The closer we get to the first round of the Eyes of the Sun mural workshops, the more excited the Eyes of the Sun team gets. The build up to meeting with our community to help celebrate Lafayette Parish Juvenile Detention Incarcerated Youth’s accomplishment is driving our team crazy!
We have been meeting 1-2xs monthly planning our workshops and preparing our marketing materials. We have connected with Blaine Peltier – Meche’s Donut King and Royal Hill – LCG Parks & Recreation Director to solidify dates for mural workshops. We decided that Saturdays 1pm-3pm would be the most efficient times for our community members to attend Eyes of the Sun Workshops.
Our Facebook page, Eyes of the Mural Project, has been updated with workshop dates and times. We will be purchasing workshop supplies after Thanksgiving. Our first workshop is scheduled for December 2nd at Meches on Willow St. Alex will also workshop with youth currently incarcerated in Lafayette Parish Juvenile Detention Home to incorporate their vision of the Eyes of the Sun Mural.
We are excited to create with our community and prove to our youth, that when we focus on our education and being positive, we can and will be successful.
Alex ‘Poetic Soul’ Johnson
(Eyes of the Sun Team)
Team Longest table hit the ground running after being awarded our funding at the 24-hour Citizen Project. We’ve been meeting weekly to develop our plan of work for 2019. We’re excited to share our timeline with you!
October 29-November 19: Applications to host a Catalyst Dinner are open! Community members that are interested in hosting or co-hosting a dinner can fill out this short application by November 19, 2018.
November 26: Hosts and co-hosts are notified
January-February 2019: Conversation Starters will equip hosts with the necessary tools and resources to navigate difficult conversations through a short training and simulation process.
March 10-16, 2019: Hosts from many facets of the community will host 25 Catalyst Dinners with ten to twelve guests each and engage in meaningful dialogue aimed at helping people overcome the challenge of having their first cross-racial conversation.
March 24: All of the participants from the dinners will gather along The Longest Table to share a meal and engage in meaningful dialogue, sharing their perspectives, meeting new friends, and listening to others’ lived experiences.
We are very excited about the upcoming year, and it will take all of us to “move people along the continuum from uninformed to informed, from informed to concerned, and from concerned to active.” From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your continued interest and support.
As of November 1st, The BARE Walls program has officially LAUNCHED! Our website is now live, and we are pushing to get as many artists and businesses involved as possible. We already have over 20 artists as part of our roster and pushing for many more to apply. As for the businesses, we will be presenting our portfolio of artwork to the 3 commitments and put the artwork on their BARE walls within the next few weeks. Our launch coincided with the Innovation Conference which was held at the Opportunity Machine within the LITE Center. The BARE Walls team installed 13 pieces of artwork throughout the facility which was very well received by both those working and visiting the space.
Basin Arts Director, Clare Cook, participated in several panel discussions about the CREATE Initiative representing BARE Walls and Basin Arts and we are receiving very positive feedback about the program’s ability to support artists financially and also fill a need in the business community. And to top off the week, we had our first artwork to SELL in the program shortly after the launch! Our next steps include continuing to increase our artist roster and to begin to meet with potential businesses about signing up for the program. We are aiming to have our first set of businesses up and running by January.
There comes a time in an organization’s life cycle where we must step back and evaluate progress and direction. We made a commitment long ago to never stop learning. And to always ensure our time and resources are being used wisely. For those who have been following us since inception, you know us as “civicside” – the community crowdfunding website that launched to crowdfund community projects in Acadiana. While we enjoyed our time in the crowdfunding arena, we quickly realized that other websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe were entirely more robust, and we couldn’t (and didn’t want to) compete. We found our time was spent maintaining/building a website, rather than helping citizens pursue projects for the community. For those who know us best, you know that encouraging citizens to pursue passion projects always came first above anything else.
After 3 years of successfully crowdfunded projects, we learned the uniqueness and challenges associated with citizen-led projects. We learned that citizens need not only financial backing, but also a team of friends, decision makers and expertise to push their idea along. We felt discouraged watching citizens struggle to get good ideas off the ground, but knowing there was a better way.
Then came the 24 Hour Citizen Project.
