Weaving the Streets & People’s Archive – December 2013

Our first Weaving the Streets & People’s Archive press release.

Introduction

Weaving the Streets & People’s Archive (WSPA) is a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary collaborative project that offers St. Lawrence University students, alumni, and others the opportunity to be part of a dynamic, global, investigative blog and a digital archive that document the creative range of ways in which ordinary people make use of public space to express themselves.  The goal is to bring together examples from a wide range of cultures and experiences so that people can build bridges, explore lines of solidarity and difference, and learn from the experiences of others.  The WSPA project draws on two existing initiatives with the goal of pushing each one forward while “weaving” them together in ways that will deepen their educational impact at St. Lawrence and increase their impact beyond the campus:

  • Street Art Graphics is a digital image archive project initiated in 2004 by Catherine Tedford, director of the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery.  The archive is available through the gallery’s Web site and features nearly 2,000 examples of street art stickers and street art graphics from Canada, England, Germany, Russia, Spain, and the United States.  Items are scanned and catalogued on an item-by-item basis for in-depth online access and research.
  • The Weave, headquartered in the Global Studies Department, is an independent news media project created in 2006 with the primary mission of spotlighting stories that are not receiving sufficient public attention. The project is directed by Professor and Chair of Global Studies Dr. John Collins and Jana Morgan ’07, National Director for Publish What You Pay (USA).  The Weave features investigative blogs as well as a video archive of short, provocative responses from artists, scholars, activists, and journalists to a series of “Big Questions” (e.g., “What is today’s most underreported story?”).  The Weaving the Streets blog can be found on the Weave at http://www.weavenews.org/content/weaving-streets.

Funded by a two-year Humanities Grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, WSPA will be implemented each semester by two to four students and/or young alumni in “cohorts” starting in the fall of 2013.  We are pleased to announce that four recent alumni have been selected for cohort #1, including Derek King ’12, Steve Peraza ’06, and Jordan Pescrillo ’12, all currently living and working in Buffalo, New York, and Łukasz Niparko ’13, from Poznan, Poland.  Two students who will be participating in off-campus study programs in the spring of 2014 have been selected for cohort #2.  Carolyn Dellinger ’16 will be working in London, England, and Sheila Murray ’15 will be working in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Cohort #1

Three St. Lawrence University alumni have begun collaborating on The Buffalo Exchange, a field research and blogging project that exemplifies the philosophy behind Weaving the Streets & People’s ArchiveThe Buffalo Exchange will help contextualize the visual and aural materials the alumni are collecting as part of their fieldwork.  A selection of these materials will be digitized, catalogued, geospatially tagged, and included in the Street Art Graphics digital archive, along with a condensed version of the contextual information provided in the blogs.

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(image credit: Mike Puma from Views of Buffalo)

Steve Peraza ‘06, a Ph.D. candidate in History at the University of Buffalo, is a veteran Weave contributor who has been blogging at The Poverty Report since 2008.  For The Buffalo Exchange, he will focus on the creation of community gardens on previously abandoned land in Buffalo.  As he documents these projects photographically, he will provide investigative blog content that examines contextual issues such as community empowerment, gentrification, and urban agriculture.

Derek King ‘12, an architectural historian with Preservation Studios (a Buffalo-based consulting firm specializing in historical preservation), will bring a keen eye for architectural detail and urban planning to The Buffalo Exchange.  His work will focus on the relationship between the city of Buffalo’s large-scale urban development initiatives and the many small-scale, grassroots efforts to revitalize communities that have been shaped by poverty and deindustrialization.  As a citizen journalist, he will seek out voices, examples, and lessons that may be otherwise left out of mainstream news and official political narratives.  Derek hopes to show that it is not big development projects that are “saving” or even defining this city’s revival, but the people there who live, play, and create who are driving Buffalo’s resurgence.

Jordan Pescrillo ‘12, who is based in the education sector through her work with ABLE (AmeriCorps Builds Lives through Education) and the International Institute in Buffalo, brings to The Buffalo Exchange a strong background in working with refugees from Nepal and elsewhere.  Her contributions to the project will focus on creating alternative and more accessible means through which members of refugee communities in Buffalo, particularly young people, can articulate their own perspectives on local issues and “speak back to the headlines.”  Her investigative blogging will provide detailed context surrounding the photographic and spoken-word materials that form the core of her fieldwork.

JordanPescrillo

In addition, Łukasz Niparko ’13, based out of Poznań, Poland, will examine aspects of housing and urban development through the lens of Rozbrat, one of the oldest occupied squats in the country, and Od:zysk [From: profit], a newer squat located near the historic market center in Poznań.  Łukasz will explore the squats’ initiatives for social change through street art, workshops, and other activities in response to the privatization and commercialization of urban spaces.  Lukasz also writes on the Weave for SOLIDARITY Avenue.

Aleje Solidarnosci

Cohort #2

Carolyn Dellinger ’16 began working on the Street Art Graphics digital archive in the fall of 2013, focusing on a rare collection of street art stickers dating from the late 1980s for the Antifa Jugendfront (Antifascist Youth Front) in Berlin, Germany.  She was trained in Photoshop to create master image files for each sticker and has also begun creating metadata for Description fields.  In the spring of 2014, Carolyn will study the wide range of innovative street art murals in London by such artists as Bansky and Space Invader to see how they relate to and comment upon socio-political issues facing England, such as racial tensions and unemployment.

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Sheila Murray ’15 chose to study in Costa Rica for the opportunity to pursue her interests in global studies, Spanish language, and environmental justice.  Her experience working with the local GardenShare non-profit organization and as a blogger for the Ecological Sustainability Landscape’s Summer at the Garden will be put to good use in the context of WSPA.  While abroad, Sheila will examine some of Costa Rica’s bold environmental actions, such as being the first climate neutral country in the world, from the ground up!

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