Art Matters: This Week in Daily Giving

Every day, along with a group of nearly 50 other people, I have the privilege of making seed grants to up and coming social change leaders around the world. The Pollination Project helps this community of daily givers identify new grantees. Here are the extraordinary people and projects that we supported this past week.

Art for Refugees on the Thai/Burma Border. Based in Mae Sot, on the Thailand border, home to over a hundred thousand refugees and migrants, Kick-Start ART is a community-based group that provides art classes and creative platforms to displaced children. Founded by Sara Rosen,
Kick-Start ART provides art lessons to children from migrant and refugee families in the community who are excluded from Thailand's formal education system. Kick-Start ART sends a a small team of art teachers -who are refugees themselves- into local migrant schools to execute lessons that focus on creativity, self-expression, experimental learning, and play. They also offer career support to local artists who would otherwise be forced to seek work in factories and day labor positions. In addition, they strive to engage the community to encourage creative thought.

Alternatives to the Caste System in India. Sivakamavalli Ramachandran is a social worker based in Pothanur, India. She is turning agriculture waste into useable plateware to eliminate the use of coated plastic disposable plates. Her project also provides an alternative livelihood for exploited Arunthathiyar young women, teaching them skills to sustain employment and income, ending their dependency on abusive caste landowners.

2015-01-28-ScreenShot20150127at3.51.07PM.pngPeacemaking through Sports in South Sudan. Charles Milla is a social innovator, development trainer and footballer living in South Sudan. Tribal conflicts and wars have been raging in South Sudan for more than two decades, and to many, peace has never been an option. His project, Sports for Life, offers sports clinics in Kajo-Keji County, South Sudan, assisting disadvantaged youth with health and fitness training. Charles sees sports as a tool for peace and conflict resolution. Through sports activities, youth from different tribes will be in position to play together also encouraging social integration.

A School on Wheels in California. Cory Brown & Marika Ramsden are environmental educators from Sebastopol, California wanting to transition human systems to be more resilient, sustainable, and in harmony with the planet. Their project, Schools of Sustainability [SOS], is a touring educational project, cycling the coast of California and visiting schools to give interactive and engaging student workshops on what sustainability means and how schools might be able to implement more sustainable projects into their community.

2015-01-28-ScreenShot20150127at3.49.24PM.pngAddressing Police Violence through Art in Charlotte, North Carolina. Juan Logan is an African-American artist who examines race and power, both economically and socially through his art. He is initiating the Waiting Project, as an interactive, traveling installation that creates a platform for public dialogue on police violence. The piece consists of twenty-eight pillars representing the twenty-eight African-American men killed in 2014 by police, and platforms for those who wish to stand with these men, or people they know as an expression of their concern. This traveling installation will be mounted in various communities around the Country. During the run of the installation, public dialogues will be facilitated at each site in partnership with local people. Juan explains, "We must all use our skills and passions to create a broader forum for conversation and action. This project is important, relevant, and means so much to millions of Americans who care about the outcome of police violence against African-Americans, and Americans as a whole."

Reproductive Health in Kenya. Paul Omweri, in partnership with the organization, RWAYDO, are working in Nyamira County, Kenya, to raise community awareness on reproductive health rights of girls and women, including addressing the legal and health implications of female genital mutilation (FGM). After establishing 7 FGM awareness and education clubs in primary schools in Nyamira County, 210 girls have already taken on the role of health advocates, spreading anti-FGM messages and contributing to the reduction of the practice locally. This expansion of his project will reach an additional 200 girls in the community.

Kindness to the Elderly in Houston, Texas. Leina Betzer is a high school student in Houston, Texas. Over the summer, Leina visited her 93 year old great-grandmother and wasn't able to communicate with her due to her grandmother's limited English. However, when Leina brought her guitar, they were able to truly connect for the first time. Singing and dancing lifted her spirits, and seeing her grandmother so happy gave her the idea to start her organization, Young at Art. Their mission is to provide entertainment for retired or nursing home residents.
Leina enlisted the help of fellow students at her Performing Arts High School, and they recently held their first performance.

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