Author Archives: Stacey Garcia

C3 Kick off Meeting Sept 9th 2018

Written by Jeff Caplan and Stacey Marie Garcia

What has 88 smiles, 38 tears, 540 great ideas and a building full of hope and inspiration?

The first C3 meeting of the committee to replace senior isolation with connection in Santa Cruz County. On Sunday September 9 a group on seniors, artists and advocates engaged in brainstorming, sharing stories and documenting their experiences, feelings and wisdom. It was an energizing Sunday at the MAH.

To summarize that five hour, active village gathering, one senior said: “I feel impressed with all the synthesis of ideas and offers to lend a helping hand. The food was good too.”

Here are some of the questions we discussed and responses from seniors:

  1. Share a time that you felt loneliness because of being a senior.
    “Isolation comes from big and little changes in life: My divorce.”
    “The death of my dog.”
    “Losing my home. Being placed in a Senior home. “
  2. What does feeling isolated or lonely feel like?
    “Isolation feels like being invisible.”
    “Like a gift box that is empty.”
    “Envy of others connecting.”
  3. What would a world without loneliness look like or feel like to you?
    “Warm, happy, secure, connected”
    “Senior communities as ‘living libraries'”
    “A world with Driverless Cars?”
    See the full list and a word cloud of responses from C3 participants here.

After lunch, we shifted focus to developing the Big Ideas for this exhibition. Big Ideas establish a shared vision for our exhibition together.  C3 participants discussed what they’d like visitors to understand, feel, experience, or act on in this exhibition. Together, we narrowed it down to 6 Big Ideas and brainstormed how to activate these ideas in an exhibition. You can see C3 participants responses hereMAH staff then edited and combined ideas based on the brainstorm feedback to these final 5.

Here are our final 5 Big Ideas for this exhibition:

  1. Visitors will understand the diverse causes and impacts of loneliness on seniors.
  2. Visitors will build empathy by experiencing what loneliness and isolation feels like for seniors.   
  3. Visitors will honor and learn from the wisdom of culturally-diverse seniors.
  4. Visitors will build a collective vision of a connected, inclusive, inter-generational future in Santa Cruz County.  
  5. Visitors will take action beyond the exhibition to end senior social isolation.

These goals will guide this project: all the artworks, events and actions we will create together. We closed out the day with a moment of gratitude for our lovely day together, getting to know one another, and kicking off a new movement to end senior social isolation in Santa Cruz County.


C3 2017 Meeting 2: Empathy and Empowerment

Summary of C3: Meeting 2, Wednesday February 21st 6pm-8pm
Written by: C3 Intern, Karen Mestizo 

At Wednesday night’s meeting Nina Simon excitingly began with an overview of January’s meeting. You can view the slides here. The recap introduced the three big ideas that C3 members felt the projects should focus on based off of the last meeting’s discussion and survey. The big three ideas were to have visitors:

-Feel empowered to take action and know how to do so.
-Have a visceral, emotional experience that sparks empathy.
-Understand that this is a foster youth-driven project that welcomes and empowers foster youth.

Shortly after, Lauren Benetua, was introduced as the MAH’s newest staff member and Dialogue Catalyst who will be working on the third big idea through community engagement activities with C3ers. Our talented and excited artists who will create three projects around the first two big ideas were then introduced: Melody Overstreet, Elliott Taylor, and Bridget Henry. After introducing themselves, the artists gave a general explanation of what they were going to focus on in their projects. 

Melody will bring light to inspirational actions around the “little things” that can make a big impact on foster youth lives.

Elliott will skillfully create a 3D immersive experience that sparks empathy and shares stories of foster youth resilience. 

Last but not least, Bridget will bring to life experiences of transition age foster youth through artful storytelling that will also spark empathy.  

Foster Youth Museum

This meeting’s focus was to figure out how these projects were going to take form. Project brainstorming workshops took place in the atrium where each artist had a table for discussion. Our partner, The Foster Youth museum (FYM), also had a table where C3 members were able to engage in asking questions and understanding the main sections of their portion of the exhibition. You can view their slides here that show the key sections in their exhibit: Powerlessness, Developmental Disruption, Institutionalization, Loss, Hope and Transformation. They use artifacts, photographs and youth stories to focus on the big idea that visitors understand the authentic experience of foster care from a youth’s perspective. 

