The 2023 Citizen Team Lineup
Team Abby’s Acre
The Birds and the Bees program is a way to provide veterans with the space and materials to learn basic carpentry skills, while also providing vital habitat to the local animal and insect populations of the Acadiana area. This program engages veterans in their community, as well as helping the local wildlife in building habitat. This not only helps the various flora and fauna, it encourages bigger yields in the gardens we encourage and aide people in building. It also helps develop strong bonds in the participants, and breeds the camaraderie veterans have grown accustomed to during their time in service. Not just with each other, but with the environment around them as well.
By building various housing for bats, birds, and insects we encourage the natural ecosystem to regenerate and thrive. In doing so in a group setting we provide a non judgmental space, and a task that is very manageable and rewarding. The fruits of their labor are immediate and purposeful.
Each box will include a bat box, birdhouse, vermicomposter (worm composter), native plants and seeds, and a guide to each item and how they interact.
- Teach the importance of a regenerative Eco system.
- Teach basic carpentry skills and shop safety.
- Provide a large selection of Native plants to encourage even more diversity.
- Provide a space for veterans to feel safe and understood.
- Provide space at the veterans home to help find peace.
- Create strong bonds through mutual support and a love for the community around them.
- Provide the farm and the community with abundant wildlife, and natural beauty.
Lumber will be provided by Live Edge lumber company (veteran owned) and milled and organized in “kits” by Abby’s Acre personnel. These will be organized by set designs and blueprints and can be scaled up or down depending on the skill of the participant. There will be emphasis on safety, and for the time being, no power tools will be utilized.
Native seeds and starts will be provided by The Urban Naturalist in Fightinville. A guide to each item in the box will be included to aid the recipient in further educating themselves on each component provided.
For those not able to build their own, Abby’s Acre personnel will be building, distributing, and installing these boxes for those most in need of them.
Team Acadiana Art Closet
It is widely known that the process of making art is beneficial for children and adults alike, with research going back decades supporting its use for personal healing and growth, reducing stress, decreasing anxiety and depression, and to process grief (Bhattacharyya et al., 2023). Art is a means of practicing and feeling empathy, which can lead to prosocial behavior change. Additionally, there is ample research linking participation in the arts to improved cognitive development through the fostering of abstract thinking and right-brain/left-brain integration (Boaz & Bat-Or, 2022). Data also supports that art making increases general well-being in diverse populations (Rosa, 2021). Lastly, and as if we needed research to tell us this, making art feels good (Moon, 2016).
Lafayette has a rich art culture that beckons community members to engage in their own self-expression–we want to aid in that endeavor by putting supplies into the hands of folks who may not otherwise have the time, money or opportunity to do so. We believe all members of our community deserve the chance to express themselves artistically. This project is for artists, by artists. Lafayette is an art desert when it comes to art supplies. If a community member wishes to engage in any art they are relegated to shopping at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or JoAnns which are coincidentally located within a block of one another off of Ambassador Caffery. Because Lafayette is not a walkable city, folks who do not live in close proximity to these stores are unable to access supplies necessary for creative hobbies.
We would like to solve this issue by creating mini art libraries that offer supplies to people interested in getting artsy. We consider this mutual art aid—anyone who has an overabundance of art supplies would be invited and encouraged to share said supplies they are no longer using or may have purchased in bulk and have used what they need for their own crafts. People who have moved on from one artistic hobby to another could donate tools they are no longer using or have lost interest in (e.g., paint brushes, knitting needles, etc). The art closet would be a low-risk, high-reward opportunity for folks who have toyed around with an artistic style but felt overwhelmed at the prospect of purchasing all the supplies necessary.
Barbers, Boys, and Books
The 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette (BMOGL) is a mentoring organization charter in 2009. The mission of the 100 BMOGL is to improve the quality of life for the communities we serve. As stated, mentoring is at the core service of the organization as we work to influence and transform the lives of underrepresented and disenfranchised youths, with the focus on African American youths. The programs of the 100 BMOGL are based upon our National Campaign “Four for the Future”: Mentoring, Education, Health and Wellness, and Economic Empowerment. It is within those areas of work, the 100 BMOGL decided to launch an initiative to improve the literacy within the community called- Barbers, Boys and Books- Barbershop Mini Library.
Reading is paramount to the educational success of our kids. For students experiencing poverty, reading levels are stunningly low. Study shows that theirs a correlation between reading level and income. Higher income is linked to higher literacy. We aim to increase the literacy rate by placing a mini library in barbershops throughout the north side of Lafayette. The libraries will include age appropriate books for elementary and middle school age kids. A crafty design holder for the books will be built to place in the barbershop/beauty salons.
