Alicia Hansen- NYCSalt is a non-profit photography program for inner city kids. Right now we’re primarily working with kids who are in high school. They mostly come from Washington Heights, The Bronx, and a few from Hell’s Kitchen and the Lower East Side. Our program spans all over the city. We have four photographers, including myself, who teach a group of about ten to fourteen kids during the academic year, and in the summer we have special programs. All the classes are taught by professionals, so we focus on applying the art of photography as a trade, as well as finding internships for the kids interested in pursuing photography as a trade. We meet for two hours each week for class, and then each student gets five hours a week of studio time. They have two shows each year, one in June and one in December, which are pretty large events.
L+W- What inspired you to start such an amazing and inspiring organization?
AH- I’ve been a professional photographer for over 15 years, and I always thought it would be fun to hold a class for kids. I never had art classes in school growing up, so it wasn’t until college that I was able to explore my creativity and find that I was really good at photography. I think there are many kids who are extremely creative but don’t have the school programs that provide them with the proper guidance to hone their talents. Our program gives them something to focus on, it gives them support and love and keeps them out of trouble.
L+W- What is the most moving moment you’ve had so far?
AH- One of our students, Devin, came to us six years ago. He was the chubby kid who got picked on quite a bit by his classmates in school. He wasn’t interested in sports at all- he was interested in fashion design, which made him even less popular with the other boys. He had really low self-esteem and confidence. It turned out that he is a very talented photographer in that his work usually tells a story on a deeper level than most. I remember our first show when he walked in and said, “oh, I have five pictures on the wall- I didn’t think I was that good!” And he got to see his pictures sell as well. To watch him over the years go from being the insecure kid who was put down by his peers to embracing all of the opportunities we’ve opened for him has been extremely rewarding. He is now the youngest intern at Diane Von Furstenberg. He went from working one day a week to three days a week and is developing relationships there. He also found an internship on his own through the owner of the gallery that housed our last show. He has gone from being extremely shy to a great networker who is not afraid to ask for what he wants, and I see great things happening for him in his future.
L+W- Is there anything else we should know about NYCSalt that we haven’t talked about?
AH- I think the inspiration for starting this was to give back to my own community to the best of my ability. I have a huge love for the kids and have worked really hard at building relationships with them in order to help them find the right opportunities. Over the years I’ve been blessed with seeing a lot of results because I’ve been working on this long enough, and it’s extremely rewarding. We’re looking forward to the future and to the new kids who come through our program.
If you live in NYC you won’t want to miss the Reveal NYC Spa Benefit this coming Wednesday, July 28. The proceeds from the night go toward funding the Reveal Monthly Self-Care Workshops for women recovering from abuse and domestic violence. And it’s VERY affordable!!!
Check it out and get your tickets here:
We’ll see you there…
Music fans far and wide, The Listening Voice by Dominique Miniaci is a WONDERFUL new blog that chronicles great music throughout NYC. And when I say great, I mean smart, interesting, insightful, soulful, all-around artistic work by musicians who seriously rock. It is worth reading because Nique is an incredible writer, and listening to because the music is definitely worthy of a listen. You won’t be disappointed. And you will be supporting artists who deserve to be heard.
Check it out!!!
The National Conference on Volunteering and Service is taking place right now in NYC. As it says on the home page, it is the largest gathering of volunteer and service leaders from the non-profit, government and corporate sectors. The best part about this amazing event is that you can follow it almost entirely via social media, and let me tell you IT IS WORTH FOLLOWING!
What we so often forget is that a lot of a little adds up to a lot, FAST. By your taking a few minutes to look at the opportunities presented at this conference, you are in fact committing a portion of your time to community service. And that’s what it’s all about.
If you do anything, watch this video which sums up the conference, then go to the home page and find one of the social media outlets that works for you and hook in, even for just a few minutes, to see what’s taking place at this groundbreaking event.
The LAMP, located in New York City, is an amazing non-profit organization that focuses on educating people to become media literate. They hold workshops and events in all five boroughs to teach children as well as parents, educators and anyone who is interested about the power of manipulation in advertising. Their programs have already created a cutting-edge response to media powers by having their participants question ads that are extremely powerful. I talked with founder DC Vito to learn more about this fast-growing organization.
Love+Water- Can you explain the basic concept of The LAMP?
DC Vito- The LAMP is creating a grassroots movement to improve and reform the media. We provide media literacy services to youth, parents and educators throughout New York City. These services take the form of workshops or events, and we go into communities to work to create critical, savvy media consumers. At the end of every program we do, we make sure that everyone understands that all media are constructions. They are constructed by someone with an intended target audience; for example, when you suddenly feel thirsty and crave Coca Cola, there is a reason for that which has a lot to do with the way the media have taught us to think. Our goal is to create more media-savvy consumers who will demand a better media product that is more responsible, more geared to their needs and more sustainable.
Love and Water supports the work of Kageno, and wants to let all of the NYC community know about their Day of Wellness in Support of Africa Event at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation on April 11. There is still time to purchase tickets.