I recently read about and attended the online Q&A regarding a request from the city of Charlotte for qualifications of community engagement consultant services. After listening and re-reading the instructions several times, I think I’m ready to throw my name in the ring. I thought I’d share on my blog the documents I submitted. Maybe sharing them here might spark some imagination for other ways I can provide these services to organizations and community groups.
As a 16 year resident of Charlotte and an active community member, I have a long track record of community engagement specializing in creative facilitation, youth and family engagement, and artistic social practice. Under my leadership, many neighborhood and community based initiatives have taken shape including: West Side Listening Project, West Side Community Land Trust, QC Family Tree, and various other creative community projects. In the table below, I have provided a brief summary of my skills and examples of my leadership in the following areas and have ranked them according to proficiency. (1 is low, 5 is high)
Type of ServiceproficiencyExampleCommunity Meeting Facilitation5Neighborhood Mtg facilitation, WSCLT meeting leadership; workshop facilitation on creativity, community involvement, community building; facilitating boardsDecision and Design Springs4Using the design canvas, I have facilitated the ideation process for several small groups.Neighborhood Capacity Building5Neighborhood Based Community Development has been a highly prioritized service I have provided to QC Family Tree as director and resident of Enderly Park.Youth Engagement5I have led youth groups and events for 16 years. I also write curriculum for youth programming.Kick Off/Engagement Events4I facilitated an oral history project and culminating community event for the West Side Community Land Trust. The event was highly successful and spawned growth and trust building for the West Side Community Land Trust.Community Artist Residency5I have been an artist resident at the McColl Center for Arts and Innovation as well as an artist theologian in residence at Myers Park Baptist Church. I have also participated in creative cohorts led by the Innovation Institute, Community Building Initiative, and EMCarts.Community Facilitated Murals2I have facilitated 2 community murals.Strategic Decision Making2 Stakeholder Interviews4As a consultant to the Social Enterprise program of National Benevolent Association, I conducted many stakeholder interview processes.Focus Groups1 Neighborhood Canvassing3I have done a great deal of neighborhood canvassing to educate neighbors on issues related to displacement and gentrificationPop Up Activations4I have installed many placemaking and creative arts installations for community interaction.Live Performance as Engagement1 Social Media/Marketing1 Multilingual Assistance1 Community Engagement Plan2As director of QC Family Tree, I have led the staff to create community engagement plans.
I am a cultural strategist, artist facilitator, and community engagement activator rooted in the Enderly Park neighborhood of West Charlotte. I serve as the Director of QC Family Tree- an organization cultivating community for the common good through cultural organizing practices and community engagement. I am also a visual artist. For the past 15 years, a shared life and the practices of community engagement and creativity are what have kept me rooted.
As a community engagement specialist, I have facilitated neighborhood association meetings, helped to organize the West Side Community Land Trust; led workshops on solving community issues, and created environments that are welcoming and accessible that build relationships across racial and economic divides.
My facilitation style draws on culture and creativity to build relationships and develop community solutions to complex problems. New leaders and collective goals emerge from the collaborative process. I have facilitated workshops, retreats, and trainings on a variety of themes and topics including: Neighboring for Good, Mixed Media, Gardening, Asset Based Perspectives, Pottery, Small Experiments of Radical Social Impact, Group Building, Activating Narratives of Abundance, Practices of Anti-Racism, Thinking outside the box, and Principles, Measures, and Aesthetics for Social Change. My creative and generative leadership style has impacted a variety of social impact organizations including West Side Community Land Trust, QC Family Tree, National Benevolent Association, and Summer Communities of Service.
As an artist, I engage in an interdisciplinary practice, weaving stories together using mixed media, ceramics, needlework, and jewelry making techniques intermixed with community engagement, place making, and healing practices. My work exists at the intersection of art, community, justice, and place. The art I create expresses my deep and genuine love for this place and these people. I find that when I am able to embody what I believe, I am at my best. Sometimes that embodiment takes the form of color, shape, and design aesthetic and other times, that embodiment takes shape in movement, organizing, spiritual disciplines, and relationships.
Other issues my work addresses: racial equity, intersections, social justice, faith, church complicity, place. I also notice within me a desire to mark, through visual art, the change. I am interested in finding ways to build power and make social change through artistic practice. I am currently working on a rubric by which an artist could determine whether their artwork is building power.
My most recent visual art projects have centered around neighborhood based work including:
Visual Arts- Installations or online tours
The Saints- After Trevon Martin died and then Michael Brown, we heard our youth crying “that could be me.” The language of “thugs” and the negative messaging of black bodies was so very loud. Creating the saints was my way of remessaging, telling the truth this time. The saints are meant to say, “Young people, your lives matter. You matter. Your story matters. You are beautiful. You are loved.” [topics: racial justice, economic justice, faith, humanity, sacred]
Beloved- A piece made in conjunction with the West Side Community Listening Project incorporating painting, collage, ceramic tile, and wire. “I have lived in Enderly Park for 12 years. Many of the first neighbors I got to know have had to leave the neighborhood due to an increase in rental costs. I love the people and place I call home- at the corner of Tuckaseegee and Parkway. If I could, I would secure permanent housing for all of our Beloved and I would keep us close to each other so that we can continue to cultivate caring community with one another.”[topics: racial justice, economic justice, faith, humanity, housing, sacred] Recipient of 1st prize at South End Arts “Justice and Beauty” gallery show.
