Ozya Creates Alternatives to Violence
“What happens when you put ten gallons of water in a five gallon bucket? The crowd gets angry, very angry.”----W.E.B. Dubois and Ozya
The Ozya Youth Leadership Laboratory and the Arts
Many of the youth who grew up in the Southeast corridor of Seattle have joined with elder community activists to offer an alternative to violence. That alternative is a three legged stool that balances classroom training, field work and stage performance. The concept is to reach youth where they are and engage them in something much more interesting than gangs, colors, neighborhood rivalries or drugs.
Skills, such as story gathering, budgeting, interviewing, listening, multicultural communication, coalition building and community relations are taught in the Ozya Leadership Laboratory. The Lab uses music, hip hop culture and break dancing to heighten the learning experience.
Ozya youth gather stories about immigration, migration and gentrification. Youth went to schools, family members, community centers and senior centers and listened.
The City of Seattle Department of Neighborhood’s grants allows this work to continue so youth can develop capacity as community leaders. Lab participants will soon conduct a community needs assessment.
This is Ozya’s most powerful attraction and is in great need of funding. On October 25th, “Ozya: An Urban Odyssey” played to a sold out Rainier Valley Cultural Center audience. The original music and narrative was based on the stories collected by the Lab Youth. Crossing language and cultural barriers through song and dance, the energy of the performance generated dialogue and united the audience.
“Ozya: An Urban Odyssey” gives youth a real alternative to gang involvement while the Lab develops key skills that allow youth to find economic alternatives to drugs and other dangers.