What happens when you take a group of 30 teenagers from the Capitol Street Boys and Girls Club and expose them to Architecture and Urban Design for two whole weeks? Judging from the Jackson Community Design Center‘s (JCDC) film documentary, Jackson is Art, the teens gain a whole new perspective on their city. The camp/documentary, funded by a grant from Regions Bank, involved a combination of field trips and hands on model making that challenged the students to communicate their thoughts of present-day Jackson and to draft their vision of the capital city’s future.
The 15-minute documentary starts off with a simple challenge: to explain Jackson in one word. Judging from the responses, it is without a doubt that the students could clearly describe the current state of their city. Their one-word descriptions of Jackson ranged from “huge” to “diverse” to “fun” to “okay”. Later in the documentary, the students provide full blown descriptions of their hometown. As images of the city’s distressed areas pan across the screen, a girl can be heard saying, “we have to go to other places to have fun.” Ouch! Their responses are testaments to the state of Jackson–an imperfect city with the perfect measure of potential. This part of the documentary definitely outlines the issues that must be addressed.
I hope I haven’t lost you. You may be thinking, “I thought this blog was about positive news in West Jackson.” Well, it is! This documentary is all about positivity. It rightly spends a little time at the beginning of the video explaining some of the current adverse conditions of the city. Rightly so because if positive change requires the addressing of negative conditions, those conditions/aspects must not be ignored. But the rest of the video explains the camp, and the excitement on the teenagers’ faces is evident. The teens even had fun at the…wait for it…Old Capitol Museum! If anything was achieved by this two week camp, it was the exposure of these students to the fields of architecture and urban design as well as the concept that they can participate in changing the city they love.
So break out the popcorn, kick up your feet, and enjoy the show!
P.S. Much thanks to Whitney Grant of the JCDC for posting this video to the West Jackson Facebook account!
Written by Curnis Upkins, III
Video shot & cut by: Robby Piantanida
Additional footage shot by: Aaron Phillips
JCDC Project team:
Jassen Callender (Director), Whitney Grant (Research Associate/Project Coordinator), Neil Polen (Research Associate, Instructor), Shannon Gathings (Instructor), and Shauncey Battle (Instructor)