Initiated in 2013 with funds from a Mellon Humanities Grant at St. Lawrence University, Weaving the Streets & People’s History Archive (WSPHA) is an ongoing collaboration between the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery and the Weave, an independent news media organization housed in Global Studies and focused on underreported stories. The WSPHA project was created:
“…as a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary, collaborative project that offers St. Lawrence University students, young alumni, and others in the community the opportunity to be part of a dynamic, global, investigative blog and a digital archive that each document the creative range of ways in which ordinary people make use of public space to express themselves. The goal is to bring together examples from a wide range of cultures and experiences so that people can build bridges, explore lines of solidarity and difference, and learn from the experiences of others. At a time when cultural materials of all sorts are circulating online with increasing volume and speed, there is a growing need for the skilled curation of such materials so that people can make intelligent use of them in their own contexts. The project seeks to meet these needs in a way that will generate maximum educational value by involving students, alumni, and others at all levels of the process: undergoing initial training, gathering and documenting examples in the streets, contributing to their curation, and helping teach others.”
The initial Mellon funding, supplemented by gallery funds, covered the cost of stipends for four cohorts of students and young alumni contributors from fall 2013 through spring 2015. In 2015, WSPHA was awarded additional funds from the Mellon grant to continue the project for two more years. Participants have represented majors and minors in African Studies, Anthropology, Art & Art History, Conservation Biology, Economics, English, Environmental Studies, Film & Representation Studies, Global Studies, Government, Hispanic Studies, History, Native American Studies, Psychology, and Religious Studies. WSPHA participants contribute to the project in two basic ways: 1) by writing and publishing investigative blog posts at a special Weaving the Streets group blog space hosted by the Weave; and 2) by gathering and curating street culture artifacts for the People’s History Archive.
Items to be added to the People’s History Archive include a voucher for free paella at a Madrid hostel, signifying the importance of paella in Spanish culture; a flier from the 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City; a business card for a café in Costa Rica that allows philanthropic customers to purchase café pendiente or free “pending coffee” for the next customer; and a mysterious Queen of Hearts tarot playing card from 1914 that is ripped in half. Items will be added as they are digitized, interpreted, and catalogued. New exhibits are in progress now.