Notes from the workshop with Bridget

C3 members got into groups and had the opportunity to contribute to each project by rotating to each table every fifteen minutes so everyone got to contribute to each project. We asked questions like: What does this project look like? What does this project feel like? What could this project include?

I had the privilege of hearing many ideas propelled and thrown around at Bridget’s table. There was discussion about the stories of losing your childhood being represented as metaphors which got people thinking about rollercoasters and kids in adult clothes. Although it was a bit difficult narrowing down what this piece was going to look like from an artistic perspective. Former foster youth and advocates mostly shared hard times that youth experienced. Despite a conclusion not being reached on the physical form, all these shared experiences brought Bridget closer to understanding the complexity of the foster youth experience and the need for specific, metaphorical stories in her project. 

Notes from Elliott’s workshop

While I didn’t get the chance to listen in on Melody and Elliott’s table, in a short artist discussion after the meeting, all artist felt they came out learning something new and were inspired by C3ers’ comments, stories and ideas. You can see all the notes from the workshop here. Perspectives were broaden with the help of our amazing C3 members. After the meeting, Stacey and I met with the artists to narrow down their project idea based on C3 feedback at this meeting. We’re excited to share with you all the direction they are headed and how you can participate in each project’s development at the next meeting Tuesday March 7th! 

2017 C3 Kick Off Meeting 1: A Foster Youth-Driven Exhibition

Summary of C3: Meeting 1, Sunday January 22nd 10am-3pm
Written by: C3 Intern, Karen Mestizo

Objects and stories from the Foster Youth Museum

Sunday’s C3 meeting was centered around the topic of foster youth lives. An important aspect to discussing this topic was providing input from the different perspectives from our members who ranged from transition age foster youth, advocates, community members, and artists. Gathering different perspectives was key to brainstorming and developing the ideas for the exhibition called “Lost Childhoods”. Having foster youth and former foster youth a part of this project is very important as we hope to communicate to the public that this exhibition is a foster youth-driven project.

After Nina Simon, Executive Director of MAH, gave an informing lecture on an intro to exhibits, the Foster Youth Museum team (FYM) was introduced as our partners in collaboration with the “Lost Childhoods” exhibit. The founder and director of the FYM, Jamie Lee Evans, was a former foster youth herself and has helped create this exhibition in other parts of the Bay Area, such as Oakland, through the perspectives of foster youth.

In the brainstorming process, C3 members were divided into six groups (with a diverse range in members with different perspectives) and were asked the following four questions:

  • What are the biggest misconceptions about Foster Youth?
  • What questions do you have about foster youth?
  • What does foster care feel like?
  • What is unique about the foster youth experience here in Santa Cruz County?

You can read the answers here. After writing responses to these questions, the group moved to the auditorium to discuss what the main ideas would be in the exhibition that foster youth would like visitors to understand.

After many great ideas were shouted out, the group concluded that some of the possible big ideas would be that visitors will:

  • understand the authentic experience of foster care from a youth’s perspective. (through the Foster Youth Museum) 
  • feel empowered to take action and know how to do so.
  • have a visceral, emotional experience that sparks empathy.
  • understand that this is a foster youth-driven project that welcomes and empowers foster youth.
  • make a connection to a personal experience they had (family, childhood, etc).
  • learn the basic history, facts, and risk factors of the foster care system.

Individually, members wrote their final thoughts on post-it notes and stuck them on the corresponding “big idea” poster. You can read these notes here. Members wrote down their feelings, ideas, stories, statistics, objects, names, organizations, and resources connected to the topics. Afterwards, members ranked their top five big ideas and gave feedback.

We finally conclude the meeting by gathering in a large circle and saying one word that represented how we felt. We hear many words like hopeful, joy, happy, optimistic, and excited. We’re excited too.


2015-2016 C3: Meeting 3 – Economic Opportunities

C3: Meeting 3 – Economic Opportunities

Tuesday January 12th 6-8PM

IMG_8216This meeting explored projects and ideas related to Economic Opportunities  and the ways that we can tackle economic justice issues to enhance cultural bridges— creating powerful opportunities for people throughout our county.

