Category: The Poietic Power of Artistic Expressions

Kids’ Cafe

Over the last six weeks, we have had the opportunity to aid the community partner Hope Station Opportunity Area: Carlisle or more well-known as Hope Station. Launched in 2000, Hope Station was created with its first substantial grant support from Allfirst Bank. As a non-profit organization, Hope Station was designed to enhance the quality of life, health, safety, and economic opportunities for the people who live in the neighborhood. With programs such as H.I.R.E. Plus Program: Helping Individuals Retain Employment, Health Fair/Back to School Bash, Juneteenth Celebration, and more, Hope Station has significantly impacted the Carlisle community in its short sixteen years of existences. During our time at Hope Station we focused on finding ways to improve their after school program, Kids’ Cafe. The Kids’ Cafe provides the youth of Carlisle, typically Black and/or low-income, a daily after school snack during the week. We have been focusing on the distribution of healthy foods and gradual elimination of unhealthy foods. The importance of our project was not only to provide  healthy food but more importantly to introduce healthier eating habits.

In terms of social justice, the work we have been doing has been centered around food justice. As defined by the Just Food organization, which focuses on the empowerment of NYC neighborhoods through the integration of urban farming, “Food justice is when communities choose to exercise their right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food”. The importance of being able to access healthy food options is imperative for maintaining good health. Accessible food options are often confined to corner stores in urban communities. Corner stores offer no fresh food options and an abundance of unhealthy foods. When a community is presented with a corner store on each corner that provides low costing foods, it’s luring the community to eat unhealthy. This pressing issue is why food justice efforts are a necessity and should be brought to the attention of not only the affected community but the whole city as it is a city issue. We hope our contribution to the food justice initiatives of Hope Station can be a part of the foundation that gradually brings attention to this city issue.

Personal Narrative: Legacy Watkins 

Kids Café provides food for over 100 kids on a daily basis, ages ranging from Pre-K to high school. The past 3 months I have spent over 2 hours per week making sandwiches and snack bags to give to the kids. Our initial goal was to find healthy food to give the kids after school and develop a weekly menu. The kids were surveyed on what they would like to eat and also were allowed to taste foods that could be added to the menu. Finding healthy foods that the kids want to eat was challenging. Fresh fruits such as strawberries, apples, bananas, and oranges seem to go well with the kids. In addition to making fruit part of their after school snack, a 100% fruit juice or water was added as a healthier drink option. We are continuously trying to find ways to improve the methods of how we grow food and the ways in which we eat it. We are currently in the process of trying to start a garden at Hope Station in effort to teach kids about healthy food and how to grow it themselves. If Hope Station Kids Café were to start a garden it would not only give the kids a great learning experience of social justice through food or food justice but also help them make healthier choices and be mindful of where the food they consume comes from. The garden can provide education about the ethics of care directly relating to food because it involves caring for the well-being of the land and workers. Also by starting a garden we give the community access to organic foods, which the Hope Station could choose to turn into a business to keep money in the Black community.

Food is a basic human right in which every individual should have access to healthy, nutritious food sufficient for a healthy living. Food is not only a source of nutrition but also a way for communities to connect because it is multicultural, anti-racist, and anti-sexist. Although some food stereotypes can bring negative notions to a marginalized group of people it is used as a way to unify people. After taking a course at Dickinson called African American Foodways, I learned that food was used to create communities and also communicate trust and love. At Hope Station Kids Cafe this can be shown through the bonds we have began to form with the Carlisle community as Dickinson students through food.

The media doesn’t directly highlight healthy food access as often as they highlight other social justice issues such as racism and sexism. Each of the issues are equally important and each are connected. Racism is fighting for the economic and social advancement of a marginalized group of people based on race which directly relates to food justice because food has become a weapon to self-destruction based on race and economic standing. There are no grocery store or organic stands near Hope Station that permits access for the Black community to healthy food. This is often the case in urban communities and we are taking necessary steps  to better that. The work done at Hope Station Kids Café supports the argument of unity through oppression that can be received from articles such as Power, Justice & the Environment: A Critical Appraisal of the Environmental Justice Movement.  The Kids Café ultimate goal is to provide children access to a healthier menu and education, while also forming relationships through food.

My experience at Hope Station Kids Café has been a great experience and beneficial to my idea of social justice. I am appreciative to have had the opportunity to work with Hope Station’s Kids’ Cafe. It has been a mind opening experience to my privilege on Dickinson’s campus and also furthered my knowledge of what I perceive as one of the most undermined injustices of today’s society. I hope to continue to work with Hope Station Kids’ Cafe to help provide support and knowledge to the students but also preserve the relationships formed in this space.

Personal Narrative: Sofina Odero  

During the late 1960s to the early 1980s, The Black Panther Party for Self Defense actively focused on social justice for Black communities throughout the United States. Their own desire to free Black people from the social injustices of the White supremacy could be seen when looking at the programs they initiated such as their Ten-Point Program. With an emphasis on communal justice for the Black community, The Black Panther Party wanted Black people to be able to determine their own destiny. The Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program listed their demands which was in line with the Black Power and Black nationalism movements. 

Another program they initiated was their breakfast program for schoolchildren, which fed Black children before school. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense noted an aspect of social justice which was typically overlooked, food justice, and made a change for the well-being of the future of Black communities, the Black youth. Their breakfast program fed hundreds of thousands of Black children daily throughout the school week. This effort provided financially insecure, working-class and poor Black families the means to feed their children. This program reminded me of the the Kid’s Café program as it also focuses on feeding Black schoolchildren. With the same mentality the Black Panther Party had, Hope Station recognized the importance of providing food for children as it physically fuels their bodies for success.

During the weeks of working at the Kid’s Café, I focused my efforts on documenting the quality control and distribution of the food. I logged the initial state of the food which was coming to the program and from that, noticed the extra effort needed for providing safe food. The necessity of our vigilance while preparing sandwiches and washing fruits with exposed edible skin was clear as we were the only barrier before distribution of the food. While the donated food was given out of generosity, the possibility of receiving unusable foods was an issue that was of constant concern. This was not the fault of the donators as the program was more than appreciative to receive the donated foods, but it was a reminder of the quality of food in the surrounding community and what was left for donation efforts in the city. The quality control of the served food was dependent on our attentiveness.

Another aspect that required undivided attention was distribution. More specifically, it was the portions we enforced while distributing the food. It was noticeable that portion size was not a concern for the Carlisle youth as many tried to take three to four times more than the single serving we provided. That is not to say that they did not need the abundance but it was impeding our efforts of feeding all the schoolchildren as the surrounding schools left out at different times. With that, we had to be sure we were able to maintain enough food to provide every schoolchild an after school snack. This issue of supply, demand, and need was indisputable, and while the Kids’ Cafe was answering this need, this experience showed me that the city of Carlisle could do much more for its Black community and provide more avenues of local healthy food within this population.

