Category: Culture

Missing the Bar: How The Education System Is Killing Potential By Killing Creativity

When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing knowledge.” -Albert Einstein

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Ideally, the role of a teacher is to guide students towards intellectual individualism. Student success cannot be determined upon one unit of measurement. In fact, that is an ‘uncommon sense’ approach to teaching. If we want students to be intellectual, then they need to thrive as thinkers. It is imperative that education does not become a vehicle for compromising intelligence and surrendering potential. The current state of many public schools across the nation suggests we are refusing to acknowledge budget cuts mean that schools are providing less and less quality education to students.

One of the problems public schools are facing is that as more professional platforms arise for students to be independent thinkers and creators, schools are being forced to cut programs that generate intuitive, independent thinking. Art and music curriculums unleash creativity and productivity. According to Elliot Eisner, an art curriculum broadens problem solving skills and teaches students to surrender their fixed perception of a solution in exchange for various solutions. It also speaks to the ability to communicate without language. Many great innovators articulated that their ideas needed to be visual before they could prescribe words to their concepts. If so many great thinkers express that art and music led them to their success, then why are schools cutting arts and music programs? This action incites the question, what do we want our students to learn in school? What is considered a valuable education? Are parents and communities apathetic to the growing financial distress that public schools are facing?

Teachers often recognize that music and arts programs may keep the otherwise disenfranchised or non-traditional students in school. Engagement in these core subject areas can build confidence and skills that promote achievement in other subjects. But it is also equally true that these programs thrust students who are already academically successful to new levels of aptitude and creativity. Students who have had continuous art and music classes perform better on standardized tests, exhibit stronger critical thinking skills, social tolerance, and historical empathy. A public education should honor and advocate for what inspires and heightens intellect. Leigh Klonsky, the digital art and photography teacher at East Side Community High School, reminds students that prior to words and numbers people communicated visually and that there is power in the ability to draw as a means of communication. Her students create a multitude of projects that require them to reflect and comment on what they think, feel, and value about the world around them. Music and art facilitates both abstract and concrete thinking. Apple is perhaps the most noteworthy and global example of innovation that is generated when art, science and technology interact. Art programs teach students that with imagination, anything is possible. And that is the American definition of success; if you can imagine it, then it is possible. We are in a world that demands that students have a complete education balanced with fine arts, science, math and humanities. Removing art and music is quite simply robbing them of core subject areas that will expand their minds, abilities, and successes.

East Side Community High School, a District One school, has been burdened with budget cuts and is working diligently to ensure their students have an art and music program.  Currently students can take art, dance, and music. The music program was built on the passion that adults had for music and wanted to share with children. In 2009, The East Side Band Project began; they had a $5,000 budget and none of the students owned instruments. Their space was in a corner in the school’s basement and classes were held after school. In the last few years, band membership has increased and students who were marginalized have become school leaders. Perhaps that is because they talk about what they learn, which again transcends and reaches far beyond common core standards. This summer, the basement was flooded and all the band equipment destroyed. The director, Peter Da Cruz, is currently working to salvage equipment and piece together the band that he has worked so diligently to maintain for the last six years. The reality is not every teacher can or will be able to initiate and maintain an arts and/or music program. There are many administrators who want these programs but don’t have the money to pay for it; parents have to advocate for them. An arts curriculum in schools represents an understanding that school leaders and parents recognize the importance of teaching students different ways to think. We must ensure that education is dynamic, fluid, and reaches as many minds as possible.

Educators often refer to The Harlem Renaissance as a pivotal moment because it infused art, science, and music. It inspired and motivated people to move in a direction that they had not previously seen before. We must commit to teaching our kids to imagine something beyond the realm of the here and now. If we want our students to excel and prosper in schools, then we should support creativity and imagination alongside science and math. Demand that schools reinstitute and/or continue with their arts and music programs. The biggest mistake Americans can make is believing that the arts are frivolous endeavors and continue to treat it as such.

Albert Einstein was known primarily as a scientist and genius but he was also a musician. And when he found himself perplexed, he turned to music to help him unpack and express himself. He believed that his imagination and intuition were inherent in his own success. If you want students to intellectually evolve then they must have the space and platform for that degree of development; they need to have the skill set to create.

