This workshop will affirm the expression, recognition, and understanding of unique communities by the people participating in them. The exploration and vision of the arts will take place in the workshop. Participants will collaborate in a performance as a way to help them re-imagine how the arts and personal expression can create a path towards a more healing-centered approach in their communities. It’s like planting a seed deep into good soil, watering it, watching it take root, and providing sunlight and proper nutrients to foster growth. To envision, imagine and experience access to creative technology produces empowerment in the participant’s community and a sense of vibrancy and resilience during a time of uncertainty and instability.
Eugene “Ace” Johnson is an Oakland native who has developed his craft as a public speaker, spoken word activist and lyricists; creating a career in teaching individuals the power of discovering, developing and deploying their natural gifts and talents to evoke positive change. Ace is the Co-founder of Oakland based Non Profits, BLOCLOVE Foundation and iVisionary Academy. He has developed a variety of Visionary curricula that use the creative arts to teach leadership development and life skills to youth in underserved communities. His passion for holistic, multigenerational urban community development has developed several programs dedicated to seeing people live out their full potential within these communities.
Benita Hopkins has worked in the non-profit sector for years as the Director of Education for Generations United who serves the immigrant population and for Love Never Fails, committed to the trafficked population. She is the current Northern and Central California Liaison for the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative and oversees her 1st Fruits Arts Project to offer underserved students of all ages the opportunity to express themselves and find healing through the arts. One of Benita’s favorite quotations by Dr. King is: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Human trafficking and other injustices are critical to her work.
Damon Owens is the Lead Pastor of Genesis Church-Antioch; a vibrant multi-generational church community who is committed to sharing the gospel, local missions, workforce and community youth development. Raised in East Oakland, CA, Damon is also the Executive V.P. of Dalet Access Labs, Inc. Dalet Access addresses the digital divide by providing high speed fiber-like wireless internet to urban, rural, and tribal communities. He is pursuing his Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership and Development. Damon is a loyal Raiders fan and is married to Shantell with 3 daughters and 5 beautiful grandchildren: Christian, Anaiyah, Gia, Olivia, and Derrick Jr.