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Arts for Social Change Jam 2015

artivist jam 2015 invite Jan

APPLY today!

We invite you to the 2015 Arts for Social Change Jam, a creative gathering for people working at the intersection of arts and social change to come together, reflect, share our challenges and breakthroughs, nurture ourselves, support and inspire each other, figure out ways to be more financially sustainable, find intersections for future collaborations, and build a more resilient network of artist-activistS (artivists).



What is the Arts for Social Change Jam?

YES! Jams have been happening since 1999. YES! collaborates with other like-hearted peers around the world to co-create Jams where diverse visionaries and social change-makers combine their inspirations and skills to create something greater than the sum of their parts.


The Jam works on 3 three levels:


  1. On the personal level, it is an open space for participants to reflect on our life journeys and what makes us who we are today. It is an opportunity to deepen our purpose, ask meaningful questions, eat nourishing food, unlearn our fears and blocks, access our hearts, and open our minds to move more boldly in the world.
  2. On the interpersonal level, we come together to share our cultures, our creativity, our collaborative spirits, our stories and our struggles so we can deepen in our understanding of, and connection to, each other.
  3. On the systemic level, we become clearer about the importance of our work in the world and its potential for even deeper, more meaningful impact.


Every Jam is an open space for the gifts and needs of the people that show up to emerge. When a number of Jam alumni hosted Arts for Social Change Jams in 2013 and 2014, we explored some of the following questions. This year, we anticipate deepening into them and adding yours!


  • What is my story as an artist?
  • How are we to be sustainable and valued for our artistic gifts?
  • What does success look like for artivists? Where am I challenged as an artivist? What does it even mean to be an artivist?
  • How do we collaborate as artivists across mediums, modalities, and issue focuses?
  • How do we create an enduring support network of people using their creative passions for social change?
  • How do our diverse identities relate to us as artists and as activists, and how do we build bridges across those identities with each other?
  • What feels like the purpose and value of artist-activists in these particular times?



“I attended my first Jam in 2006 and my life was changed… This Jam was just as transformational. I feel like I’ve been to the mountaintop. Once again I had the honor of meeting diverse souls who shared my calling – Artivism! I leave this experience rejuvenated and grounded. I was given space to think, to plan, to question, to create and release.”

– Monica Raye Simpson, 34, Executive Director, Sister Song, Atlanta, GA


Who comes to the Arts for Social Change Jam?

Because we seek to bring together as diverse a group of people as possible we are looking for a range in:


  • Artistic Modalities: Musicians, Dancers, Visual Artists, Filmmakers, Creative Facilitators, Writers, etc.
  • “Artist-ship” (leadership, from ‘person on the ground’ to ‘director’ and ‘founder’)
  • Years of experience (from ‘a couple years into the journey’ to ‘been at it for a good part of your life’);
  • Issue or work-focus (i.e. community media, local economies and globalization, indigenous issues, education, food sovereignty, cultural regeneration, interfaith, health and well-being, ecology, youth, sustainable living, human rights, etc.)
  • Identity and world view (i.e. class, ethnicity, race, religion, culture, sexuality, age, etc.)


“I could not have asked for a more nurturing and inspiring group… Thank you for creating a safe space for so many voices to speak their hopes, passions, struggles, pain and shame… I believe the Jam was a micro example of what should be possible at a macro level: nurturing, slow pace, warmth, abundant love and affection.”

– Shanti Ganesh, 41, PhD, research on creativity and resilience, UC Berkeley, CA



Who is organizing and facilitating the 2015 Arts for Social Change Jam?

We are lucky to have an amazing team of organizers and facilitators for this year’s Jam:


Eva VG HGSC 2012Eva Vander Giessen is passionate about storytelling as a force for empathy and pragmatic change. Originally trained as a therapist and performing artist, she is now Creative Director with MEET, bringing together Israeli and Palestinian youth through technology and entrepreneurship. Eva serves on the board of Afghan Friends Network and is active in the Playback Theater network in North America. Eva has performed in ensembles across North America and Europe, and is in awe of her “Jamily”. Her passion for the nexus of arts and peacebuilding continues to get her in and out of the best kinds of trouble around the world.



Renee' WilsonRenée Wilson is a multi-talented singer, songwriter, actress, filmmaker, facilitator and yoga teacher who brings her entire heart and soul to her work and life. Renée has been seen on television, stage and film, most notably starring in the Academy Award – winning film Ray along side Jamie Foxx and has participated in and co-facilitated many Jam spaces. In 2010 Renée directed and produced Crepe Covered Sidewalks, an award winning feature documentary about her home town of New Orleans and her family’s experiences with hurricane Katrina and is beginning pre-production on her next film project. Currently Renée is teaching yoga privately, composing music for her 2nd album and is performing in and around the Bay area. She loves flowers, is passionate about social change through art and action and lives in San Francisco with her husband Aaron.



Austin WillacyAustin Willacy is a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter who has toured extensively throughout the U.S and Europe as a member of The House Jacks, a multi-award winning a cappella rock band currently featured on The Sing-Off on NBC. Austin is also the director of ‘Til Dawn, Youth in Arts’ award-winning teen a cappella group and has facilitated over 35 youth retreats. In addition, he has co-facilitated four Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Jams and one North America Jam for YES! and served on the board of Rainforest Action Network for 4 years. This is Austin’s 8th year of service on the board of the Freight & Salvage. He donates his musical talent to a wide range of educational, social and environmental organizations.



