I am an elementary school librarian in an urban setting in Massachusetts. Through the work of creating a more representative and inclusive library collection for my students, I learned a lot about the politics of the publishing industry, the accepted institutional racism and purposeful exclusion of communities in books and that we should be outraged at the continued disenfranchisement of our children.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Digging In: Magic Trash

This is a book which you can really dig into, it can open conversations about activism, social justice, race relations, segregation, social programs (or lack their of), riots, industry and of course, ART.

Generally, I reserve this as a read aloud until grade 5, because I like to get into the context of the story and really talk about how powerful a message this book has- as well as the man himself, Tyree Guyton.

It also delivers a really concrete example of how art can shift one's view- trash to art, a crack house can be turned into a masterpiece, but certainly not with out struggle. Mr. Guyton changes his neighborhood from the inside out. He is a local activist and his message reaches us all over the country and the world, it is applicable on a grand scale.

Instilling in children the fact that you don't have to travel, have lots of money or go any further than your own block to make a difference is a powerful message. You have power in your own community to affect change, use it!

There are many videos to share with students as well- here's the one I most often use:

From Amazon:
Tyree Guyton loved his childhood home--that's where his grandpa Sam taught him to "paint the world." So he wanted to wake people up... to make them see Detroit's crumbling communities.

Paintbrush in hand, Tyree cast his artistic spell, transforming everyday junk into magic trash. Soon local kids and families joined Tyree in rebuilding their neighborhood, discovering the healing power of art along the way.

This picture book biography of Tyree Guyton, an urban environmental artist, shows how he transformed his decaying, crime-ridden neighborhood into the Heidelberg Project, an interactive sculpture park. The story spans from Tyree's childhood in 1950s Detroit to his early efforts to heal his community through art in the 1980s. Tyree's awards include Michigan Artist of the Year and International Artist.

MAGIC TRASH offers strong themes of working together, the power of art, and the importance of inspiring community--especially kids--to affect action. The Heidelberg Project is internationally recognized for providing arts education to children and adults and for the ongoing development of several houses on Heidelberg Street. Not only does the Heidelberg Project prove that when a community works together it can rebuild itself, but it also addresses the issues of recycling, environmentalism, and community on a global level.

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