Artists Statement for service learning project
LAND or Lisbon Avenue Neighborhood development is a community organization that’s mission is “LAND is a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. Working in collaboration with residents, businesses, Partners, LAND furthers economic and community development”. Working on this project I encountered some problems and difficulties but was able to overcome them. The purpose of the service learning project was to engage UWM students in a diverse community, search through archives, take photographs and videos and create a media Blog site.
When I first began to think about LAND one of the first ideas was to do a project featuring LANDFare, but I wanted to do a project on how LAND got its message out into the public. Who heard about LANDFare, how they heard about it, what steps was LAND taking to ensure that everyone in the community was involved, what types and what amounts of advertisement went into making LANDFare a success. In the beginning I wanted to interview citizens on the street, I wanted a raw and real reaction, not some rehearsed, and forced reaction. I wanted to find out if it was really a memorable event, if people were going say “yes, I heard of it, it was great” or “no, never heard of it”, either way there was going to be some sort of reaction, positive or negative.
The purpose wasn’t to be rude or disrespectful, but to have a something real, not some “puff” assignment that was false, I wanted to illustrate that even though LAND does a lot to advertise and they do a very good job at it, they still need help and volunteers, and more community partners, more exposure. The purpose was to find who actually knew it happened and if they enjoyed it, that’s all. I traveled throughout the neighborhood at various times on various days to get a real look at the people and how the neighborhood dynamic flowed, and actually I received a very good response from people.
The response I received from the community was great. The response from the organization wasn’t so great. And finally, it seems every one else thought I was trying to make fun of, not take seriously, the organization, the neighborhood, and the people, which just isn’t true.
There were three distinct challenges to this project. The first challenge was the general lack of archival material pertaining to LANDFare at the LAND office.
The second challenge was the service learning component. And finally the third challenge was the misinterpretation of my project goals and aim.
The lack of archival information pertaining to LANDFare was the most limiting factor. I’m really not sure if it was because LANDFare wasn’t happening for another couple of months, or they just didn’t keep any of the materials. Also, as far as service learning for my project goes they weren’t having any meetings that pertained to LANDFare, and the lack of archival materials regarding LANDFare made it difficult to stay in the LAND office for more than a couple of hours. Service learning was an issue only because no one was sure how we were really supposed to document our hours
The misinterpretation of the project by LAND staff was very odd and discomforting for me, I had put a lot of thought into my project and how it was going to be done. I thought that the staff was going to have an idea that students were going to be filming media projects, and I also didn’t understand the climate of fear that surrounds that office. For me it was simple, you take people out of an element, the element of comfort and they would tell you what’s really on their mind, if they know an event is happening, if they care about the event. The most troubling thing for me was that the neighbors were fine with what I was doing, I interviewed countless people, and they didn’t have a problem with me, when I walked up to them they would just ask me if I was doing a school project. But for some reason the LAND staff was resistant to my abject relativism.