“DeWonna and I” offered a platform for Harrison residents to speak about the adversity people with drug and alcohol dependency experience. It brought awareness to perspectives that are normally invisible in the broader society.
Dominique Seward received a Center Micro–Grant to direct her short documentary film “DeWonna and I.” Inspired by her experiences at the Harrison Hotel, a residence for the formerly homeless, Dominique shared details of the therapeutic arts program through the story of two residents. “DeWonna and I” offered a platform for Harrison residents to speak about the adversity people with drug and alcohol dependency experience. It brought awareness to perspectives that are normally invisible in the broader society. Dominique created a more personal piece about the Harrison Hotel residents through filming her portrait of DeWonna.
The process of filming “DeWonna and I” had a deep impact on both Dominique and DeWonna. Since filming, DeWonna has moved out of the Harrison Hotel and into a place of her own. She has kept in touch with Dominique, and shared that filming the documentary changed her life in a positive way. DeWonna also shared that she has stopped smoking cigarettes and has begun to value her life more overall.
Dominique’s experience with “DeWonna and I” inspired further projects, including a documentary entitled “The Truth about Huntington’s.” After filming “DeWonna and I” and “The Truth about Huntington’s”, Dominique knew she wanted to use her craft for social empowerment by giving people a voice through cinema. She was recently accepted into the Creative Mind Filmmakers Institute for Cannes 2015. As part of the institute, she will write, shoot, and screen a film for juried competition.
20|20 Foto lead a photography workshop created to empower youth affected by the femicides in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.
Seeking to support the critical cultural reconstruction of a region, 20/20 FOTO: Cross Border Community Action was the first proposed institutional cross-border art program between the two cities since the 2008 eruption of violence in Juárez. 20/20 FOTO was a photography workshop introducing youth to the fundamentals of photography, critical thinking, therapeutic storytelling, writing, reflection, and installation skills. Taking place in El Paso, Texas and in Juarez, Mexico; 20/20 FOTO partnered with Creative Kids (US) and Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa (Mexico) on photography workshops. In order to create a sustainable program Team 20/20 FOTO sought to create a camera library for the organizations and an academic curriculum so that the workshops could continue past their initial implementation.
“We believe, as evidenced in our work with the workshop participants in Juárez, that the longest lasting impact of 20/20 FOTO has already begun with them, as critical thinkers and producers of powerful images.” – 20/20 FOTO, IMPACT Awardee 2011
Prior to the start of their workshops Team 20/20 FOTO: Cross Border Community Action presented their project to Pentax, who quickly recognized the significance of their project and donated 20 high quality cameras. 20/20 FOTO workshop participants at Creative Kids (El Paso) and Nuestras Hijas (Ciudad Juárez) shared their experiences with one another through exchanged letters, photographic work, and video chats. Under the theme “Heroes and Super Heroes,” 20/20 FOTO crafted an engaging photography curriculum and hosted an online photography exhibition for the images produced by the young people at Nuestras Hijas about their heroes and superheroes. 20/20 FOTO was such a success in Ciudad Juárez that local photographers continue to use their curriculum to work with Nuestras Hijas on their photograph project.
Academic program for Syrian child refugees living in Turkey
To Lemon Hill used food gatherings to create safe public spaces and developed an ambitious mentorship/tutoring program for Syrian Refugees at Gelisim Koleji, a nearby Turkish school. Understanding the importance of a holistic approach to address the needs of displaced communities, To Lemon Hill responded to the universal concern around access to education for their children amongst mothers in Turkey’s Syrian refugee community.
The community that is served by this project is only one aspect of the IMPACT of the project. The program bridges cultures: Syrian, Turkish, and Kurdish. In a society where Kurdish people are discriminated against, this program serves to form a bridge of understanding. Moreover, the school is eager to continue the program into the future as long as there is a need.—To Lemon Hill, IMPACT Awardee, 2013
To Lemon Hill’s focus on their educational partnership with Gelisim Koleji not only created a sustainable education program for the undocumented Syrian children, but also builds relationships between the Turkish and Syrian community in Limon Tepe. To Lemon Hill interviewed 50 Syrian families while in Turkey and heard about the challenges and dilemmas of their journeys, To Lemon Hill collaborated with Gelisim Koleji, a local high school, to provide mentoring and tutoring support for the undocumented Syrian children (ages 7 to 14). To Lemon Hill’s project was even integrated into Gelisim Koleji’s curriculum requirements as it aligned with the school’s emphasis on volunteer service and helping the larger community. To Lemon Hill continues to speak with Gelisim Koleji and the Syrian community in Limon Tepe to ensure the continued success of their mentorship/ tutoring program.
Protesting the high crime rates against LGBTQ Jamaicans, STAND UP shared personal and community narratives via social media of Jamaicans who fled their island nation.
STAND UP uses the unique characteristics of social media to create an active network between the LGBTQ community from Jamaica, the most homophobic country in the western hemisphere, and their allies through testimonial/solidarity videos.
In spite of the socio-political oppression and threat of physical violence, it was the first international campaign to create an active community for LGBTQ rights in Jamaica.
STAND UP partnered with the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and its underground counterpart, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals & Gays (JFLAG) to counter homophobia with community building, storytelling, and safe visibility.
STAND UP was an incredibly powerful experience, being able to meet and share the stories of dozens of brave people, putting themselves on the line to be able to love who they choose, was amazing. If I had been told that I would have done something as large as this, at the beginning of the summer, I would not have believed it.” – Robert Gomez Hernandez (MFA/MA, Film/Visual and Critical Studies)
Project STAND UP worked with a Jamaican team on video techniques that maintained anonymity and to create “safe visibility” for participants. Team STAND UP built upon the We Are Jamaicans Project featuring videos of LGBTQ Jamaicans and prominent community leaders/allies in and out of Jamaica and used their project website as a platform for exponential growth that synched with a YouTube channel, Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.
STAND UP’s videos shared personal narratives of LGBTQ Jamaicans and their allies from three different countries and started a social movement that continued on past their time in Jamaica.
Prior to traveling to Jamaica, STAND UP launched an IndieGoGo campaign to extend the life cycle of their project, their fundraising goal was shared by GLAAD, the Huffington Post, CIMA, and other news outlets to support their campaign.
Although they initially envisioned gather 10-15 interviews while in Jamaica, Team STAND UP interviewed 60 participants for their testimonial and solidarity videos that were shared at a final premiere.