Sowing Seeds Among the Silicon - A Free 3-Day Youth Arts & Music Program
Bean Tupou is a founding member of Think And Die Thinking (TADT) and a
local musician. She’s currently working on her solo project Try The Pie
and is one of the main organizers of the Youth Arts & Music Program (AMP). Cristal Olivas sat down with Bean to talk more about the upcoming program.
The AMP pilot project is TADT's current endeavor geared specifically to youth 13-17 taking place September 3-5 at the Roberto Cruz
Leadership Academy, with free workshops,
skill shares, materials and musical gear.
IS AMP DESIGNED FOR?
Bean: The target demographic is pretty
broad, but it's mostly marginalized youth that don't get a lot of focus. We
want to outreach to youth from low-income families, youth that identify as
queer/trans and youth of color. Historically these youth haven't gotten a lot
of attention or support in our society, so those are the youth we will be
focusing on first in our outreach.
C: WHAT DO YOU HOPE
YOUTH TAKE FROM AMP WEEKEND?
B: I want to bring the feeling, the connections of Think & Die Thinking Fest* to younger people in San Jose. Anywhere from finding out if they are passionate about
any form of art or expression or music, or meeting new friends, being around
creative people and feeling inspired in that way. I hope they find a sense of
connection or maybe just a sense of autonomy, a space where they feel like
people care about them. Instead of believing in these common tropes of art and
music being damaging or a waste of time, I want them to rethink their own
creativity as a weapon for activism and historical record. I want them to know
that they can use it as another tool in their tool kit.
Yeah, art and music has been taught in a way that has been taken away from us.
Like it's something that needs to be taught and not something that we innately
carry within us. I think we're all creative people – it's in our nature.
B: A lot of schools are formatted in a way that makes you
feel bad about your brain and the way you think or the way you perceive things.
Everyone perceives things differently. There needs to be a space where kids
feel confident in their innate intuition and abilities, perceptions and to
respect how someone else sees something differently, but they are still seeing
the same thing as you. It's a good exercise in listening and connecting with
people in a way that's not institutionalized.
IS AMP BEING CREATED IN SAN JOSE?
B: The Silicon Valley has a rich history of people of color
being disenfranchised and the history has not been as recorded or prolific as
other places in America. We have this history of orchards and people of color
cultivating their communities here and that getting ripped from them because of
the tech industry and gentrification.
It is important for me to do programs in
San Jose where we are teaching kids to be expressive and document themselves in
a creative way because I’m from here. As a person who has learned to sustain
myself partially, on creating things – it's also improved my quality of life
and self worth – it's important to impart that in any way that I can to young
I think it's a really good time for San
Jose right now. I keep hearing that a free youth art program is something new,
it's something that's not really available right now. A lot of youth here are
promoted to code and to enter the workforce, which is great and I think it's
important to learn those skills, but I think it's just as important to learn
how to express yourself and to document yourself in a way where you are in
charge of your own narrative.
I want youth to go even further than
using the materials provided, that's just a start. But it'd be nice to see if
they could take this model and use it to create new collectives. That would be
awesome. Or maybe some day in the future having a board of young people who
help run AMP – that would be the dream. I want young people to feel that what
they do is effective. There are already some organizations that are doing that
but I want to bring the uniqueness of TADT to a younger demographic because
these are some of the most vulnerable people in our society who don't have a
lot of say in their lives yet.
If you or someone you know is interested
please visit the website and sign up!
We are also looking for folks who want to
help out by volunteering or have something to offer the project. If you would like to donate any extra
musical gear, art materials or funds, any donations are greatly appreciated!
To learn more and sign up: thinkanddiethinking.org
2011, the Think and Die Thinking collective has hosted DIY and all ages events in
San Jose and the South Bay. In the past, the main focus has been Think and Die
Thinking Fest, started by the four members of the band Sourpatch. With the help
of their community, close friends and family, Sourpatch put on a three-day fest
at the Billy DeFrank Center, a resource hub for queer folks in the South Bay
Area. The fest was an all-ages music weekend that is by and for musicians,
artists, and community members who are queer, trans, people of color, women,
and allies. Over time, the fest weekend
has extended into a series of workshops, a zine library, panel discussions,
tablers, art exhibits, and more.