We’re Still Here:
Stories of Seniors and Social Isolation

Joop Rubens Photography

April 5th 2019  through September 22nd 2019

This year, C3- a group of over 100 seniors, artists, and senior advocates- will create an exhibition on the social isolation of seniors in Santa Cruz County, 

Social isolation impacts all of us and is a growing health epidemic. 36% of seniors in Santa Cruz County report experiencing social isolation. These seniors feel alone, detached from family, friends, and the community.

Isolation affects seniors and our whole community’s health.  Loneliness leads to dramatic decreases in physical health, mental well-being, and overall quality of life. As our 60+ population is rapidly growing, social isolation has become an increasingly important issue Santa Cruz County seniors face.

Half of the exhibition will feature artists from beyond our county, already making inspiring artwork on this issue. The other half will be created by C3 members. Together, artists, seniors, and senior advocates in C3 will create artwork that shares the personal stories, challenges, and triumphs of socially isolated seniors in our county.  Through this exhibition, seniors will inspire us all and each other to find new ways to build stronger social connections in our community.

This project is produced in partnership with the Santa Cruz County Human Services Department

Exhibition Related Events

MAH Members and C3 Partners Preview Party

Thursday April 4th 5-8PM

Lost Childhoods: Voices of Santa Cruz County Foster Youth and the Foster Youth Museum

July 7th 2017 through December 31st 2017 

In 2017, C3 members worked together on Lost Childhoods, a public art exhibition about transition-age foster youth across California.

There are 60,000 youth in California’s foster care system. They struggle to avoid homelessness, prison, and social stigma. Their stories– of loss and resilience– are often unknown. That’s why we created an exhibition about foster youth — with foster youth.

Lost Childhoods: Voices of Santa Cruz County Foster Youth and the Foster Youth Museum showcases the stories, struggles, and triumphs of youth who are aging out of foster care. You will see personal belongings of foster youth, stunning photography by Ray Bussolari, and four different art installations foster youth created with artists Bridget Henry, Melody Overstreet, Elliott Taylor, and Nada Miljkovic.

This exhibition was created with the Foster Youth Museum and MAH’s Creative Community Committee (C3)— a group of over 100 local foster youth, artists, and youth advocates. Revealing what happens in foster care and concrete ways to support child welfare today, this is more than a moving exhibition– it is a powerful platform for dialogue and action in Santa Cruz County.

Click here to see more photographs of the exhibition.

This project was made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and California Arts Council, a state agency.

There’s a lot more information about the project in this grant proposal narrative.

Exhibition Related Events

MAH Members and C3 Partners Preview Party

Thursday July 6th, 6-8pm

FREE First Friday

Opening of Lost Childhoods: Voices of Santa Cruz County Foster Youth

Friday July 7th, 2017, 5-8pm

Film Screening: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Sunday, July 16th 2017, 1-3pm

Join us for a fun-filled day with a screening of the film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. We’ll hang out at the MAH, watch a movie, enjoy ice-cream and get in touch with our adventurous spirit with youth-led art activities.

Lost Childhoods: ‘The F Word’ Web Series Screening

Sunday, August 6th 2017, 1-3pm

Laugh, chat, and sit for a screening of docu-comedy series, The F Word. This series chronicles the journey of Nicole and Kristan, an Oakland-based queer couple who want to adopt a kid. This short, comedic documentary series chronicles their journey into the foster care system to become fostadopt parents, bumbling through a bizarre and bureaucratic maze in order to learn everything they can about the troubled institution on which they are staking their dreams of parenthood. After the film screening will be a Q&A discussion with Nicole Opper, followed by discussion break-out sessions facilitated by community partners and collaborators who made the exhibition possible.

Pop Up Museum with New Families

Thursday, August 10th 2017, 4-6pm

Bring an object, memorabilia, or photograph to share with the public. The theme of this pop up is COMFORT. What brings you comfort? We will ask you to write a brief label about the object and how it comforts you. Our collaborator, New Families, Inc. is a Foster Family Agency, founded in May, 1999 by Janet Parske. Ms. Parske has been a strong advocate for children for over 20 years. New Families in conjunction with our certified foster families, provides care for abused, neglected and troubled children.

* A Pop Up Museum is a temporary exhibit created by the people who show up to participate. It works by choosing a theme and location, and inviting people to bring something on topic to share. This Pop Up Museum invites you to share your story with others to connect and share your story.

Lightning Talks: The Struggle is Real

Thursday, August 24th 2017, 7–9:30 pm

How have Santa Cruz County communities journeyed through struggle and into resilience? These Lightning Talks on The Struggle is Real will focus on life’s many challenges and transformations spanning across class, race, gender, and sexuality, to transportation, healthcare, foster care; from incarceration, and education, to housing, mental health, and homelessness in Santa Cruz County. Talks begin at 8pm, precluded by Intercultural Facilitator and Community Action Board board member, Silvia Austerlic’s workshop, Fostering Resiliency: Building an Inner Sanctuary from 7-8pm.

