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Summer Changes Everything: Garden of Fire to Present at Baltimore Conference

2015 Conf badge-presenterI am very pleased to be presenting at the 12th Annual National Summer Learning Association Conference. This year’s conference theme, Renewing the Promise and Purpose of Learning, celebrates the joy of learning, the perfect tie-in with our own Garden of Fire Summer Program.

I, Gigi Alvaré , Director of Education at The Rockwell Museum, will travel to Baltimore to present with my colleagues Emily Hofelich-Bowler and Alli Lidie; we’ll present on how networking and collaboration can spark innovation in summer programming.

Gigi Alvaré, Director of Education at The Rockwell Museum, reads the Garden of Fire story during the first summer session

Our presentation, entitled Garden of Fire: Reaping the Rewards of Community Networking Through a Joint Summer Program, will highlight how several organizations and programs came together in a rural community to create a rich summer program for youth. The Garden of Fire was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America Grant after the first summer of programming.

The session will give context to the Garden of Fire collaboration with an opening discussion, led by Alli Lidie, Deputy Director and White-Riley-Peterson Policy Fellow of AfterSchool Works! NY: the New York State Afterschool Network (ASW:NYSAN). Alli will speak about the structure for regional after-school networks in New York State that bring together both after-school and summer providers in their communities. The Garden of Fire program grew out of the relationships formed through network participation, and through work with The Triangle Fund, a funder and member of the network. The session will also touch on work done by other regional networks in New York.

Emily Hofelich-Bowler, Executive Director of the Addison Youth Center
Emily Hofelich-Bowler, Executive Director of the Addison Youth Center, presents her owl friend to students

The Garden of Fire is a project conceived collaboratively by local organizations whose purpose is to build capacity, depth and the integration of art and science for programs serving at-risk youth in Steuben County, New York. Emily Hofelich-Bowler, Executive Director of the Addison Youth Center, will speak about networking with the local school districts to optimize resources, and how incorporating state-wide learning initiatives (STEM) as part of the program gave the summer program more leverage and legitimacy in asking for school support.

By providing programming led by professional artists and educators held in museums, gardens, and fields, the local community and region opens up to students who otherwise might have very limited opportunities. It is our hope that the model program we have collectively created will spark the imagination and action of other communities to build their own Gardens of Fire.

Together we can care for our most precious gifts: the earth itself and the children who live on it. 

Gigi1Gigi Alvaré
Director of Education
The Rockwell Museum

GoF Featured in NYSAN Learning Brief

We’re very excited to be featured in the New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN) Learning Brief highlighting summer learning opportunities across the state. Find the full brief and additional fact sheets here. Find us on page 5!

We couldn’t say it better ourselves, so here it is straight from NYSAN:

“There is a well-documented need for a statewide, coordinated system of youth programs that operate outside of school hours, including before and after school, and during weekends and other school breaks, to provide high-quality, enriching experiences that contribute to the learning and healthy development of youth. Given their sizable impact on young people, summer learning opportunities must be a critical component of this system. However, far too many children have little or no exposure to the safe, supervised learning and enrichment activities that summer programs can provide.

“Summer experiences help meet the needs of all children; this is especially true for children from traditionally underserved communities, including children of color, those from low-income families, and children living in rural areas. Research shows that summer learning loss is a significant contributor to the achievement gap; students from low-income families typically lose two to three months in reading achievement and two months of math skills during the summer months.

Far too many children have little or no exposure to the safe, supervised learning and enrichment activities that summer programs can provide.”

Well said! And Happy Friday!

Synergy Through Artistic Collaboration

Under the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Challenge America grant, a new public art piece is under way.

I (Amy Ruza, Education Programs Coordinator at The Rockwell) am collaborating with metal artists Tony Moretti and Gwen Quigley from Hammondsport, NY to create a sculpture made from glass, metal and natural materials. We’ll celebrate the unveiling of the artwork at the Garden of Fire Festival, held at CareFirst this coming August 2015. We are combining our glass-blowing and metal-working skills to fabricate a mixed-media sculpture that connects to the themes of the summer youth program.

Amu Ruza gathers glass to create a glass squash.
Artist and educator Amy Ruza gathers glass to create a glass squash.

