Susan's Super Citizen Showcase

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Favianna talks art, technology, and social change in Vancouver

Favianna Rodriguez is a reknowned artist, author, and technologist from Oakland, California – and she was in Vancouver, B.C. Canada last week talking about using art to transform global politics.

Favianna presented a slideshow of her political poster art on March 5 at District 319 Theatre, just down the street from the corner of Main and Hastings in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Favianna’s talk: “Designing for Democracy – Art, Technology, and Community Development” was the first 2009 event hosted by Web of Change. W of C is “a series of conferences that connects the foremost thinkers and do-ers in the growing community of social change and technology from across North America,” says the W of C website About page.

Favianna showed us an assortment of her bold, sometimes colourful, political posters that address the issues of war, gentrification, human rights, racism, corporate irresponsibility, health, and quality of life within communities. Posted high on billboards, Favianna's political art opens public discussion on issues of the day - for example: young men of colour being targeted by military recruiters and people being jailed in the U.S. for not having appropriate residency papers.

“Our role as media makers and activists has become very important,” Favianna told us. “With the right tools and the right strategy, things that seemed impossible can become possible. We can create business models that will affect the entire world.”

Here are some photos of the slides Favianna showed:

In 2002, Favianna launched TUMIS – a bilingual Spanish-English web design company that donates its profit to Oakland’s Eastside Arts Alliance. Since its launch, TUMIS has seen annual growth of 25%, which is good for the Alliance founded by Favianna and other local artists, cultural workers, and community organizers of colour. The Alliance provides local youth and adults with a cultural centre in which they can pursue their own arts projects in a supportive, creative atmosphere.

On March 8, Favianna shared a vision of how Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside could follow the model of Oakland’s Eastside Arts Alliance. "Art, Resistance, and Community Transformation" was presented to the public for free by the annual Sista'hood Celebration at the W2 Launch Pad Gallery at 116 West Hastings Street - co-sponsored by DTES Community Arts Network and Tides Canada-Endswell Fund.

Here, from the W2 Launch Pad Gallery website, is a summary of what Favianna tells the group in Vancouver: “A young woman grows up in this neighbourhood. She and a group of artists start a successful technology and design collective. They launch a business and help establish a non-profit society. They raise the money to buy an old building and rehabilitate it. It houses their company, a bilingual daycare, a cultural centre, and 16 units of low-income housing. Their efforts are bringing social and economic development, music, art, and their community together. It's an incredible transformation.”

In 2004 TUMIS co-sponsored Designs on Democracy, a conference on design and communications. This gathering brought together over 300 organizers and designers to discuss communications in the context of social justice.

Jason Mogus, the Web of Change founder and president of Communicopia, introduced Favianna on March 5. He welcomed guests, talked about Web of Change, and offered a few key questions for us to ponder – and to discuss while mingling in the reception area at the bar after Favianna’s talk…

Jason suggested the social networking folks ask themselves: What kind of world do you want to live in? What’s your theory of change?

To the social change people, he asked: How are you involving people? How are you using technology?

To everyone, he asked: How can you build a community and sense of connectedness in your work? How are you growing your heart?

Jason offered praise to local firms who are dedicating their efforts to social change – and one example he mentioned is Agentic Communications – a local web development agency that offers web strategy, campaign consulting, and website development for progressive organizations, like non-profits and government agencies (and other companies too). I’ve been writing web content for Agentic recently – so you can look forward to a future Super Citizen feature soon about that company’s work towards social change…


At Sun Mar 15, 11:18:00 AM PDT , Anonymous Phillip D said...

Hey, great profile and thanks for the mention of Agentic!


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