Barbershops and beauty salons have been special places for the Black Community for years. It’s more than just a business for entrepreneurs. It’s a place to meet and discuss community issues, family matters, and so much more. Young and old visit barbershops which usually extend well over an hour per appointment. The expanded time allotment provides ample opportunity for kids to grab a book and read.
The additional exposure to reading will increase literacy rate and optimistically improve socioeconomic status over time. Therefore, improving their quality of life through a good education.
Team Dance in Lafayette
Dance in culture has been around since the beginning of civilization. We can trace back dance and movement as a sign of wellness and vitality to every corner of the world. Here, in Acadiana we have our own deep history of Cajun, Creole and Zydeco dance. Present day, we can call on this tendency to express and celebrate through movement in our own community. We aim to first, get citizens moving themselves in our Art Walk pop up events. Starting slow with a standing stretch, getting our viewers comfortable with participation, we’ll move to original “sculptures” and shapes created on scene. We’ll document the Art our community creates to spread the joy of dance as wellness.
To support local dance organizations who produce performances and host classes, we will create an open use logo as a beacon to community members and tourists looking for dance in Lafayette.
Team Fais “Doo Doo”
With pet ownership on the rise and Downtown Lafayette becoming a place where more people want to live, the need for proper pet waste management grows. Introducing pet waste stations to the downtown district would help encourage resident pet owners to pick up after their pets and properly dispose of the waste while also communicating to the general public that downtown is a clean and welcoming environment. This project would deploy ten pet waste stations strategically placed throughout downtown for dog walkers to use at their convenience. Each station would include a dispenser box with pet waste bags, a trash can, and informative signage.
Forgetting to bring a bag or running out during walks are the most common reasons why pet waste is left unattended. Having a visual reminder to pick up pet waste creates a sense of social pressure that helps improve compliance. The goal is to prevent pet waste problems by providing downtown residents with the means and motivation to keep their community clean. These stations will help ensure a safe and cleaner downtown area for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy along with their furry friends as residential projects continue to take place in Downtown Lafayette.
Team Renewed Mindset Academy
The CDC released data in February of 2023, revealing that 3 in 5 (57%) of U.S. teenage girls experienced persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness in 2021; the highest reported in the last decade. In addition to this, nearly 1 in 3 (30%) seriously considered attempting suicide—up nearly 60% from a decade ago. To combat these statistics we are proposing the Renewed Mindset Academy for Teens which will focus on building girls’ self-esteem and self-image through connection, empowerment, and education.
The Academy will help renew the minds of students by presenting them with opportunities to connect with other students and professionals while providing them with information about mental health and education. To meet this goal we will have expert speakers share tips on embracing your unique identity, boundary setting, transitioning into college, and the importance of now.
Our belief is that the students will become what they consistently engage with. This understanding is why we’ve decided to host this event on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in the U. The Academy will be a one-day event for high school girls that will host keynote speakers, a panel, and small group activities. Our aim is to cultivate connections among the students with those in their community to create excitement and hope for their futures. This will not be limited based on factors such as race, SES, first-generation college student, or zoning. This is because mental illness and challenges with self-esteem are not limited based on these factors. With the funds received by backers, we will be able to make a profound impact on the next generation of mothers, teachers, doctors, and leaders of Acadiana.
Team Sensory Grooves
It’s time to turn up the volume on Autism acceptance during Sensory Grooves, a silent dance for developmentally disabled children in Acadiana! Everyone is like a unique sound wave that comes from the rhythm of a song. Although different, they want the same thing: To be loved and accepted for who they are. The genres are eclectic, but they’re worth the listen. This event will bring an overlooked community together for one memorable evening. It provides an opportunity for those who are physically and emotionally unable to attend dances a chance to dance. Whether with their best friends or new friends made at the event. More importantly, it gives them a chance to participate in a traditional activity in an inclusive setting.
Now, let’s give these children the chance to buy a pretty dress, get a nice suit, and have fun in an environment that welcomes them. Let’s make it special for parents to see their child dressed up, ready for that photo op beforehand to hang on the wall. Let’s make it a place where inclusion means every child can be themselves. And let’s make it a night filled with excitement, celebration, and lots of dancing (to the beat of their own headphones)! Sensory Grooves … A silent night with a loud impact.