Overall, my experience with Hope Station and the Kids’ Cafe was humbling and eye-opening as I not only found a population of people in which I had so much in common with but I was able to recognize the privilege of my positionality in the city of Carlisle as a Black undergraduate Dickinson student and used it for the well-being of others. I plan to continue to aid this community for the remainder of my time in Carlisle and hope to form lifetime bonds with the Black people of Carlisle.

Personal Narrative: Elijah Wrights 

My experience at Hope Station has been very beneficial to understanding food equality and food accessibility. Hope Station is an after school program that feeds children in the Carlisle area from elementary school  to high school. In an area that’s income is under the national average, Hope Station plays a pivotal food in providing food for the children of Carlisle.  Hope Station’s impact in the community is tremendous. The providing of food for children, whose meal may only come from Hope Station is extremely important. Hope Station has been able to serve children’s meals for 20 years, but their is room for improvement.  Our mission at Hope Station was to find healthier food options, so the children can experience and embrace a  healthier life. Bringing healthier foods to Hope Station not only feeds the children but also provides them with healthier lifestyle.

Food inequality in low income cities have unfortunately become the normal for inhabitants.  With the government cutting funds to maintain grocery stores, food accessibility has become extremely difficult to reach. Along with the government cutting funds, big corporation have monopolized in low income areas which negatively contributes to the accessibility of healthy food. Our goal to promote and bring healthier food options to Hope Station relates to themes in class that we have discussed. In Ornie Williams article Food and Justice: The Critical Link Healthy communities, he discuss the role of grocery stores especially in African American communities.  The lack of grocery stores in African American communities make African American more prone to a higher rate and risk to disease. This connected with our project because the majority of children who attend Hope Station are African American; there is not one grocery on that side of the city where Hope Station is.  Although food inequality occurs in Carlisle, Hope Station can serve as a bright light in the community with the addition of healthier food options.. As a group we hope we can bring a garden to Hope Station, to not only provide food but also teach the children how to grow food. The garden project would also serve as an afterschool program for children to attend. Teaching healthy eating habits at such a young age can really impact a child’s life in the long run for the better.

Personally this project not only opened my eyes towards food inequality but also to how fortunate I am. Food inequality goes under the radar when it comes to social justice I believe but I think it is extremely important. Listening to stories and incidents at Hope Station, how for some children this is their only meal is heartbreaking. Black, White, rich or poor etc. food & healthy food options should be accessible to everyone, especially the children. Our youth is the most important, they are the driving force for our future and they should never have to experience what it’s like to not have food. Attending Dickinson and seeing how much food is wasted in areas such as the Cafe and Snar, I realized how much we waste and how much potential we have to change people’s lives regarding hunger issues.


The Kid’s Cafe program has done a tremendous job feeding the children of the Carlisle school district for approximately sixteen years. Our service project goals were to incorporate healthier food options  that were also delicious to the kids. Alongside our immediate goal to make healthy food options more accessible to the children, our group has decided to expand our six week project to further improve the Kids’ Cafe. Hope Station has an open space that would allow us to plant a garden for the children to run which would teach them about urban farming. The garden would provide additional healthy food options for the program and also create a potential business to provide access to fresh food for the surrounding community. This after school activity for the children would ensure sustainability for our health initiative. The garden at Hope Station would provide fresh fruits and vegetables, serve as a positive after school activity, and educate the youth about healthy lifestyles. In addition to the garden we would like to start two after school programs. One being a Food Education program which would teach Pre-K through 5th grade students healthy eating habits, portion control  and why food is important. This would directly work with the garden to help them understand food justice. The other program would be a Culinary or Home Economics course which would teach 6th through 12th grade students healthy ways to prepare meals, alternative dishes, and a safe space to bond after school.We would ask for support from student volunteers attending Dickinson College to help facilitate and foster bonds with the youth of the Carlisle Community. These kids should be exposed to social justice issues such as food justice so that they can make a difference as they start to develop in life.


Our plan for the future:

  • Urban Garden: “Keep Hope” Garden
    • Kids take responsibility for plants
    • Teach children how to grow plants
    • Create good habits that can be further expanded
    • Healthy food preparation
    • Use food from the garden for new meal ideas
    • Positive after school activity
      • *Business: Sale produce to community – keeping money in black communities*
  • Culinary/Home Economics Course (6th grade through 12th grade)
    • Teach healthy ways to cook
    • Create positive space for bonding
    • Show alternative ways to prepare dishes
    • Conduct event where kids can showcase what they learned
  • Food Education Program (Pre-K through 5th grade)
    • Teach healthy eating habits
    • Portion control
    • Learn how food connects to social justice issues
    • Potential partnership with Food Justice Organizations to help further education

To get involved at Hope Station visit


Power, Justice & the Environment: A Critical Appraisal of the Environmental Justice Movement, David Naguib Pellow and Robert Brulle

Spoken Word Poetry Workshops


            For our Community Service initiative, we had the opportunity of collaborating with the YWCA of Carlisle to create and facilitate a Spoken Word workshop. The intention behind creating this workshop was in hopes of engaging residents, particularly youths, from the lower income and predominately African American Community in dialogue about their backgrounds using spoken word as a vehicle. It was all possible in great part thanks to Ms. Sonya Browne and members of the YWCA. The YWCA, known for  servicing the community, was founded in Carlisle in 1919 and sought to eradicate lingering traces of systematic, structural oppression along racial and gender lines so that women might be empowered and advocating for. The YWCA has been involved in the different sectors of Carlisle through its youth enrichment programs, services for victims of sexual assault, and rape in addition to events to hosting public events to raise awareness like their upcoming annual race against racism.

 For our partnership, we volunteered through one of the YWCA’s young women’s enrichment programs entitled “Girl Power”, which serves as both an academic and personal enhancer for girls in the Carlisle school district (middle and high school). In partnering with the YWCA and Girl Power, we sought to engage participants in honest dialogue about matters permeating throughout their community as well as personal narratives. Having just read Howard McGary, Race and Social Justice, in addition to our discussions in class, we were weary that there would be a feeling of distance between us as Dickinson College students, and the members of the local community. To be told, prior to to beginning our project that that over the course of time there has been a decline in Dickinson’s involvement in the broader Carlisle Community interaction we found it to be a bit disheartening and we wanted to ensure that feeling of distance was not presence in our work as facilitators and mentors. Acknowledging also the economic disparity that persists in the Carlisle community, not only did we wish to bring to the table issues of racial sexual and domestic violence as the YWCA has for almost a century, but we wanted to bring light to language, and the microaggressions that are so ingrained in society that it that detracts from our making Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and America, a safe space for all.  


Through, Spoken Word, we hoped to give the members of the Carlisle community, who through some form of their identity have faced a sense of erasure by society around them, a platform to profess their narratives, tools to reach out and make meaningful connections with others, and a resource to find solace, when in times of personal trouble. This workshop in getting people to learn to speak with each other about their backgrounds, broke some initial lines of uncomfortability and it is our hope it will continue for years to come, with support from Dickinson College.



