Return to Uptown Summer

This morning I began my intership with The Sanctuary for Indepenent Media or ‘renewed’ I should say.

I, again, was nervous about coming here today…new people, kids, not knowing what to expect but it has been AWESOME.

The first time I discovered the Sanctuary was in Decemeber 2011. It was a cold winter night and I stopped into Proctor’s Theatre in downtown Schenectady for a hot chocolate while I waited for my transfer bus. I still remember seeing the yellow and gray flyer: as a digital media enthusiast and a passionate freelance writer, there was no question as to why the name caught my eye. I pictured rebel activists huddled in a dark space stacked with litarature, video equpiment, computers, political posters on the walls, and the sound of revolution in the air. Although the real thing isn’t as romantic as my imagination, I wasn’t too far off. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was about to be apart of community of artists and idealist who weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty while fighting to revitilize the community and make the world a better place.

I emailed them right away and it wasn’t until a year later that I recieved a response from the community leader, Branda Miller, who invited me to be apart of their collective. By then I had long forgotten that fateful night, but the proverbial ‘they’ say timing is everything, and they would be right. My latest work assignment for my staffing agency had just ended and I was inbetween jobs and looking for a fulfiling change and a creative outlet. So I packed my bag and set out for Troy and it wasn’t long before I was behind the camera shooting live footage feed for their website at Freedom Square.

Fast forward 3 years and here I am again. Many new and some familar faces. I jumped right in and began helping one of the students with his project on bullying. He had recorded some of his peers talking about their experiences with bully and he needed to rerecord his part and then edit it all together. We practiced his speech in the new recording room – soon to be home to their upcoming radio station.  Branda had assigned me to work with him and help him put more energy into his reading. Although well written, I felt that his presentation fell somewhat flat. To help him become more at ease, I edited his work to reduce some of the redundacies and then tried to get him to loosen up by having him read it forward and backwards, sometimes empazing certain words, and trying silly accents but it wasn’t until I began asking questions that he started to open up. I couldn’t help but empthasize, as I too have a hard time letting loose and bringing my personality out around new people or being free enough to really preform a piece of my work in person. So to help him connect I started throwing out scenarios, “imagine you are talking to just one person, a bully, and you really have a chance to change this person’s life and as a result every life he or she touches. Maybe he or she will hear what you have to say and think ‘Wow’ I don’t want to be a bully anymore and he or she will stop and you might be part of the reason that a life is saved.” The most exciting thing was to watch the wheels start turning in his head and the flood gates of imagination opening and before I knew it he was throwing ideas out at me. It was beautiful. Here I am volunteering to be apart of something greater, and this young man was inspiring me. We stopped the reading to focus on editing his previous recordings and he really engaged as we sifted through his recordings and what we worked on together.

That’s what you can expect to find down here at The Sanctuary: a beautiful community of people of all ages working to inspire greatness through art, education and diet.

Keep a lookout for the finished product on bullying, a growing national epedemic. It’s sure to be enlighting as all the kids have been working hard under the fantastic leadership skilled and talented volunteers and staff.

And as for me, I’ll be back tomorrow and I can’t wait!




by Alyica Bacon,

The Modern Scribe

for The Sanctuary for Independent Media