and... here, you spurred me to write a story! I plan to add some photos later and make a blog. Thanks!!!!
How Victor Jr. Outdid Me
last year, i was painting a door with other people as part of a local world cafe project celebrating community. We were set up outside my house, on the side of the shady driveway several houses share to get in and out from the main road. (We are located in Gillespie Park neighborhood in Sarasota, FL)
As we worked, a little boy and his dad began walking by.We greeted them and exchanged introductions--their names were Victor and Victor (Senior and Junior). The boy, round-faced with bright eyes and bouncy long black curls, asked us with urgent curiosity-- "What are you doing?"
When we explained we're doing an art project, his eyes lit up. We soon learned he loves art. So we invited him to contribute to the door. He drew a big heart in black paint, and a person, and the words "I love you" in one pane of the door. It added so much to our collective artpiece!
I mentioned to Victor Jr. that day that I was so glad to meet him, because I'm interested in meeting other artists in the neighborhood. My interest stems from my work in ABCD and my current goal to create strong creative bonds between people within my neighborhood.
I had no reason to imagine that this meant anything to Victor, but about a year later, he surprised me. One day I was walking down same driveway with my friend Zach, and I heard someone call my name. It was Victor, running out excitedly to catch me. "April April! I have something to tell you!"
"What is it, Victor?"
"You remember how you told me you want to meet other artists in your neighborhood? Well I met one the other day! He lives just down the street over here. Come on I want to introduce you to him!"
He ran ahead down the other end of the driveway, and Zach and I had no choice but to follow. We got a few yards down the street when we heard someone calling Victor--it was his sister, asking where he was going and telling him he had to go home right now. "OK!" He called back. Then turned back to us. "Well, I gotta go home now. But he lives right down there-- you see the white house with the porch? Yeah that one. Just go down there and knock on the door, I know he'll be happy to meet you!"
Victor is about 8. He's one of the only people I've met who seems even less nervous about stepping across the general taboos surrounding neighbor-meeting than me... I was astounded and touched that he remembered what I said to him, literally about a year ago, and took action to help me with my own goal.
This was a powerful reminder never to forget how kids and youth are way more aware, capable, and ready to act for community improvement (and adventure) than we usually give them credit for.