In March through early May of 2018 I am partnering with teaching artists Jon Royal and Omari Booker to offer a 9-week Restorative Justice Arts Project for participants in Davidson County Juvenile Justice’s Gang Court program. Offered in partnership with TPAC Education and Metro Arts, this program uses dialogue, movement, and visual art to consider identity, circumstances, past, present, and future, and to create a collaborative visual work of art as a community service project.
In January and February of 2017, I was part of a group of teaching artists who went through training under Metro Arts for Restorative Justice Arts Projects. As part of a broad effort to move away from incarceration of juvenile offenders in Davidson County, Metro Arts funded Restorative Justice Arts Residencies in alternative schools, in the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center, in community programs, in court-ordered programs, and in some schools with a high population of students who have had some contact with Juvenile Court.
In spring of 2017, teaching Artist Jon Royal and I partnered with TPAC Education and Juvenile Gang Court to offer a 6-week storytelling residency for young men and probation officers taking part together in arts workshops. This residency is the third part of a multi-tiered process for the participants that involves work with a probation officer and counseling services, 12 weeks of classes in the G.A.N.G. (Gentlemen and Not Gangsters) program, and community service. The experience has been a lesson of the power of community and the opportunities for reconciliation when young men, mentors, probation officers, family members, and teaching artists come together in dialogue and art-making around communication and our personal stories.
Jon and I also worked with a theater class at Stratford STEM High School in the Sprig of 2017 in a similar storytelling residency exploring personal identity and community, and giving back to the community.