Ta Coumba and I did a three day community engagement event with the Camden Webber Area community and the Hennepin County Webber Park Library. This experience proved to be a very eye opening experience for the creation of incredible community lead art. We started by creating a drawing of the platform that was used to create the final stages (i.e. Engagement Sketches). These "engagement-sketches" had the community draw on their understandings of who this community is. I intentionally left black out of the options for people because this color is usually thought of as a defining color. I want the community to have its own defining palette.
The neighbors that attended the sessions were young and old, different races, and different cultures. The first connection was with a youth lady, Viola, who is autistic and her health care aide. They talked to me about the neighborhood the trees, nature and the food that you can experience here. Secondly, I was introduced to an young lady, Yareli, who is the sweetest sixth grader in our neighborhood, who spoke to me about feeling safe in this neighborhood and the how she wanted to honor Jamal Clark ( there a lot of there that she shared about this). Then there was a man, Tim, who spoke about the history of Native Americans in the area he talked about the Native Court, a historic apartment complex that housed Native Americans mainly but was shut down several years ago . He additionally spoke about the history of his family in the areas, and mentioned that he has a brother who is an artist as well.
On the last two days of community engagement TaCoumba and I asked folks to discuss and draw what they felt about the community without trying to steer them.
The experiences increased and the diversity kept rolling as the images that people drew and the stories they told were all so rich and interesting. Some where individual, historical and relational. The consistency that spoke out of the engagement session were about the people and how this space has experienced a wave of culture.
This cultural wave is best described in the BBQ's that exist in the park during the summers, the elderly home that brings rich peace and transcendent character, the memorial parkway that that hold pride placement and the people who bring this all together.