Event Recap

Uptown Summer 2018

Uptown Summer is a 5-week youth employment program that gives voice to Rensselaer County teens. The program combines art, science, media production, and environmental education. This year’s theme was telling stories of environmental justice and resilience. Each week was packed with programming, introducing youth to new skills and ideas, and developing their creativity and voice.


Environmental Education

A key objective is to provide youth with the knowledge and skills to become environmental stewards and stand up for environmental justice in their communities. Researching environmental challenges through scientific, creative, and social justice lenses, participants learn hands-on skills like gardening, plant-identification, and biological sampling.  Youth develop leadership skills, enriching their urban ecologies through projects like the 2018 NATURE Lab Design Think-Tank.

Sharing stories through media production

With a low-power radio station, an arsenal of equipment, and a network of media professionals on site, the Sanctuary is well-equipped to introduce youth to the skills and methodologies of media production. The Uptown Summer ’18 youth researched, planned, recorded, and edited stories of environmental justice and resilience to be broadcast on WOOC 105.3! Throughout the process they engaged in their communities by recording at public events, collecting data through social media, and reaching out to local experts.


Playlist of films documenting the 2018 program.


2018 projects:

2018 workshops and activities:

Staff, Interns, and Volunteers:
Branda Miller, Uptown Summer Coordinator, Professor, Arts, RPI
Kathy High, Nature Lab Coordinator, Professor, Arts, RPI
Ellie Irons, Mentor, Arts PhD student, RPI
Hana van der Kolk, Mentor, Arts PhD student, RPI
Julia Cavicchi, Radio Production Coordinator, Skidmore Intern
Durasia Anderson, Data Justice, RPI Intern
Catherine Rafferty, Photography and Video Post-Production, RIT Intern
Christopher Johnstone, Video Production and Post-Production, Concordia Intern
Lydia Robb, Social Media and Urban Ecology, Concordia Intern
Maya Sanders, Grassroots Science, RPI
Van Tran Nguyen, Developmental Teaching Assistant, Arts PhD student, RPI
Patrick Quinn, Developmental Teaching Assistant, Arts PhD student, RPI
Adam Simon, Skidmore Intern
Jonathan Segol, KitchenSanctuary Chef

Uptown Summer 2018 would not have been possible without the support of people like you and from McCarthy Charities, the B’nai B’rith Gideon Foundation and the Bender Scientific Fund of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, Troy Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, Skidmore Community Arts Program,  National Endowment for the Arts Art Works, The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Justice Community Impact Grant and Stewart’s Shops.