UO COMMUNITY CARES: ATTENDANCE RECORDSFebruary 21, 2017
Get inspired by Austin, TX-based Attendance Records, an organisation dedicated to bringing creativity back into schools by creating a platform to create, write, and collaboratively produce their own album and zine. Through in-school workshops, they encourage students to engage with the arts in a unique environment and learn more about their identities through self-expression.
We’re so excited to be able to partner with Attendance Records this spring — 50% of the proceeds from our exclusive capsule collection designed by the band Hinds will be donated to the organisation’s continuing work. Stay tuned for the launch of the exclusive collection, online on 2/23! And in the meantime, read our interview with Hinds.
UO: Can you catch us up to speed on what Attendance Records has been up to since we last spoke? What projects have held your focus in the last year?
We wrapped up the 2016 school year by releasing our end of year project, a compilation written by middle school students and brought to life by 16 incredible bands. We also worked with local artist, Polly Morwood, to visually represent several student poems written from the perspective of animals.
We started a new middle school program in the fall and have had a variety of workshops focused around slam poetry and songwriting, with a big emphasis on how we can make a difference in the world. We have had fun partnering with a powerful organisation, Speak Piece Poetry, who has been a huge supporter of our program this year. All of our students are working diligently to edit their final songs before Spring Break, and we have started bringing in musicians to work one-on-one with students and encourage them in their songwriting process.
Our team was also fortunate enough to participate in Waller Creek Conservancy’s ‘Creek Show’ before the holidays. We created a mobile recording box that provided kids and adults an opportunity to step into a different world and record their inner thoughts through song, spoken word, ramblings, or any noise they saw fit in the moment. We are currently compiling all this noise into a special ‘Creek Show’ field recording that will be showcased on our next album, to be released in June 2017.
UO: Can you share some memorable stories or experiences that you’ve had this year?
This past school year we had a shy student write a song called Women’s Rights. When we began to brainstorm on what topics we wanted to write about, you could sense that she already knew exactly what she wanted to say. She began writing and at the end of that class she decided to get up and share her piece to her peers. When she began to read, she was confident and loud and the room turned quiet. She read her piece with purpose and ended it with:
“I don’t understand all these expectations
saying that girls can’t do a certain thing,
comparing each little thing to a man.
I still don’t understand.
This is why I’m here.
For all these women, we stand.”
The entire class stood up and clapped for her and you could see that she was really proud of herself. These are the moments we work for in class, giving our students a platform to express and channel exactly what they are feeling in a safe and positive environment.
UO:Can you speak more generally about the role you see creativity and the arts playing in education/adolescence? Are there any quotations, philosophies, or mantras that guide your work?
The arts and creativity play a major role in shaping who we become as individuals. I think it allows kids to build confidence, communication, and critical thinking skills, and ultimately discover what makes them unique.
We don’t really have a set of classroom rules, but we do read Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese” at the beginning of each program to help our students understand our philosophy for the year:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
UO:As a kid, who were some of the musicians or writers who profoundly influenced you? Can you each share your “list” of cultural touchstones that have in some way shaped who you are today?
Jenna: Shel Silverstein, Sam Cooke, R.L. Stine
Lizzie: Billie Holiday, Lauryn Hill, Gloria Estefan
Chase: Michael Jordan, The Living Sea soundtrack, George Strait
Eric: Tracy Chapman, Claude Monet, Rosie O’Donnell
UO: What artists, musicians, or creatives in general are most inspiring you all right now?
Jenna: Aimee Bender, Jerry Reed, Solange, Donna Tartt
Lizzie: Cheryl Strayed, Lidia Yuknavitch, Loretta Lynn, Karen O
Chase: Joanna Newsom, Nils Frahm, David Berman, Amy Hempel
Eric: Julia Holter, The Monks, Captain Beefheart, Ellen Willis
NYC Friends: hope to see you at Hinds’ show at Space Ninety 8 on 2/28, where 50% of the sales from Hinds’ UO capsule collection will be donated to Attendance Records.
Follow Attendance Records’ work on Facebook