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Mary Baldwin University

www.marybaldwin.edu/spencer-center

Mission: Mary Baldwin empowers leaders to pursue lives of purpose in a changing world.

Community Need: “Permeable Borders” is a long-term collaboration among MBU (through the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement), local organizations, and Walls of Hope, an international community-based organization dedicated to the mission of using art and public arts memorials as a way to bridge polarized ideologies and address community problems rooted in historical inequalities and conflict.  Through this collaboration, since 2012, children, youth, adults and the elderly have collaborated on arts-based projects at sites in Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County, resulting in stationary or traveling murals that visually transcribe shared stories, memories, and hopes, record and preserve community histories, and rely on the active participation of community members.  All participants are challenged to spend time listening and reflecting on intellectually and emotionally complicated subjects and to embrace the experience of working outside of their comfort zones, with the ultimate objective of building and restoring communities affected by violence, poverty, and/or conflict and supporting, educating and guiding children and youth.

Primary Activities: The Spencer Center offers courses and programming in civic engagement and service learning, including facilitating placement with local community organizations.  The Permeable Borders project has involved faculty and students from six different MBU courses over the years, indicating strong interest and support.  Momentum for this program has grown steadily since its inception in 2007 as they have been repeatedly invited to work with local children at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Detention Center and the Booker T. Washington Alumni Association.

Constituents Served: Direct services are provided to students enrolled in the Spencer Center’s course on Permeable Borders.  This project will provide services to local children who participate in activities through the Boys and Girls Club, students enrolled at Bessie Weller Elementary, Ware Elementary, or Shelburne Middle School in Staunton, and community members.

Program Details:  This year’s project will take place at the Booker T. Washington Community Center.  “History for the Future” will be created in collaboration with boys and girls, ages 6 to 14, who are members of the Boys and Girls Club of Staunton and Waynesboro and current students at Bessie Weller and Ware Elementary, or Shelburne Middle School in Staunton.  The collaborative mural will be painted on a portion of an existing interior wall located in the first floor of the Booker T. Washington building. Both the Booker T. Washington Alumni Association and the Boys and Girls Club have welcomed the project and accepted that the mural could extend into the corridor, providing a sense of continuation, as a “movable” history that is part of the theme that the young artists will investigate: How can we paint a mural about the past and about our future?  The success of these projects depends in no small measure on the three co-teachers from the Walls of Hope organization. They provide technical expertise to help coordinate the sometimes chaotic process of collaborative art production (especially when children are involved), as well as deep experience in addressing social conflict through creative production.

Amount Requested: $9,980

Operating Budget: $35,978

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