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Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.


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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Story|Line 2011


The completed mural. More photos coming soon on StoryLine site.


This year’s StoryLine was wonderful—way beyond my expectations. It restored my faith in many things, but most of all the children.

First a quick intro for those who need it: StoryLine is a multi-entity collaboration with Charlottesville Parks & Recreation that takes children from their summer camps on a series of neighborhood walks and culminates with a mural on our Free Expression Wall. This year’s walks were in the woods at a reservoir, a creek, and a river—a three-part examination of a single set of water’s pathways both visible and invisible. [Full schedule/info]

It was tremendous fun to hang out with the kids and walk in the woods with them, but the thing that blew me away the most, aside from the general enthusiasm, was the high-level at which everything happened. Each walk included a naturalist, who introduced the topics, answered questions and connected tremendously well with the kids. Their resumes read like a who’s-who of water and conservation. Those scholars were completely matched in quality by our volunteers: artists, architects, photographers. All gave tremendous amounts of their time and they did so without hesitation.

The kids were even more impressive. First of all, they could really draw—the art they produced was amazing. They were simultaneously energetic and very focused; they had no trouble paying attention and were full of surprises.

Here’s the most hilarious example. We took a break from our fourth session (the wall drawing) to hear from a delegation from Afghanistan, an imminent group that included a supreme court judge and ministry officials. One of them asked, with a smile, if any of the kids knew where their country is located.

A child answered: “In the center of Asia between Turkmenistan, Iran, and Pakistan.” A shocked silence was followed by the admission that the individual had been born in the country, then a few friendly greetings in Dari (or was it Pashto?)

No assumptions about the children were valid—especially anything to do with limitations. This was an amazing group of kids doing excellent work. I am honored to have walked among them and completely motivated for my own work.

The main thought I carry with me is this: I have to find a way to do this all the time.

I blogged about each day on the StoryLine web site:

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

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