From the visit, there are three main threads that emerged from our discussion:
- Moanne, Robin and Sidney’s passion was very inspiring to us. They have a lot of hope for the future, as well as dreams and goals they’d like to achieve. We would really hope to continue to affirm and encourage these kids to realize the potential they have within themselves. Their identity should be rooted in the person who is within, instead of what the media says about who they are.
- Sidney especially mentioned how thankful she was to the community they have at school, and the role models she has there, since they have always told her and the other students that “they can be whatever they want to be”.
- Jackie said that one of the things she is most grateful for are the role models she had from her childhood, who showed her that she, too, could aim high and achieve great things. Her education and teachers she had met really made a difference to her perspective of who she was, and who she could be. We can see the fruits of empowerment and affirming one’s identity from a young age.
- “Change has to come from within” – Jackie talked about how there’s a limit to how much she, as a social worker, or anyone, can help another person, if they themselves are not ready to change. We want to give community members encouragement to have the courage to reflect, accept, and move forward in their aspirations, so that they can take ownership over their own future.
Connecting the dots
- Jackie talked a lot about the disconnect there is between all the different services and community workers/groups out there, not that there isn’t enough of them. Since there is no central area for community members to view all the services available for them, they often get discouraged after being not ‘qualified’ to receive a certain service.
- We also understand more from our conversations how there are invisible forces and stakes that acting upon each circumstance, which would be obstacles that obstruct two parties from coming together, collaborating and helping each other. Surfacing these forces and highlighting the opportunities within is also one of our goals.
Time in Perspective / parts of a whole
- Jackie also mentioned how there is a big mismatch between the expectations of community members and workers. Both come in with a lot of preconceived notions and opinions of the other, and this creates a silent layer of distrust that then causes one side to give up or get tired of the other.
- An important aspect about change is that it has to happen over time, and that every step involved is necessary and crucial. Patience is an important attribute that makes change count. We would want to explore the idea that each action, with its short term effect, are going to build towards a bigger, long term goal. With the execution of change, acceptance and ability to see past the immediate and look forward into the future is also key to its success. We want to affirm every effort in this process of change, and celebrate its significance in the bigger picture.
- This also applies to the mindset that many people have of “someone else will do it” or “even if I spoke up and did something, my voice is so small that it won’t make any changes”. If people in the community understood how important each small step is, in the long run, it will collect and build into a bigger, better picture.
Under these three umbrellas, we explored into “Identity” the most, and came up with these three concepts:
- The overarching idea behind these interactive installations is for community members and visitors to reflect on their lives and share with each other their stories.
- The first one is catered towards mothers and children, so that they can express encouragement, feelings or questions that they want to say to their mom/child. By showcasing all their words on a double-paneled wall, they can be affirmed by other mothers and children.
- The second one is a shelf full of empty books with different “titles” (prompts: e.g. dreams, regrets, loss…etc), for community members and visitors to write their own story, respond to other people’s stories or add onto a book that has already been started.
- The last one is a walkway of a gradient of colors, starting from dark and ending in bright colors, allowing visitors and community members to start off writing about their regrets, loss or any sad feelings and walk forward into writing about their present small moments of happiness/people they appreciate and then into future aspirations.
- The colored walls can also be different areas in their lives where they are free to jump around and doodle on the walls and respond to each other / make their marks
- Each person that walks into the Center of Life will be given a colored piece of paper or fabric that they can write a little bit about themselves, their story or anything they want to say, and also instructions from where they can place their piece on the wall. This will then build up into a greater bigger picture (some image that has a lot of meaning to the Hazelwood community, or something encouraging).
- The big idea for these executions is that each person’s piece is important to build a greater overall image, just as each person’s voice and existence in the neighborhood is important to the overall community.
- A studio-type set up with a projector, in which participants can say what they want to be in the future, or any goals/plans they have for their future and the projector will project an image onto their body (e.g. chef – projects chef hat).
- The idea is to empower each individual to commit to their goals, and plan both long and short term checkpoints out to achieve their dreams. Through sharing their aspirations, we hope to connect them to people with similar interests or experiences, that they can reach out to collaborate with or get inspiration for.