Arts Street’s EnvironMENTAL is a yearlong project with multiple components.
It was designed as a means for youth to gain valuable workplace skills, express themselves, and inspire others in their communities to take action regarding the environment through a creative lens. During the pandemic there has been a rise in hopelessness, anxiety and depression which has been compounded by climate change and other environmental issues. Multiple creative projects assisted youth in expressing themselves while decreasing their anxiety and giving them a platform for their voices to be heard.
Arts Street@YEA is the creative industries incubator of the Youth Employment Academy (YEA), a stand-alone non-profit affiliated with Denver Housing Authority. YEA’s mission is to help youth break the cycle of generational poverty in Denver communities by gaining personal and economic stability though education, arts and technology and creative employment training. Arts Street works with youth ages 14-21 empowering them to pursue future education and employment opportunities. We harness their talents, provide them with real-world experience in creative industries and help them build valuable skills for the future through our arts-based programming.
The EnvironMENTAL project kicked off in Spring 2020 with 9 Arts Street interns piloting our Mask Project. In the summer of 2020, Arts Street expanded the projects and worked with 23 teens in partnership with DPS Career Connect. They used art as a vehicle for exploring eco-racism, eco-anxiety, neighborhood impacts and the power of art for expression and to create conversations and change. Through this direct action, EnvironMENTAL empowered youth in order to ease their eco-anxiety and provide concrete steps to change their community’s future. These amazing young people created this website as a platform for relevant projects as well as to educate and inspire others to create change in their own communities. Along with the website, they created District Bios focusing on their own communities and the environmental issues and possible solutions for those areas. They also developed Upcycled Products and tutorials for the public to utilize and expressed their views on environmental issues through words and visual arts. Check out their creations on these pages: Mask Project, and Eco-Anxiety Art.
Thank you to all of the partners who assisted us with our summer programming; Kephart Architecture, the Good Pencil Company, Bridget Johnson, Green Girl Recycling, artist photographer Juan Fuentes, artist Jhovany Garcia, facilitator Benjamin Itangishaka, artist/entrepreneur Carolina Fountoura Alzaga, voice over artist Judy Fossum, Tamika Thomas Urban Collective Counseling and our district representatives; City Councilman Jolon Clark, City Councilman Chris Herndon, City Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer, City Councilwoman Jamie Torres.
The Arts Street youth created a thoughtful presentation on concerns they had regarding environmental issues in their communities. It's so important for us to listen to the voices of our youth and support them in creating the change they want to see. I applaud their hard work and commitment.
— Denver City Councilman
Christopher Herndon, District 8
Arts Street Interns Create Art to Inspire Action
by Vivvyan Barraza, Age 16, Abraham Lincoln High Shool
The world is not what it once was
Beautiful, green, untouched
What is it like now?
Dying, dark, polluted
Do it for you
Do it for the ones before us
Do it for everyone already helping
It’s time to stop taking advantage
It provided for us in many ways
How do we repay it?
Pollution of trash, air, people
Do it for the animals
Do it for the generations to come
Do it for the future of this Earth