by Beth Feldman Brandt, Executive Director

What a roller coaster of events and emotions we have had since I left on sabbatical in August.  I am so grateful to the Bartol team for continuing to  support you, our community of teaching artists and partners, while I was away. 
It was not the sabbatical I expected when I first made plans last October.  But I was able to revive my creative poetry life and my bass guitar practicing. I  was also  the Program Volunteer for #VoteThatJawn, working with amazing high school and college students to get out the vote in Philly.  My projects included collaborating with Bartol grantee Spiral Q for events that included creating the dancing mailboxes and with Big Picture Alliance to create this short film about the youth vote.
I was inspired by the young people, many of whom were not even old enough to vote, who worked so hard to engage people to make their voices heard.  Often they were driven to vote for those who can’t.  They were driven by issues like climate change and police reform.  They leveraged TikTok and Instagram and Saturday registration drives at Shop-Rite.  COVID didn’t stop them from making change happen.  
It was powerful to be reminded of the ways that the arts can amplify organizing and activism efforts.  How poets and musicians can articulate and heal what ails us.  I am coming back to Bartol Foundation ready to integrate all the worlds I inhabited while I was away – creativity, activism, organizing and true community engagement, into how we serve you. 
I know it is a challenging time to move forward when everything ahead is so uncertain.  But we can give ourselves permission to pivot and change as we go.  And to extend grace to ourselves and others as we navigate this world.
Photo Credit: Beth with her wife, Karen, getting out the vote at Overbook Elementary School.

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