Twelve Literary Arts 

Where tradition meets innovation

"The purpose of education, finally, is to create in a person the ability to look at the world for himself, to make his own decisions, to say to himself this is black or this is white, to decide for himself whether there is a God in heaven or not. To ask questions of the universe, and then to learn to live with those questions, is the way he achieves his identity." 

- James Baldwin

James Baldwin, A Talk to Teachers, 1963

1. We believe in Youth Voice

We believe that youth are more than the answers to the future. Youth are the answers to the important questions posed in the present moment. The development of youth voice isn't just about youth developing the capacity to write and perform strong creative writing. Strong youth voice is about developing the confidence of our youth to speak their truths at boardroom tables where public policies affecting their lives are shaped. 

2. We believe in the power of Safe Spaces

We believe that the creation of more safe spaces for youth living in urban environments is an essential part of critical self-reflection and self care. By creating safe spaces, youth are able to be at their most authentic. They are able to peel back layers, engage in critical analysis, and establish commonalities with other youth instead of existing in the states of opposition that have become commonplace in urban communities. We believe that in too many instances, schools have become institutions that are more punitive than nurturing. Given this understanding, the development of true safe spaces counteracts the institutionalized harm done to so many of our youth in the schools and on the streets.

3. We believe in Transformative Education for Lifelong Learners

We believe that true education begins with reflective self-analysis combined with critical analysis of our environment. We believe that individuals and communities are always in states of becoming. We believe that the work of self-reflection and community analysis is never done. With this in mind, we believe that true education is a lifelong pursuit, and that education works best in intergenerational contexts. Intergenerational learning fosters a genuine respect for the intelligences brought by all, and emphasizes the belief that we are all experts. 

4. We believe in tradition and innovation

We believe in studying history. We believe that by studying the writers, the movements, and the moments of the past that we learn more about ourselves, our communities, and about how we have arrived to the present moment. We believe in answering the questions of the present by thinking creatively. We believe in dreaming future worlds within the context of what has come before us, and with a sense of mindfulness in the present. This core belief grounds us, while reminding to always dare to shape new possibilities.

5. We believe in Love

We believe that everything we do must come from a place of love. We believe that love is an action. We believe that it is important for us to see the baby in each human being we interact with because babies are precious and are in constant states of becoming. We believe that all lives are precious, and that we are all in states of becoming. This value guides our understanding of art and education.