Brainstorming and Building Our Stories: Day 3 of Uptown Summer 2016

Day 3 of Uptown Summer left us wondering what we can build with and in our communities, as a morning of working in the garden moved  into an afternoon of brainstorming in the Sanctuary.


Our morning began with the beeping sounds of a dump truck in reverse, set to provide us with a ton of gravel to add to the pathway that extends through the L-Lot. We spent our morning there, shoveling gravel into pathways, turning piles of dirt and stone into spaces for walking and moving forward into well-loved spaces. With shovels and wheelbarrows and rakes we turned weeds into walking spaces, fueled by water breaks and laughter.


Tired from the morning but fueled by the lunch in our stomachs, we moved into the afternoon in a contemplative, creative haze. Windows opened, fans set and spinning high, we began to brainstorm the stories we will work on through the remainder of the summer. Uptown Summer 2016 has been commissioned by the Breathing Lights art project to create two films about abandoned buildings, urban blight, and urban hope, and today we spent in brainstorming. We were guided by our guests: Rob Brill, editor of the Times Union, Story Candles artist Brenda Ann Kenneally,  and several of our Neighborhood Ambassadors.


Still feeling the heat of the day, we shared our initial thoughts of story possibilities: stories that have impacted our lives, the lives of others in the room, and the lives of those we care about. We share conversations that we’ve had with others during Uptown Summer on the things that make us curious or hopeful or angry or proud about our communities. In brainstorming together, we began to see the first whispers of stories take form. We may not know what we will discover as the stories take shape, but the thoughts we shared today will stay with us as we move the stories from brainstorming into action.


In a way, the morning’s garden labor foreshadows the kind of work our afternoon storytelling will do over the course of the summer. It is, to be fair, a different kind of building and creation. We will trade our shovels for questions and answers in reporter’s notebooks, our wheelbarrows for video cameras, and our rakes for editing software. The pathway we redefine and contribute to will not be one we build by ourselves. It will be as it was today, a task we will work as a team to help construct, one that sets the foundation for more work and movement and action in the future.


This post was written by Sanctuary intern Jenna Kersten.

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