The Mart Community Project
The Mart Community Project (MCP) is a program designed to inspire individual and community transformation, promote economic revitalization, and encourage educational innovation in this historic Texas town. Generously funded by the Mildred Dulaney Foundation, this innovative project is driven by a unique collaboration between the residents of Mart, local and international artists, the Baylor University Oral History Institute, and the departments of Social Work and Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin.
The university/community partnership has resulted in a number of innovative programs. During the 2010/2011 academic year, undergraduate and graduate classes at UT Austin worked with Mart residents, the Mart Independent School District (ISD), and Mart City Council to design and implement a range of projects, including:
- An Oral History Project;
- Texas Youth Commission facility a joint art exhibit;
- a successfully-funded NEA project that will fund a rural citizenship workshop;
- Design workshops with Mart school distric students;
- a Social Support Group for Mart students that brought culminated in students visiting the UT Austin campus,
- A literacy project.
Students who were enrolled in the UT courses continued on with the wider summer 2011 projects, which include:
a summer program for middle and high students at Mart high school. students did workshops in digital game creation, music, drama for change. the summer program also included a visual art workshop led by visiting artist Muhsana Ali.
In addition to the summer school enrichment program, visiting artist Muhsana Ali and Amadou Kane Sy are working with Mart residents to produce public art such as mosaic murals, chalkboard commentaries, art exhibits, poetry readings, and movie nights for Mart residents.
We believe that to build relationships and foster community change requires a strong connection to the community. During the summer of 2011, the MCP rented a home in Mart where visiting artists and other project participants could stay for extended periods of time. The house has become a hub of activity. Artists Muhsana Ali and Amadou Kane Sy have turned the garage of the house into an art studio where they produce Senagalese glass paintings in preparation for mosaic murals at Mart High and Chambless Football Field. Instructors who ran the digital media and drama for change workshops also stayed here during June 2011. During the summer, with the support of UT graduate student Heidi Schmalbach, the MCP has continued a project begun in Spring 2011 that forged a community consortium that includes representatives from Mart City Council, Mart residents, the local newspaper, and UT students to advance a community-driven agenda. This consortium will continue into the Fall and beyond, demonstrating the sustainability of this unique university/community partnership.
In the coming year we look forward to a number of innovative and exciting projects. The upcoming NEA Your Town Rural
Citizenship Design Workshop will take place on November 3-5, which will bring together a team of nationally recognized community change and design experts to help Mart create a strategic plan for future sustainable development. We look forward to continued and new course involvement from a variety of disciplines at the University of Texas at Austin. Social Work Professor Dorie Gilbert’s course in community development will bring an interdisciplinary group of graduate and undergraduate students to Mart to continue work with Mart ISD, the city council, and Mart residents. Sean McCarthy’s undergraduate Writing for Non-Profits will focus on producing grants and texts in a variety of media to support ongoing educational and community initiatives. The Chambless Field Oral History project funded by Humanities Texas will culminate with a community celebration during Homecoming 2011 to honor former players and cheer leaders from Mart High and the former Anderson High, which served the African American population during segregation.