For Refugee Children in Baltimore and Their Teacher, Art Is a Safe Zone
Picturing a Home Away From Home That Is Free and Secure
I am an artist and educator pursing an MFA in Community Arts at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Last year, as part of my Master’s studies, I began teaching art to young refugees. The students were participants in the Baltimore City Community College Refugee Youth Project (RYP), a grant-funded organization that provides after-school programming for relocated kids. They were just a few of the thousands of refugees who had resettled in Maryland in recent …
Beekeepers and the Art of Urban Rebirth
How a Nature Sanctuary Eased the Sting of an Epic Public Housing Failure
The plight of public housing projects conceived with the best of intentions and then failing horribly is by now well-known in communities across America. Less known—and still unfolding—is the story of what happens next, both to the people who lived there and the physical spaces those projects inhabited.
As an artist and cultural activist in St. Louis, Missouri, I’ve long been interested in the relationship between physical space and the needs of people and communities—in what works and what doesn’t. About a decade ago, I began focusing this question on the site where once stood Pruitt-Igoe, one of America’s most notorious public housing failures. …
Sanctuary Is an Integral Part of Human Nature
People Have Always Offered Shelter to the Stranger in Need
Since Donald Trump’s election, I’ve had to change the focus of the talks I give at churches, community events, universities, schools, and bookshops about sanctuary and asylum.
I used to take audiences on a 125,000-year tour of these two venerable institutions. I’d tell them about bonobos, chimps, and baboons giving sanctuary to members of enemy primate communities; about the ancient custom of seeking sanctuary by touching the garment or body of a powerful priest or ruler; about 1,000 years of church sanctuary in England and other …