TONIGHT, Saturday, April 16th, I will finally enter Precita Center, the beautiful building/community center/mural only a block and a park from my house. I know this: whatever else I find in that place, there will be representatives from various backgrounds coming together for a common cause: art, for the sake of education.
The event, a fundraiser hosted by the Mission Neighborhood Center GED Program, is for students who will be ready to test before the end of the fiscal year. I met program organizer Gabriel Martinez at a reading series, and he explained to me that the group needs help with funding. When I went to check it out I found a small classroom at the edge of my neighborhood, about a dozen or so kids with their heads in books. They seemed intent on learning, committed to their task.
To help these students, a vast array of performers will meet at the aforementioned Precita Center: arts organizer and poet Myron Michael, renowned writer of Mission street life Norman Zelaya; accomplished performance poet and neighborhood staple Lorna Dee Cervantes (see video below); Puchcart-nominated activist-educator-cultural worker-cum poet Kenji Liu; cartoonist and comic Michael Cappozola; poet and 826 educator Mariama Lockington; recent Youth Speaks graduate Jari Bardley; and musical acts Miriam Speyer and Steven Tow, who hosts the weekly Café International open mic. It wasn't very difficult for Martinez to find artists in our community who understand the problem at Misson Neighborhood Center and are willing to help.
In addition to light snacks and beverages, Saturday night will also begin with an open mic session to encourage anyone who feels inspired to share some words. I hope some of the students step up to the microphone; I know I will.
The Mission Neighborhood Center GED Program fundraiser, Stories in the Making is Saturday, April 16th, 2011, 8pm at Precita Valley Community Center, 534 Precita Ave in San Francisco. For more information visit mncsf.org.