Alternative Expressions Youth Programming Series 1: Watercolor Journaling

Sun, Sep 10, 2017, 11:30 am–1:30 pm

The Lost Childhoods Alternative Expressions Programming kicks off with it’s first Watercolor Journaling workshop! Learn from collaborator, Gay Kraeger who will provide non-threatening, easy-going techniques that cover the basics of drawing, writing, watercoloring and journaling.A variation on the written journal is an illustrated journal — adding the richness of hand drawn images to words.

Pop Up Museum with Cabrillo Guardian Scholars – Achievements Unlocked: Level 1

Tue, Sep 12, 2017, 11  am–1 pm

You’ve reached a new adulting level. What was your “ah-a!” moment that led you to Cabrillo? Where do you want to go from here? We all have our own education path, but how did we get there? What were your achievements along the way? It starts with a source of inspiration and a mix of passion, motivation and curiosity. Whether students in school, or as life-long learners, we all have that lil’ something that we are proud of. What is it for you? Share an object and tell your story.

*This Pop Up Museum is in collaboration with the Cabrillo Guardian Scholars Program. Meet us in the Aptos Campus Quad and bring an object! This is the first of two Pop Up Museum collaborations with Guardian Scholars and the MAH.

Pop Up Museum with Cabrillo Guardian Scholars – Achievement Unlocked: Level 2

Wed, Sep 13, 2017, 11  am–1 pm

*This Pop Up Museum is in collaboration with the Cabrillo Guardian Scholars Program. Meet us at the Watsonville Campus (in the Watsonville Center Building A) and bring an object! This is the second of two Pop Up Museum collaborations with Guardian Scholars and the MAH.

Ending Youth Homelessness in Santa Cruz County

Fri, Sep 15, 2017, 6–8 pm

Join a creative discussion with Encompass Community Services and the local Youth Advisory Board on ending youth homelessness in Santa Cruz County. Hear updates on the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program‘s initiative designed to reduce the number of youth experiencing homelessness. Bear witness to powerful youth presentations and spoken word performances.

Alternative Expressions Youth Programming Series 2: Self Advocacy Workshop

Sun, Sep 17, 2017, 11:30 am–1:30 pm

Learn techniques and skills in building self-advocacy! Participants of this workshop will develop a greater understanding of one’s own needs and gain confidence in recognizing one’s own abilities.

Human Services Public Commission Meeting

Wed, Sep 20, 2017, 8:30 am–10:30 am

The Human Services Commission is holding a public meeting at the MAH. Commission meetings help facilitate citizen involvement in government and to assist the Board in its decision making process. The meeting will begin at 8:30am and end at 10:30am. Meeting members will enjoy a walkthrough of the Lost Childhoods exhibit at 9:45am.

Alternative Expressions Youth Programming Series 3: DIY Herbalism

Sun, Sep 24, 2017, 11:30 am–1:30 pm

Plants and the natural world carry gifts of healing, medicine, friendship, and so much more. Join this workshop to get hands-on with gardening and herbs at the UCSC Farm. Participants will gain knowledge on the medicinal properties of a few select herbs, and will get to make their own chapstick!

Alternative Expressions Youth Programming Series 4: Punk Sewing Workshop

Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 11:30 am–1:30 pm

Come get your sew on! We’re making punk patches and learning alternative sewing methods with a variety of fabrics, stitches, buttons and pins. Make patches for your backpack, jacket, or your local revolution. This is part 4 of 4 of the Lost Childhoods Alternative Expressions Intern workshops.

Fostering Resilience: What it Took, What it Takes, and Where it Has Taken You

Sun, Nov 5, 2017, 1–3:30 pm

Join California Youth Connection and the MAH to discuss how foster youth not only survive, but thrive, contribute and make a difference. This event includes panel discussions from current, former, and older generations of foster youth, and youth-led performances.

Community Rental: SCCOE Managers Direct Engagement with Local Foster Youth

Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 9–10:30 am

The Santa Cruz County Superintendents are back again to the MAH to hear directly from local foster youth. This public meeting features a walkthrough of Lost Childhoods, and a panel of local foster youth who will describe their journey through the educational system in Santa Cruz.

Project K: Analyzing Conformity, Stigma, and Youth Homelessness

Thurs, Dec 14, 2017, 5–7 pm

Project K is an event that raises awareness of conformity and stigma in today’s society, and how it can lead to homelessness. Hear from youth guest speakers with lived experience, and enjoy great food, fun activities, and an eye grabbing presentation!

Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project – Communicate with Us, and Understand our Stories

Fri, Dec 15, 2017, 1–4 pm

The MAH proudly hosts the Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project in conjunction with the Lost Childhoods exhibit. This training provides training hours for services workers and is appropriately intended for social workers, child welfare professionals, former foster youth trainers. In this highly interactive 3-hour training, child welfare professionals and former foster youth trainers will interact with stories and narratives found within Foster Youth Museum.