you mean that you're hoping to train people who will start SJSA groups in their own communities? That seems like a great idea. We have a lot of people here -- young peacemakers and mentors -- who have experience growing a project into other communities. They'd be happy to help -- just ask!

How have your initial workshops gone?
Sara T.

September 26, 2017

Thank you! I really think art can be used as a vehicle of resistance.

and yes, I want to train people to start their own groups in their own communities, and provide them with the fabric, tools, materials for them to have their OWN workshops : ) on whatever issues they care about, LGBT rights, equal pay, etc. Just want to use the SJSA model for workshops to bring in crowds of young people to make their own goals happen. Then with my support I can turn the 'quilt blocks' they make during their own workshops into beautiful community quilt! I would love to definitely use this peace first group to be the initial pilot group of SJSA ambassadors, am really excited to get involved!

Initial workshops have gone really well, the quilt blocks are actually spectacular, (& I'm not just saying that b/c I love sewing :) haha people are actually REALLY amazing at creating art even though this is their first time introduction to textile arts/ sewing!
Fish S.

September 28, 2017

Hi Sara -- that sounds fantastic. Love the idea of using art as a way to help young people identify -- and act on -- their social justice goals! We have a lot of young people with experiences scaling up community-based projects by giving other young people the tools to implement it in their own communities! If you want us to connect you to some of them -- let me know!

I'd love to hear a little more about your pilot! What did you use/are you using to measure your impact?
Sara T.

November 08, 2017

I used survey's for the most part- pre and post. It's pretty much all been based off qualitative data, but I would love more feedback on ways to measure impact! Any suggestions?
Fish S.

November 09, 2017

Sara -- great question. I can pass this around to gather more detailed thoughts if you like (and I'd encourage you to ask a question about this! My initial thoughts -- pre- and post-test surveys sound great. You could build in quantitative data measures pretty simply by measuring their self-reported attitudes about peace and social justice on a 5-point scale pre- and post- SJSA sessions. I'd also encourage you to develop a tool to get feedback from adults -- teachers, principals, youth workers -- who work in each of the settings you implement your program, so they can testify to the lasting change you're creating!