Youth Captures: Our Life After Hurricane Michael (A Youth-led Photo Voice Project)
Hurricane Michael made landfall at 2 pm EDT on October 10, 2018 in Bay County, FL with top sustained winds of 155 mph; altering the lives of families profoundly to this day. One of the greatest challenges has been housing. Thousands of families have been displaced from their homes, leaving climate-induced trauma to children.
Bay District Schools has been reporting on this trauma, and continuously advocates for resources and support for their students. Five months after the hurricane, Bay Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt spoke before the State Board of Education about homelessness and the mental health struggles of Bay County Schools.
“More than 70 percent of the apartments in Panama City are uninhabitable. Before the storm, there were 738 homeless students in the district. Now, there are more than 4,800,” Husfelt shared, “[There have been 700] Community of Care referrals to mental health agencies. We’ve had 70 Baker Acts since we’ve reopened, 35 since Feb. 25th, 62 since Christmas Break.”
As school begins this Fall and almost a year after Hurricane Michael, the effects of the storm continue to linger. Families are still living in temporary or sub-standard housing, including: RVs, tents, sheds, cars, substandard trailers or houses, living with friends or families, FEMA trailers, hotels, motels, and weekly rentals with no lease.
This Photo Voice project is meant to help 10 teens in Bay County, Florida share their stories in their own voices, with their own pictures, and see the world through their eyes. It will be a close look into the reality that they and their families have to endure. With their photos, people will see the stories that aren’t usually covered by traditional media.
Initially, their photographs will be shared with the Bay County Community during a special event later this year, and subsequently with other coalitions and organizations via a pop-up exhibit.
The life journeys of our youth inform our future. Lived events shared in personal stories have the power to open hearts and minds, and inspire us to collective action. People can change their communities for the better, and understanding the lives of people in difficult circumstances better prepares us to work together to change conditions that affect their lives.
What is a Photo Voice Project?
Photo Voice is a process in which people – usually those with limited power due to poverty, language barriers, race, class, ethnicity, gender, culture, or other circumstances – use video and/or photo images to capture aspects of their environment and experiences and share them with others. The pictures can then be used, usually with captions composed by the photographers, to bring the realities of the photographers’ lives home to the public and policy makers and to spur change.
About The Exhibit:
The exhibit will consist of 10 stories, with 5 images associated with each. The images will be printed on canvas; and a QR code will enable visitors to scan the code and listen to the narratives in the teens’ voices. If the budget allows, there will be a printed booklet of the images and accompanying narratives.
Who are the Collaborating Partners?
Our partner in Bay County is well positioned to support youth: LEAD County Coalition of Bay County. LEAD is an acronym for Leadership, Empowerment, and Authentic Development.
The mission of LEAD Coalition of Bay County is to facilitate collaborative work toward increasing safety, building trust, and restoring neighborhoods in the City of Panama City and its surrounding areas. The LEAD Coalition of Bay County is a diverse, public-private partnership among a cross sector community organizations and agencies.
What are the Project Specifics?
Location: Project participants will meet weekly and at the LEAD Coalition’s Special Event unveiling the exhibit.
Timeline: September 2019 – November 2019
Point of Contact: The Project Manager will be a young adult affected by the Hurricane Michael housing crisis, and Ana Maria De La Rosa, Senior Grassroots Organizer for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee will facilitate the project.
What is the process for this Photo Voice project?
- Kickoff Meeting with UUSC facilitator
- Photography and Weekly Gatherings with the Project Manager
- Photo Selection and Narrative Polishing with UUSC facilitator
- Exhibit Preparation with all partners assisting
The Budget Narrative:
Dollars donated to this campaign will be used to print the photographs on canvas, and prepare them for display. Funds will also be used to prepare the exhibit itself, including preparing the QR codes to accompany the display and the recordings prepared by the students.
The cameras, stipend for the Project Manager from Bay County, and funding for the UUSC facilitator will be funded by UUSC.
LEAD Coalition will provide grant administration, event planning for the exhibit showcase, and coordination with the high school. The high school will provide the meeting space, and facilitate the identification of students to participate in the project.
Suggested Budget Spending:
Ana Maria De La Rosa Covered by UUSC
Project Manager Stipend Covered by UUSC
10 Cameras Covered by UUSC
Exhibit/QR Code Supplies $500
(To be covered by the UUJF Faithify Campaign)
50 Photos on Canvas $2,000
(To be covered by the UUJF Faithify Campaign)
Ana Maria De La Rosa Covered by UUSC
Grant Administration Covered by the LEAD Coalition
Exhibit/Gala Covered by the LEAD Coalition
Growing Green Burial the UU Way
In November 2016, Heritage Universalist Unitarian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, created Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary LLC, a non-profit 501(c)3 with the mission of “providing a natural or ‘green’ burial option in Greater Cincinnati while preserving a part of God’s creation for future generations.” Now, nearly three years later, we are in contract to purchase and preserve 40 beautiful acres of farmland in a rapidly developing suburb just east of town — land that would otherwise almost certainly become yet another shopping center or subdivision filled with cookie-cutter suburban homes.