Individual Response

I began my contributions to this workshop by refreshing my understanding of the power of spoken word poetry. In doing so I referenced my final research presentation I submitted for Professor Johnson’s class Intro to Africana Studies which discussed the importance of spoken word poets during times of social movements. Following this I was introduced to the ladies of the youth group created by the YWCA, Girl Power at the Carlisle High School. I spoke to the ladies briefly introducing the art of spoken word where interestingly majority of the class had not heard of spoken word poetry. This made for a better conversation because I was able to give some background information on the art of spoken word, what it is, what it functions as in communities of color and what people today use this art for. After getting the ladies interested I showed a video of Dickinson alumni Brittany Barker performing one of her piece at a Poetry Slam. Following this presentation I engaged the ladies in a debriefing having them explain initial reactions to Brittany’s performance, her words, delivery and presence. I then gauged the audience to see how many of the ladies in the room would be interested in a poetry workshop after viewing the embodiment of spoken word, about half of the class rose their hands.  I then proceeded to perform my own piece for the girls to further illustrate the power of spoken word, following my performance more hands rose to express interest in the workshop.

        It was imperative for me as a woman of color to express to other women of color that their voices and stories have the power to change their community. In doing so I referenced the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and emphasized that this was an organization comprised of youths their age, who had a lasting impact on the social movement at that time. My aim was to help show these ladies that they possess agency as well as they should engage their citizenship as they have a stake in their community. Expressed by Howard McGary in his book Race and Social Justice civilians who do not feel that they have a say in the occurrences of their community normally do not exercise their citizenship as we saw was the case for inhabitant of Lakestown in the novel Lakestown Rebellion. Those who do not feel valued by their communities do not have an urgency to contribute to their community and I hoped to make sure this was not the case for these youths. When I mentioned the importance of using your voice in your community one girl mentioned that people don’t understand teenagers therefore it makes no sense to even bother, that was my bargaining point. I emphasized that the fact that teenagers are misunderstood is the reason for raising their voice because spoken word poets are the voices of their communities, these ladies are the voice of their community. My mission then became to help these ladies develop their voices and see that indeed they have a stake in their community.

        Following my visit to the high school Greg and I met at the YWCA to conduct our first workshop. To prepare for this we brainstormed the optimal way to introduce the topic of spoken word to this group of people considering that we are seen as strangers already. We took what Mc.Gary mentioned in his book and first sought to bridge the gap between intellectual of the community. We approached the space by first identifying ourselves and lead an icebreaker (very Dickinson like) to allow for a safe space. We then began our discussion of spoken word poetry by reading the well acclaimed Mother to Son by Langston Hughes. From there we talked about our own stairs in our lives (in relation to crystal stairs in the poem), this was the catalyst of our meeting. Providing a space for participants to reflect and feel comfortable to share, we talked about those stairs (symbolic of hardships in their lives) in their life and saw how deep people were getting and heard the passion in their voices. This was a perfect segway into discussing the passion in the delivery of spoken word and commanding your space. From there we asked a volunteer to reread the poem for us but this time channeling their personal stairs and conjure up that passion. This was the climax of our meeting for we not only realized the power of words but in addition we acknowledge the passion in writing and delivering a spoken word poem. From there we had them write their own spoken word poems, guidelines being that they had to channel their passion, their voice and be as open as possible. This culminated in the best feeling I could’ve experienced as a poet. We asked a few people to share as they felt comfortable and the responses were astonishing. People shared very personal experiences and encounters that allowed the space to morph into not just a learning space but a healing space. At this moment participants experienced the transformative power of spoken word poetry. This experience allowed them to see and tap into the transformative power of their words. Though this was the first workshop it laid the blueprint for ones to come. I anticipate future workshops to be better and even more powerful as I plan to talk about the bodily embodiment of one’s poetry and the connection between the performer and his/her’s audience to create the optimal experience as Crystal Leigh Endsley mentions in her book The Fifth Element.  All in all, this service learning opportunity has been transformative for myself and the community and is the epitome of social justice, bringing the community together in a transformative manner.

                                                                                                                                                                                   By: Samantha Miller ‘18
                                                                                                       Individual Response 



To begin with Langston Hughes’s “Mother to Son, set the tone for one of the most impactful two house I have had the pleasure of spending in my time here as a Dickinson student. To reflect on the words of the mother, in the poem who explained to her child that her life has not been the perfect “crystal staircase” as most presumed of life, enabled us in the workshop to find common ground in the inherently imperfect idea of living. However, to establish a center of beliefs enabled us create a safe space, as we know that individuals very rarely leave common ground in the same direction. And in respecting the privacy of those in the workshops, we will not include names of those in attendance, however what was shared, included stories of domestic abuse mental disorders, and broken homes to name a few. In what became a sacred space, the 25 of us, though sharing our stories, invited each other into our experiences, and I watched as the 15 year-olds, to the 15 at heart, began to discuss how life began to impacted us. rather than judge or be quick to criticize one for the life choices that have lead them to this point.

From reflecting on the crystal stairs that we were told existed, we considered all the ideas that make life perfect, or ideal. we reflected upon  the documents like The Constitution Of The United States Of America, and Declaration of Independence briefly to get a sense of what a crystal stair might look like. This portion, of the activity was important because it reminded us that not always will everyone have the same visions for the perfect society, but it was a experiment requiring us to put aside our political beliefs in order to hear and understand what it is that someone else might need to feel whole. For the group the came in different forms, ranging from seeing the difference in the language used, enabling an environment that breaks down gender norms, creating a new idea of what the household can look like, revitalizing expectations that adults might have for their children, or even just being able to have spent more time with loved one prior to them passing away.

At this point in our workshop, things begin take a heavier tone and at the same time more voices that were initially hesitant about opening up, became more willing to share. So we knew that there was a effective means of engagement currently taking place. There was one mother in attendance who came with her daughter, and in her desire for a have in had a more “crystal stair”, spoke of how she regretted having gotten pregnant young age, and some of the love choices she made. For the mother, in the end the mother she felt that she at times although trying her best,  didn’t feel completely able to provide to give her daughter the best living opportunity that she would have hoped for. And for her daughter who was there with her to see her mother wishing that she could’ve provided more to her, on the verge of tears showed to us that not only how the poetry can be used to bring together people who might not have known each other, but to bring together families who might not have the words or the know how to speak what really affects them.

Afterwards we watched the spoken word piece “10 Things I Want To Say To a Black Woman” by Joshua Bennett. To be honest, although the group gathered did not consist predominately of women of color, we courage the audience to internalize the words, to consider the realities that exist socioeconomically which have that contributed to the erasure and demoralization of women of color. Additionally, we encouraged the group to take note of how Joshua Bennett also incorporated words of encouragement in his analysis. How in this poem he sought to affirm the personhood and the value to those who society says doesn’t matter. Of course it being such a romantic poem afterwards there were quite a few jokes and laughs about “where can we find more “men like him” to which we’ve responded, that first Joshua Bennett like no individual on this earth, is perfect however to create enter bring forth more people cognizant of the interconnectedness of oppression in its multiple forms especially in the Carlisle community, would require that more individuals are able to share their story.

