Alison is an artist, administrator, educator, and community organizer, interested in weaving together performance, oral history, scholarship, and activism to co-create experiences that allow people to access their strength and creativity. She was a 2014 Create Change Fellow at the LP and is now working on a project called STORYBLOCK, an oral history and visual archive of Kelly Street. I spoke to Alison about how she got connected with both the LP and Kelly Street and what she has learned from her experience with each.
How Alison got connected with the LP and Kelly Street:
Preconceived notions of Kelly Street/ The Bronx?:
“I also didn’t have any of the negative connotations of Kelly Street because I had just literally never heard of it. I am not from New York, I had been here for like less than a year. So I didn’t carry any of that—it’s only through working in the community that I have heard of “kill em up Kelly” and all of these things that are a way that this community has been categorized. I really got to know it through the people which is really a beautiful way to know it. I felt very welcomed and always very safe in that regard. Not in a naïve way, I understand the challenges that exist, but yeah I think I really had beginner’s mind.”
Relationship of community to art/the garden?
“This is a very radical thing that is happening in this community. It’s not just an every day thing.” People are coming together, and it is not just coming out of no where—this community has a long history of community organizing—but like coming together around food to name what they want to happen in their community, neighbors talking to each other.”
“I guess I like to focus it on creativity even more than arts. Any form of increasing creative thinking you are able to imagine beyond what you see. So, I think I have seen that with Kelly Street in that once you start imagining you kind of cant stop. You see a different future from what exists right now.”