The Racial Harmony project was conceived by Christ Church Greenwich in collaboration with three nonprofits serving teens in their local area, in response to the current focus on racial tension, inequality and social justice concerns. As a community of faith, Christ Church strives to engage with local organizations and increase cooperation between our church, civic and educational institutions.
The project is designed to create an environment where youth and young adults from different communities can express their emotions about racial issues through the creation of songs, poems or podcasts. The project is using two recording studios (Andrew’s Studios) which are situated in two very different communities; one affluent (Greenwich), with a 70% Caucasian population and one inner-city (Stamford) with a 27% Hispanic and 10% African American population.
A total of 18 participants are working to produce musical pieces, spoken word poetry or podcasts that reflect their feelings and suggestions for healing, justice and reconciliation around racial injustice and violence. They are working solo and in pairs. It is anticipated that these will be shared and published on venues such as Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play and/or YouTube.
The whole project is being memorialized through the creation of a documentary, being undertaken by two recent film production graduates. Throughout the project, participants are meeting regularly to share their experiences with each other and thereby enhancing their understanding of racial justice, healing and reconciliation. The project leaders are guiding the participants in a transformative dialogue on race and racism. Our hope is that the participants leave with a better understanding of the “other.”
Four organizations are involved in the project; Christ Church Greenwich, Domus Kids Inc., the Teen Center at Arch Street, Greenwich, and Andrew’s Fund. Andrew’s Fund previously funded the establishment of the recording studios at Domus Kids and the Teen Center at Arch Street. In addition, Domus Kids and Teen Center at Arch Street are providing studio leaders, Christ Church is providing direction and videographers/documentarians and Domus Kids is providing a curriculum developed by consultants which they use in their Racial Justice program. The Andrew’s Fund, whose mission is to establish and promote programs that provide assistance for young adults/late teenagers in establishing a clear and safe direction in their lives, is providing all of the funding because of the scope and magnitude of the project in the various communities.
A further intended outcome of the project is to create a program which could be implemented in two other organizations; the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford, CT and the Carver Center of Port Chester, NY.
Overall, in terms of evaluation of the project, the completion and publication of the songs/poems/podcasts, which is expected to happen in mid-November, 2020, will serve as factual evidence of the project’s success. The continued participation of the participants throughout the project will be recorded in the documentary, while the documentary as a whole will be used to evaluate the transformational component of all the individuals involved in the project.
So far, the project is off to a good start; the possible finished pieces include poems and lyrics being set to music, a short video and one young man who began the process wanting to create a podcast has decided to create an original song, which he will perform himself.
Cheryl McFadden, Senior Associate Rector and co-author of the project, says of the project, “watching these young people, who represent the future of our communities, listening to each other’s stories and starting to take the first steps towards interaction and understanding is truly remarkable; we hope that the first green shoots of change are starting to be seen by all involved.”