M_photoMarielle Amrhein is a dancer, social justice educator, writer and counselor originally from New York, but now living and loving in Oakland, California. She has worked extensively doing community-building and peacebuilding through the arts for youth in underserved communities in San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, and New Delhi with the organizations Global Kids, American India Foundation, Katha, Stepping Stones Project, and Interchange, and is currently the Executive Director of the Berrett-Koehler Foundation supporting intergenerational leadership development.  She has participated and created dance performances addressing issues of incarceration, environmental justice, immigrant rights, and celebrating the feminine. Marielle finds deep joy and truth in supporting our personal healing, so that we may contribute more fully to our world. She is also quite fond of mountaineering, yoga, running, cooking, biking, traveling and reading. She lives with her beloved husband and their new little babe.


Annie-Rose LondonAnnie-Rose London is an organizer, healer and artist who’s experience draws together the fields of sustainable design, community arts, and youth empowerment. Though she always struggled self-identifying as an artist, eventually she had to own up to it when she realized that all of the big projects she ever started (Brown U. Movement Experiments, Sensuality Party) and most of her employment (Artist Educator at CityArts! for Youth, Wild Arts Kid Camp, and Eden Village Camp) were arts-based. Annie-Rose has spent the past four years traveling and working with intentional communities, community arts organizations, and organic farms throughout North America. Currently werkin’ at BK Foundation and Wilderness Torah, Annie-Rose happily makes her home in Oakland, Ca. She just bought a bass guitar and is super jazzed about it.


IMG_7990 - Version 2Aeron Miller graduated in ’07 with a BA degree in Photography and Spanish American Studies from Mills College. While in college Aeron studied painting and photography in Barcelona Spain where thru her investigation of the Gypsy culture thru photojournalism, she began to see the power and potential her artwork could have in educating and inspiring change. In pursuing Social Change Artwork, Aeron exhibited at the Mills College Museum, paintings that address Sex Trafficking between South Korea and San Francisco. She also Co-Founded and is Artistic Director of Beyond Fire Tribe, a Northern California based collaborative performing arts troupe which brings together fire performers, dancers, musicians, aerial dancers, acrobatics, to create entertaining and educational events in support of social and environmental causes and initiatives. In January 2015 Beyond Fire Tribe received the Dr. Leland & Sally Lewis Performing Arts Award!  She has served on the Board of Directors for the South Yuba River Citizen’s League and her photographs from Brazil were recently featured online and in the book, ‘Walk Out, Walk On’ by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze of the Berkana Institute.



305278_10150359822245140_747470139_10190432_242988494_nShilpa Jain is currently rooting herself in Oakland/Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!. Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of Other Worlds and ten years as a learning activist with Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, based in Udaipur, India, where she served as coordinator of the Swapathgami (Walkouts-Walkons) Network. Shilpa has facilitated dozens of transformative leadership gatherings in India, Jordan, Senegal, Lebanon, Egypt, Thailand, Canada, Peru, and the US, working with hundreds of young leaders from over 50 countries. She is passionate about cooperative games, dance and music, organic and natural farming, upcycling and zero waste living, asking appreciative questions and being in community.



Location, Travel and Costs of Attending

The Arts for Social Change Jam will take place at the Ben Lomond Quaker Center, near Santa Cruz, CA.  Participants will share rooms in doubles and triples, and delight in delicious and nutritious primarily vegetarian food for the Jam.


Travel costs are the responsibility of the participants, though we will help in arranging carpools from the Bay Area and nearby airports, like San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.


The tuition for the program is $750 which breaks down into $350 for lodging, food, and local transport and $400 for program (materials, childcare, stipends for organizers and facilitators).


We never want money to be a barrier in participating in a Jam, so we will do everything we can to make it work for you to attend.
  Some partial scholarships and work trades may be available.  We also can create a monthly payment plan that works for you.   Additional donations above the event price are welcome and help us provide scholarships to support the broad spectrum of participation on which this event thrives (they are also tax-deductible).


If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to write to us at <artandsocialchangejam[at]gmail.com>



APPLY here!


We cannot wait to JAM with you!

Austin, Aeron, Eva, Marielle, Renee’ and Shilpa


What some participants from other Jams have shared about their experience…

“Before I was in a Jam. Now, I’m spreading the Jam!”

– Cameron Campbell, 29, Beatboxer/Sound Healer, Sunnyvale, CA


“I love the dear friendships and network of support that have been with me since the first Jam I attended in 2001. The people I met at Jams have become advisors, board members, funders, collaborative partners, and among my closest friends… I appreciate the safe space created at Jams that allows each person to take risks at their own pace and in doing so empower one another to take greater risks in our own lives and work.”

– Kavitha Rao, 35, Cofounder of Common Fire Foundation, Tivoli, New York


“(The Jam was) a time to question, pull off masks, center myself, be inspired, and love. I have never been surrounded by so many incredible young people who live and breathe their radical center. I felt gently and safely yet firmly and fiercely moved through an experience of reconnection with myself and a community of social changemakers for justice. The Jam brought me into focus for myself and the work I am doing in the world.”

– Lisl Schoepflin, 24, Co-founder of Santa Fe Museum of Languages, Santa Fe, NM