Our interns and staff designed an icebreaker, The Privilege Walk, inspired by this activity. This  required a lot of trust and openness amongst our members. It’s designed for participants to experience what it’s like to be someone else, to further understand how social memberships (age/disability/religion/ethnicity/sexual orientation/gender/citizenship) can affect our lives and our access to opportunities in society. When we think about creating equity and access to economic opportunities, we have to think about changing the system and roots of these structures, not just their effects.

Our 4 “Sparks” then led short 3 minute presentations on their projects related to economic opportunities and their dream for its future. Then, all members chose which project they would like brainstorm further.IMG_8218

Our sparks included:

Jacob Martinez from the Digital Nest discussing Downtown Watsonville: “The downtown in Watsonville is happening! There is a buzz in and around Watsonville that the downtown area is on the verge of blowing up. With the arrival of the Digital NEST, the 5th annual Film Festival on the horizon, and the beginning stages of the revitalization of downtown. What will 2016 look like? I have a vision that the downtown specifically the plaza will be the heart of the community and the center of culture, arts, and music along the Monterrey Bay. Let’s come together to create a vision of a vibrant downtown that will draw in people from around the region.”

Monica Martinez from Encompass Community Services discussing Affordable Housing: “When I think about economic opportunity, I think about the inclusiveness of our community. Do the most vulnerable among us have access to high-quality, affordable homes, in healthy, opportunity-rich neighborhoods? Unfortunately, efforts to build inclusive neighborhoods in Santa Cruz County are regularly stalled by the loud voices of neighborhood opposition and fear. I want to activate the voices of those who embrace equity and inclusion as a moral and economic imperative. I dream that at every public hearing on affordable housing in our County, those who support inclusion outnumber those who oppose it.”

Zachary Wolinksy exploring Worker Cooperatives and Democrative Workplaces: “I will briefly share his experience working in worker cooperatives in Santa Cruz, and touch on the challenges and benefits from this experience and how it relates to cultural bridging.  I would like to educate and enable residents of Santa Cruz County to start worker cooperatives.  I want to create an organization like the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives (NoBAWC) for Santa Cruz County by creating a “grassroots organization of democratic workplaces dedicated to building workplace democracy” (NoBAWC website). My dream is to create a new kind of regional economy based on democratic workplaces of all kinds coming together to leverage our collective assets to decide how to more fairly and responsibly manage our community’s wealth.”

Consuelo Alba from the Watsonville Film Festival dreaming up the future of the Fox Theater: “The Watsonville Film Festival is community-based festival that has presented great films and filmmakers since 2012. As we gear up for the 5th Annual Watsonville Film Festival, March 2-6, 2016, we are tapping into an exciting county-wide and regional synergy to establish ourselves as the multicultural film fest of the Monterey Bay. Learn more at our website here. My dream is to reopen the historic Fox Theater, and to help reactivate Downtown Watsonville with cultural programming and economic development opportunities. Learn more about how the Arts mean business in Santa Cruz County, here. ”

IMG_8213Groups formed around each topic for a more in-depth workshop. Members first shared their interests in joining the group and then asked the presenter more questions about their project. Groups then brainstormed ideas to strengthen the dream. Each group then built an artifact of the future for our Pop Up Museum that was representative of that dream out of cardboard, paper, pipe cleaners, tape and markers in a mere fifteen minutes. Objects and labels were presented to the whole group and can be viewed here.IMG_8221

At the end of the meeting each individual either made a commitment to strengthening this work. We’re looking forward to the next few meeting which will explore creative ways to ignite cultural bridges with the public in our C3 3rd Friday Festival this June.

2015-2016 C3: Meeting 2 – Sharing Stories

Reflections by C3 Intern, Ana LeopoldIMG_3051

At our first meeting in October we did a lot of brainstorming across the walls of the Atrium to distinguish what avenues we could utilize in order to bridge cultures and raise awareness in Santa Cruz. Of all of these,  Sharing Stories seemed like the most natural starting point. Today so much of the stigma associated with cultures and experiences that are different to our own stem from simply not knowing and therefore not understanding them. By sharing the stories of multiple cultures, backgrounds, and identities, we can better understand where we each are coming from to create a more tolerant and accepting Santa Cruz.