Creation- [in progress] A set of 8 ceramic totems representing one story of creation: void, light/dark, water/sky, plants, sun/moon/stars, sea life, animals, and rest. [joy, narrative, environment]
Reliquary: Evicted- Drawing awareness to and honoring the many who have been evicted from West side neighborhoods by uplifting evicted items within a sacred altar reliquary. Recording West side evictions locations, mapping neighborhood change, and creating an altar to for grieving loss as well as public education. [topics: racial justice, economic justice, faith, humanity, housing, sacred, place] Exhibited at McColl Center for Arts and Innovation, Mint Hill Arts, Alchemy at C3, and Cornwell Center. Recipient of 1st prize at South End Arts Show.
How Bright the Path- A community engaged and collaborative piece sponsored by “Art of Recycling” and Art and Science Council, working with Laurie Smithwick. Collaged stories from the neighborhood layered with monoprints from the streets in Enderly Park. This piece is currently exhibited in the Bette Rae Thomas Recreational Center on Tuckaseegee Rd. [ joy, narrative, housing, place, racial justice, humanity]
Ordinary Sacred- Exploring the sacred of the ordinary through miniature mixed media wall altars: curtains, garden, dishes, laundry, door.[joy, narrative, environment, sacred, humanity]
Stamps of Approval Impactful- Using the Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes in Arts for Change resource, I have created a series of stamps to use to communicate when an artist has made social impact with their work. I have used these stamps in thank you cards as well as in evaluation of workshops. [justice, organizing, antidote to scarcity, humanity, anti-racism]
Illuminary- A series of ceramic luminaries built in the shape of homes, each one housing one of the Neighborhood Saint Icons. [topics: racial justice, economic justice, faith, humanity, sacred] Work in Progress
Baptismal: Water of LIfe- a mixed media piece pointing out the economic and health disparities of geographic regions within Charlotte, asking questions about faith and church complicity in disparities. [topics: racial justice, economic justice, faith, humanity, housing, sacred, place] Exhibited at Alchemy at C3
Daylight’s Parament- a piece created during the 2021 Artist Theologian Residency at Myers Park Baptist Church. It is a hand sewn textile piece featuring poetry from community members and found objects.
Which Side Are You On?- a deconstructed stained glass interactive piece inviting people to consider the lens from which they view their community.
A Communitarian’s Almanac and Apothecary Guide- a 90 page printed zine featuring various topics such as: community building, getting to know the land, gardening, racial equity, and self care.
Community Engagement Workshops/Classes/Experiments
Rental Equity Dreams Party- a creative workshop generating solutions for increasing equity of renters [justice, organizing, antidote to scarcity, humanity, housing, anti-racism] Completed during McColl Center for Arts and Innovation residency. This 3 hour workshop invited community stakeholders to walk through a series of exercises to discover community created solutions for increased renters’ equity. Solutions from this workshop have influenced the affordable housing co-op of QC Family Tree.
Sanctuary- an installation of sacred objects for gallery view + elements such as song, guided meditation, public speaking. (Work in progress)[topics: racial justice, economic justice, faith, humanity, housing, sacred, place] Grant recipient from Alternate ROOTS
Abundance Lab- a collection of workshops, curricula, small group gatherings, and other interactive projects created by Helms and Greg Jarrell. The Abundance Lab materials and experiences awaken the imagination to possibilities of abundance. Helms and Greg Jarrell launched Abundance Lab in the fall of 2018 with a 6 week small group series at Covenant Presbyterian. Abundance Lab Live is a large group gathering that serves as an interactive intervention of the imagination, populating community solutions
Stamps of Impactful toolkit and workshop on measurements of social impact [justice, organizing, antidote to scarcity, humanity, anti-racism] This toolkit was used to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of several workshops and projects.
Easing Into Delight a 4 week online at-your-own-pace session featuring playlists, creative writing prompts, and guided practices devoted to igniting a sense of joy and delight after a very difficult year of tension and grief. Using the Google Classroom platform, participants engage with one another and the facilitator.
I continue to deepen my abilities for social impact and change by participating in continuing education training, cohorts, and collective partnerships such as:
Alternate ROOTS Executive Committee Board President; Artists as Change Agents Cohort; Innovation Institute: Creative and Connected Cohort
Community Organizing Training; Anti Racism/Pro-Reconciliation Training
Affiliation with Alliance of Baptists and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ);
Boundaries Training; Center for Arts and Activism Webinars; Marketing and Development Cohort with NBA; CBI Connected in Community Cohort; Liberating Church Project research and book writing team; Christian Community Development Association
My fees range according to the community budget and level of engagement.