So we concluded with one of my favorite prompts for writing which is “10 Things That I Would Love To Say To The Younger Me”.  To not make it simply list, devoid of emotion and attachment, we encouraged those in attendance to include their lived stories in these lessons they would’ve said to themselves because that provides a human face for the realities plague people. “One of the young ladies asked can I focus on the good things and not the bad?” To which we responded, to be an effective communicator and for spoken word, the two are inherently interlinked. Negative moments tell the audience of life as it is, has been and often how we have gotten through some of the most the defining events of our growth. And to incorporate those joyous moments gives hope to the audience of future, potential, and strategies to overcome or to cope with their circumstance. After 10 minutes, which is too short to write a full length poem, but just long enough the desire to continue writing hit its peak at the moment the time limit is up everybody in attendance was inspired, hoping and wishing to continue their peace. The “10 drill” as my mentor likes to call this activity is effective because for the writer there was always work that is unfinished. But after opening the floor for the Group to share, hearts begin to unfold, emotions came up to breaking points, and through sharing, we all realized there’re so much more that, which often times we just don’t have the time for.

In conclusion, our workshop was a success, because we were able to get individuals speaking about things that are personal. And we understand and respect that for people to do so in a space, around a bunch of others that they have just met can be one of the most frightening experiences for someone just learning to find their voice. It was our hope, that this workshop would be continued for years to come. In seeing the value of this initiative, and the potential impact on the community both Samantha and I have asked Ms. Brown for the opportunity to come back and lead another workshop, even if after the end of classes, because, to host an event once, that pulled this much emotionally, from the participants, without a opportunity to continue and give drive to writing, we feel is morally irresponsible, and we do not wish to leave the community with that impression. To be here, as a facilitator made us mindful not only of our blessing as Dickinson College students, but also mindful of our incentive, and our requirement to be our sister and brothers keeper in service.

-Gregory Boles ‘16


10 Things I Want To Say To A Black Woman

BY Joshua Bennett

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Endsley, Crystal Leigh. 2015. The Fifth Element: Social Justice Pedagogy through Spoken Word   

Poetry. New York: SUNY Press.

Lattany, Kristin Hunter. 2003. The Lakestown Rebellion. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press.

McGary, Howard. 1999. “The African American Underclass and the Question of Values.” In Race

and Social Justice . Massachussets: Blackwell Publishers .

Miller, Samantha. 2015. “Spoken Word Poetry: Differences and Similarity to Hip-Hop.”

Presentation. Carlisle: Prezi , April 26. 


 Multimedia links

Mother to Son

By Langston Hughes


Crime Statistics on Carlisle



                                                                     Possible Improvements for the future

We have only had one full workshop with the community but it was enough for us to know how we want to expand and remodel this program. For starters we realize that sometimes the best way to help a community is to go into the community and engage. As any good ethnographer knows, it is imperative to establish trust with the community before you can go in and help, and for that we need more time. We want to start the program off by going into the Carlisle community be it setting up a meet and greet in a popular park or the Carlisle High School. We need to establish a bond with the participants before we can ask them to share their stories and from there empowering their voices. This means that we would need to start the program approximately three weeks before the actual workshop to build interest and a relationship with the community.

One way to do so is a major spoken word event, prior to the workshop, preferably not at Dickinson because for our target audience, we have learned might be hesitant on attending. from our introduction to Ms Sonya and To begin there would need to be a marketing team whose sole focus in getting the information about ikewise we would need to establish an outreach committee to guarantee the advertisement of the program and making sure that it is being advertised to the right community. Lastly we believe that we can help bring the community together by having a culminating show after the workshops at the Start Community Center and invite the community and engage in a dialogue after the show. Ultimately we would need more time to better plan the vision, execution and (if applicable) monetary contributions that would be needed to make this workshop a success.  


Social Justice Mural Project



Our Service Learning Project began as a mural project. The administrative team at Hope Station voiced the desire to create a more open and sustainable space where community members could spend more time and use the space as more of a resource. We were given the task of decorating the walls of Hope Station with imagery that reflected the community and livened the space. Hope Station offers many services to the community such as Kid’s Café and Homework Club as well as outdoor recreational spaces utilized by the community.  We were to aid in the revitalization of Hope Station in conjunction with the upcoming renovations. We decided to create three murals each in spaces frequently used by different programs: Homework Club, Kids’ Cafe, and the teen lounge.

“A commitment to collaboration and reciprocity allows participants to both direct the development of their intended artistic and social justice impacts towards their audience while also experiencing some of those impacts (increased awareness, critical consciousness) themselves”

Marit Dewhurst

During the span of this project it was important for us to recognize the inaccessibility to art especially in communities of color. Art, as a mode of activism, is a way to force visibility in spaces where dominant narratives prevail. Art, especially fine arts, is coded as elite and we found it important to involve the community members in the creation of  the work that would be used to decorate their space.


Our initial method of brainstorming ideas for our paintings was to get to know the people that utilized the space. We began to spend time at Hope Station particularly during the time between Kids Café and Homework Club. Early on we observed the transient nature of the space in that people moved in and out quickly. It became difficult to find ways to interact and cultivate enough time with people individually to get ideas for the space. For example, the younger and older kids will get their snack and either leave or go to Homework Club. Most of the kids that hang out at Hope Station spend their time outside using the basketball courts or other outside facilities. Then we decided to go to a couple sessions at the Homework Club because in this space the kids are engaged and comfortable in the environment.

We began by talking with kids at Homework Club to see what kinds of interests they had. We talked to them about painting a mural and then had them work in groups to decide what they would put on a mural. Some common themes among the kids’ drawings were plants and animals, so we decided to go with a nature theme for the Homework Club mural. Thinking about the teen room, we wanted to include things that would be relevant and relatable to teens, and we found that music was a common interest that had the potential to intersect well with messages of empowerment. This space is envisioned as more of a lounge area where kids of different ages can utilize the area for leisurely activities. For this room, we designed an abstract illustration of circular objects such as planets, music records, sports equipment, images of the earth, and other objects that reflect the interests of younger community members. For the Kids Cafe room, we were told originally that it might be converted to a spaced used more by adults, so we decided to do an artistic interpretation of a map of Carlisle.

Our process of designing and planning the logistics of the murals changed slightly along the way. We decided to aim to tie the Homework Club and teen room murals in with two other service learning projects being done for our class: the Girl Scouts’ flower badge project and bringing healthy food to Kids Cafe. We added fruits to the nature theme for the Homework Club design, and we decided to go with a circular theme for the teen room mural, allowing us to incorporate music, produce, and nature. Our plans also changed due to renovations going on at Hope Station. While we originally planned to paint directly on the walls, we ultimately found that the best option was to paint on large canvases that would then be displayed.