It was a concept that encapsulated everything we learned as “civicside” the crowdfunding website, and was a recipe for sparking action. Like all good recipes, they deserve to be tested over and over again. We’ve done just that over the last two years, and feel that after two successful events in July 2016 and July 2017, the 24 Hour Citizen Project is here to stay. In this decision, we’ve also found a new identity. We’re no longer a crowdfunding website. And rather will now focus efforts solely on the 24 Hour Citizen Project so that citizens can continue to have a platform and incubator for community ideas.
So, we’ve evolved. And so will our name. We’re now the 24 Hour Citizen Project (24HCP), and no longer civicside. While we’ll always be grateful for our civicside experience, we’re excited to finally have found our identify- The 24 Hour Citizen Project.
The 24 Hour Citizen Project (24HCP) Team is always learning, always growing, and never excited to see a project’s community impact halted for any reason. But, we also believe in being as honest and transparent as possible, and we know that not all projects are going to be forever. This doesn’t make them a bad idea or a failure; instead, they serve as a lesson for future teams (and for ourselves) that will drive us to work harder and do better for the communities we’re involved in. One such project is Adrian Perron’s Recovery Garden, which recently had to permanently cease operations.
The Perfect Project Idea
Adrian had a dream during the 2016 24HCP. He believed that growing a garden was not only a way to feed the hungry, but could also act as a form of therapy for individuals suffering from addiction. Working in partnership with Catholic Services of Acadiana and the LSU Ag Center, his “Recovery Garden” project would build a community garden near St. Joseph’s Diner that could help to sustain the homeless shelters’ mission of feeding the hungry with fresh produce while working to beautify an area that had, for a long time, been neglected by the community. The 24HCP felt Adrian’s idea perfectly paired with our own mission. It was a win from all sides: The Recovery Garden wasn’t just beautification or a subtle improvement of something the city needed, it was a real work of true, civic good.
“The project was unique, and its therapeutic element made it something memorable and necessary within our city,” states Butch Roussel, founder of the 24HCP. “It was something our backers knew would serve Acadiana well.”
Growing a Garden for Good
In 2012, Catholic Services of Acadiana had previously attempted to build a sustainable garden in partnership with the Lafayette Sheriff’s Office. That project had fallen prey to growing security concerns that far overshadowed its yield of fresh produce for nearby St. Joseph’s Diner, a part of Catholic Services that works to serve the homeless with hot meals and a place to rest 364 days a year. Adrian’s project would pick up where Catholic Services had left off while simultaneously offering a therapeutic project for clients of the Acadiana Recovery Center. The project was successfully marked as completed in the spring of 2017 and, for a time, it had a real impact on the diner’s mission.
Ben Broussard, Catholic Services’ director of external affairs, says that Adrian’s project helped to beautify the neighborhood and create some goodwill between the diner and the community. “There was a positive impact for several months in terms of fresh produce for St. Joseph’s Diner and it gave new access for stakeholders to be engaged in the work we do,” adds Ben. “We’ve always pushed to heighten the community aspect of local volunteerism and involvement. This project was a great example of that.”
Even Great Projects Fail
Eventually, Adrian’s project began to fall prey to many of the same issues that the garden had experienced in its former form. Maintaining the space had a number of security concerns associated with it that began to turn the project into a risk for Catholic Services’ campus and the surrounding community. What had started as something good quickly began to have a negative effect on the neighborhood and, at the end of 2017, Catholic Services was encouraged to bulldoze the garden and shutter Adrian’s project permanently.
While we hate to see the Recovery Garden’s impact fail for reasons outside of our control, the project served as a learning example to future teams and the 24HCP Selection Committee. Lastly, we couldn’t be more proud of Adrian and his team for the hard work and dedication they put into making the garden a reality.
civicside founder, Butch Roussel, delivers his TEDx talk titled: How to release your inner citizen… In 48 hours. He discusses the basis for the 48 Hour Citizen Project, and why it’s relevant in communities.
The talk follows the evolution of his desire to install water fountains along his running route to becoming founder of civicside.com, a community crowdsource funding initiative. Butch explains that community activists are made up of the “I Wants”, the “You Cans”, and the “I Wills”. Butch proposes bringing these three groups together to propel community improvement projects in a weekend, The 48-Hour Citizen Project.