Green burial is a growing movement in the U.S., designed to stop our culture’s wasteful and environmentally harmful burial practices by returning to age-old human rituals and traditions: simple, dignified burial without concrete vaults, metal caskets, or toxic embalming. Heritage Acres will be only the third such burial preserve in the state of Ohio, and the only one of its kind within a 150-mile radius of Cincinnati. And without a doubt, it will be the first green burial sanctuary in the world created and owned by a Unitarian Universalist church.
Our contract requires us to close on the purchase by Nov. 1, or the property will go back on the market and, most likely, be bought up by a developer. To date we have raised a little more than $250,000 of the $300,000 purchase price. In this Faithify proposal we are seeking just one percent of the total amount needed to buy and preserve this land — $3,000. Here’s your chance be part of the one percent! (Donors, if they wish, will receive a limited-edition “Donate Your Body to Nature” green burial bumper sticker to proudly display on your Prius, refrigerator, or wherever you like…).
By now we can almost hear you asking, “What will happen after you have bought the land?” Glad you asked! With an active and engaged Board that includes one member who has previously overseen a green burial preserve elsewhere — and with rules and regulations, zoning and other infrastructure already in place — Heritage Acres is ready to go operational and expects to be open to the public by the end of the year. Then, as with other green burial sanctuaries nationwide, we will use the fees paid by families for burial to maintain and preserve the land in a natural state, in perpetuity.
Learn more about us, and our vision for spreading the good news of natural burial, by visiting our website at heritageacresmemorial.org. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/heritageacresmemorial, or follow us on Instagram at instagram.com/greenburialcincy.
“Building a Movement...
The “Building a Movement for a Green New Deal” conference is designed to spark conversation and action to bring about legislation which addresses the climate crisis and economic inequality. Hopefully after the 2020 election there will be an opportunity to enact powerful legislation which will move our country away from a carbon based systems and toward renewable energy while creating well paying jobs for all. This legislation can be found in House Resolution 109, known as “The Green New Deal”.
“Building a Movement for a Green New Deal” conference will provide the language and ideas for participants to build support for the Green New Deal and to bring this language back to their congregations and communities.
The conference begins September 15 at 11:15 a.m. after the Sunday service at All Souls Unitarian church in Washington D.C. Reverend Rob Keithan, the Justice minister at All Souls, will lead a program in grounding the efforts of “Building a Movement for a Green New Deal” in Unitarian Universalist values. This will be followed by a keynote panel discussion led by notable local Unitarian Universalist activists in the environmental movement. Following there will be a panel discussion of a coalition of UU organizations with UU’s Ministry for the Earth, UU’s for Social Justice and UU’s for a Just Economic Community discussing ways to work together toward a Green New Deal.
Partnering with UU’s for a Just Economic Community for the conference “Building a Movement for a Green New Deal” include: UU’s Ministry for the Earth, UU’s for Social Justice, All Souls Unitarian Church, UU Service Committee, UUA and Side with Love.
On September 16 after a light breakfast there will be presentations from experts and persons of influence speaking on the intersection of environmental and economic issues.
On September 17 at 8:30 am the conference participants will gather in the Capital Visitor’s Center to hear speakers, deliver letters to representative offices and speak with staff of the elected officials encouraging support for the Green New Deal.
Ramapough Lenape Art...
STRETCH GOAL ADDED: $800 – see below for details.
I am running this program as part of my internship for Community Ministry, with the Center for Earth Ethics, supporting indigenous rights and climate justice. My home congregation is the Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains, NY, my internship committee is at All Souls, NYC.
The Rampough Lenape are the original peoples of Connecticut, Rockland to southern New York and northern New Jersey. They are recognized by the state of New Jersey, but are not federally recognized, due to prejudice and racism. They continue to live in their ancestral lands and continue to experience encroachment by various entities. They have experienced toxic dumping on their lands which has caused cancer clusters and decimated many in the community.
Like many communities in the country, the Ramapough have had to deal with the effects of the opioid epidemic. The proposed after school program, Art & Literacy Lab, is a way to bring an educational program to the Ramapough youth, to allow them to process their concerns through literacy, art and creative expression and to create art connected to their Ramapough Lenape heritage.
The first session will begin with a small meal, followed by a sharing circle, where participants will discuss their interests in order for me to assess how to go forward. We will discuss how we will interact as community, setting norms or rules of engagement, in order to create a safe space. I will share with them my notebooks which demonstrate using art to create poetry. I will show them a selection of an image for them to respond to in writing. After they have written their response, they will share their observations for discussion. There will be individual work for students to choose literature from a variety of sources offered. The individual session will allow me to provide one on one support where needed. (Subsequent sessions will begin with a meal, sharing circle for check in and a sample piece of literature.)
A menu of options will be available for creative expression through writing, such as re-writing an ending, writing from another character’s perspective or changing one’s identity. Students could change a text to become a graphic novel, write a rap, continue journaling. Materials will be provided for drawing, painting, collage, modeling with clay. Use of DVD’s on history and culture will also be used in the program.