Personal Reflection: Manny Ocampo ’18

“I believe BLACK music, with its rudimentary foundation in BLACK sound, gives a framework for organizing without institutionalization, structuring without strictures.” (Crawley, Ashon T.)

This quote by Ashon T. Crawley resonates with the methods I employed. It was really important for me to incorporate the creativity of people who lived in the Carlisle community. I provided the frame and the structure of the mural but did not impose any restrictions. I believe that art should not have any strictures because then you are limiting expression. I wanted to capture the current moods of the people helping us.

I was influenced by Ella Baker, an activist who was involved in social justice movements for over fifty years. Baker’s “experience within these movements is a testament to her own commitment and points the way forward.” (Capeheart, Loretta) It was important to Baker to listen to the voices of the people. Baker “insisted that authentic leadership could only come from those most affected by injustice.” (Capeheart, Loretta) Baker’s methodology inspired me to incorporate and learn from the people in the community.

Our project correlates to Distributive Justice because of the accessibility of visual art. Distributive Justice concerns the nature of a socially just allocation of goods in a society. That good is visual art. It’s important to think about the unequal distribution of visual art throughout different spaces. Visual art has taken an elite role in the art spectrum. I pull from Andria Blackwood’s, Curating Inequality: The Link between Cultural Reproduction and Race in the Visual Arts. Here, Blackwood says “art museums project a predominantly white image creating a place of whiteness, which in turn fosters a social barrier of racial exclusion.” Lets think about the places people can access visual art. Visual art is most likely displayed in art museums. Now, lets think about the location of art museums. Art museums are near popular business areas, popular tourist areas and popular schools of higher education. Art museums shifted from a communal space to a more exclusive elitist space. Part of this shift has to also do with economic decisions. Art museums used “to educate the public on the value of art and the process of art appreciation.” We felt like it was up to us to take this into our own hands and create a space where art can be appreciated for what it was meant to be. It was made to be an accessible way to express oneself. Like mentioned above, our grassroots approach allowed us to collaborate with the community. We used our privilege to access the resources to provide kids the materials to freely express themselves on paper.


Personal Reflection: Samantha Mendoza-Ferguson

When members of the Hope Station administration came to our class and outlined their goals to make Hope Station sustainable as well as change the space in a way where people would want to spend time, art immediately came to my mind. With the rearranging and redefining of the space, I saw the paintings as a way to revitalize Hope Station, which in turn will show the community that their spaces are important and valued. To me, the  rooms utilized by  Homework Club were especially important because kids from the community spend 4 days a week in the space. Because of this, I decided to focus on the painting for this space. For this painting we were able to get the majority of our ideas from interacting with the kids in addition to the adult workers at Homework Club. Instead of intruding upon their space, we worked cooperatively in the crafting of ideas and the actual production of the work. In this way we centered their experience and gave them agency in the work that would be shown in their space. They voiced interest in natural landscapes and bright colors so I designed a stylized tree bearing different fruits. Still wanting to involve the kids at Homework Club we asked the kids help us paint different parts of the image. In this design, I integrated different aspects that reflect the activities of the kids at Homework Club such as Kid’s Café and Girl Scouts.  In Marit Dewhurst’s “An Inevitable Question: Exploring the Defining Features of Social Justice Art Education,” she examines the ways in which collaboration is integral part of dismantling hierarchies of power in social justice art education thereby “empower[ing] all participants to act as agents, not subjects of their own practice” (Dewhurst, 11).  Because we are working with real people, in a real community instead of creating a theoretical project, it is important to understand that circumstances change. Even though we could not complete our initial designs, I recognized the importance of improvisation. Although the paintings will not be a permanent part of the space, they will still serve the important purpose of revitalizing the rooms in tandem with the renovations. In addition they can be moved around to accommodate and decorate different spaces. I believe we were successful in creating work that enhanced and personalized the space. Despite certain difficulties, we were able to get to know members of the community and have a mutually beneficial experience!


Personal Reflection:  Emily Katz

Originally, one wall in the Kids’ Cafe room had a large display of pictures of people in the Carlisle community, and the wall across from it featured a smaller map of Carlisle. Once I found out that we would be changing our project from murals on the wall to painting them on canvas to be hung up, I decided that we could then incorporate the already-printed pictures. By shrinking the size of the mural, there will be room to keep many of the pictures of Carlisle residents around the borders of the mural. The artistic map of  Carlisle places Hope Station at the center, rather than having Dickinson as the center. Placing the community-centered map directly in the midst of the pictures of Carlisle residents literally ties them to the geography of the community.

The need for murals at an organization like Hope Station reflects both past and present social justice issues, and a lack of distributive justice. Carlisle can be seen as divided by the train tracks, and the resources available to the communities on either side are not equitable, creating the need for the programs that Hope Station runs. One goal of our mural project is to foster a deeper sense of community ownership over the space, so that people who use the services at Hope Station will feel more connected to and proud of their community.

In a time when Black people still face institutional and interpersonal racism and are undervalued in American society, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza talked about writing a “love letter to Black people.” Hope Station serves predominantly Black families in Carlisle by providing them with critical resources and a sense of community. Yet the space the organization physically inhabits used to be a train station and there have not been significant changes or renovations to the space since then. By introducing murals that reflect the strengths, values, and interests of the community members, I see our project as a way for people in the community at Hope Station to fully claim that space make it even more meaningful, especially in a political climate that challenges Black people’s right to take up space or be present in specific spaces.


Project Expansion

While we are excited about the vibrancy that our three murals will bring to Hope Station, we also know there is room for more social justice-oriented artistic work in the space. If this project were to be continued, another mural could be made to fill the other former window that is now a covered space in the teen room. We already have one mural for the other window, but it would be even better to have both of them filled. Teens who come to Hope Station could be directly involved in the brainstorming, planning, and painting of the mural so that they feel a sense of ownership and connection with the art and the space itself. This could also be an opportunity to have discussions about social justice issues, especially those that the teens face in their daily lives. Another way to continue the project would be to find other ways to incorporate art into the Homework Club room. This could be through other small murals on the wall or collaborative large-scale temporary art, such as banners or paintings. Any further art could incorporate more social justice themes in the brainstorming process, as well as in interactions with the kids.

The volunteers for these projects could be other Dickinson students who are interested in social justice work or who are taking social justice related classes, or even art classes such as drawing or painting. Volunteer outreach could be done through organizations such as the Center for Service, Spirituality, and Social Justice, the Arts Collective, Social Justice House, and the Center for Sustainability Education, which is looking for more ways to incorporate social sustainability. Overall, it would be ideal to facilitate more direct interaction with community members and build a stronger connection between Hope Station and Dickinson students. This could include expanding access to more art or music resources by partnering with more Dickinson groups such as WDCV, Arts Collective, eXiled, and dance groups such as Synergy and Hypnotic. By being in such close proximity to Dickinson, there are many resources that can be shared between the college and Hope Station. As college students, we must remain humble, and recognize our privilege. We have to admit we don’t know everything. This will be a  collaborative effort to learn from each. These spaces will serve as platforms to create this bridge.

