The 2021 Citizen Team Lineup

Team “Mad Thinkers”

Our team is creating a traveling, interactive theatre workshop that provides a performing arts outlet for youth in our community. This workshop will be 3 hours long, and includes a solid curriculum covering an introduction to theatre, along with a Mad-Lib style original play that explores important topics like bullying, self-esteem, and team-work! Our team is equipped with trained professionals to execute this project and we can’t wait to get started! This project is two-fold.

  • For the children: Theatre activities provide an interactive, creative & immersive gateway for kids to express themselves & learn about the world around them. Theatre artists make observations and use life experiences to perform their realities, hopes, dreams, and ideas. Being part of a theatre activity can give a child the tools to be collaborative and creatively problem solve within a group. This project would be an attempt to expose youth to these skills in a fun and effective way!
  • For the professional theatre artists living in this community:  Too often, theatre artists work for free, especially in Acadiana. This leads them to leaving our area to seek paid work in their field. One of my goals, as a citizen of Lafayette, is to create job opportunities for our local performing arts talent. This is one small project, that if executed with care, can grow into a program that impacts children and supplies theatre professionals with jobs in future years.

Performing arts programming is often the first line item removed from school budgets. This negatively impacts both the children and theatre professionals in our area. This project will bridge the gap in performing arts offerings in our community by being accessible due to its mobility. With this project, teaching artists will travel to students who will benefit greatly from this experience.

Our team wants to share our knowledge of why theatre is important, what we can learn from theatre, character development, relationships, and storytelling with children in our community. Our hope is to introduce these concepts to children to give them a creative writing and performance outlet. First, the kids will be led through improv exercises that build self-confidence. Then they will become part of creating a story, giving them ownership and a sense of pride in their work. Volunteers from the group of children will be allowed to become our actors for the play we create together! They’ll dress up in costumes and use special props to aid them in acting the story out while the story is narrated by the instructors. Those not performing the piece will be part of our interactive audience. The instructors will give them cues in the script to listen for, and various things to do (make a sound effect, clap, stomp, etc) when certain things are said by the actors on stage. This demonstrates that all jobs in theatre are important, even being an audience member!

Team “Creole Garsons”

The Creole Nutcracker was born out of the hearts of its two creators whose main purpose is to further expose the youth of Acadiana to the arts. As advocates for the inclusion of arts in education, they believed having children participate in an original production would be an excellent place to start. The Creole Nutcracker puts a Louisiana twist on the 19th century fairytale and immerses the audience in the captivating world that is unique to Louisiana. The production is seasoned with the food, the language, and the music of the charming Creole culture.

This production not only gives participants first-hand experience in the performing arts but also provides the Acadiana community with a Nutcracker of their very own. With a gumbo of dance styles and theatrics, The Creole Nutcracker has educated over 200 young performers as cast members. Since its debut in 2018, it has entertained 1000s of viewers and is well on its way to becoming a staple in Acadiana’s Arts Community. The Creole Nutcracker Pour Les Garsons Project is one of the many ways the creators plan to use this show to fund arts programs and support young artists in Acadiana. The report Living the Arts through Language + Learning showed that young people with high arts involvement were 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair, 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance, and 3 times more likely to be elected to class office. All students deserve the opportunity to take part in the arts, both in school and in the community. The arts encourage students to: stay in school, succeed in school, succeed in life and succeed in work.

It is proven that the arts benefit a child’s social development and academic achievement. We want to spread these benefits to the male youths of our community as they are often less likely to participate in these types of programs. This project is designed to foster creativity in young people, and give them outlets for self-expression. From ballet to hip-hop, our production has something that will inspire tous les garsons.

Team “French Murals”

Walking around in day-to-day life, people in Acadiana don’t generally question that English is the language they “should” be speaking.  That’s a little weird.  We live in a towns called Lafayette and Grand Coteau and Abbéville.  We eat boudin and étouffée and listen to zydeco and “the French music” as the old folks used to call it.  Our family names are Arceneaux and Billeaud and Chiasson and Deshotels.  People understand that French is part of their heritage – part of our culture – but to actually encounter the language in the everyday, you have to scratch the surface.

Team French Murals wants more reminders, more visible French in the community.  We want you to pass by these visual reminders and take note.  We want you to think, Oh yeah, I keep meaning to download that language app.  I should do that now.  We want the children in French immersion to know they aren’t learning this language to only use it in classrooms.  We want people to feel that it is perfectly normal – not some superhuman feat – to be or become bilingual in both English and the language their families spoke for centuries.  We also want to support Acadiana artists, to support public art, and to dispel this notion that there is no written form of Louisiana French.  (Y’all.  Stop with that.  There is a 900-page Dictionary of Louisiana French.)

