"City of Justice" at Brooklyn Museum's First Saturday - Jan. 2nd

On January 2nd, U.S. Department of Arts & Culture-NYC animated and transformed the Brooklyn Museum's 3rd floor Beaux Arts Court space into the "City of Justice" for the Museum's First Free Saturday where thousands of people come through the museum.

This interactive space was organized by the USDAC Field Office. Betty Yu, the NYC Cultural Agent curated the show in partnership with Bridget Bartolini and Nadia Mohamed, Field Office members.

We invited participants to an evening where we imagined 2016 and a future where social justice is realized through 10 participatory art-making stations that included poetry, letter writing, theater, body movement, storycircles, and story mapping. The planning team had some hesitations about organizing this when it was revealed that Brooklyn Museum had leased the space out to the Real Estate Summit for their annual gathering, (a major convening of the real estate giants that are the #1 gentrifying force). USDAC-NYC supported the community protests against the museum. And because of grassroots activism the museum welcomed open dialogue and criticism - we then decided to use the "City of Justice" event as an open space for creative imagination and forward-thinking solutions for housing justice. 

Activist groups involved includes CAAAV Chinatown Tenants Union, Brotherhood SisterSol, Picture the Homeless and others.

Some of our creative imagination stations included:

  • “Letters to the Future”: where visitors write letters in the future
  • “Leaves of Hope”: write hopes for justice on their leaves that will 
  • “Visions of Progress”: write on blocks of buildings defining "Home" and "Progress" 
  • “Map Your Story”: contribute a story of displacement or gentrification 
  • “Memoriam Graffiti Wall”: draw or write messages to honor ancestors and/or living s/heros in the fight for social justice
  • "Justice Story Circle": share your stories of hope and justice 
  • "Poetry and Rhymes Corner": contribute to a collective poem that reflections our visions of liberation.
  • "Theatre of the Oppressed Corner": use your body to express collective images for justice

Check out the full photo album of photos from "City of Justice" at Brooklyn Museum

#DaretoImagine Week of Pop-Up Cultural Actions

During the week of Dare to Imagine in October 10-18th 2015, a week of creative actions and events organized by the U.S. Department of Arts & Culture - USDAC (a non-government people-powered arts and culture social justice network), Betty and others in NYC helped organize (4) NYC based large scale events. They collaborated with neighborhood residents and activists to design and structure the content. Collaborations included partnering with artists in East and West Harlem and groups like Picture the Homeless and Brotherhood/SisterSol. USDAC in NYC also collaborated with community-based art groups like The Laundromat Project, Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts (NOCD-NY), and JACK Art Center to hold Dare to Imagine activities.

"Staying in Harlem" Dare to Imagine in West Harlem with Brotherhood SisterSol

"Staying in Harlem" Dare to Imagine in West Harlem with Brotherhood SisterSol

Check out more photos from the the "Staying in Harlem" Dare to Imagine event with Brotherhood SisterSol.

Dare To Imagine with Picture the Homeless

Dare To Imagine with Picture the Homeless

Dare to Imagine with Picture the Homeless #HandsOffTheHomeless Letters to Mayor DeBlasio 

Dare to Imagine with Picture the Homeless #HandsOffTheHomeless Letters to Mayor DeBlasio 

Artists Letter Writing for our Dare to Imagine with NOCD-NY

Artists Letter Writing for our Dare to Imagine with NOCD-NY

Check out more photos from the Dare to Imagine event with Picture the Homeless

Check out these links to learn more about these events:

Picture the Homeless: Evening of Cultural Resistance

Emissary Spotlight: #DaretoImagine in New York City

 

USDAC NYC-based Art-Infused "Imaginings" Bring Together Hundreds to Envision Housing Justice

This past Summer, as a 2015 NYC U.S. Department of Arts & Culture (a non-government people-powered arts and culture social justice network) Cultural Agent, Betty organized two successful community-based art-infused events, “Imagining: Creative Strategies to Fight Gentrification” in June and July 2015 bringing together over 300 artists, cultural workers, mediamakers, housing rights activists, organizers, community residents and other stakeholders to imagine a future where everyone has adequate housing and it is seen as a human right.

It was unique in that it brought together a cross section of movement and cultural leaders and social justice artists to tackle the omni-present issue of gentrification in our neighborhoods throughout NYC. Participants expressed the desire to have a regular space for organizers, activists, artists, creative folks and other stakeholders to meet and share creative and cultural strategies. From the discussions at smaller scale, place-based Imaginings to other more informal conversations- an overwhelming amount of New Yorkers agree that gentrification and housing displacement is a to key issue facing all New Yorkers and connects and cuts across many other issues like police violence, education reform, labor rights. 

Check out photos from the June 2nd

Also, check out this article about the event.

Participants Break Out into Groups by Borough

Participants Break Out into Groups by Borough

A "People's Anti-Displacement Art Hub" displaying housing justice and anti-displacement themed art

A "People's Anti-Displacement Art Hub" displaying housing justice and anti-displacement themed art

Cultural workers, artists, filmmakers and organizers share their cultural work and needs

Cultural workers, artists, filmmakers and organizers share their cultural work and needs

Each breakout group created visual maps - illustrating their vision for housing justice in hte year 2035

Each breakout group created visual maps - illustrating their vision for housing justice in hte year 2035


Betty presents at World Press Photo in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico in April

Promedios Presents

The Pedagogy of Photography & Digital Storytelling for Social Change

Presenter: Betty Yu, filmmaker, artist and educator, Chinese American

Translator: Mario Roberto Najera, Promedios de Comunicacion Comunitaria

 

Date: April 7, 2015, 19:00

 Location: Kinoki, Belisario Dominguez #5A (Corner of Real de Guadalupe), San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

 Description of Presentation:

The presentation focuses on Betty Yu's experiences with marginalized communities such as immigrant workers, youth of color, homeless and U.S. war veterans utilizing the tools of photography, video and digital storytelling to advocate for social change in the United States. Through the process of photo documentation and digital editing, community members are able to tell their own stories and transform their lives.


Betty Yu's "Discovering My Grandfather Through Mao" featured in On-lIne Festival

Betty Yu's 2012 short film, "Discovering My Grandfather Through Mao" is now streaming online as part of Culture Unplugged's Humanity Explored FIlm Festival.

From  Betty Yu's "Discovering My Grandfather Through Mao"

From  Betty Yu's "Discovering My Grandfather Through Mao"

"Discovering My Grandfather Through Mao" (18mins) 

Synopsis: “Discovering My Grandfather through Mao” is a short documentary about my personal journey as I uncover my grandfather’s radical history as a labor organizer and co-founder of the Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance of New York (CHLA), one of the oldest Chinese-American labor organizations in this country. 

My grandfather, Sui Woo, was a hand laundry worker. He got together with other workers and recognized the need for an organization that could challenge the racist and anti-Chinese policies in the 1930's America.