“For there are no new ideas. There are only ways of making them felt…while we suffer the old longings, battle the old warnings and fears of being silent and impotent and alone, while we taste new possibilities and strengths.”
At the start of every program year, we introduce Block by Block’s foundational question: “How is the community I’m living in affecting the person I’m becoming?” This year was no different. But instead of just asking about the community’s role in shaping who we are, we also turned to the very systems that create the conditions of our communities.
Accomplishing this required us to explore and develop a unique framework across a pedagogical arc from oppression to resistance to liberation with a specific goal: understanding, rebuilding, and sustaining the villages that have created and continue to shape us with an unfettered, unflinching, purposeful glare of healing.
In her transformative essay by the same name, feminist scholar Audre Lorde explains that poetry is not a luxury:
It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought.
Together, we had to learn and embody this truth. We had to feel and work it in our mouths and across our tongues to better understand the world we lived in and how different it might have been from the one we were raised in. This process was sobering, challenging, insightful, and empowering. It required us to dig deep into our own histories and understandings of ourselves and others. We had to examine the social injustices that have harmed or benefited us and our families for generations. We came face to face with our privilege or lack thereof. The goal: not to re-traumatize, but to open our eyes to the world in front of us, the world that awaits us to determine what restoration and transformation look like for our community, its systems and institutions, and the path to healing through village-building and connection.
So often, we hear, “It takes a village to raise a child.” But Block by Block had to ask: where is that village? How does it shape us by its presence and/or absence, and what can we do to ensure that our village supports our growing, healing, and thriving?
Together, we went on an unforgettable journey using creative writing, ethnographic research, theater, song, dance, and art across mediums to answer these questions, which inevitably only led us to more questions. But with these questions, we collectively created a vision of what’s possible when Savannah dares to tackle its most pressing problems with community- and youth-centered (and -led) solutions—and we became better artists, learners, humans, and village members because of it.
On Saturday, at 11:30 a.m., Deep Center’s Block by Block program will do something it’s never done: it will host the first of a series of community conversations focused on healing in community, with community. This weekend’s focus: the school-to prison pipeline. Our young leaders will moderate a panel of community members while showcasing the poetry, dance, and art that has helped them heal and push our collective and individual ideas of what is possible. The virtual event will also celebrate the release of their 200-page, full-color anthology, “Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline: A Community-Centered Approach to Healing the Village,” and an accompanying visual album, showcasing slam poetry and dance that exemplifies what’s possible when youth artists create with the purpose of dismantling systems, and uplifting youth voice with the sole purpose of healing themselves, each other, and the entire village.
On Saturday, October 17, we will discuss how Savannah residents, families, and communities are affected by the school-to-prison pipeline.
Join us for “Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline,” a virtual community conversation hosted by the youth artists of Deep Center’s high school Block by Block program. The conversation marks the culmination of a year-long process of research and creative production by youth and adult artists focused on how the complex system of the school-to-prison pipeline affects Savannah. This virtual event will feature a Q&A session with visiting community members. Guests will also get a sneak peek of Block by Block’s full-color visual album featuring youth-choreographed dance numbers and spoken word performances.
Saturday, October 17, 2020
11:30 a.m.: Live-streaming begins at the link here.