By Monica Wrobel
On Friday, June 7th, Michelle Jones, a graduate of our Emerging Leaders and Democracy Fellows programs, delivered a powerful keynote presentation at Family Justice Center of Erie County's "Voices Ending Violence" breakfast. Featured as a “Voice of Courage,” Michelle told her story of survival and shared images from her Democracy Fellows project, a community multimedia art collection entitled "From the Inside Out."
As Michelle states on the "From the Inside Out" website, www.buffalo-photo.com, “The purpose of this project is to bring an increased awareness to domestic violence and ultimately spread a message of hope to others through Public Art. Open Buffalo has afforded me the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how to create change starting with my own community.”
For Michelle, creating that change does not end with her artistic work, but has expanded into a series of workshops that facilitate deep conversations on the personal narratives of those impacted by domestic violence, offering support and examining this pervasive societal issue. In our core work, Open Buffalo embraces this strategy of arts integration to create spaces of recognition and healing – a necessary feature to create the conditions for our communities to thrive.
We are truly inspired by how Michelle continues to share her fellowship project with the Buffalo community to spread a message of hope through Public Art! Our commitment as an organization is to engage more individuals in our leadership development programs to exercise their power as change makers, equipped to use their skills and gifts to confront inequities and injustices that persist in Buffalo.
As Michelle expresses on www.buffalo-photo.com, “While connecting with the community I have been able to share with so many others the opportunities and resources that Open Buffalo has to offer, creating a pipeline for future change agents.”