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If you’d like to learn more about  or support the East Side Community High School or donate to the cause, follow this link: https://www.nycharities.org/give/donate.aspx?cc=3101

 

 

Photography by Adriana Porras, Veronica Vasquez, and Peter da Cruz

Stock photos from Google Images

Video via www.ted.com/talks

Comedy, Poetry, Music and Performing Arts All Have A Distinct Home At

Manchester, England has a super rich cultural history. Considering music alone, it is the city responsible for Joy Division and The Smiths through to Oasis and The Chemical Brothers and many, many more. It seems the post-industrial landscape of Northern England’s biggest city provides the perfect melting pot for people to harness creative talents. Comedy, poetry, music and performing arts have all found a distinct home in Manchester over the years, making it one of the UK’s most vibrant and interesting cities.

So how is this vibrancy and culture celebrated? Most cities known for arts, or in fact anything positive, usually have a central platform to drive the culture forward – something that Manchester has historically struggled with.

“Lots of people have tried a Fringe festival in Manchester over the years, but they’ve all just withered and died” said Zena Barrie, one of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival’s Directors. It’s crazy that a city famous for its people and culture has struggled to find a unified festival that represents the city at a grassroots level.

But that’s exactly the problem that Zena and her team are trying to remedy. “I’m one of three directors at the Fringe Festival. We’re all volunteers, we do everything.” A month-long festival taking place across a city is strategized, organized and executed by just three people… that’s quite something.

The Greater Manchester Fringe Festival was born in 2012, beginning life as a 6 venue festival with only a handful of acts on at each. From humble beginnings, the Fringe Festival has grown to a 100 show, 500 performer, month long affair which takes place over 23 venues across the city of Greater Manchester. The hard work that’s gone into making it what it is, and the size the festival has already grown to, shows that there’s not just a need but a must for a Fringe Festival in the city.

The idea behind the festival is to provide open access support for all forms of art, encouraging and invigorating people to get involved with the performance and production of art. With an aim to keep ticket prices low, or indeed free where possible, the Fringe Festival has a certain punk aesthetic that’s refreshing and rare to find at such scale. The idea of an urban art festival conjures up delegate-only conferences, costly tickets and press priority, which is pretty much the opposite of what the Greater Manchester Fringe is all about.

“Initially, we were trying to showcase iconic theatre and a love of great venues. It’s very difficult to run a pub in a city which has so many students because everybody goes home for the Summer, it makes things very seasonal.” Zena has first hand experience of this, running a bar in the city, which (of course) is used during the Fringe. The city is known to ebb and flow throughout the year, with the quieter spells coming into play when the various universities across Manchester (there are four) kick out for Christmas, Spring and Summer.

It’s amazing to see the Greater Manchester Fringe team positively battling the seasonal lull of the Summer that student cities can’t avoid. Through a very open door attitude to performing arts, the team have provided an insurance to the great venues of Manchester, many of which could well have already closed during a quiet Summer, if it wasn’t for the Festival Fringe bringing people through the doors.

The Manchester Fringe Festival is about much more than celebrating art across a city which deserves to pat itself on the back, but of course this is very important. The festival brings people to venues they don’t go or have never been to; it gets new people involved in art (in the Fringe’s first three years, 60% of those involved in production and performance were first timers) and, of course; it celebrates Manchester’s young, local creatives in a low-cost, accessible way, helping the event and the cities creatives snowball as more and more people are drawn into the festival each year.

“I’d like to see the festival grow over time and eventually get Arts Council funding. I’d like to see it become something like the Edinburgh Festival, which is brilliant, where the whole place gets taken over for a whole month.” said Zena. It seems the team are on a mission to bring the city a showcase of art it truly it deserves.

The Greater Manchester Fringe Festival begins on Friday July 1st and runs through to the 31st, so be sure to check out what’s happening or even get involved in putting on your own show just as so many others are doing each and every year.

Kanye: The Reasons We Love Him Are The Reasons We Hate Him

It is true that most people do not like what they don’t understand. “There’s leaders, and there’s followers…but I’d rather be a d*** than a swallower.” That particular line shines a light on Kanye West’s douche-bag ways, which have still led him to much success. He makes it a point to fuck everyone’s mind and for this, he is a creative genius.