As our members walked in they answered the question: “If you were a novel, what would your title be?” Try answering it yourself. It’s a hard one. We then jumped into the meeting by doing an icebreaker where we had short, one-on-one conversations starting with imagining your partner as a child to ending with reflections on racial prejudices. This was a natural segway to our lightning talks for the topics of our focus groups.

These were the presenters and topics:

Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History Archives with Marla Novo “Many collections in the MAH’s archives tell stories. But one recent acquisition keeps creating opportunities for story sharing. The Lund Family Diaries are a collection of almost 100 years of journaling from one local family. A small team of dedicated and diverse volunteers meet weekly to transcribe the diaries. They’ve formed connections with the material, each other, and themselves. It’s been a transforming process, but kept within the archives’ walls. My dream is to make the MAH’s archives a tool for cultural bridging outside of the museum.”

Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ) with Natalie Baloy “Showing Up for Racial Justice is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. There are SURJ chapters around the country and one is just beginning in Santa Cruz County. This new chapter aims to enact SURJ shared values locally to build relationships across difference, to support local people of color-led initiatives and organizations, and to engage white people in Santa Cruz as active and critically reflexive agents in anti-racist social change. Creating spaces to share stories – from uncomfortable moments and hard truths to dreams of love and collective thriving – is essential for this work. SURJ envisions a society where we struggle together with love, for justice, human dignity, and a sustainable world. SURJ-Santa Cruz commits to identifying locally responsive ways to support this vision here.We dream of a Santa Cruz that embraces difficult conversations as part of the process toward collectively creating a more just future here.”

Santa Cruz Community Health Centers Edgar Ontiveros and Jacquie Benetua-Rolens
“SCCHC has begun to collect and cultivate stories in the Santa Cruz Community relating to health through the use of the Storycorps mobile beta. We understand that healing happens in a multitude of different ways, and while sharing stories of adversity can help inform others to seek or provide care, the catharsis in sharing and being heard can itself be a tool for healing. As of now, our Story collection project is still in its infancy. As an organization, our stories are focusing on health and the social determinants of health.  Our dream is to collect stories that create a cohesive, mosaic portrait of the greater SC Community.”

UCSC Humanities with Irena Polić discussed how graduate UCSC Humanities students could work with local organizations to activate cultural bridges in our community.

Story Sharing with Wes Modes explored the different ways story telling can create cultural bridges by creating safe spaces for listening. He brainstormed with C3 members different ways their projects could be activated through listening and storytelling.

IMG_3049We then dived deeper into these topics in small groups. Each group brainstormed their dream for the future of their respective endeavors, finally creating an artifact for the Pop Up Museum. It got a little arts and crafts-y when the pipe cleaners and cardboard came out, but the ideas created were innovative and important. We had designs ranging from helmets to let you see the world through a different cultural background to a mobile interface allowing the people of Santa Cruz and beyond to connect their ideas and feelings.

Our meeting ended with a group circle with announcements and commitments. Throughout this meeting you could hear conversations of shared interests and backgrounds which could now be voiced to the group. As the members bounced around the MAH’s big red ball, they voiced something they were committed to doing, whether that was volunteering for someone’s organization or simply learning to listen more. At this meeting we learned the value of listening and making room for others to share their stories. We made cross-county connections and commitments dedicated to sharing culture.

2015-2016 C3 Meeting 1 Recap

C3 Meeting 1 2015-2016

IMG_6813We were so happy to have you all here for the C3 kick off on October 3, 2015. Here’s a quick synopsis of our meeting in case you missed it (or want to relive it).

What an incredible group of County leaders we have in C3 this year! We had a great kick off meeting for C3. It began with a few icebreakers that allowed members to get to know one another, and some reconnection about why we are all coming together to do this work.

We individually reflected on what cultural bridging in Santa Cruz County means to each of us by IMG_6852answering the following questions:

    • What are your hopes, dreams and/or visions for a more connected Santa Cruz County?
    • Where do you currently see “pockets of greatness” – positive evidence of cultural bridging in Santa Cruz County?
    • Where do you see opportunities for cultural bridging in Santa Cruz County?
    • What are the main obstacles preventing cultural bridging in Santa Cruz County?

In small groups, we discussed what ideal cultural bridging looks like and pockets of greatness we already see in Santa Cruz County. Some artists in our groups illustrated these dreams. As a full group, we shared responses to map out a vision for cultural bridging together.

