After reviewing a number of applications from outstanding grassroots organizations providing arts programs for Oakland youth, the Bell selection committee chose the highly-acclaimed ArtEsteem program of the Attitudinal Healing Connection in West Oakland to receive the 2015 Bell Youth-in-the-Arts Grant. The organization will specifically use the $5,000 grant to focus on activities relating to the Oakland Superheroes Mural Project, a project of ArtEsteem. You owe it to yourselves to see this amazing work of public art, located inside the freeway overpass on West Street between Brockhurst and 33rd Streets. The area in front of the mural has become a shrine in honor of the young artist, Antonio Ramos, who was tragically shot and killed last year while working on the mural. The mural itself represents peace and love in the community, making this loss all the more painful for the neighborhood. The Attitudinal Healing Connection is nearby, at 3278 West Street, where most of the center’s activities have taken place since 1995.
Each year, we look forward to the day we actually deliver the check to our grant winner. Past recipients have included the Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp at Cal Performances, the Gritty City Repertory Youth Theatre, and 510akland. The grant has enabled each of these organizations to provide innovative arts programs for public school students who would otherwise not be exposed to the healing power of the arts.
This year when it came time to deliver the check, it happened to be a cold, drizzly November day. However, we found ourselves welcomed into a warm atmosphere of love and acceptance as soon as Executive Director Amana Harris (author of Self as Super Hero) met us at the door, cofounder Kokomon Clottey (storyteller, record producer and author of Mindful Drumming: Ancient Wisdom for Unleashing the Human Spirit and Building Community) offered us hot tea, and other members of the friendly, cohesive staff gathered to meet us. The fireplace, wood-paneled walls, and colorful art in the community room contribute to the warmth and healing atmosphere available for children, teens, and their parents through programs featuring visual and cultural arts after school and evenings through Family Art Nights. How did I not know about this place before?
The Bell Grant
The primary purposes of the Bell Youth-in-the-Arts Grant are to support, reward, and shine a bright light on the many inspirational arts organizations that have organically emerged in Oakland to offset the loss of arts programs in public schools due to continuing budget cuts. It seems to us that we hear way too much bad news about Oakland and not enough about all of the good news that actually exists.
We receive many accolades for our financial donations to and our involvement with community organizations. We appreciate the attention, but what would please us more would be to have you join us in this support! Please explore the Community section of our website, www.bellinvest.com/about/community and learn about some of the wonderful organizations that exist for the express purpose of solving the problems we hear so much about in Oakland.
In addition to featuring our 2015 grant recipient, the Attitudinal Healing Connection of Oakland, on our website throughout 2016, we will also feature other applicant organizations one at a time each month. We hope you will find an organization to support financially or on a volunteer basis, and if you do, let us know about it!
The principles of Attitudinal Healing are a gift to us all:
- The essence of our being is love.
- Health is inner peace; healing is letting go of fear.
- Giving and receiving are the same.
- We can let go of the past and of the future.
- Now is the only time there is, and each instant is for giving.
- We can learn to love ourselves and others by forgiving rather than judging.
- We can become love finders rather than fault finders.
- We can choose and direct ourselves to be peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside.
- We are students and teachers to each other.
- We can focus on the whole of life rather than the fragments.
- Since love is eternal, change need not be viewed as fearful.
- We can always perceive ourselves and others as extending love or giving a call for help.