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Ask The River - Billings/Lovett/Wasserman

Thriving Communities Project Grants

We believe that teaching artists can play an essential catalytic role in the greater success of their communities.

In May 2019, the Lab awarded five $10,000 Thriving Communities Project Grants to five teaching artists and artist teams across Vermont. Each teaching artist/team will lead creative place-making projects that heighten awareness and community engagement with a community challenge related to climate change.

The projects include nine teaching artists working with 24 community organizations in four communities: Middlebury, Brattleboro, Marlboro and Burlington.

The projects began unfolding in the winter of 2020 and were put on hold due to the pandemic, to be completed in the summer of 2021.

Creative ReUse Project, led by teaching artists Alissa Faber and Renee Greenlee.

The team of visual artist Evie Lovett of Putney, ikat weaver Elizabeth Billings of Tunbridge and textile artist Andrea Wasserman of Vershire received their grant for “Ask The River,” a community art-making project for Brattleboro focusing on the community’s stewardship of the Connecticut River in light of climate change challenges. Key partners include Rich Holschuh, an advisor on the Abenaki perspective and a member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, the Connecticut River Conservancy, and the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center.

Andrea Wasserman, Elizabethe Billings, Evie Lovett

Erin Maile O'Keefe, a movement artist in Brattleboro and founder of The Human Connection Project, was awarded a grant for “Water Way(s): Co-Evolving with the Whetstone Brook,” which aims to explore how the community can respond to the challenges of the waterway caused by climate change, and enhance the relationship of West Brattleboro residents of all ages to the Whetstone’s Abenaki history and ecology. Partners will include, among others, the Brattleboro Housing Partnership and Chief Roger Longtoe Sheehan, a storyteller, musician and chief of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe.

Erin Maille O'Keefe

The team of sculpture artist Alissa Faber and photographer Renee Greenlee (both of Burlington) will lead the “Creative ReUse" project as they explore the waste stream in the city’s Old North End, and its connection to climate change. They will work with community members to create a sculptural mural out of “wishful recycling” materials; the waste that people wish was recyclable, but which is not, and which slows down the recycling process and makes it less efficient. Key partners include, among others, Seventh Generation, Burlington City Arts and the Chittenden Solid Waste District. Learn more at creativereusecommunity.com.

Alissa Faber

Renee Greenlee

Theater artists Craig Maravich of Hinesburg and Lindsay Pontius, of Westport, NY, are co-founders of Courageous Stage, an arts integration program based in Middlebury that works with youth in classrooms across Vermont. The team plans to create “If I say BEE: A Theatrical Pollinator Event” that will incorporate original music, writing and performance to tell the story of humans rapidly displacing thousands of species of invertebrates through our carbon footprint, and to help participants consider how humans occupy the earth. Maravich and Pontius will partner with Bee the Change and Middlebury UndergrounD (MUD). 

Craig Maravich

Lindsay Pontius

Brad Heck, who teaches Film Studies at Marlboro College, proposed a Virtual Reality experience called “Immersive Vermont: A Virtual Tour of Climate Change,” which he says will “transport viewers to sites impacted by climate change, guiding their experience from a personal and scientific perspective” and will incorporate the voices of residents and naturalists.  He will partner with Marlboro College and with the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center.

Brad Heck

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