References & Recommended Readings

“Black Panther Party Ten-Point Program (1966).” Black Camera 21, no. 2 (Winter 2006): 16.

Blackwood, A, and D Purcell. “Curating Inequality: The Link between Cultural Reproduction and Race in the Visual Arts*.” Sociological Inquiry 84, no. 2 (n.d.): 238-263.

Capeheart, Loretta, and Dragan Milovanovic. “CHAPTER 11: Justice and Grassroots   Struggles.” In Social Justice:  Theories, Issues & Movements, 159. n.p.: Rutgers University Press, 2007.

Crawley, Ashon T. 2009. “Can you be black and work here? Social justice activist organizing and black aurality.” Souls 11, no. 2: 186-201.

David, E, & McCaughan, E 2007, ‘Art, Identity, and Social Justice /’, Social Justice, 34, 1, pp. 1-154, Social Sciences Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost, viewed 3 May 2016

Dewhurst, M 2010, ‘An Inevitable Question: Exploring the Defining Features of Social Justice Art Education’, Art Education, 63, 5, pp. 6-13, Art Source, EBSCOhost, viewed 3 May 2016.

The Junior Girl Scouts Flower Badge and Digital Photography Project

Our service learning initiative was to volunteer with the Girl Scouts Junior Troop #10562 at Hope Station. Hope Station is a non-profit organization founded to “enhance the quality of life, health, safety, and economic opportunities for the people who live in the neighborhood it comprises” (HopeStation). They work to “lift up the entire neighborhood by tackling our most difficult problems through education, technology, job development, and most importantly, teaching our children to become leaders by learning to respect themselves and others” (HopeStation). One program that Hope Station hosts to teach and encourage children to become leaders through respect is the Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts is a national organization whose mission is to “build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place” (GirlScouts). The Girl Scout promise is to serve God, their country and to focus on helping others as defined by the Girl Scout law. The Girl Scout law is as follows: “I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout” (GirlScouts). The mission of the Girl Scouts reflected that of Hope Station, so it is important that their meetings are held there. Our task was to help the scouts earn badges by following the steps in their books, and come up with lessons to connect their activities to social justice issues in the community and ways to collectively solve them.

The three social justice issues that were most connected to the Girl Scouts of America at Hope Station here in Carlisle, PA were education, environment and civic engagement. All three of these issues intersect with each other and greatly impact the lived experiences of this group of girls. Education is important simply because the possession of knowledge entails a certain level of privilege and power. The environment is also important because your surroundings impact the things that you are willing and able to do for yourself and your community. For instance, learning about gardening and sustainability could be seen as a source of empowerment for some neighborhoods because it would allow the residents to be proud of their home and their community. Without the knowledge of things such as gardening and sustainability, a person won’t be able to take the necessary steps to try and enhance their community. The use of education and environment is seen as the civic engagement of people within a community. Civic engagement is defined as “the ways in which citizens participate in the life of a community in order to improve conditions for others or to help shape the community’s future.” After working with this group of girls we understand the importance of civic engagement for personal growth and the growth of a community, and believe that all these girls have the ability to be those citizens to make the difference.

Having Dickinson students work with the Girl Scouts to help earn their badges helps create conscious leaders that can use their skills to enact change and disrupt negative patterns that can be found in their community. Patterns such as high drug use, low high school graduation and college attendance rates, and high teen pregnancy rates were some of the issues mentioned as affecting the African-American community of Carlisle during our Hope Station Orientation. Additionally, providing social justice framed lessons to the Girl Scouts is especially important because of the age group that it targets. Middle school is a critical time when young women are in the process of shaping their opinions and views of life. Lastly, this project is unique and valuable because it uses an educational social justice approach, versus an intervention approach. In Monica McDaniel’s publication “Social Justice Youth Work” she explains the value of such programs: “Within these social systems, they are learning through observation and interaction with peers and adults how to engage and navigate these unjust systems. The youth development models of prevention/intervention and positive youth development are part of the problem, ‘because they assume that youth themselves should be changed, rather than the oppressive environments in which they live’” (McDaniel 44). The Carlisle community could greatly benefit from empowered, educated, and conscious young women that can influence the status quo of their community.   

Environmental Justice and Sustainability:

To start, a major theme we focused on was environmental justice and sustainability. Hope Station embodies sustainability in itself as an organization, as they have created a partnership with M&T Bank who has committed a donation of $100,000 for six more years. Their strategic plan is to provide resources to continuously uphold their mission and overall impact the residents of Carlisle with an “improved quality of life” (HopeStation). The following statement taken from their website reflects the long term vision of Hope Station Opportunity Area. “Hope Station is not just a building. Hope Station is a place in our dreams; a HOPE for our future; a vision that addresses the issues of Memorial Park and surrounding community. The Hope Station Community has a commitment to unity and pride, and embraces the success and diversity of its families.”

Through working with the Girl Scouts to achieve their flower badge, we helped put both Hope Station and the Girl Scout’s visions into action. The main goal was to help the girls understand more facts about their environment and flowers in general, but this process reflected larger issues of environmental social justice such as how to keep a community sustainable. On a few occasions, we visited Dickinson’s campus to learn more about sustainability. By observing certain flowers, we explained that sustainability means providing for oneself for the long run. I used a dandelion as an illustration of this point, as the flowers blow their seeds around to regrow more to keep their species alive. We explained that dandelions have edible components, but the girls said they would never eat one and they were okay just buying their food.


 (Laticia trying a dandelion.)


 (Journals we made to write reflections of the flowers.)

To show the girls the differences between growing food and purchasing, we visited the cafeteria. There we showed the girls how Dickinson is sustainable because it provides its own locally sourced food from its own farm, therefore, the students’ vegetables and meat comes from right down the road. Orrin Williams article, Food and Justice: The Critical Link to Healthy Communities” speaks of the negative effects of industrial agriculture, which our farm strays away from with sustainable practices such as free range chickens, and slaughtering meat as needed, not on mass scales. “Food and farming offer a unifying point for a movement that is multicultural, anti- racist, and anti- sexist and that embraces all aspects of the environmental justice movement” (Williams 127). The girls also said their school has a garden and they plant watermelons and pumpkins but right now “it is just a pile of dirt.” We mentioned that locally produced, organic foods are beneficial for the local community, and overall healthier than other producers and options. This reflects the issue of a food desert, and keeping our community sustainable on its own. To further show this point we planted wildflower seeds to teach the girls about caring for the environment as they have the opportunity to nurture their own plants. We hoped that by planting flowers and perhaps in the future through planting food, we could lead to the community having the independence to choose their local produce over others. We asked the girls what planting flowers represents to them, and a few responded with “Life”, and “taking care of mother nature”. The girls also contributed that we plant flowers “to make people happier and to help the community”. They also noticed that there is a difference between places that do have flowers and ones that don’t, as “places that don’t have flowers look dull and that people don’t care about it”


(Sarah picking flowers to press in her journal)

Some activities we included in their meetings were to make necklaces and flower arrangements. The girls’ creativity came out with the projects and I think they enjoyed it overall. Through the crafts and activities, we hoped that when they look around the classroom they are reminded that they worked together to brighten up the room, and take pride in their accomplishments. I believe that they did take pride, as whenever they were done with a project they would announce that they were excited to give their flower arrangement or necklace away as a gift. I think that without even realizing, they have engaged in sustainability by passing the flowers on to others to keep the trend of brightness and growth in their community.  


