The Festival

In 2009-10, The Living Word Project (LWP) partnered with the Cynthia Mitchell Center in Houston, Riverside Church and the City Parks Foundation in New York, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and The Ella Baker Center in Oakland to host eco-equity inter-disciplinary performance events in neglected parks in underserved neighborhoods around the country. Each event will mark an opportunity to model partnerships between diverse and underserved communities, green action agencies, and the contemporary arts world.

The events themselves are based on LWP’s incredibly successful red, black and GREEN Environmental Caucus and Concert (rbG) which attracted 1,500 Bay Area residents to West Oakland’s deFremery Park during the 2008 Living Word Festival.

The thematic focus of each convening will be audience development through the lens of eco-equity, the radically democratic position that poor communities and communities of color are logistically and psychologically included in to the new, clean and green economy. This green economy indicates the rapidly growing billion-dollar sector that includes renewable energy sources, organic produce and products, green buildings, alternative fuel vehicles, and more.

In order to jumpstart a conversation about environmental racism, social ecology, and collective responsibility in a climactic era of climate change, we will present the following activities at each event:

  • Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle. We partner with Samurai Graphix / Estria to curate 20 visual artists into a public outdoor installation. Each artist will each be given a 6X8 foot canvas, biodegradable materials, and non-aerosol, non-toxic paint to create environmentally themed, graffiti style tags around the park. Each artist paints the word “LIFE”, and we then hang their murals in 20 different locations around the host city, hoping to catalyze deeper thought and community action around the value of life in communities experiencing record homicide rates. The ensuing campaign visually affirms local sustainability, and was named “LIFE is Living.” The same process is replicated in other cities, with different key words, such as: Earth, Grow & Heal.
  • The Music Concert. In the midst of the public outdoor installation-in-progress activities of the graffiti battle, we hold a mid afternoon outdoor performance in the park. our roster of artists include the award winning rapper/actor Mos Def, Linda Tillery, The John Santos Sextet, MC Lyte, The Gide Memorial Church Choir, The Coup, Pharoah Monche, Universes, Queen Godis, Rebel Diaz, Saul Williams and Goapele.
  • Service Learning. A locally sponsored service learning project for youth that engages participants in the knowledge of, and constructive play with rapid renewable resources such as bamboo, and other materials sourced locally.
  • Environmental Action. Life is Living uses the context of an urban performance festival to re-affirm and expand upon a community’s sustainable survival practices. We organize with an emphasis on food justice, and host activities that include farmer’s markets, tree plantings, edible garden demonstrations, aquaponic gardening, bicycle power demonstrations, and days of service at organic farms. We power our mainstage performances with solar energy, contextualizing hip hop artists like Mos Def, Saul Williams, Pharoah Monche, and The Coup within the center of the alternative energy conversation.