This program is a four-week, eight session program, two hours on Monday and Tuesday from 3:30-5:30. The program will begin in mid-March and end in mid-April. By the end of the program, students will have created a project to show to their families at the close.
I am a retired DOE teacher/administrator who has taught special education to Middle School students. The program will serve students from age 11-17. The funds raised will pay for books, journals, art materials, snacks for students and pay for gas and tolls to Mahwah, NJ from Westchester.
RAMAPOUGH Lenape NATION (MUNSEE)
March 6, 2019
To Whom It May Concern,
We at the Ramapough Lenape Community Center are looking forward to having an After-school program this spring. The Art and Literacy Lab will be a pilot program, six-weeks long, twelve sessions and will begin the work of providing an educational outlet for our middle to high school age students. I am looking forward to seeing our children engage in literacy and producing art work that they can be proud of as well as have the opportunity to engage in history and cultural practices. This is invaluable to our community and Mrs. Thombs is an experienced educator who will provide this program for us.
I heartily endorse The Art and Literacy Lab and am hoping that this program gets the funding support as it will greatly benefit our children.
Chief Dwaine Perry
Climate Impact & Environmental Inequity: Toward Justice for All
This assembly will promote dialogue among Environmental Justice Leaders, and with people of faith and conscience in order to foster relationships, catalyze collaborative efforts, and increase civic engagement.
We would like to provide scholarships to community leaders, who are fighting to get their neighbors organized to protect health and safety on the frontlines of climate change in the state of Florida; where existing inequities in infrastructure investment and disaster response compound chronic environmental health challenges posed by proximity to traffic and industrial waste in low income communities of color. After last year’s Assembly, FL-iCAN! decided to return to Parramore this year, to provide tours during the Assembly, to take up climate equity, and to involve leaders from Florida Environmental Justice communities on the frontlines of Climate Change in the design of the 2019 Assembly.
UUJF and the other affiliates of FL-iCAN! value the participation of the EJ leaders in the design of the assembly. The EJ Leaders have completed a survey regarding what programming would be meaningful for them. Lawanna Gelzer, the community leader from Parramore who will be coordinating the tours, has been serving on the Steering Committee Circle this year, and participating in program design. Programming will include: story and best practice sharing, tours of the Parramore neighborhood, communication skill-building, and time for praise and celebration of what’s been accomplished.
Here are some of the environmental justice leaders we would like to provide scholarships so they can attend:
Eric Bason is a resident of Shorecrest, Miami, which sits on some of the lowest lying land in Miami. He participated as a community leader in a UUJF Rising Together project in 2017 that addressed tidal flooding, and the public health effects of climate change in his neighborhood. He is currently providing leadership for his community in the Florida Disaster Resilience Initiative to increase resilience and hurricane preparedness, and to advocate for infrastructure upgrades.
Lawanna Gelzer is the founder of the Community Empowerment Project in Parramore, Orlando, a historically black community surrounded by highways, with two Superfund sites that have released volatile organic compounds and petroleum by products into the environment. Orlando has also created an Economic Opportunity Zone that is also a Brownfield area. This provides incentives for remediation of the toxins, and requires redevelopment after remediation. The Brownfield policy has fueled aggressive gentrification and displacement, and provides no funding for residents to test for toxins on their property. Lawanna’s non-profit, The Community Empowerment Project, educates residents about the environmental toxins, has advocated for a community health disparities study, and opened dialogue with the city about moving the dumpster storage site away from homes, where residents complain of rodents.
Crystal Johnson is the founder of Community Forum Foundation, Inc., a non-profit in Dunbar, Ft. Myers that supports programs that help children and families living in underserved areas, and empowers the community through education and collective collaborations. In addition to their work on improving communication between parents and schools; promoting dialogue among the faith community, the police and the community; and promoting wellness, the Foundation is taking on hurricane preparedness to address the inequities in disaster response experienced after Hurricane Irma.
Janice Lucas is a civic leader in Panama City in Bay County, which is still in a critical phase of recovery from Hurricane Michael. In her position as After School Program Director of the LEAD Coalition of Bay County, Janice has seen the effects of Hurricane Michael on her community, and especially on families with children. She is currently working with a church to create a micro enterprise loan fund to offer startup business loans that have training or education as a requirement.
Kina Green-Phillips lives in South Bay, Florida, where she has started Her Queendom Ministry to teach girls and women about how to protect their health and the health of their families. A big part of that is learning the truth about the “black snow”: ash that falls from the sky when the sugar companies burn the fields. Kirin is providing leadership for her community in a Sierra Club effort to get Green Harvesting rather than sugar cane burning due to its effects on the health of residents and their quality of life.
Here is the portion of the Assembly Budget devoted to Scholarships for Environmental Justice Leaders:
Environmental Justice Expenses
|Van for Parramore Tours|
|Scholarships (EJ Community Guests: 8 Traveling Guests/Spokespersons + 17 Parramore residents)||25||$60||$1,500|
|Guest/Spokespersons||Quantity||Attendees||Tax & Surcharge||Unit Cost||Line Item Total||Category Total|
|Food not covered by Assembly fee||4||8||$1||$15||$480.90|
|Total EJ Expenses||$3,799|