Staying Power is an arts, policy, and participatory action research fellowship coordinated by ACCE, the Haas Institute, RYSE, and the Safe Return Project. The 2017 Fellows were: William Edwards, Safe Return Project; DeAndre Evans, RYSE; Ciera-Jevae Gordon, RYSE; Sasha Graham-Croner, ACCE; Noe Gudino, ACCE; and Satina Shaw, Safe Return Project.
The six-month fellowship began with the fellows sharing personal narratives and then building context around these stories through analyzing the structures and systems that impact their lives. The fellows met weekly to engage in a wide variety of activities including: creative work such as root cause and personal history mapping, photo-stories, tableaus, and collective writing exercises; readings such as the Richmond Marketing Research Report commissioned by the mayor’s office and Richmond Main Street Initiative, and academic or journalistic pieces on housing issues in Richmond; skills trainings including project planning, video training, and interview question development; and project work and group feedback. The group used these activities to identify overlaps, disconnects, core themes, and needs in their own communities' narratives and experiences. This process informed the design and implementation of arts and culture projects, which then informed fellows’ ongoing relationship to these issues.
Highlights of the Staying Power Fellowship include:
• Over six months, held over 35 interviews and informal conversations with current and former Richmond residents about the topics of housing and belonging to inform the different project outcomes and directions of the group.
• Attended community meeting on the closing of the Las Deltas Housing site in North Richmond.
• Designed and implemented interactive activities for the lobby of “Richmond Renaissance,” a play written by Staying Power fellow DeAndre Evans and produced by RYSE.
• Performed a collective poem at the Richmond Citywide Housing Symposium, the Richmond City Council, and a Section 8 homeownership workshop by Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services.
• Hosted two 90-minute workshops on designing the “know-your-rights” mural with Safe Return Project and ACCE. Sixteen attendees gave feedback and input into the mural.
• At Manor Housing (now Monterey Pines), fellow Ciera-Jevae Gordon facilitated eight writing workshops for Richmond children aged five to ten about housing and belonging.
• Fellow Ciera-Jevae Gordon created a book of 10 poems based on interviews with Richmond residents that included images and interviewers notes.
• Fellow Sasha Graham-Croner co-led the design and creation of a large-scale (60’x12’) “know-your-rights” mural about recent housing laws passed in Richmond, including two community paint days.
• Fellow Noe Gudino co-wrote a draft “source of income” ordinance and began exploring possibilities for a “reusable screening report” ordinance.