At the heart of the “Sounds Beyond Barriers” project is a unique and powerful collective process that Quetzal Flores and Martha Gonzalez (of the LA-based band Quetzal) learned from Zapatista communities in southern Mexico. This process is distinct in how it emphasizes the participation and input of each member. Primary objectives are to bring diverse groups together and to build community.
I first witnessed this work during a workshop that Flores and Gonzalez facilitated at a high school in Houston, Texas in 2011. The experience made a strong impression on me. In particular, I was struck by how everyone in the room, including the facilitators or so-called “experts,” was given the opportunity to engage as equals in the creative process. What I experienced was empowering on individual and collective levels while simultaneously offering a potent hands-on learning opportunity. This was achieved through the introspection, reflection, critical thinking and ultimately self-expression that are indispensable elements of the creative process.
Inspired by this experience, I co-organized a successful project with Iris Viveros in 2013 at the Seattle World School on Capitol Hill. In one week an international team of seven teaching artists engaged 35 students and created 2 original songs which were performed for 150 people at a public showcase at Youngstown Cultural Arts center in Delridge. “Sounds Beyond Barriers” was born.
The World School project was featured on What’s Good 206, a local all-ages community-based magazine…
Here’s a documentary about the World School project created by Scott Macklin, Associate Director of the Masters of Communication in Digital Media program and the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the College of Education at the University of Washington. Scott runs Open Hand Reel with his wife Angelica.
Last spring, six teaching artists from Seattle & LA spent a week at the King County Juvenile Detention Center in Seattle with an amazing group of youth. Together they wrote three songs. This most-recent incarnation of Sounds Beyond Barriers included youth & staff at KCJD, Martha Gonzalez, Ph.D., Quetzal Flores, Stephany Hazelrigg, Teresa Bazan, Alex Chadsey and Scott Macklin. It was made possible with support from the Jubilation Foundation and the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.
Once again, big ups to Scott for creating this beautiful video documenting the experience!