Community Arts’ Student Jacqueline Castillo shares her experience working with the residents of the Alder Hotel in San Francisco
Why I Believe in Community Arts
I believe that community arts has potential to heal, to teach, to include diverse voices, and to have endless applications. I am in the middle of my junior year at CCA and have been in community arts classes every semester, making this ENGAGE class not my first experience with community engagement. Other communities that I have engaged with during my time at CCA have been: fellow CCA students, young people in Palo Alto, and organizations in West Oakland. I have had the privilege of working in many positions that cater to community with an emphasis on art while working as a volunteer with People’s Kitchen Collective, and as an event organizer of my own projects. I have an understanding about what it takes to work in collaboration with a community while working towards the goal of creating art that matters in places that exceed a classroom.
Collaborating with and in a Community.
I learned how difficult it could be to try to align a classroom with different interests in order to create work for a place that none of us are used to. That being said, the projects that came out of our diverse skill set were amazing. I got to learn what my peers brought to the table as I was not familiar with what my peers were studying and what skills they brought to the table. For example, I was impressed with the photographs that were taken as they truly captured the spirit of those who participated and I thought the sound deadening solution was smart.
Our collaborating organization was wonderful through the way they supported us, engaged us, and through their availability. The context we got before we started working was comprehensive and I really felt like I learned a lot about the housing system in San Francisco and I won’t look at homelessness the same way again. This class gave me an opportunity to work in a community that I would not have had access to before which makes me feel more empowered to enact change in my community.
Jacquline shares Alder Hotel Resident Darnell Boyd’s thoughts on working with CCA students:
Darnell was excited to be around young people and to have his prospective valued. He was also excited to see more color in the common spaces of the Alder because the space was so unactivated. He spoke about how SRO housing is seen as a place to die but now the art makes it feel like a place to live. He was complimentary of how the students came to the Alder as frequently as they did and how they showed respect to them because he felt that they don’t get a lot of respect.