Last year, before transitioning into my role as OF/BY/FOR ALL Community Catalyst, I had the honor of co-authoring the Community Issue Exhibition Toolkit with Nina Simon and Stacey Marie Garcia. The toolkit is a product of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History’s first community-driven exhibition in 2017 called Lost Childhoods: Voices of Santa Cruz County Foster Youth and the Foster Youth Museum. We are proud to present this toolkit to all who are interested in launching a project that ignites community action around a specific local issue.
Writing this toolkit allowed me to process and articulate the skills I’ve learned over the last several years as an arts professional and cultural worker. It summarizes many lessons I learned spanning my time as a MAH intern in 2013 up to the year I became the MAH's Dialogue Catalyst in 2017. As I reflect on my past experiences and community work, I realize it was resources like these that I was missing. It filled a void that my peers and I sought to collect and produce for cultural workers and community organizers alike. I wish I had this toolkit earlier in my career, when I was helping US-based artists work on global social issues. A toolkit like this would have helped me coach and mentor allies and individuals in the various communities I am a part of, both inside and outside of the workplace -- as it does now.
I won't go into much more detail here because you can download the toolkit right now for free. What I will mention is that we wrote it to guide you through a project in which community building and involvement is necessary, from start to finish. While it presents one method to community involvement, we know it is not the only method. And we need to make as many of them available, accessible, and implemented as possible.
As we cast our net wider and build across borders and waters with the OF/BY/FOR ALL First Wave this year, we hope that our small contribution will be able to steer the greater conversation into action. This toolkit is here for the benefit of your community, as it aligns with your organization’s efforts. So please, use it. Tailor it to fit your needs. Feel free to make your own improvements on the kit. When you’re done, share it with your colleagues and friends. As we grow within OF/BY/FOR ALL, so too will the impact of our collective perspectives, experiences, and voices. When we provide more platforms like these, we get that much closer to creating a world that is truly of, by, and for our communities.
Now it’s up to you -- the advocates, community members, builders and changemakers -- to increase and incorporate your community’s involvement. Let’s get to work!