The El Puente Green Light District Staff and key members of El Puente CADRE invited community members to partake in a community forum for the El Puente ¡WEPA! Project and address the questions: What is our vision for the future of the creative community in Los Sures and in what are concrete ways can we put this vision into action?
The event began with music (a recording of Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra's latest CD), light snacks and casual conversation among participants. El Puente Executive Director Frances Lucerna welcomed attendees, and GLD staff Anusha Venkataraman and Tina Orlandini shared a short presentation on the ¡WEPA! Project, including a video of CADRE edited by GLD Intern Jessica Cedano (see video below).
CADRE members, Valentina Velez-Rocha (left) and Miguel Hernandez (right) share in their small groups.
Participants then dug into the main portion of the forum--small focus groups divided by the subjects of Space, Professional Development, Funding & Support, Visibility (our Spanish speaking table), and Community Collaboration. Each table was invited to identify cultural places and spaces on maps created for El Puente and the ¡WEPA! Project by the Pratt Center for Community Development. In this "World Cafe" style forum, participants were encouraged to either spend the whole time at one table, or move around to engage in conversations pertaining to a different subject. Within the different focus areas, facilitators (most of whom are active CADRE members) guided each table in identifying current resources and assets for artists and cultural workers in Los Sures, where there are gaps and barriers, and concrete ideas to be implemented in the future and displayed on our Action Tree!
El Puente Beacon Facilitator, Rose Rivera presents feedback from her small group.
The room quickly filled with energy and ideas from varying perspectives. Attendees included local and foreign professional artists, cultural workers, El Puente staff members, community activists, political leaders, and more!
In the final activity of the night, volunteers from each group shared back their concrete ideas for a stronger creative and cultural community and then placed them on the Action Tree on our stage at El Puente Headquarters. The group was sent home with a fun homework assignment, ¡WEPA! Project forms indicating what resources are available in establishments that support the arts in Los Sures. Be on the look out for these visual markers! All are encouraged to spread the word about the ¡WEPA! Project and share forms of expression in the Southside by posting photos and other media on platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using #WEPAProject.
The forum closed with a ritual led by artist and El Puente's Wellness Specialist, Gloria Zelaya, and a photo of all who attended the forum.