The carefully-planned design puts a twist on the traditional Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) “Three Sisters” crops: corns, beans and squash. The sculpture will also invoke the importance of wind in gardening, related to pollination, and the use of wind energy to help sustain plant growth.

The sculpture is still in its early stages, but imagine this:
A tall sunflower with a glass center,  surrounded by spinning metal petals. Below, spherical glass peas in metal pods, along with a glass squash plant with large, twisty metal leaves and vines.

These colorful glass mandalas will represent the centers of the sunflowers.
These colorful glass mandalas will represent the centers of the sunflowers.

The blown-glass parts were made at The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning. Tony and Gwen will fabricate the metal parts at their home studio. The completed sculpture will be relatively easy to install and de-install, making it a non-permanent sculpture with the goal of being re-exhibited at multiple locations around the region.

While it is certainly necessary for youth to create art themselves, it is equally as important to expose them to professional-quality, contemporary, artistic creations.   Art inspires us by provoking creativity, an awareness of new ideas, and giving us an experience that engages all of our senses, enlightening our spirits and connecting us as people. 

Participants will recognize artists Tony Moretti and Gwen Quigley from their participation in last year's Garden of Fire program.
Participants will recognize artists Tony Moretti and Gwen Quigley from their participation in last year’s Garden of Fire program.

The sculpture will show how artists from different backgrounds can work together to create something harmonious to share with the world.

We are grateful for this artistic opportunity to stay involved in the community as artists and to have this chance to work together to experiment with new ideas.  Receiving the NEA grant has opened up a creative doorway into a new collaboration with exciting, technically challenging and inspiring ideas to interweave blown glass, metal and other natural materials.

Stay tuned for the completion and unveiling of this sculpture at the Garden of Fire celebration on August 14, 2015!

Amy Ruza
Education Programs Coordinator
The Rockwell Museum

Fresh Starts & Festivals

On behalf of CareFirst, I am excited to announce that we will be hosting this year’s Garden of Fire Festival!

As an organization, CareFirst is most known for our hospice program, working with those at end of life; however, we have a variety of other services including grief services for children that focuses specifically on encouraging emotional healing and healthy coping.  We have been honored to represent CareFirst in the Garden of Fire program and were thrilled when we could participate last year; giving children involved an opportunity to connect their work in art and science with their own personal well-being.

CareFirst recently moved to the former Frank Pierce School building in Painted Post.

This year, CareFirst is looking forward to taking our involvement to a whole new level by hosting the Garden of Fire Festival at our new office.  In an effort to better serve our community and create room for expansion, CareFirst recently moved to what was formerly known as the Frank Pierce School in Painted Post.  We nearly tripled the size of our office space and are on 13 acres of land, providing plenty of opportunities to host events such as this.  We are optimistic that we will reach more of our community by having the festival at our facility and look forward to welcoming all of you here.

Chelsea Ambrose, LMSW
Grief Services Clinical Leader

Garden of Fire Logo Design Winners Announced!

Congratulations to Aidan (age 11), Kara (age 12) and Taylor (age 9)!

Garden of Fire - Final Logo
The Garden of Fire logo incorporates design elements from each participating youth center!

With such a diverse array of participating organizations in the Garden of Fire program, we felt it deserved its very own logo – and who better to design it than the participants themselves?

The project began with a lesson plan created to teach the participating youths about logo and graphic design, including some criteria to guide their creations. They were asked to create a circular design with a limited color palette, using the Garden of Fire Story as inspiration. The story brings up themes of nature, gardening, art, life cycles, elements, and personal growth. Each youth center sent in their designs, and a committee including a representative from all of the partnering organizations and youth centers decided on the winners.

The committee was so blown away by the students’ creativity and vision, that it was decided to choose strong elements of a logo from a student at each youth center to create one super-logo that truly encapsulates the collaborative efforts of the program. The tagline, “Where young minds grow” was created by the students at Hornell Area Concern for Youth, and captures the intent of the program perfectly.

Click on the icons below to see the raw submissions that turned into the final logo, as well as the committee’s awards of “Honorable Mention.”

Thank you to everyone who submitted their logo designs – it was a very hard decision, as all of the submissions were very creative and moving.

All of the logo designs will be on display at the specific youth centers, and again at the Garden of Fire festival to be held later in the summer.