After a good number of meetings & follow through with Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS) and our artist organizing group (Ronald L. Jones, Laura Napier and her partner Justin, Stalina Villareal, Liza Watkins), I would say that the festival day came together and we had a successful event!
I’ll admit, I found myself doing more than anticipated. After a final follow-up meeting 5 days before with a detailed To Do List there was; taking inventory of TEJAS chairs and tables needed; editing and writing the text for the flyer, making sure it was out early; collecting and curating the mp4 files for the video installation; organizing and curating the exhibition of children’s art from Manchester and video installation;
providing and running the AV system and power cables; running the water-hose for the silk-screener; arraigning tents; managing any trouble spots throughout the festival; and of course, setting up and breaking down the event. Whew!
My nephew Marty came to assist me throughout the day. Couldn’t do all the managing without him.
So what did we do at LUCHA POR NUESTRA TIERRA/FIGHT FOR OUR HOME evening?:
Well, I provided two new videos “Plecostomus” and “Brays”. Included as well were two videos from Laura.
Laura also provided her videos and used my lighting equipment for the video room to create PSAs.
Ronald responded with his portable silkscreen table, which much like a hat box. Bags were ready for silk-screening thanks to Stalina. She occupied the sustainable art-making station.
Liza brought two bilingual poets from (Inprint Poetry Buskers) that drafted poems for attendees. This turned out to be a real hit.
As the subject matter was dictated by the attendees and were given the chance to recite their poems in front of the audience. It made what could have been a conceptual exercise into something participatory.
Justin came up with a ring toss game with cardboard rings modeled after the chemical graphic of Benzene. Very funny and everyone played.
Juan and Ana Parras (TEJAS founders) brought the necessary tables and chairs. Dee Segun (TEJAS, Exec. Dir.) and Yvette Arellano, (TEJAS staff), provided information about toxic popcorn. TEJAS staffer, Jessica Hernandez, made sure there was plenty of free food and refreshments for everyone.
In terms of managing the event, I kind let things happen as they became ready. In some cases I had no choice, because performers, programs, etc. changed as the day progressed. No need to be anal about who goes first. I let things be free flowing. There was plenty to do. I would say it was a big success! Not perfect. Unpredictable at times. Spontaneous. But most importantly everyone enjoyed themselves, had food and drink, plus the children had something to do!
Stalina and I discussed having a “debrief” with our organizing group to talk about the things that worked and didn’t and why. I suggested to everyone that we introduce this new model we created to a general Arts Takes Action Houston meeting. We need to share this with others to get them started doing something. More on this later.