Not only is he constantly reinventing his ideas, he raised the bar for what it means to be a hip-hop mogul. Fresh off the release of T.L.O.P., Yeezy Season 3, and the latest line of Yeezy’s, he is now set to release a video game. Ye’ has accomplished everything anyone has ever said he could not do, and that’s the reason people love to hate him.

1.He’s Innovative

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“I’m not interested in things unless they hit me in a certain place in my heart. I get bored really easily. I’m like majorly underwhelmed in general.” 

It’s no surprise that Kanye loves to do things differently. From day one he pushed the envelope, rapping about Jesus while wearing Ralph Lauren Polo shirts. Keep in mind, this was during a time when rap was far from driven by religion or fashion outside of streetwear. His creative process is often long and drawn out. It takes him awhile to give the people what they want, because he is always so focused on creating content that pushes the boundaries of what’s normal during respective time frames. Sometimes Ye’ is a bit dramatic in his roll out, leaving his fans on a string of frustration fueled by anticipation. We saw a prime example of this before and after the release of his seventh studio album T.L.O.P. with his innovative mind brought him trouble and success. Before that album release, Kanye went through his creative process right i front of us. He changed the name time and time again, even encouraging social media followers to add in their two cents on the subject.

Some would argue that this was just a marketing ploy, if so then bravo. It damn sure got out attention, and frustrated us while doing so. The launch was incredible, making history as the creator of the first album that reached number one in the United States mainly through streaming. In combination with his latest Yeezy collection, Ye held an album listening party/collection debut at Madison Square Garden. Again, innovation at it’s finest as no one had ever done anything of the sort. Kanye initially tweeted the album would never be for sale and only available on Tidal. Now that the album is available on other platforms, a disgruntled fan is in the process of suing him claiming it was bait and switch for fans to register with Tidal.

2. He’s Passionate

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“For me giving up is way harder than trying.” 

Yeezy is the epitome of the kid that everyone said couldn’t do it and later shows up to his class reunion in a helicopter. Each and every project Kanye has produced successfully was initially knocked down by peers and naysayers. He was told not to rap and just make beats. He was most definitely told not to do fashion,. He continues to prove everyone wrong and pioneer the game with his own set of rules due to his passion and persistence. It angers people when he constantly goes hard at thinking outside of the box and they think it’s all shits and giggles until they finally see his vision unfold.

3. He’s Narcissistic

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“And I love you like Kanye loves Kanye”

A few psychoanalysts once argued that instead of narcissist loving themselves too much, they actually love themselves as much as they love others. Most say that people like this are unlikeable. This goes to say that those same people wish they could love themselves like Kanye loves Kanye. In the same fashion, people hate Ye’ because they hate themselves. The thing is, self-hate only leads to hating others. When you love yourself so much, there are literally no limits to the goals you can accomplish. This is what makes him and Kim such an attention pulling couple. The two of them are a successful and narcissistic match made in heaven. It’s their self-love that continues to build their brands and influence young minds across the globe.

4. He’s Candid

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“I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us,”

We need more celebrities that do not follow teleprompters and use their platforms to really say what’s on their minds. Kanye was never a puppet in the game to begin with. I mean he made it cool to rap about religion.. His painfully honest moments open up the door for discussion on topics that the media normally would not address. Racism, classism, thoughtless award nominations, and crappy deals are things that all celebs face. Still, almost nobody has the balls to say anything in objection. The truth but somebody has to say it, (Kanye Shrug).

5. He’s Unapologetic

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“I don’t have one regret…If anyone’s reading this waiting for some type of full-on, flat apology for anything, they should just stop reading right now.”

Sorry Bryson Tiller, but “Sorry, Not Sorry” is a more perfect title for a Kanye West biopic. Mr. West is very adamant when he speaks and he will keep pushing until he is proved wrong, which is almost never. The fact that Ye’ is so unapologetic shows that he has no shame in being 100% himself at all cost. Being bold and deliberate is what makes everything work for him in the long run. Sure he gave a nice public apology to Taylor Swift but come on, deep down we all know he’s not truly sorry for what he actually said. More than anything he does not like the way he went about it, but he meant what he said for sure. We now have the total confirmation of that after we heard ‘Famous.’

