By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – BlackSpace Oklahoma, in partnership with the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma Humanities, will introduce their organization and initiatives with the lecture series NE OKC Placemaking Storytelling Project.
NE OKC is a community based organization leading the way to further development in Northeast Oklahoma City.
Throughout March, the lecture series will explore community assets, values, identities, and ideas, within Black neighborhood spaces. Programs will take place at The Auditorium at the historic Page Woodson, 600 N High Ave, in Oklahoma City. Once the site of Douglass High School, the property has undergone major renovations that now includes an apartment community.
BlackSpace Oklahoma is a local organization whose mission is to connect projects and resources in Black communities in Oklahoma.
“We envision Black communities in which social and spatial change is encouraged, hope is fostered, and the pipeline to the professions of city planning, architecture, and design is broadened”, said co-founder Gina Sofola.
Co-founder Vanessa Morrison stated, “Through our founding goals and objectives we plan to both strategically and tangibly extend the worlds of planning, architecture, design, and community organizing through culturally specific resources and opportunities.”
The lectures will be organized as a three-part series, two workshops, and an exhibit.
On Saturday, March 2, the first lecture, “Stories from our Elders,” will take place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This program will present the history of the community and set the historical context for the rest of the series. Speakers will include Dr. George Henderson, University of Oklahoma, Director of Department of Human Relations Advanced Studies Program and author and historian Anita Arnold.
The introduction will be delivered by Nikki Nice, Oklahoma City Ward 7 Council member. The discussion will be led by Anthony Francisco, City of Norman Finance Director and community activist and educator Kimberly Francisco.
Lecture two, “How People Tell Stories” on Saturday, March 9 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. will feature a panel of humanities experts discussing storytelling methods and their importance in shaping community identities.
Panelists include Dr. Joshua Nelson, director of Film and Media Studies at OU; Dr. Rachel Jackson, OU English Department professor and Cherokee Nation citizen; Dr. Tracy Floreani, professor of English, Director of the Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film & Literature English Modern Languages at Oklahoma City University; Suzette Chang, Anthropologist, CEO of Thick Descriptions Director of Library Services Guthrie Public Library, and Oklahoma Humanities board member; and Dr. George Henderson.
On Saturday, March 16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. the series will offer the oral history and digital storytelling workshops that will give community members the opportunity to discover storytelling. Featured speakers will include Dr. Joshua Nelson, Dr. Rachel Jackson, Dr. Traci Floreani, and Suzette Chang.
Events on Thursday through Saturday, March 21 – 23, will be by invitation only.
The final lecture,“Stories to Build Community Spaces” will be presented on Saturday, March 30, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. by Rick Lowe, artist and co-founder of Project Row Houses. The event will illustrate how the community can synthesize their stories to create positive change, specifically within the design of community spaces.
Hans Butzer, Director and Partner of Butzer Architects and Urbanism and Christina Beatty, Community Arts Director for the Oklahoma Arts Council, will make the introduction.
The goal of these events is to “create a foundation for understanding of how the histories and stories of a community can be used to create stronger community relationships and spaces while imagining the future.”
Funding for this program is provided in part by a grant from Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
For more information, contact Vanessa Morrison at 405-627-7615 or visit blackspaceok.org.