A Culture of Possibility, the podcast I co-host with Arlene Goldbard, connects experiences of community art in Europe and the USA, crossing the Atlantic each month to look at the things we care about from the other side. There’s a lot of common ground, of course, and shared ideas, hopes and commitment. We hold the same principles of justice, equity and respect, we work towards the same goal. But those abstractions become concrete in the specificities of different cultures, histories and experiences and then the differences can be illuminating. They prompt us to question what we think we know—and we really do think we know—and give us new paths to approach art and other people, life and work.
Last week I had the privilege of meeting Denise Griffin Johnson, a cultural organiser in Baltimore, and Executive Director of Arch Social Community Network (from which the image above is borrowed). The realities within in which she has lived, grown, learned and campaigned are very far from my own. But Denise’s thinking and purpose were the common ground of community art, where I feel most at home:
“You can create and you can co-create together and with that co-creation you’re building knowledge, you’re building a practice, you are deepening your beliefs and values about a place that you care about and about people that you care about.”
You can read more about Denise Griffin Johnson on Arlene’s blog and hear our conversation in the podcast, available at miaaw.net and where good podcasts wait for listeners. Wherever you are, if you care about community art or social justice, I think you’ll find Denise an inspiration.