The second major theme that we engaged with was education. One of our very first outings with the girls was a tour of Dickinson’s campus. It was really interesting to see their different reactions to all the things that they saw around campus. Some of them were really inquisitive about the college experience, and others were set on the fact that they would never come to Dickinson for college. Another important aspect of that trip was the fact that most of them had never been inside of Dickinson’s facilities. Some of them had been to rector once or twice, but they had never gotten a tour or explored a college campus that is located right in their backyard. After finding out about how little they were exposed to Dickinson’s campus and college life in general, I felt like it was my duty to be that link between them and a college campus.

Understanding the connection between service learning and academic instruction has been one that is really meaningful because it has shown the ways in which education is a social justice issue and is one of the main factors in uplifting black people as a whole. During the days of slavery, it was illegal for black people to learn how to read and write. This one time in history impacted the way that black people would be able to learn and participate within society for the rest of their lives. For instance, once it was legal for black people to vote the had to pass literacy tests, which were reading comprehension tests administered by voting polls in the south (RAASJ). Most of the black people in the south had never learned to read or write because they had never had the opportunity and they had been working job to provide economic support for their families. This disenfranchisement that they experienced impacted the way that they were able to participate within society, such as voting for the people who would be in their government. I think this is important history that children like the Girl Scouts need to hear more about and understand so that they can realize the importance of receiving an education. By learning about their histories and their current experiences they will be more equipped to uplift their generations and the future generations to come within their families and neighborhoods.

One specific moment where I was able to use the education that I was receiving here at Dickinson to reach the girls happened when one of them used the word ratchet to describe a character she was developing. I asked her why she thought that ratchet was the word she needed to use in order to describe the character that she had developed, to get her to think about the reasons that she used that particular word instead of other adjectives. I then went on to describe the ways that ratchet is used primarily to describe the societal undesired actions of black women, and pointed to the fact that she was a black girl herself (Gomez). I had prior knowledge about the term, so I was privileged enough to get her to think about the ways in which her using that word was ultimately detrimental. That is knowledge that she would now be able to take back to her friends and her family to get them to think about the words they use and the ultimate impact that they might have (Gomez). The more knowledge that these girls are exposed to, the more that they can continue to grow and be informed and difference making citizens within their communities.


(Jena reading to the Girl Scouts about the connections between Social Justice and photography)

Civic Engagement:

The last major theme we focused on was civic engagement. Developing civic engagement was important to focus on in this service project because being a good leader is a key component of being a Girl Scout. One of the activities we did combined civic engagement and photography through looking at activism and the role of photography in social justice movements. This was beneficial so that the troop could learn about one way of being engaged in their community, along with working to earn their photography badge.

We began with looking at a book titled, Road To Freedom Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement 1956-1968. When asked if any of them knew about the Civil Rights Movement, one young woman talked about the bus boycotts and Rosa Parks. While looking through the book, we talked about different civil rights leaders. The girls quickly identified Martin Luther King Jr., but asked, “Who is that?” when we reached the page with Fannie Lou Hamer on it. This was an important moment in which we were able to teach them about women that were influential in the Civil Rights movement, and not just men. By teaching them about influential African-American women of the past their narrative of the Civil Rights Movement was widened and they were able to see a leader that resembled their racial and gender identities.

This is important because of the past marginalization of women in social justice movements, such as what the creators of the #BlackLivesMatter movement experienced. In an article written by one of the creators, Alicia Garza, she says, “Perhaps if we were the charismatic Black men many are rallying around these days, it would have been a different story, but being Black queer women in this society (and apparently within these movements) tends to equal invisibility and non-relevancy” (Garza). As a Black queer woman, Garza was marginalized in her own movement when men appropriated her work and did not give her credit (Garza). Because of the perpetual discretization of women in movements, it is important that the girl scouts see a leader that looks like them, so they can envision being a leader themselves.  


(“road to freedom”, Fannie Lou Hamer, ca. 1964)

Before connecting activism to photography, it was important to first define what an activist was, because none of the girls were familiar with this word. By teaching them about activism, hopefully they can feel empowered and realize there are methods of changing the injustices around them, such as protesting. Then, we talked about the role of photography in documenting past social justice movements, so we can learn more about the movements and see evidence. Leigh Raiford connects this to the Civil Rights Movement and says about images from Birmingham, “These images have shaped and informed the ways scholars, politicians, artists, and everyday people recount, remember, and memorialize the 1960s freedom struggle specifically and movement histories generally” (Raiford 1130). Not only do photographs document what happened for future education and analysis, photographs have the power to shape the discourses in one way or another.

An example of this connects to the marginalization of women in social justice movements. We may understand certain men as the leaders of a movement because of their overrepresentation in photography, when there are various other identities such as women, that were equally influential. Raiford goes on to explain that photographs provided an opportunity for activists to interrupt dominant narratives provided by news networks about the civil rights movements, by allowing them to take photos themselves (1139). The impact of this is that the marginalized groups fighting for justice in various movements have the opportunity to tell their own story have their truth be heard, through photography.     

Additionally, we explored the connection between photography, social media, and activism. When pictures or videos are recorded, knowledge about incidents are available to more people.  Kimberly Crenshaw says about this, “Currently, society has embraced social media as a primary tool for communication, especially within communities of color” (23). The use of photography and videography has been influential in modern activism by allowing ordinary citizens to hold perpetrators accountable for crimes against African-Americans, and share that evidence with others. When I asked how many of the girl scouts had iPhones or phones, many of them raised their hands. To provide an example of how efficient photography and activism can be through social media, I asked how many of them had recently heard about Beyonce’s new album “Lemonade”. They had all seen her video which had just been released a couple of days prior to this lesson. Their affirmations that they had seen her video were useful in illustrating the effectiveness of photography and video in reaching people, by connecting it to something from their own lives.

After the discussion I gave each scout a digital camera to use for the hour. They were assigned to take a portrait, candid, landscape, something they would change if they could, and a picture of something they found beauty in. For the picture “something beautiful”, many of them took pictures of trees or flowers, which goes back to the sustainability lesson and the impact flowers can have on someone’s perception of their environment. For the picture of something they would change if they could, one Girl Scout whose life has been deeply impacted by her parents’ use of drugs commented on her wish to stop people from smoking marijuana.

