The East Bay, Mills’ home, has long been the birthplace of crucial performance poetry collectives and publishing efforts, especially those aligned with racial and gender justice. Continuing the Mills tradition of experimentation in graduate and undergraduate education, We Are the Voices supports the development of innovative, even risky, ways of presenting poetry and scholarship in nonacademic settings. Through community collaborations, students participate in developing a radically alternative view of the city’s diverse communities as creators, performers, and humanists in their own right.
Alexandria Jones is curating Raise your Voice, a series of free community workshops facilitated by Oakland writers. These workshops explore connection, healing, and empowerment through creative writing and expression. The goal is to illuminate stories of Black folks and the dynamic power of writing. Presenting our Bay Area communities with additional tools to reimagine, cultivate, and create.
Alissa Weber is developing a project engaging LGBTQ elders through the medium of storytelling. Hosting a virtual workshop series, "Our Untold Stories,” for senior LGBTQ women over 60, her goal is to foster a community of elders who enjoy reading and writing personal narratives. This project also seeks to create greater visibility for a diversity of queer experience, and to connect youth and elders through conversation.
Fatima Seck is one of two Glass Cube Fellows engaging with the Mills College Art Museum collections in 2020-21. In a series of public posts, Seck will write about California landscape art in photograph and film with a focus on feminist geographies. She is interested in how women artists cast a feminist gaze in their imaginations and renderings of the natural and built environment and in how landscapes and their representation are always made and complicated things.
Chantal Tom is one of two Glass Cube Fellows engaging with the Mills College Art Museum collections in 2020-21. In a series of public posts and a digital zine, Tom will write about the overlapping forces of capitalism, gentrification, and climate change and the impact of these things on California artists and writers.
Coming of Age in East Oakland
Mia Boykin and Marissa Houston's project engages a group of middle school students at Bret Harte Middle School in the Dimond district of East Oakland, introducing them to a diverse body of texts geared towards youth. With its potential to construct positive identity formation and a sense of community, young adult literature is a crucial space for students to bear witness and give voice to diverse histories and stories. This is especially true for middle school students in Oakland, an epicenter of national conversations around gentrification, the housing crisis, gun violence, education reform, and criminal justice reform. Students at Bret Harte read and watched texts such as Into the Spiderverse and ultimately created their own coming of age narrative about life in Oakland. Students also facilitated a workshop on the Mills campus through the Mills Oakland Writers Workshop.
Mills Oakland Writers Worshop: Raise Your Voice
Alexandria Jones curated a series of free community workshops on campus, facilitated by four Oakland writers. These workshops continued the tradition of on campus workshops organized by Clare Lilliston in 2018-19, while reflecting Jones’s unique approach. In person and virtually, each workshop had an average 15 and 20 participants. Each writer (or pair of writers) created a thematic workshop in conversation with Jones. These included “Writing to Mend,” facilitated by Jazz Hudson, “Cultivating Your Writing Community,” facilitated by Tiffany Banks, “Stepping into Power,” facilitated by Maud Alcorn, and “Creating Your Lane,” facilitated by Taylor Crumpton . Additionally, students from Bret Harte Middle School facilitated a workshop on “Telling Your Story”. .
“In this past year of Raise Your Voice, I have seen the illumination stories from Black women, working class, queer folks, immigrants, folks with varying ability, students, parents, activists, mental health professionals, and cis men as allies. This project would continue to push conversations around connection, expression, and speaking truth to power.”
Indigenous Zine Workshops
Amber McCrary collaborated with multiple organizations and individuals to host zinemaking workshops focused on Indigenous issues ranging from identity in the Bay Area, wellness, toxic masculinity, feminism, and missing and murdered women. In Oakland, workshops were hosted with the American Indian Child Resource Center, Sierra Edd, a PhD candidate in the ethnic studies department at UC Berkeley and Chantel Jung of the zine collective Indigenous Honeys. Jung, Edd and McCrary created an online space for Indigenous people throughout the United States to tell their stories and create a collaborative zine. Along with the multiple zine projects these workshops inspired, McCrary created vlogs reflecting on each collaboration, and the unique role zinemaking can play for urban Indigenous people to tell their stories and access shared online and in person spaces.
(images from Zine)