Sunday, January 17, 2010

Three Years Later....

WE ARE THE SONG - Songwriting Workshop
North Rampart Community Center
New Orleans. January 17th, 2009

Saturday, January 16, 2010

FROM LESLEY..... in New Orleans

Unbelievably, it's been THREE YEARS since we began working with the North Rampart Community Center. Amazin things have happened in those three years for both our Foundation and the Center. But this weekend we were able to send down five songwriters to work with about 20 kids in the WE ARE THE SONG songwriting workshop. Below is a report from our own Lesley Mazzotta who is down there with Randy Redd, Robin Sky and several others.

"Yesterday was joyous chaos here, but things are going really well. We had about 22 kids show up... we started the day with a lot of round robin talking... everyone introduced themselves, and Randy (Redd) lead two quick writing exercises... write four lines... to get the creative juices flowing. Then, we broke off into small groups for 8 line exercises and each of our teaching artists presented their works to the whole group as inspiration. We ended the evening with pizza and the film. Hannah & mom, Ashley & mom, Griffin & mom, Annie & mom, Eric (who's doing the program) & mom and April & granddad all came and enjoyed the film! There was really no Q&A afterwards... no real time. All of our OOTI kids looks great and are doing well.

Today, 16 kids came back, with more trickling in. Randy started by asking each kid to write a commercial about themselves and present it back to the group... to personalize the writing process and create a silly, fun environment. Everyone loved it - lots of laughter - and it brought the kids back into the work. Now, everyone is divided into small groups of 3-4, and they are taking all of their ideas from the past writing assignments and putting them together. Robin (Sky) has tons of great footage of the kids... I haven't taken lots of pictures yet but certainly will. We are still waiting for the MTI box, so we're going to get the kids in t-shirts to take photos from them. I'll send some along as soon as I have them.

Things are really good.... the workshop is really working, all the kids are participating... there is tons of diversity... they are into rap, R&B, soul, old from all around town. The kids are open and creative and excited and trusting our staff and the process. There is so much great energy in this place today! In fact, one kid, LuckyLou, just canceled going to watch the Saints at the Superdome because he's "having fun!" WOW!

Our team is totally jazzed and excited to be here. It's a great variety of talents and backgrounds, which makes them work well together and gives many different points of view to make the experience richer for the kids. Randy is overseeing the creative process brilliantly... shaking things up to see what works, how to make everything even better.

I've talked a lot with Coach and Joanne. Coach told us once again how happy he is that we are here, and thankful for all we are doing. They are "back in business" with over 200 kids... serving 50-60 a day. As you know, they still need money, but things are slowly moving forward. They have a new heating system, fire alarm system, the gym is newly painted and cleaned, the pool is completely renovated with the leak fixed, the shelves are packed with books.

Peg is making us cookies and buying us snacks.