(WE ARE) THE KEY TO CHANGE.
SWAY: THE PEOPLE’S GUIDE TO COMMUNITY ORGANIZING (2019 COHORT)
“(WE ARE) The Key to Change” was the culminating project of the inaugural cohort of SWAY: The People’s Guide to Community Organizing. SWAY is an eight-session course for artists, activists, and grassroots leaders who want to tap into their own power and channel it to make change within their neighborhood. Through a grant awarded to the Glass Street Collective in East Chattanooga, we came together as a group of strangers with one known commonality: the desire to positively impact our community. Our group consisted of artists, placemakers, and neighborhood representatives spanning age, gender, belief systems, and race. Each week we entered our shared space with open, vulnerable spirits and minds and left each session both challenged and strengthened.
Following two months of curated workshops on community organizing, we were called upon to create a culminating project on the topic of our choice that would be channeled through artistic media. Collectively, we decided to focus our aims on the theme of Civic Engagement, calling upon our neighbors to look for ways to take ownership and actively participate in community issues. Our performance took place at an annual neighborhood block party in East Chattanooga—Glass Street Live! Titled “(WE ARE) The Key to Change,” the performance piece was multifaceted: the live painting of a community mural where locals and attendees were invited to paint keys to be added to the final work, a pop-up street performance comprised of two new musical pieces (one hip-hop and one choral call-and-response), and the reading of a devised script wrought from cohort member responses to prompts on ideas explored in the SWAY workshop series.