The Manifestation of a Dream...The F.A.M.I.L.Y. Project at POOR


root - Posted on 27 March 2007

The F.A.M.I.L.Y. School at POOR Magazine, a multi-generational,multi-lingual arts education project based on an indigenous model of eldership, ancestor worship, family involvement and respect.

by Adriana Diaz/POOR Magazine Media and Poverty Studies Intern

A new fashion has been made when a small set of sticky hand prints become permanently stamped on my new avocado green gaucho pants. “Ms. Adri… Ms. Adri,” a blue mouth lollipop eating Huckleberry mumbles, “did you know that Barry Bonds is one home run away from beating Babe Ruth?” This four year old going on 30 is one of the amazing young children at F.A.M.I.L.Y, a multigenerational program that teaches children ages 2-11 years old.

It is Tuesday, a day I look forward too. I am sitting in a “cris cross apple sauce” position, as the children will put it, at 1095 Market St., where my non-profit, grass roots,arts and social justice inspired internship at POOR Magazine is held. I am thinking about how blessed I am to come across such an important and eye opening organization.

I was so grateful to learn that POOR Magazine and Artistikal Revolutionary Teaching (A.R.T) was working towards something so powerful. POOR and A.R.T collaborated together to form F.A.M.I.L.Y.(Family Access to Multi-cultural Intergenerational Learning with our Youth). “Both POOR and A.R.T believe in honoring our ancestors, family involvement, providing quality education, interdependency models, and childcare support to families who are struggling with poverty,” said Jewnbug, one of the Co-mama facilitators for F.A.M.I.LY.

I had the privilege of being there on the first day. It is a place of learning for children, adults, and elders throughout the Bay Area. It has a unique yet powerful method for teaching. F.A.M.I.L.Y’s primary goal involves a “multi-generational model of eldership, ancestor worship, family involvement and respect” (F.A.M.I.L.Y Project Manifesto). In one room, low and no income, and homeless adults are taking courses towards awareness at POOR’s Media Education Institute classes (i.e.: Journalism, Publishing, Radio, Multimedia Production) and can receive access to free childcare/schooling for their children in the room next door.

The multi-generational learning model is a manifestation of the village. Dr. Wade Nobles, a full-tenured professor in the Black Studies Department with a PhD in social psychology at San Francisco State University said, “Everyone in the village is responsible for guiding, for directing, and for making sure that the next generation advances to the next higher level, the person of good character.”

F.A.M.I.L.Y’s other role is working with the parents. F.A.M.I.L.Y wants to make this form of teaching accessible for everyone, so it bases its tuition equally on a “REAL sliding scale”. For working poor parents, childcare would be free while those who can afford it can contribute to those who can’t. The Family Learning Project survives through internships, volunteers, donations, and a CO-OP with parents.

Being an adult intern for the F.A.M.I.L.Y Project, Jewnbug and Tiny, both Co-Mama facilitators, open the doors for me to express my teaching skills through various facets of art. The program runs every Tuesday during the summer from 4-8:30pm. There are three forms to this educational process that work toward creating this curriculum: social justice, art-based, and multi-media. “Children learn in an atmosphere where older children take on the responsibility of taking care of the younger children while all participate in the same lesson,” said Jewnbug. Education for our children is a key ingredient to see that steps are being taken toward eradicating struggles of ignorance, racism, discrimination, and segregation.

I had the opportunity to talk to Linda Montoya, a single mama trying to survive and thrive on welfare, who trusts in F.A.M.I.L.Y and believes in its goal. “My son Kimo and I have no family members…grandparents, aunts, and uncles or any support systems; so for Kimo it is important for him to socialize and explore his talents within a group of people that are caring,” said Linda Montoya. She also went on to express her gratitude and sense of relief that there is a place she feels safe enough to leave her child for a few hours while she goes out and spends that time finding a job to support her family.

"The launch of F.A.M.I.L.Y. is the manifestation of a dream, a dream borne from the core values of POOR Magazine," Co-mama Tiny explains to me, "POOR’s indigenous organizing model is a post-modern, neo-urban re-creation of the village as a direct response/solution/resistance to the effects of abusive systems like Child Protective Services(CPS), the Criminal Un-JUSTice, system and the Welfare system.Poor folks like me and my mama, end up at the mercy of these systems many times because we don’t have a village, i.e., support networks, family and community elders to watch over us and our kids, offer love and support, helping hands and resources."

Co-mama Tiny went on to explain that in collaborating with Artistikal Revolutionary Teaching, POOR was able to expand its teaching and learning model of social justice, arts, multi-culturalism,eldership and interdependence to children as young as two who learn along with and from, their 9, 10 and eleven year old "elders" as well as with and from their in-class parent and co-parent teachers, which is another resistance to state-sponsored school system models which are inherently based on separation and the fostering of independence.
"The grouping of people according to their ages is in and of itself another form of separation, just like a frontera / border,” Tiny added.

Tiny concluded looking into the distance," F.A.M.I.L.Y. is just the beginning of a larger dream inspired by my Mama Dee, the creation of Homefulness, a sweat equity co-housing project for homeless and formerly houseless families that includes a site for Jewnbug's larger vision of A.R.T and our collective ideas of the F.A.M.I.L.Y. Project, i.e., a school (for ages 2-102,) as well as a permanent site for POOR Magazine, and a performance and poetry space for the whole community, in other words a real long-term solution to homelessness and poverty.

The screams of laughter coming from the voices of little ones jumping around, banging on conga drums snaps me back out of the surreal and into reality. I am staring back into the almond roasted eyes of Huckleberry, who is still working on his lollipop and contemplating his next baseball trivia question he will throw at me. Huckleberry is just one of many students who inspire my quest to teach and my continuation to learn.

For More information on how to support HOMEFULNESS; the Equity Campaign go on-line to www.poormagazine.org or call POOR at (415) 863-6306

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