In my role of being both a Board Member and fiscally sponsored project, it is my hope to create a strong network of people helping people realize their visions for a better world and society. To do this, I put out a call to all of the IAM projects asking them if they wanted to join me in launching fundraising campaigns on IndieGogo because you know funding is crucial to ALL of our success.
I am calling it Cooperative Campaigning, and its main goal is simple: cross-polination between projects, audiences, and funding. You see, I don't believe in the old model of competition. It's so 20th century. It is the root of that greedy thing called capitalism. And it is ruining our social good because even non-profits who are supposed to be all about their mission become radically competitive when money gets involved.
There were about six of us that came together to start working on campaigns with a hopeful launch date of September 12, 2013. Well...none of us made that exact launch date cause, you know, life happens (especially when you're broke and need to still pay bills by working that cafe job). But what did happen is a network started forming. I know now more intimately the goals and dreams of independent artists, media makers, and producers. And we are all supporting each others work in incredibly profound ways: referring funders, making connections to international education organizations, getting programming into schools, providing crucial feedback at critical times, and even more.
Two of us did launch campaigns. 14 Black Poppies and Project Luz. You can find out all about my campaign here. It's called CAT'S Got Talent. But enough about 14 Black Poppies and IAM. It's time for you to learn about the amazing work of Project Luz, which is spearheaded by my friend (so glad I can call her that now) Jasmin Lopez.
AND...PLEASE DONATE, SHARE, COMMENT, ENGAGE with PROJECT LUZ!! It's life altering work happening in Mexico.
I started Project Luz in 2007 with the idea of running an arts education program in my family’s hometown - Ejido Hermosillo, Mexico. The inspiration for the program was my cousin, Rafa, who my siblings and I looked up to as a child. As my sister best puts it, he was the leader of our pack. He taught us how to appreciate the dirt roads and simple pleasures of our family’s town. Rafa wasn’t afforded the basic resources or opportunities that we were fortunate to have and struggled much of his life - an all too common occurrence. It often broke my heart to hear news from my family, and made me wonder what challenges the next generation were facing. So, I did what I could and figured out a way to answer that question or at the very least provide a creative outlet for youth, to the best of my own abilities. The first project offered photography, painting, musical workshops to 117 students, and took place in April 2007 thanks to contributions from our supporters and the hard work of ten Los Angeles and San Francisco-based artists and educators.
The amount of support I received was overwhelming to say the least. The initial lessons, even more so. As Project Luz evolved, so did my direction and vision. I realized that the youth were drawn to photography, and that it was an accessible and effective tool for storytelling. Later that year, I sought out two outstanding photojournalists that accepted my request to collaborate. Not only did they accept without a doubt, they were in Ejido Hermosillo within a month, and working with youth that summer. I watched them, and six others, channel their passion for photojournalism into their work with these youth. It was inspiring to watch them grow, and a gift to learn from them.
Over the next few years, collaborations with many individuals and organizations continued, and Project Luz flourished. In 2008, we began our work in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico. We were introduced to Talleres Comunitarios, a community center in Neza, and the 20 youth we work with to this day.
Why do I do this work? This is the question that I am often asked and continuously return to. To answer this, I take a look at the history of the project, the individuals and communities I have worked with, and the personal and professional lessons they have taught me. I can’t discount the generosity, support, and hard work of the mentors, students, and Raul Solis of Talleres Comunitarios. They are what make Project Luz such an inspiring project, and what keeps me moving forward.
When allowed, collaboration leads to lessons leads to growth leads to community.
Read an article about Project Luz here.
AND...Follow Project Luz on Twitter: @Project_Luz @JasminMara @DarcyHoldorf @Talleres_Neza