Small groups then discussed specific opportunities and obstacles for cultural bridging. Each group identified 3 opportunities written on blue paper and 3 obstacles written on yellow paper.

IMG_6831Alma and I sorted and grouped each topic into broad categories while members got to know each other better (please see this blog post that includes photographs of each grouping).

Everyone explored the opportunities and obstacles. Everyone thought about their own work professionally or personally in relation to these topics. Then members wrote their names and ideas on post it notes if they were working on or planning to work on any of these opportunities/obstacles this year.

Each member voted with green dots on the obstacle/opportunities they were most interested in IMG_6824exploring through C3. This will help us determine which topics and projects we will dive deeper into in the next two meetings. We’ll ask members who are working on projects relevant to those topics to present their work in the next two meetings. In those meetings we will all creatively brainstorm ways to strengthen that work. The following two meetings after that will plan the most engaging way to share our work and topics with the public at a 3rd Friday Festival at the MAH.

IMG_6828We had a yoga moment, members shared some upcoming events, we had lunch from India Joze with MAH board members and then toured the renovated Santa Cruz County History Exhibition.

Alma, Ana, Nina and I are now sorting through all the amazing notes and topics. We’ll narrow it down to a few to focus on and reach out to members working on those topics.

We are excited to share those topics and projects with you soon, and dive deeper into creative brainstorming this November!

Thanks for a great first gathering,


Final 2014-2015 C3 Meeting

photo 1We closed out the C3 2014-2015 group in June. Thank you to everyone who could join us!

For those of you that missed the last meeting, we certainly missed you and want to share what happened:

  • We reflected on and celebrated the C3 connections we made together (you can see those connections in this ribbon web exercise we created). We shared stories, collaborations, new insights and ideas for the future cohort.
  • We ate a delicious dinner from Ballesteros Catering Company.
  • We shared the direction for next year’s C3 to focus on one topic to delve into deeply throughout the year instead of 4 topics. Everyone seemed to feel that this focused approach would allow members to investigate issues more thoroughly and more deeply expand collaborations.
  • For those that missed the last meeting please help us by filling out this IMG_4747final survey here.

Thank you all for taking the time and energy to be part of C3. We learned so much from you.
We hope you all continue to connect with each other, and collaborate with one another to make your work and our community stronger.

Thank you so much for creating an inspiring year with us!

Meeting 5: Geography and Diversity

3C3: Meeting 5 Geography and Diversity

Tuesday May 5 2015 6-8PM

This meeting’s topic resonated strongly with us given the current events and the decades of oppression, exclusion and marginalization that continue to persist in our society. Geography & place are intricately intertwined with diversity & culture in our country and specifically in our county. At this meeting our C3 “sparks” shared their current work in creating spaces that are striving to be inclusive of many different kinds of people. Their work is already making space in Santa Cruz to build trust, understanding, empathy and communication across differences.  At this meeting sparks shared their work and together we built a dream for a more inclusive future. 4

We kicked off the meeting with a geography exercise that encouraged participants to talk with their “neighbors” to physically situate themselves by where they lived in Santa Cruz County. We then asked participants to organize themselves by where they were born. Lastly, we asked members to place themselves by their family’s place of origin.  People migrated across the atrium noticing differences and finding commonalities, particularly in that we were, at one point, all immigrants to Santa Cruz.

Sparks  led short 5 minute presentations on their project and their dream for its future. Then, all members chose which project they would like to strengthen based on the interests and assets each individual could bring to the discussion.  These were the groups:

6FoodWhat with Doron Comerchero
FoodWhat is a youth empowerment and food justice organization using food and sustainable agriculture as the vehicle for teens countywide to grow and cultivate their power and resiliency.  FoodWhat partners with low-income and struggling youth to grow, cook, eat, and distribute healthy sustainably raised food which leads to profound transformation and for youth to experience their own success.  As FoodWhat has grown to serve young people countywide, we are seeking input and connections on our community-based approach to expansion in Watsonville.  To get a visual on a day at FoodWhat, you can check out our photo stories here.

