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Cross-Country Collaboration

During this year’s Summer Institute, in addition to wonderful participants from all over the country, Community-Word Project (CWP) had the pleasure to host staff members from the Memphis Music Initiative (MMI). Five staff members traveled all the way from Tennessee to not only partake in the rich social justice training provided during Summer Institute, but to explore how that work could impact their organization directly with an additional customized training day.

This collaboration has been months in the works, beginning in November, when MMI staff members Janet Thompson, Lecolion Washington, and Morgan Beckford traveled to New York to observe and participate in one of the Saturday trainings that are an essential part of the Teaching Artist Project (TAP).

After an in-depth session where the MMI staff viewed collaborative lesson plan presentations from our 2016-17 class, the partnership was sealed, with plans to customize a training day specifically tailored to the Memphis organization’s needs.

Program Director Patti Chilsen then began to work closely with MMI to structure a training series that would work for them. It included flying five MMI staff members to New York to take part in CWP’s annual three-day Summer Institute, with an additional customized day following immediately after. The additional training would focus on MMI’s Spheres of Influence within the organization and impact on the populations they serve.

In July, the five participants (Janet Thompson, Ty Boyland, Sabrina Hu, David Bassa, and Tonya Dyson) traveled to Harlem and took part in Summer Institute. They created collaborative performance pieces, poetry, contributed to meaningful discussions about social justice pedagogy, took social action, and were an essential part of this awe-inspiring community of artists and administrators from around the country.

“One of the most helpful aspects of day two was the privilege circle. My favorite moment happened during the unified understanding that we may not always agree, but we all fight for the same end result.” - Ty Boyland