Happy New Year from the Steam Exchange!

Happy New Year to all! The Steam Exchange thought we would launch into this New Year by reflecting on what happened in 2014.

The Steam Exchange was created in August of 2014 by Caitlin Kannapell, Rachel Mauser and Benjamin Dory, with startup support and funding from IDEAS 40203 and YouthBuild Louisville’s ArtPlace grant. We spent our first month connecting with Smoketown residents and organizations and forming the beginning of our Youth Vision Committee because we want our programming and organizational development to be driven primarily by the art curriculum hopes and needs of neighborhood stakeholders.

In September, the Steam Exchange began to take action. We participated in Louisville’s Startup Weekend, where we pitched our idea of starting a tool lending library component of the Steam Exchange, and were lucky enough to be one of the organizations whose proposal was selected for development over the weekend. We also teamed up with Kentucky State University and YouthBuild Louisville’s Mobile Market to conduct outdoor public art workshops, and we hosted a screen printing table at Kentuckians for the Commonwealth’s Smoketown GetDown for Democracy! We worked with visiting artist Patrick Rowe of Mobile Print Power to convert a hotdog cart into a mobile print unit and created an installation of community designed screen prints at the Smoketown Poetry Opera. We also screen printed with 150 youth and adults with the mobile print unit at Louisville’s Mini-Maker Faire.

In October we broadened our scope to work with Henry McGalliard Landscape Design+Build to create an installation of hanging burlap columns for the 2014 Fall Bash. This is the first of hopefully many installations the Steam Exchange plans to create with landscape architect Patrick Henry. Though we began teaching classes in September, we greatly increased our community art programming in October. We began teaching art classes with young people from YouthBuild Louisville, and Bates Memorial Baptist Church’s: Children’s Bible Study, SPICE group for high school girls, and Kingdom Academy.

In November we expanded our weekly teaching schedule at Meyzeek Middle School to regularly include the Family and Children’s Place program CLASP, working with them Tuesdays-Thursdays. Our Digital Fluency pilot class began meeting twice a week at YouthBuild Louisville. They designed an app that will provide resources to current YouthBuild Louisville students. Our weekly meetings of the Youth Vision Committee remained strong, and evolved to include students from many of the different groups we work with. The group has created their own screens for screen printing, made accordion books, worked through design processes, created large paintings, and made merchandise to sell to fund their programming. We are excited to see how this group grows and develops.

In December, we worked with holiday cheer in collaboration with the Kentucky School for the Arts, setting up MELD: a Holiday Popup Shop on 4th Street. We also worked with YouthBuild Louisville to create a holiday gift making day for the students to make gifts for friends and family. The Steam Exchange facilitated screen printing and jewelry making while YouthBuild facilitated glass cup making and body scrub making. The event was a success and the students left with plenty of gifts to give!

Between August and December, the Steam Exchange had 902 youth interactions over the course of 118 hours of instruction, during 78 different workshops. While we have spent 2014 as a mobile organization, we are looking forward to 2015 where we will begin to settle into a more permanent location. We will be hosting our first arts based summer camp in Smoketown, and could not be more excited! We hope you will join us on this journey of creativity, growth, and fun. Please like us on facebook @ Steam Exchange and feel free to email us at connect@steamexchange.org with any questions, requests, or hopes you have for us.

Thank you to all our youth participants and partners for making our first 5 months action packed.

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