I originally got involved with RestART as a student in the Service Learning in the Arts course taught at the UW by professor Gail Simpson. The course partnered students with local organizations that engaged the community through art. RestART was ran at the time by Becky Redelings, who would travel between 6 community centers every week spreading something called ‘Restorative Justice’. Essentially, kids who had gotten in trouble with the law would meet with her and create collaborative mural projects which would then get donated to their respective communities in exchange for getting their charges dropped. The concept completely revolutionized the way I think about the relationship between our communities and the law.
Becky eventually had to pull out of the project due to work responsibilities, but thanks to a grant from the Puffin Foundation, I continued RestART in the fall of 2013. I became the community partner, and a fellow student, Daniela Alfaro, became my partner in working with the Girl’s Inc. Program through the Goodman Community Center.
Every week, a van full of middle schoolers would come meet us at a different location around campus to learn a new art from from a professional artist teaching their medium. While fun and engaging, the secret logic was to expose our kids to as many different campus spaces and potential mentor figures as possible.