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Six Places That Are Truly Making the World a Better Place

Written by Liza Mock | Sep 02, 2015

The year seems to be flying by. And the passing of another quarter means that we are able to offer support to six more organizations we find incredibly inspiring: Oakland Leaf, The Center for Art and Public Life, United Roots Oakland, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Redux Studios & Gallery and Girls Rock Camp. All six were nominated by Gliffy employees and have touched our lives.

Oakland Leaf whose credo is “love in action”, was founded in 2002 and serves over 1400 students and their families each year. The organization provides “a series of free school-based programs and community services that give students and families with limited financial resources access to the tools they need-not just to succeed, but to excel. Oakland Leaf cultivates community transformation through creative education for youth and families. Its simple goal is to give students and their parents the resources they need to become agents of positive change in their community.”

The Center for Art and Public Life integrates with California College of the Arts and “believes engaging communities is the foundation of a practice focused on changing the world.” Recent projects include building an outdoor kitchen from scratch for Alemany Farms, creating the JuaBar, a solar-powered, mobile charging station for Tanzania’s rural community, and the Athena Project in which ARISE high school students researched, created and installed a 30-foot mural at the Fruitvale Bart Station.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, founded in 2001 by a Portland State University student, is a nonprofit that “builds girls’ self-esteem through music creation and performance.” It offers technical training and other workshops and creates leadership opportunities. The camp lives by the knowledge that “Girls Rock” is more than just a slogan and believes that: “Girls can play any kind of music they want, that creative voices of girls and women need to be amplified to create social change, and that there is a need to create a community where girls support each other rather than tearing each other down.”

Redux Studios & Gallery is a social enterprise of St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County. Their commitment to recycling and reuse drew the organization to the world of visual art. Through programs that promote creative reuse and environmental stewardship, Redux has found a way to start conversations around the best use of the resources around us while at the same time diverting materials from the waste stream that would otherwise end up in the landfill.

Redux has an Artists in Residence program. It “produces art from society’s throwaways and provides qualified artists working in a variety of media with the use of a studio and unlimited access to waste materials in our Alameda County warehouse facility. In return, the artists create art from reclaimed waste, develop product lines, talk to tour groups, and develop products for replication.”

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a not-for-profit professional theatre founded in 1935. Located in Ashland, Oregon the theatre offers plays both old and new and operates for the majority of the calendar year. It’s a place where art and life share a thin boundary and you will often find actors whose performance you watched the night before sitting at the dinner table next to you. Its mission statement: “Inspired by Shakespeare’s work and the cultural richness of the United States, we reveal our collective humanity through illuminating interpretations of new and classic plays, deepened by the kaleidoscope of rotating repertory.” serves as the company’s guiding light.

United Roots Oakland was established in 2010. It was “born from the convergence of several East Bay organizations that collectively envisioned a youth-led movement to harness arts and media to promote unity and peace in neighborhoods struggling with violence.” Today, its programs include: music, tech training, video, theater, dance, visual arts, leadership, eco-arts and healing arts. It’s a place where socially innovative ways are part of the everyday, where homeless youth become self-sufficient and young people are inspired to do good for their community. United Roots Oakland “engages and empowers marginalized youth in socially innovative ways.”