The Iceberg Model of Culture with Silvia Austerlic
Silvia will lead a discussion on Geography and Diversity making a critical distinction between the perspectives of the Global North and the Global South, and the need for innovative approaches to address current problems in ways that meet the needs, give voice, and activate the potential of all people. She will introduce what she calls portals to new ways of thinking, two intercultural visual thinking tools she developed and used personally and professionally to learn, heal and transform cultural identity (with focus on dignity of the whole self) and intercultural relationships (with focus on respect and appreciation for differences, and relationship of service). Using the iceberg model of culture, you’ll be invited to bring your project, program or organization to the table.We’ll brainstorm together how you could use these tools to bring forth deeper cultural awareness, sensitivity and wholeness in your life, work or organization.

Latino Engagement with Sandino Gomez
The Museum of Art and History strives to be a welcoming and inclusive space for all residents of Santa Cruz County to build a stronger, more connected community. In our county, 33% of residents identify as Hispanic/Latino. We developed a Latino Engagement Plan this year focused on engaging, collaborating and learning from our local Latino community.  Our long term dream is for the MAH to be an inviting space for Latino residents, the percentage of Latino visitors matches the percentage of Latinos living in the City (19%), and MAH staff deepen their own cultural competency which informs MAH programs.

33Chanticleer Park with Mariah Roberts
Learn about the history and future of Chanticleer Park, a 4.5 acre public space in the Heart of unincorporated Live Oak that County Supervisor John Leopold calls, “the County’s first DIY Park.”  In a community full of barriers, ranging from socio-economic to organizational, this project exemplifies how community barriers can demand and foster creativity. See how neighbors have built and maintained an open and heavily used County Park, despite the County losing funds for the needed park during the 2011 fiscal crisis.  How have the barriers of diverse socio-economics, historically non-existent urban planning, lack of County resources and dense population formed a unique Park, full of kids, dogs, art and bikes?
As Chanticleer Park enters a new phase; we invite you to be involved.  We are launching an effort to build the County’s first Universally Designed playground at the Chanticleer site. What will it look like?  Who will be involved?  How can the process of designing and building a Playground-For-All offer an opportunity for a community to strengthen?   How can our process invite participation for this next phase?  Learn about Chanticleer Park Neighbor/VecinosUniversal Design as an approach and specifically our community partner for the playground portion of the project.

22Members brainstormed ideas to strengthen the dream and then each group built an artifact of the future for the Pop Up Museum that represented the dream out of cardboard, paper, pipe cleaners, tape and markers.  Objects and their labels were presented to the whole group and can be viewed here.

At the end of the meeting each individual either made a commitment to strengthening this work or shared a commitment they had already followed through on. Throughout this year and particularly with these projects presented, we have seen how important collaboration is in bridging across difference, place, people and cultures.


Meeting 4: Income Inequality and Economic Opportunity

C3: Meeting 4 Income Inequality and Economic Opportunity

Tuesday March 18 2015 6-8PM

Our C3 “Sparks” for this meeting are already doing incredible work to improve economic opportunities throughout the county. At this meeting they shared this work and their dreams for its future. Information about the sparks and their dreams can be found here.

Our interns and staff designed an icebreaker, The Privilege Walk, inspired by this activity. This  required a lot of trust and openness amongst our members. It allowed everyone to see and imagine how access to opportunities in our society have drastic inequalities depending on who you are, where you come from, what you look like and circumstances that are often beyond your control. This helped frame further conversations this evening.

Sparks  led short 5 minute presentations on their project and their dream for its future. Then, all members chose which project they would like to strengthen based on the interests and assets each individual could bring to the 2

Groups formed around each topic for a more in-depth workshop. Members first shared their interests in joining the group and then asked the presenter more questions about their project. Groups then brainstormed ideas to strengthen the dream.  Wes Modes’ group took a different approach to this structure. His presentation and workshop focused on empowering other members to advance their own organization’s funding opportunities and brainstorming ways to do that. Each group then built an artifact of the future for our Pop Up Museum that was representative of that dream out of cardboard, paper, pipe cleaners, tape and markers in a mere fifteen minutes. Objects and labels were presented to the whole group and can be viewed here.rrr

At the end of the meeting each individual either made a commitment to strengthening this work or shared a commitment they had already followed through on. It was inspiring to hear about the collaborations, connections and changes this group has alreadyrally made in our short time together. We finished with a cheer and rally.