The distaste that society has for Kanye says more about society than it does him. From the minute we enter the classroom we are taught to be followers. We’re taught to follow rules that keep us in a state of groupthink, as to not question societal norms. We’re not taught to be entrepreneurs and innovators. Moreover, we are taught to be complacent with life and just getting by as long as it doesn’t stir up the pot. Breaking those rules is what put Kanye where he is today. People hate Kanye because they do not like his personality traits, but those traits are what makes him successful at what he does. We love him for the same reason we hate him. We love to see someone living out their dreams honestly. We hate that we’re not as honest and fearless as them for pursuing those dreams.

The 100Day Project: Encouraging Daily Creativity

Life as a creative person is filled with peaks, valleys, and plateaus. Hell, life as a human being is filled with all of that, but there’s something especially dampening when you hit a creative block. If any of you handle creative blocks like I do at times (nothing’s ever right, 10 minutes of hiding my face in a pillow, endless procrastination) then you understand that brief, slightly lingering feeling that you’re better off not even trying again.

But what if the solution to a creative block is not to put it aside, but to keep creating? It sounds simple enough, of course; but in execution, it may not always be so. The folks at the 100 Day Project, which began in Marquette, Michigan by the PIA Art Collective, seem to think it’s beneficial. Here’s how the project works: For 100 days, you’ll select a project to work on (it can be easy or difficult) and record your daily efforts. They do have official dates if you choose to register your projects with the Community 100Day Project 2016 ending on April 30th and the Solstice 2016 Project ending on March 20th.

However, their idea is one to try despite the approaching deadline for this year. Think about it, even a few minutes a day working on a project can bring progress and it’s even better because you’ll be keeping track as you go. On their site, they explain some of the reasoning behind the movement:

Creativity is a skill.  The more we practice, the more skilled we become.  Practice takes time.  Practice takes commitment.  Practice is a radical act in this speeded up world.   Through practice, we develop a creative habit.  Through habit, we reconnect with and know ourselves again as a creative being.

They also state that participating in the project could nurture growing a creative habit, expanding of one’s capacity for problem-solving, innovation, or imagination, and reinvigorating your personal creativity. If you’ve been working on something that you want to register, you can do so here. You can also find and follow The 100Day Project on Facebook to get news and updates about the project and the community.

I don’t know about you, but I think this idea is worth a shot. So grab your scissors, your glue, your rulers — whatever you need to create from your imagination — and get to creating!

 

Touré Ali Presents The 27 Gallery

Twenty-one year old Touré Ali has been designing since his sophomore year high school. He was making music at the time, needed mixtape covers for his projects, and didn’t want to pay money to have them designed by someone else. So he started designing and after going to college he assumed the role of an art director as he got deeper into the field and started doing more interactive projects that incorporated marketing, design and photography. Touré found photography his senior year of high school while going through a writer’s block and dealing with the loss of one of his closest friends. Photography helped him cope by keeping him on the go and creative in a way that wasn’t so emotionally draining.

This particular skill set turned out to be Touré’s true calling and the transition to a pursuit in these career fields was as natural as the way he stumbled upon his gifts. Last week, Touré shared those gifts with the entire city of Greensboro, NC at the 27 Gallery.

The goal of 27 GALLERY was to officially launch my multimedia company TouréxAli Co. and ISSUé zine series while showcase my photography works in an intimate setting. The gallery was designed to have a vibe… Attendees were told to dress competitively, VIP’s were given cameras and magazines, SPXRK had their own pop-up shop, wine and champagne were available on the house, Rashaun Hampton performed and Gianni Lee curated an incredible set of sounds to give the space its own soundtrack. It was an experience, I think that’s the best way to describe it. I wanted people to get a first hand experience with the TouréxAli Co. brand.

To his own satisfaction, Touré was met with a great deal of support from a community looking for opportunities to further their interest in the arts, especially from one of their peers. Last week Touré got the opportunity most creatives long for. The opportunity to share his work and provide inspiration through his chosen medium of expression. Check out our event recap for an inside look at the 27 Gallery showing.

