Saturday, April 3, 2010

Art group tour, free street, house of blues...oh my!

So today is our last and final, full day in Chicago- the beautiful, windy city. Sad...I know. I don't think anyone wants to really go back to school and leave this amazing city and community. Because, I know I sure don't.

What we did do today, was wonderful. We first went on a tour of some of Chicago's murals with our tour guide Brenda and one of the Chicago Public Art Group's interns Erin. We were all pretty excited to get to see what some of the cities fellow artists had done on some of the walls and bypasses with tile or spray paint. However, Brenda wasn't as enthusiastic as us. She openly mentioned to us that their company wasn't doing that great, and how art wasn't that great of a field to get into either. Even though the morning was a bit awkward at first, we had a great time hearing the stories of some of the big pieces of art work on some of the city walls and actually being able to see them up close.

The second part of the afternoon was spent at Free Street. We helped them prep for opening day for the play. Mostly we cleaned (mopping, sweeping) and helped them a great deal by hanging up posters. The entire staff and students seemed to really appreciate our work, which in the end was a great feeling. At the end of the day, Ron, one of the head staff leaders at Free Street, talked to us about just "going for it"- the "it" being theatre, or your passion in general. Ron and Brenda (our tour guide for the chicago murals)seemed to have very different perspectives and ideas of the field of art. Brenda's was that it wasn't the greatest of ideas, and Ron's was to go for it, not to let anything or anyone get in your way, and to find a good mentor. The differences definitely left for a good reflection during the day.

The last and final event of the evening was going out for dinner (and music, of course)at the House of Blues. The food was amazing, and the music, fabulous. I'm entirely grateful to have gone on this trip, and yet entirely sad at the same time that tomorrow is our last day in this amazing city. I will definitely bring back a lot of the things and ideas we have learned the week that we have been here.

Goodbye windy city. Hello Hamline.

New Orleans

Throughout my visit to New Orleans I noticed one really strong element of strength that each of the people that our group met with possessed. It was a sense of courage. Each person we met with had some great transition or change in their life, whether it was a hurricane, a death, or some other challenge. Each of these people took the power and energy of the city to propel them to make change in their own lives and in others. What was truly unique and inspiring about the people we interacted with was their positive attitude. Change is something that each person views as inevitable; however the residents saw this change as a chance to do great things. Through meeting with a community center leader whose family has had strong roots in the community, an ex-Berkley professor who began her life anew, and community group that advocates for its minority citizens' rights, that change in a community comes from a lot of passion and dedication. It was a great experience to work along side each of these strong community leaders to help them get a few steps closer to their goals.
Margaret Crenshaw

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Lower 9th Ward

Hey all,

On Wednesday we went to the Lower 9th Ward which was the area most devasted by the levy breaking. I was actually able to go up and touch the levy that failed, granted, I was touching the new addition to the levy. It was a very emotional experience to be the place where it all started. I was walking down the street at one point and saw a family sitting on their porch. I asked them how they were doing that day and only the older man really responded, but he responded cheerfully. He then turned around and asked me how I was doing... couldn't say that I could complain.

It was very surreal to be driving and walking through that area. There was also a very interesting dynamic: one area had some nice new modern houses that were being built for the "Make It Right" project, while the rest of the area had empty lots, destroyed homes, and few homes re-built by owners. I saw shoes and cushions, amongst other debris that was still left over. As I was finishing walking around I came up to this yellow house. It was very broken and damaged, but you could see inside, where perhaps a door used to be. I stepped onto the grass to get a better look and sitting right inside amidst all the rubble was this dirty yellow Tonka truck. It gave me the chills. To think that the house was still in that condition really bothered me. I couldn't believe that after 5 years, we're still at the point that we are in the "re-building process." It absolutley blows my mind.

Going down to the lower 9th Ward was an incredible, emotional, and very humbling experience. It was a perfect reminder of why all of us are here and why these opportunities to do service-learning are beyond crucial for each and every one of us, no matter which side of the service-learning we're on.

-Mikaela Fisher, '11

NOLA News Try 2- Maggie

Try 2 because I wrote this once but the computer erased it before it was saved. But on to more important things…

This trip to New Orleans for me has been about the stories. It has also been about the stories of the whole person. Every site that we visit there are stories of the people and places. The people are open to sharing their story to anyone who is willing to listen. And the places you just need to go out of your way to dig a little to find the truth.

One man that we met here in New Orleans said that people's stories are being exploited. That visitors are coming down to New Orleans, hearing the story, leaving, then either forgetting it or using it for their own personal benefit. I am fortunate to have heard so many stories over the times I have been to New Orleans. I am in my senior year at Hamline and I don't want to forget the stories and I want to do something about what I have heard.

So, I guess this is my promise to not forget and to return to New Orleans. I hope that my returning to the city will help to bring back people that have not been able or allowed to return to their home, New Orleans.

Thursday in Chicago (Aka we see all these works of art with wonderful titles and I can't think of anything more original than "Thursday in Chicago").

Thoughts on Thursday, April 1, 2010
Location: Stairwell, Hostel, Chicago, USA, the World, Milky Way Galaxy
Mood: Exhausted and contemplative (pretty much a buzz word of the group; we always claim to be processing everything we have just seen and are therefore sometimes a little quiet when it comes to discussion time.)
Today the Chicago group visited two art museums, attended two theatrical performances, helped to tidy up a theatre, and both ate at and rode on a subway. We are all pretty tired, and that definitely showed in reflection time tonight when a few of us found one of Amelia’s jokes so funny that we laughed until there were tears.
We started the morning by going to a Vietnam Veterans Museum. I personally thought that the pieces were very moving but a lot to digest in a short amount of time.
Then we headed to Free Street Theatre where the majority of us worked to help tidy up the place in preparation for opening night on Saturday. We also got to have the experience of sitting in on a rehearsal of the show, Abe’s in a Bad Way. It was so cool to see the students performing their own material and I am really impressed with what they have come up with.
We then hopped on a subway, got off the subway, ate at Subway and went to the hostel to change into our nicer evening attire.
When we got to the Chicago Institute of Art I was shocked by the sheer number of people there-the place was packed. We bashed around there for a while then headed to a play called Beautiful City. The deeper meaning behind the play was basically lost on us, the playwright was a little all over the place in message and we were all just so tired at that point in the day.
We then went to the hostel and discussed the day and here I am now writing about it.
If it were not so late/early I may have been more analytical about what we experienced, but right now I just want to go to bed. I’m gonna leave you with some random thoughts and then go get ready to face tomorrow.
1. Green apples are amazing
2. The people at Free Street kept thanking us for the work we did, and that was very cool to see the little tidying up had an impact
3. The people at the theatre where Beautiful City was being put on were also really thrilled to see us, and that was cool
4. I forgot to mention we finally stopped at a dunkin donuts/baskin robbins
5. If any of my sentence structure doesn’t make sense, please chalk it up to the hour and no my lack of ability to write coherently. Thanks.
6. This trip has pretty much been amazing and the people we are coming in contact each day are so inspiring
7. I think we are all sad that tomorrow is our last real day of the trip, but I’m sure it will be an awesome one
8. The End.
Kate Buechler.