We want to commission three murals that feature prominent Louisiana French text.  We’d love to see more than three murals, but for now we’d like to focus on doing one in Lafayette Parish, one in St. Landry Parish, and one in Vermilion Parish.  Lafayette is the hub city at the heart of Acadiana and Saint Landry and Vermilion are both building a lot of momentum around their new French immersion programs (at École St-Landry and LeBlanc Elementary).  Three artists would each choose from a list of quotes/phrases/excerpts in Louisiana French, and create murals inspired by and prominently featuring the texts they chose.

Ideally, this three-mural project would inspire other artists and communities to find ways to incorporate the French language into their art, and art into their experience of the French language.

Team “E.A.T”

We are Team E.A.T., Elite Athlete Training! We are a youth specialty athletic training facility which offers adult fitness as well. Our mission is to provide a wealth of knowledge and experience through demonstrations of mental conditioning and training theories. Collectively, we value the importance of training, knowing that you do have to train to be come elite. Over the two months since our grand opening, we have discovered that our facility has become a lot of our student-athletes safe space as they have grown substantially in mental toughness and social skills. This brings us to our purpose in wanting to treat the entire student athlete. We are seeking assistance so that we can provide ACT Practice books, Financial Literacy training, and providing mental health awareness to ensure success amongst our youth. Please help us in this community project! Let’s E.A.T.!!!!

Team “Oasis Neighborhood Food Pantry”

The Oasis Pantry will serve as an alternative food resource for the Oasis Community. Constructed in an easily accessible location within the neighborhood, this unit will feature cool items, nonperishables, and fresh fruit and vegetables.  The pantry will also include a Dropbox for area residents to give donations throughout the week. While we welcome all community members to partake and participate in this initiative, its centralized location will allow safe and easy accessibility to our community’s most vulnerable population, children under the age of 14.The food pantry would not only be a way to curb hunger but to show love & compassion. We at Oasis believe that we can help the problem by becoming the internal solution. Being proactive in this time is critical and needed. Showing love and hope is not only rewarding but appreciated by the ones receiving. It is our hope that this pantry will also be a cycle of hope in our community in that when families utilize the resources of the pantry and are able to get back on their feet, they can invest back into the pantry for other families in need.The oasis food pantry is not only a way for us to give back to the community, but for the community to give back to itself. Our hope is that this initiative will spark community engagement, pride and unification.

The idea for constructing this neighborhood pantry is not only for needy families in our community but for the homeless population existing in our community. We have a heavy presence of homeless people in our community and the pantry is to be the hand up they need, continuing the restoration in our community. We desire for our residents to see Oasis Pantry as a reservoir and source of hope, healing and restoration.

Team “Lemonade Stand”

There are nearly 1,500 nonprofit organizations listed in Lafeyette alone. Those organizations serve missions rooted in education, youth development, homelessness, hunger, and plenty of other meaningful services. Today, youth struggle to identify where to fit into the equation and how to make an impact while gaining useful skills in the process. The Lemonade Stand Project will allow youth to do just that! The club will partner with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Louisiana Entrepreneurship & Economic Development Center to deliver lessons and mentorship to participating youth to teach them important skills to develop their lemonade brand and business. Youth will then implement those lessons into the lemonade stand and grow the profit each month. 30% of each sale will remain in business to purchase supplies while the remaining 70% will be donated to a community organization determined by participating youth. The first step of the project will be to devise a business plan for the lemonade stand. Then, youth will hit the ground running to learn everything they can about enternerpership in the winter months where lemonade isn’t so profitable. During that time, the team will also work to construct the physical lemonade stand. Then, the team will launch the lemonade stand in the spring and begin to plant charitable seeds throughout the community! It’s that simple! In the process, youth will gain business skills that will increase their knowledge and interests in entrepreneurship by using business strategies to enhance the business and grow the project’s contribution to community initiatives each month. This way, we change our community one lemon at a time!

Team “Human Library”

We are taught not to judge a book of its cover. Our project will host a series of community book clubs and a human library designed to cultivate radical empathy.

Our project will begin with eight community book clubs that dive deep into understanding the eight pillars of caste highlighted in Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabelle Wilkerson. This book tackles a hard topic and challenges us to embrace radical empathy. Radical empathy asks us to do the work to educate ourselves, to listen with a humble heart, and to recognize that another person’s lived experience has value even if you don’t understand.

Our project will culminate with a community event, The Human Library®. The Human Library creates a safe space for dialogue where topics are discussed openly between our human books and their readers. It is in the truest sense, a library of people. Readers borrow human beings who serve as open books. In our human library, each of our books will connect to one of the eight pillars of caste. The rules for readers are simple: respect the book, be curious, bring the book back on time and in the same condition it was given to you. In a human library, real people have real conversations.