By having the girl scouts take these photos, they were encouraged to think about their environments and what they see, through a technique called Photovoice. The benefit of Photovoice is, “It empowers community members to engage actively and critically with such concerns, using photography to identify and advocate for changes they feel necessary for their communities to survive” (Peabody 252).  In future meetings with the girls, I would like to delve into Photovoice theory even more. The benefit of incorporating Photovoice into the Girl Scout lessons is that it follows the social justice work approach McDaniel talks about, and teaches them to look at their surrounding environment and think critically about it. Through this lesson they were able to learn about a couple of different types of pictures, use a real camera to take some, and learn about the role of photography in social justice movements.


(Averiel’s portrait of baby cousin.)


(Laticia’s photo of something she finds beauty in.)  

In “Justice and Grassroots Struggles” the author states, “Therefore, as activists engage in the process of demanding justice, they are also developing their own understandings of justice and building their own processes for expression of justice” (Capeheart 160). One understanding of justice I gained from my time at Hope Station was that a social justice issue can be something as small as the lack of resources for one organization in one city. During my involvement at Hope Station and hearing about other students’ projects, I was able to understand how this could be an injustice because of the various ways the limited amount of resources constrained the choices of Hope Station activities and programs. The Kid’s Cafe for example received donations that were not edible. At Hope Station there is one layer of injustice that there are children that do not have equal access as others to food, and a second layer that an organization that seeks to alleviate their hunger is also constrained by unequal resources. I realized from working at Hope Station that a social justice issue does not have to be as large as the mass incarceration of millions of African-Americans, but that it also exists on a smaller scale.

Additionally, I learned about how intervention programs for youth, a common social justice approach, can be problematic as McDaniel explains. I had never thought about the implications of these programs in perpetuating the blame placed on African-Americans for their plight, when in reality it is their environments and structural oppression that are the problem. Now, after working at Hope Station I realize the importance of approaching marginalized-youth programs with a goal to teach social justice.


We believe it would be beneficial to continue having Dickinson students volunteer with the Girl Scouts at Hope Station. One benefit of this is that Dickinson students can extend their resources to the Girl Scouts. Through working with them, we realized the impact of the availability of resources on programs and education, and hopefully by offering some of Dickinson’s resources there are more options for activities. For example, we were able to check out for free,  four digital cameras for each girl to use while working to earn their Photography Badge. Another example for the future is that volunteers could make it a goal to incorporate a field trip to the Dickinson farm and utilize Dickinson vans free of charge. 

This project could be expanded by continuing to work through the Girl Scout Guide Book and help the Scouts to earn all of the necessary badges. The first step will be to find a way to ensure that we will have the necessary resources to complete the activities, as a lot of activities required purchasing outside materials. We attempted to find ways to keep the activities free and  encourage the following volunteers to do so as well.  In addition, a merging of programs such as the The Kids Café and Girl Scouts would be beneficial to Hope Station overall. We could work with other groups like The Kids Café to plant their own plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers and perhaps fruit. There are overlapping interests between the two groups and Hope Station could benefit from their joint collaboration on bigger projects such as a community garden. 

Another way for Dickinson students to further develop this project would be to document how to interweave social justice into the steps to get a badge, and make a lesson book of those steps. A critical part of this process is connecting the steps they must take to earn their badges to topics from their everyday life. We found that they were much more interested in the tasks they had to complete when they found similarities within their personal lives. For instance, when we went around Dickinson’s campus looking at and drawing flowers, they were invested because they talked about the garden that was developing at their own school. Seeing the connection made them more excited about doing the work.

Making a social justice lesson book would allow for other Dickinson students to do this project without having to come up with social justice lessons themselves. This would make the project more successful, because finding ways to connect social justice issues to the badges was what took the most time and energy. If it was done carefully and created as a whole book beforehand, we believe it would improve the quality of the lessons.  

 Lastly, we think it is important to have the volunteers represent diverse backgrounds so the Scouts can be exposed to different perspectives and experiences at Dickinson.  Overall, I think it is important to maintain the relationship that has been created between Dickinson students and this group of Girl Scouts, as well as the future girl scouts to come. By having Dickinson students volunteer with them each week week the Girl Scouts can have steady role models in their lives who are committed to helping them achieve their goals.


Capeheart, Loretta. “Chapter 11 Justice and Grassroots Struggle.” Social Justice: Theories, Issues

& Movements. N.p.: Rutgers UP, n.d. N. pag. Moodle. Web. 2 May 2016.

Cox, Julian. Road to Freedom. Atlanta: High Museum of Art, 2008. Print.

Edwards-Underwood, Kimberly. “#Evolution or Revolution: Exploring Social Media Through

Revelations of Familiarity.” Black History Bulletin 78.1 (n.d.): 23-28. Moodle. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.

Garza, Alicia. “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza.” The Feminist

Wire. N.p., 7 Oct. 2014. Web. 2 May 2016.

McDaniel, Monica. “SOCIAL JUSTICE YOUTH WORK.” Moving Youth Work Practice

Forward: Examining Rights-Based: 41-48.

Peabody, Carolyn G. “Using Photovoice as a Tool to Engage Social Work Students in Social

Justice.” Journal of Teaching Social Work 33.3 (2013): 251-65. JumpStart. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.

Raiford, Leigh. “Come Let Us Build A New World Together: SNCC and Photography of the

Civil Rights Movement.” American Quarterly 59.4 (2007): 1129-157. JumpStart. Web. 2 May 2016.


The Poietic Power of Artistic Expressions in Social Justice Work

Aesthetic expressions, such as photography, art, culinary creations, and poetry have been deployed by social justice organizations as mobilizing andblacklivesmatter2 sustaining forces, particularly in African American communities. Indeed, the creative arts not only have the capacity to articulate political and communal sentiments, but, as Mary Stone Hanley explains in You Better Recognize!: The Arts as Social Justice for African American Students, “The arts also can challenge the invisibility and silencing that come with subjugation. Artists can speak to power and reshape culture through their creativity” (420).  The student experiences that are shared in this section consider art and artistic expression as a “just action…a way to record history, shape culture, and promote imagination, conceptualization, and individual and social transformation” (420).

The creative or poietic power of the arts in social justice initiatives is manifest in the students’ experiences with a local Girl Scouts troop, a homework club, the Kids’ Cafe at Hope Station as well as through a spoken word poetry workshop at the YWCA.  Students taught junior scouts about environmental justice and sustainability by planting seeds that would help them earn a flower badge and through a digital photography project that captured the beauty of their physical environments. They also, with the assistance of local children, painted murals as part of Hope Station’s renovations. Others worked in the area of food justice, developing menus and preparing healthy meals for children after school. Finally, the students who led a spoken word poetry workshop provided a safe space for community members to break silences about their lives and experiences.  After reading their reflections, one may come to understand the ability of the individual and communal imagination to strengthen societies.