Thursday, December 30, 2004

Gift and Silver linings backfire - 12/30/04

••••••••••• Thursday, December 30, 2004 7:55:39 AM Pacific/Honolulu •••••••••••

The story of how an artist tried to make something good happen for the citizens of Maui County only to have it backfire.

It's no wonder kids on Maui are undernourished. I was awarded community service which I choose to do at the Kihei Youth Center. I had offered to use my skill as an artist-educator to teach children how to use computers to make a movie of personal art, photos, writing and narration. I had successfully given this DIGITAL STORTYELLING playshop last time I had to do community service. The folks at Kihei Youth Center had no problem.

I was looking forward to the excitement and interest of the kids who normally play violent video games or watch TV. Both of which deliver no valuable skills, or "mindware" as the content of the games and television programs is filled with violence, anger, and valueless examples of abuse and disrespect for people, their property and lives.

I had spoken with Alika the KYC director. He had O.K.'d the digital storytelling playshop last time I choose community service; for a seat belt ticket. I choose community service because being on disability and not having a regular income like other folks, money is quite dear to me. In my conversation with Alika, I described what I would do and got permission to lead a two day 4 hour workshop, and receive credit for a flyer I produced announcing it.

Alika said he wanted to advertise my playshop and get more kids in this time... I made a flyer announcing what I would be teaching; to help KYC promote the class to the kids and community members. Alika was fine with this. I faxed it to him, and called to see if it came through. It didn't so I faxed it again and made sure it was received.

When the day came to work off my 8 hours (Alika agreed to credit me for the one hour the flyer took to make) I loaded all my gear, camera, tripod, computer, and software and hauled over to the Youth Center where I was met by two ladies who had no idea of the flyer's contents and insisted it was not received because they didn't see it.

They also saw the announcement I had sent into the Maui news to announce the opportunity for Maui's children to learn 21st century job skills in a fun and friendly way. They resented the fact that I had let the press know what I was doing; saying it was against regulations for me to promote something mentioning the Kihei Youth Center...and informed me not to do it again. They then directed me to find Ron, the gentleman who guides and governs the kids while at the youth center. I had worked with him last time. The ladies were administrative assistants.

I set everything up and began to address the nearby kids who were curious. Then Ron gathered a few more kids. I explained to them what I would be teaching. After a short while and some discussion in the office, Ron comes back and springs on me, that there can be no videotaping or audio recording of the kids without parental consent. Now, KYC had known about this for a month. The flyer I had made and faxed to Alika made it clear what would be happening.... The flyer was never reproduced and distributed. The 2 office workers knew nothing about it, and apparently were told nothing by Alika? I did as I was told.

I put away the camera and changed plans to have the kids learn how to make art with the computer, a digitizing tablet and stylus common in the computer graphics industry. Remarkably the kids, took to it with ease and began creating art, It was something new and different, creative and fun.... yet, when I went to the office at the end of the first of two 4 hour sessions, I was told not to come back.

Not only were the office works upset that I had taken my own time to try to get more kids to participate in the learning experience (via alerting the news media), but took it upon themselves to reverse what was a proven hit with the kids, and squelch the possibility of learning more and expressing themselves through creative expression using the computer. They told me not to come back... even after I agreed to change my program so there would be no audio-video recording.

I was going to teach them how to make music with computers so as to comply with the request for no filming or audio recording, but the two women were intent on making sure the kids would not receive my gifts, or the possibility of education beyond their dreadful games. They certainly didn't want me interesting them in something beyond the junk food for their bodies and minds - that is the de rigueur KYC menu for growing dumbed down children addicted to violence and sugar.

I had gone to the bathroom to discover a child had missed the toilet. Feces were all over the floor. I would say the attendants that day had missed the boat and made things difficult because I took a creative approach to help this community's children with technology literacy and creative expression.

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Aloha Alika, I was surprised by the reaction of your staff both, stating that they never saw the flyer you OK'd. They then tell me not to come back to work off the remaining 4 hours of my service even though I complied with the request to not video or audio record the children (though you had no problem with that last time I offered my skills and talents to the youth of Maui and in particular, those visiting your Kihei Youth Center. I would like to have a conversation with you about what happened and why? The office assistants were upset that I followed your words stating you wanted to "organize my service so more young people would be present." I never imagined that announcing the opportunity for Maui kids to learn 21st Century job skills, and to take advantage of the free experience for learning new tools for creative expression, published in the newspaper would have been a problem.

FYI, I had faxed the article I submitted to the news paper, to you - two days before it was published (the same day I sent it to the news paper). I saw no problem in this, so I thought nothing of it, until I was informed that that was against KYC policy or something? Anyway.... The kids were really interested and produced some nice artwork. I was asked to burn a CD of what they did. That took another 15 minutes. Can you credit me for that, as well as the one hour to make the flyer that you OK'd as well as yesterday's service for a total of 5.25 hours toward my 9 hours of service? Thanks! I remain, Peter Rosen, in Service.

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Well I never sent the above note to Alika. Politics are at play here. In fact, Jason had informed me that Kalimaya is now on the KYC board of directors. I had noticed she had come in during my teaching yesterday. I would not be surprised if she had something to do with the reversal of Alika's statement, and denial that he authorized my digital storytelling flyer.. that he now claims no knowledge of. It's no wonder why Hawaii's children are at the bottom of the heap in literacy skills.

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