Touré plans to keep doing gallery events like these in the future in different cities. You can stay updated by following him on Twitter or Instagram.

 

In This Short Documentary VICE Magazine Founders Shane Smith, Gavin McInnes, & Suroosh Alvi Make Their Move To NY Before Hitting It BIG

Back in 1999, Lisa Gabriele directed a short doc of Shane Smith, Gavin McInnes and Suroosh Alvi moving their growing little magazine ‘Vice’ to New York from Old Montreal. They were fresh off a big “million dollar deal”, and they were still best friends. It was for a show she made called Moving Stories’, one of the first “reality shows” in Canada. It now feels like a sleepy NFB doc, which makes it all the more beautiful. Watch for the heartbreaking shot of the Twin Towers.

This College Professor Is Teaching the First Ever English Course About Sneaker Culture

Education is in the middle of a tremendous shift where students are being given the opportunity to blend cultural relevance, and genuine interests with the curriculum they are taught throughout the school year. There’s no better example of this than inside Jemayne King’s classroom at Johnson C. Smith University. The self proclaimed sneaker head found a way to combine the sneaker culture with English to create a course that is taught the class the same way he would any other literature or writing course. The biggest difference being that this class examines the ins and outs of sneakers. It’s the first English class in the history of higher education and HBCU schools to use sneaker culture as a theme.

Check out his interview with Charlotte Agenda for more insight!

 

 

Images courtesy of Charlotte Agenda

WeWork Introduces Co-Living, An Upgrade To Co-Working Spaces

In January, Fast Company broke the news that the coworking startup WeWork was beta testing its first “coliving” spaces in New York. Today, the company is opening the space—a residential extension of its community-centered office spaces—to the public for rent.

The inaugural WeLive spaces are located at 110 Wall Street, in a former office building in the heart of New York’s financial district. WeWork opened office spaces on four of the building’s floors in July 2015, with plans to convert the remaining 20 floors into 600 fully furnished WeLive apartment units (there’s also a lobby and a basement that will be converted into a game/ event room). Divided into “neighborhoods”—blocks of floors that share communal spaces like fully equipped kitchens, multi-use common areas and even stock-it-yourself whisky bars—the WeLive spaces are designed to not only lessen the burden of city living with flexible, amenity-laded housing, but also to encourage a sense of community between residents.

WeWork hopes to have the entire building open within the next year, but for now it’s launching a few sections at a time. There are 200 units available—ranging from $1,375 per person in shared apartments to $2,000 for an individual studio—all with the option of either a month-by-month or yearly lease (a $125 monthly fee covers amenities). The apartments are about 450 square feet on average, with the largest units topping out at 1,000 square feet (one-bedroom apartments in the area, by comparison, range in prices from about $2,850 for 451 square feet to $3,500 for 700 square feet). Each apartment comes fully furnished, minimally decorated, and set up with cable and Internet at move-in.

Clever Design For Small Spaces
Building the apartments from the ground up gave the WeWork design team the chance to solve for problems that typically plague NYC apartments. Chief among them? Space. “We looked into a lot new developments, the stuff that Graham Hill was doing with Life Edited, and design blogs to determine what was the right answer to some of these challenges of small space living,” says Miguel McKelvey, WeWork co-founder and chief creative officer, who led the design of the new spaces. “One of the first premises that we started with was we really wanted some sense of calm in the unit.”

As a result, apartments are designed for versatility and include plenty of storage space. In some apartments, for example, a bench from the London-based retailer Very Good & Proper can be used as a media console or as a bench the front hallway. A coffee table WeWork custom-built with West Elm has an extendable piece on top that can rise to the height of a kitchen table. And all studio apartments have Murphy beds from Resource Furniture that lower over the coffee table so no rearranging is necessary.

Simplicity Reigns Supreme
The biggest design challenge for the decor, McKelvey says, was keeping it simple enough so that any resident who moved in could make it his or her own. “We wanted the unit itself to be relatively neutral but warm and inviting,” he says. “If you look at WeWork as a brand I think the way we design has a more masculine vibe. It’s a little bit heavier and there are some strong contrasts. In the units in WeLive we wanted to have more lightness. Not necessarily masculine and feminine, but just a variable so someone can come in and easily make minimal [changes] and have an impact.”

