Family Fun Night is the component of TAP’s First Night Austin Neighborhood Project where we create a space for students and their families to come together and be a part of discovering their neighborhood and work on projects that will be used in our First Night Austin parade on December 31st. The Neighborhood Project is all about celebrating the beauty in our neighborhoods and exploring where we might want to make improvements.
All of our after-school classes will be doing First Night Austin projects, however Brown Elementary is one of the four schools within the Lamar/183 Neighborhood that will work on this project more in-depth. Each of these schools will focus on either, art, food, architecture, or the natural beauty of their neighborhood/Austin. Brown is focusing on the natural beauty of their neighborhood.
The Brown Elementary’s Family Fun Night had a great turn out of over 30 families! As the families walked in, they marked where they lived and places of natural beauty on a map of Austin. They also made door hangers to represent beauty within their neighborhood, and took a school tour which included four components: taking photos, creating a map, creating 3-d signs, and the creation of a podcast. By having the students document the tour through photography and a podcast, the audience can literally follow their footsteps, and see how the school looks through their eyes.
The Brown Elementary Program Coordinator, Claire, thought the school tour was a great way to empower the youth by giving them a voice. That was wonderful news to me, as that was exactly what I had hoped to do! I was thinking about how museums and tours set things apart as “special”. I wanted to see if we could “museum-ify” the kids’ most immediate every day environment; supporting the project’s larger goals of not having to leave our every day lives to find something special or beautiful, but to find that beauty in our own lives, in our own surroundings.
One of the youth’s parents gave Claire a big hug after the event, and told her that the door hanger activity was really beautiful, a really important activity for both of her children (one of whom is in my class, one who’s in pre-K) to think about what’s important in their community. She was one of the first parents to tell me that she’d like to come along on our field trip today too, in which we’re going to go on a walk in the neighborhood around our school to take photos of the natural beauty in our neighborhood. These photos will inspire the large scale puppetry we’re working on for the First Night parade. We’ll also be collecting found objects, which we’ll use as material with which to create our puppets.
Brown’s Family Fun Night on December 3rd will have special guest Patrick Fortson, a Geologist at W&M Environmental Group, Inc. and graduate of the University of Texas with a degree in Geosystems Engineering & Hydrogeology. The kids will get to ask Patrick questions about geology and check out specimens of Austin’s natural landscape and Geology Field Equipment.
Natalie Goodnow, TAP Artistic Associate and Teaching Artist