A pilot program designed to stimulate engagement among students and the Fox Cities community through short, student-made documentary films about local issues was officially launched in late January with the help of renowned author, educator and activist Parker Palmer during an address in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.
The Civic Life Project (CLP) is a unique educational initiative modeled after a successful program that award-winning filmmakers Catherine Tatge ’72 and her husband, Dominique Lasseur, created for high school students in Connecticut several years ago. The CLP will put video cameras in the hands of students as they venture, in search of local stories, across that invisible line that often separates a college from the community in which it resides. Students will be asked to identify a human-scale story in the community that reflects a larger story of the day: one family’s foreclosed mortgage; one person’s loss of a long-time job; one teacher’s special way of encouraging kids who are on the margins.
Palmer hailed the undertaking as an important role reversal opportunity to make “the local community a teacher of Lawrence students.”
“It makes Lawrence students into people who can say back to their community, ‘We care about your problems and we want to mirror back some of your strengths and potentials,’” said Palmer. “In the process, Lawrence students will not only sharpen their critical skills, but also find their hearts enlarged, opened and engaged in a new way of understanding their role as citizens in a complex society.”
Tatge, who is spending the current academic year at Lawrence as an artist-in-residence, will coordinate the program in collaboration with Monica Rico, associate professor of history, Pieper Family Chair of Servant Leadership and director of the Office of Engaged Learning, with assistance from Lasseur, executive director of the Civic Life Project.