COMMUNITY STEPPING STONES by Dawn Morgan01/16/07
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Community Stepping Stones
Clip - Evenel Cassidy:
“I am grateful for having Community Stepping Stones in my neighborhood. Otherwise I wouldn’t have met all my friends who share my passion for art.”
That was Evenel Cassidy, one of six teenagers from the Sulpher Springs neighborhood who spent the past year planning and painting a 20X80 foot mural in Rowlett Park.
Clip - Evenel Cassidy:
And have learned all I did that helped me grow as an artist. And I thank them for giving me goals and a sense of direction in my life. Because before, I didn’t know where I was going to go or where I was going to end up. And I am proud to take part in presenting this mural to Sulpher Springs and the city of Tampa in hopes it will brighten up this hidden gem of a community, which I would like to call it.”
TEXT: The artists were recruited and trained by Community Stepping Stones, a community enhancement and arts education nonprofit, who collaborated with corporations, public organizations and local businesses to make the project possible. Community Stepping Stone’s founder Ed Ross:
Clip- Ed: “It is the arts that make us human. It is the function of arts in all societies to tie people together.”
TEXT - The young artists had a hand in the entire process of the mural, from photographing people in their neighborhood as subjects, Photo-shopping the pictures into a collage, and painting the giant wall. They underwent a series of art classes taught by dedicated art students from USF and other community artists, like Kimberly Finn, who spent 5 months worth of Saturday’s coming down to the park.Clip- Kimberly Finn
TEXT - In addition to art classes, students of Community Stepping Stones also learn social skills, such as saving a portion of their earnings for college and are ingrained with a strong work ethics, like being on time. Once these skills are acquired, Community Stepping Stones then pays the students to execute community art projects such as the mural.
The time it took to complete the mural gave Community Stepping Stones the time needed not just to get the kids to open up to Ed, Mike and other volunteers, but time to be exposed to ideas that this low income demographic often goes without.
Clip - Ed: long term goals: What we do is try to show them to see long term planning. With kids that have been with us for a year or more, before they were with us, never thought about college. Now they’re all on the college track, all raising grades to get the scholarships to get there. So they’re all going to college now. And that’s another goal. Also, to learn what service is, work with community members so that people within our community work with kids instead of complaining about them.
TEXT -17-year-old artist Lakeema Mathew found Community Stepping Stones several years ago when they visited the North Tampa Recreation Center in search of young artists. Miss Matthew and her family members will be around Sulpher Springs for a long time; they are depicted in the mural.
Clip - Lakeema Matthew: “Some of my friends had told me that they should name the park after you because you on one side and your momma and your sister’s on the other side. Well, I guess I’m just blessed. That’s what I would say.”
TEXT - Eric Henderson, another young artist, can work words as well as a paintbrush, in this his contribution to the opening ceremony.
Clip - Eric Henderson:
“We make a living by what we get and a life by what we give.
This is what we give you so now that Stepping Stones can live.
To me, art is not thinking something up. It’s the opposite. It’s gettin somethin down. Now that we have something down, it’s the talk of the town. I remember paintin’. We used to talk, paint and rhyme. Mike used to say, “Hey, talk and paint at the same time.”
As our passion burnt for art, Mike and Dave were the fuel.
I learned more from Ed than I learned at school.
The USF students were out here not before long.
And we could always count on Jontrell to have a song.
Keema always found a way to make us laugh.
Ceeno kept us quiet, he was like the chief of staff.
Hard work brung us to the top.
I’m walkin to Stepping Stones and I don’t want to stop.”
TEXT - Community Stepping Stones is currently without a website, but for more information on their ongoing art projects or to volunteer, call Mike Parker at 846-2000 or email email@example.com.
This is Dawn Morgan reporting from Sulpher Springs for WMNF News.DAWN@WMNF.ORG