10/18/08

The World As It Could Be: Where There’s A Will There’s A Way

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The World As It Could Be: Where There’s A Will There’s A Way

An original production created by Bay Area youth art organizations to educate and inspire youth and adults about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the importance of exerting the will to realize the world envisioned by the Declaration

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On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Following this historic act, the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read, and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories. The 30 articles of the Declaration articulate a vision of a world where all human beings have freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want.

Sponsorship supports the creative initiatives described below to fulfill the following objectives:

Overall: Educate and inspire youth and adults to further human rights for all people and have greater understanding of the type of individual and community engagement needed to compel constructive action.

Creatively develop a meaningful, on-going curriculum about human rights that can be utilized by schools;

Showcase the valuable work of local art programs that nurture the talents, critical thinking, and overall development of youth who are otherwise at risk because of their economic and social environments;

Provide youth the opportunity to voice their hopes, fears, and dreams about the world that could be,  and at the same time educate and inspire their peers and adults;

Provide youth the opportunity to experience the positive impact they can have on the world around them;

Inspire youth and adults to learn more about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the importance of their roles as engaged members of the community in bringing the words of the Declaration to life.

We thank the following organizations and individuals for their generous support of this initiative, helping to manifest the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Visionaries Extraordinaire
AT&T
Columbia Foundation
The Libra Foundation

Visionary
Christine Pielenz

Champions
Elm Advisors, LLC
Michael & Andrea Appleton
Dave Fortescue
Fred Gellert Family Foundation
Marsha & Ralph Guggenheim
The Lucasfilm Foundation
The 10,000 Lakes Festival
Turquoise Bridges



Background and Program Description

The World As It Could Be: Where There’s A Will There’s A Way is a continuation of the highly successful 2006 project called The World As It Could Be: A Declaration of Human Rights, where three non-profit organizations, under the creative direction of Ellen Sebastian Chang, created a 40 minute dramatization about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  There were two live performances, one on December 7th at the Presidio for a convening of leaders of Presidio non-profit organizations, and the other on December 8th at Balboa High School, as part of that School’s curriculum on human rights.  STUDIO BayCat videotaped the performance, DVDs were produced and distributed, and continue to be distributed as a teaching tool.

From the direct experience of the project, as well as follow-up meetings with the creative team, the students who developed and performed the dramatization, and the Assistant Principal and student representatives at Balboa High School, the following insights were gained regarding continuing this type of project and building on its foundation to increase its long-standing effectiveness:

Most of the youth and adults involved in the project, both presenters and audience did not know about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

The creative process provided a special opportunity for the participating youth to learn about the Universal Declaration, so as to have to really think about its significance and how to dramatize this;

The process of developing the dramatization provided valuable opportunities to carry out meaningful and compelling cross-generational conversations about the issues being addressed;

The dramatization was a highly effective vehicle to compel the attention of youth and adults.

In 2007 and 2008, the Rex Foundation is building on the work done in 2006 with the following three initiatives:

1. Published in the fall of 2007 the newsletter Perspectives on the Will to Change, to communicate ideas and perspectives about the nature of political will. The newsletter’s theme relates to the 1983 quote of Buckminster Fuller, in which he stated “We can now solve all the problems of hunger and need across the world, having all the available resources and technology; all that we need is the political will.” The newsletter includes interviews with three community leaders who provide perspectives on Green Planning, closing the digital divide, and factors that boost and diminish exertion of will.  The newsletter was mailed to 5,000 Rex Foundation supporters across the U.S. and made available online via the Rex Foundation website, blog and MySpace blog, with e-mail notices sent to encourage viewing and commentary by visitors across the Internet.

2. Develop the original production The World As It Could Be: Where There’s A Will There’s A Way, created by Bay Area youth art organizations to build on the first World As It Could Be dramatization, and convey the importance of exerting the “will” to realize the world envisioned by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The production will be developed by Destiny Arts Center, continuing their active role from the 2006 dramatization, under the direction of Ellen Sebastian Chang. Two other non-profit organizations have been invited to participate: Youth Movement Records (YMR) to create a musical anthem, and 826 Valencia to create a take-away booklet of essays and poems about human rights and the will to manifest them. On January 11, 2008 there was a performance at Balboa High School in San Francisco and on April 14, 2008 the performance will take place at Oakland Tech High School in Oakland.  The Balboa High School performance was videotaped for DVD production by STUDIO BayCat so that the DVDs can be distributed to other educational institutions and organizations throughout California and beyond for presentation at classes and forums focused on furthering human rights.  Materials have been developed for teachers and program leaders for preparatory and follow-up discussions to help reinforce the performance’s impact.

3. Develop a pilot curriculum with Balboa High School to use the experience of the dramatizations that have been presented via The World As It Could Be performances to develop the school’s own creative program and associated curriculum about human rights. With the guidance of Ellen Sebastian Chang and Destiny Arts Center staff, the school’s designated faculty and student groups will develop their own dramatization about human rights as directly relevant to more localized topics, and tie-in related school subjects such as creative writing and social studies, with the process documented for on-going duplication.  In December 2008, this dramatization will be presented at a full assembly at Balboa High School.  While carrying out this pilot, planning will take place to have the program approved as public school curriculum at the state and federal levels.


About the Participating Organizations

Destiny Arts Center, a Rex grantee based in Oakland, CA, uses dance, martial arts, theater and youth leadership training to teach youth to express their opinions creatively and artistically, while sharpening their critical thinking skills and cultivating discipline, toward the overall mission of  ending isolation, prejudice and violence in the lives of young people.

Youth Movement Records (YMR), a Rex Foundation beneficiary, is a youth directed recording company and youth development project, engaging youth through music, mentoring and entrepreneurship in order to reduce violence, develop skills and create community change.  YMR offers a hands-on opportunity for disadvantaged youth to explore their desire to make music and get involved in production.

826 Valencia, a Rex Foundation beneficiary, is dedicated to supporting students aged 6 to 18 with their writing skills and helping teachers get their students excited about writing.  Their work is based on the understanding that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success and that great leaps in learning can be made when skilled tutors work one-on-one with students.  Teams of volunteer tutors work with students to fill the gap of overcrowded classrooms, providing undivided attention and inspiration to students.

STUDIO BayCat is the professional arm of BAYCAT, providing fee-based media and marketing services to corporations and non-profits.  BAYCAT, a San Francisco program uses digital media arts as the vehicle to engage youth positively in their lives, in school and in society.  BAYCAT provides after-school digital media arts training to students from San Francisco’s socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhoods with the mission to inspire the participating youth to develop their unique talents and create enriching and productive futures for themselves and their communities.  The students that participate in BAYCAT’s after-school program are candidates to be hired as interns for the professional projects, such as the video-taping of the Rex Foundation human rights dramatizations.

The International Convention on Human Rights Research Project, involved in the 2006 project, educates people about the evolution of International Human Rights documents, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and European Convention of Human Rights, and provides a process for individuals, organizations and governments to draft a new human rights document enforceable for all people internationally. This program is an initiative of the Center on Global Challenges and the UC Berkeley School of Law. The website of the Center “ www.humanrights.berkeley.edu provides a curriculum corner that schools can access, and will include in addition to ICHR’s own curriculum, the videos of  The World As It Could Be dramatizations.

The San Francisco School District and Mayor’s Liaison to the Public Schools, both involved in the 2006 project.