Design To Encourage Social Behavior
If the decor expands on WeWork’s well-established aesthetic, the design of the building also tries to mimic the social component of its popular office spaces. WeWork has enjoyed success selling hip, community-driven office environments where members also get access to social amenities like kitchens where beer is always on tap. Launched in 2010, the company is valued at $16 billion with more than 50,000 members at 69 locations worldwide. For WeLive, McKelvey wanted to translate that communal approach to housing, but found that it was trickier to incorporate into people’s homes.

To give the space a degree of sociability without making it feel forced, McKelvey says, they had to design an environment where residents didn’t have to make such a rigid choice between engaging in social activities or sitting them out. Instead, the social component needed to be more organic. “We thought a lot how you break down that ‘in or out’ situation,” says McKelvey.

On each floor, for example, the designers put a sitting area immediately in front of the elevator, to give residents the opportunity run into neighbors and friends, or meet new ones. The floors are laid out in such a way that there is always a common area—a media room that’s also used for community yoga classes, for example, or a laundry room decked out with a pool table—just to the right. That way, McKelvey says, residents walk by open or glass-doored community rooms and shared kitchen on the way to their apartments. The idea is to give people the chance to participate in the building’s offerings like Sunday-night suppers, game nights, or fitness classes, without asking them to take a social risk.

Fostering relationships between residents could be key to WeLive’s success. People tend to be happier and healthier when they interact with their neighbors, something that isn’t as simple as it sounds in massive apartment complexes where there’s less a feeling of community. The challenge for WeLive (and the other coliving spaces before it) is potential turn-over, and whether the business can sustain itself if residents decide to stay for only six months to a year before finding a place that they feel is fully their own.

In addition to building out the remaining apartment floors—the next batch of which will likely open in June or July—McKelvey and his team are designing the game room and community events space in the basement. WeLive is also starting to beta testing a residential building in Crystal City, just outside of Washington, D.C.

 

Article by Meg Miller of Fast Company

4 Steps For Building Profitable Online Portfolio

startup-photos1. Put Your BEST Foot Forward

You’ve worked hard to go out and get the experience necessary to sell your services. However, just because it’s part of your resume does not mean all of your work is meant fro your online portfolio. It’s meant to be visually appealing, and captivating yet indicative of the quality of work you can produce.  It’s so important for you to take a step back and review all of your work up to this point. What jobs have you done that provide the best footage, imagery, and/or numeric proof of your success? It’s imperative that you show the best of the best in regards to the services you’re selling.

Startup Stock Photos

Startup Stock Photos

2. Tell a Story

Who doesn’t love to hear or read about a good story? A winning portfolio is one with some personality. Give your viewers some background information on the projects you’ve handles to humanize your work and display added personal qualities that will make working with you all the more enjoyable for potential clients. What were some of the challenges you faced in completing some assignments. Did you travel? Was there a tight deadline you were able to pull off? These small details can be the difference between winning a contract and letting money slip right through your fingertips!

17744-business-man-holding-a-cell-phone-pv3. Keep It Simple, Keep It Mobile

Put yourself in the shoes of someone viewing your site. What are some qualities as far as user experience that you would look for in regards to checking out any website. The world is moving faster than ever and no one has time for a complicated website. Make sure your digital portfolio is simple and easy to navigate. Additionally, take into account most prospective clients are on the go and doing everything via mobile device just like the rest of us. For your sake, act like you know that this is the Information Age and make that site mobile ready!

creative-apple-desk-office4. Personalize

At the end of the day clients are hiring YOU. They don’t have to deal with your tools for getting the job done. They have to deal with YOU. So it only makes sense to let them know who they’re dealing with. Your “About Me” page doesn’t have to be the regular shmegular name, age, hometown, and education paragraph. Give it some spice and add in your favorite hobbies and personal qualities. Choose a headshot that shows some personality, and make those potential clients fall in love with you! If they love you and your work, that contract/gig is as good as yours!