Can Books Build Community?

Putting California’s Inland Empire on the Literary Map

Ahtziri and I are sitting on a stone garden bench outside the church in Riverside, California, where my children take piano lessons. In her hand is a stack of papers—typed forms for me to sign, neatly handwritten manuscript pages, and sketches of fictional characters with names and biographical information.

I have been asked to mentor Ahtziri, a 17-year-old high school senior, through the process of writing a novel for her A.P. English class. I am not a novelist, but I am a poet, and I direct a nonprofit—the Inlandia Institute—whose mission …

When Choreography and Secrets Collide

A Collaborative Art Project Seeks to Turn Community Memories Into Dance

Does a work of art have to be created by one person with a singular vision? Our experience says “no.”

Art-making also works when a group of specialized artists—or even …

Bankrupt San Bernardino is Rich in the Arts

To Advance Its Revival and Change the Narrative, the City Should Invest in Creativity

The arts could help revive San Bernardino—its streets, businesses, neighborhoods, and urban core—by encouraging visitors, sparking new development, and giving the city new narratives.

That was the conclusion of a panel …

Struggling Cities Can Find a Voice Through Art

Accessible Spaces for Creativity Can Change a Community's Narrative from Within

In 2012, San Bernardino, California, filed for bankruptcy with more than $1 billion in debt. The city, about 60 miles east of L.A., is still climbing out from the devastation …

How a City Hopes to Fulfill New Dreams

San Bernardino Is Creating Space and Community for the Arts

In Southern California, most people know about San Bernardino and its ongoing municipal bankruptcy. Last summer, the L.A. Times called the city a “symbol of the nation’s urban woes.”

But most …

Don’t Be So Snooty, Small Towns Have Museums and Performing Arts, Too

The Problem Is That Too Many People Feel Unwelcome in Galleries and Theaters

Growing up, my siblings and I were surrounded by art. In our house, jazz and opera were always playing, literature lined the shelves, and the work of local artists hung …