CoGenerate Co-CEO Marc Freedman’s most recent book, How to Live Forever, was published by Hachette/Public Affairs in 2018, generating a lot of great attention. And it’s not over yet! Every week, the New York Times Sunday Opinion section includes a print-only feature...
The Latest from CoGenerate
At This Organization in Santa Barbara County, AmeriCorps Members of All Ages Are Working To Get More People Housed
What is your program called, and how does it work? Santa Barbara Country AmeriCorps Partnership for Veterans and Homeless works closely with local nonprofits and government agencies that are homeless service providers. Our organization focuses on a few things:...
Check Out Our Signature Event On Cogenerational Activism!
On May 22, more than 1,100 people registered to learn more about the important cogenerational work our 2023 Innovation Fellows are doing. These 15 leaders are bringing generations together to solve problems and bridge divides. And each one has a unique and inspiring...
Got a Digital Illustration that Shows Generations Working Together?
CoGenerate recently teamed up with Fine Acts, a global creative studio for social impact, to launch an open call for illustrations showing generations working together for change. We’re looking for illustrations that show older and younger people coming together to...
Purpose Prize Fellow 2014
This artist creates public art in communities around the world that are plagued by poverty, crime and despair.
In 2004, I was unhappy as director of the Village of Arts and Humanities, the organization I co-founded in 1986 to transform North Philadelphia communities through art. I spent most of my time raising funds and managing staff. I yearned to be on the frontlines of action again, like I had been in 1994.
That year, I was in Korogocho, a shantytown bordering a huge garbage dump near Nairobi, Kenya, where people experience the violence of poverty and deprivation on so many levels – filth, lack of clean water, air, opportunities and hope. Overwhelmed, I asked myself, ‘What to do” My answer came, ‘Bring colors.’
So I organized residents of Korogocho to paint murals in St. John’s Catholic Church, a place where the poor come to worship and find mutual support. More than 1,000 people attended the dedication. On that day I felt the immense power of art. We brought beauty and hope to a vast slum.
Art projects launched in the U.S., Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Ecuador, Rwanda, China, Taiwan, India, Haiti, Syria and in the West Bank
Presentations and workshops around the world have inspired people to take action to make the world a better place
A decade later, I launched Barefoot Artists, to spark transformation, healing and social change in places plagued by poverty, crime and despair. Since then, we have carried out projects and training workshops in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.
We empower people by reconnecting them with their innate creativity. One of our first initiatives was The Rwanda Healing Project. I collaborated with the genocide survivors in Rubavu District in West Rwanda, to transform a rough mass grave into the Rugerero 1994 Genocide Memorial. Under my guidance, participants created beautiful mosaics to cover the bone chamber and turned bleak volcanic rocks into a verdant garden. It became the official genocide memorial for the region.
More recently, we’ve worked with the indigenous Ah Mei community of Chong An, Taiwan, to re-energize a fading community with art projects and educational workshops. And in the Balata refugee camp in West Bank, we collaborated with the Women’s Center, local residents, artists, students and international volunteers to create colorful murals that transform oppressive environments into places of vitality and joy. In the face of cruelty and injustice, we reestablish freedom through creating beauty.
I have come to realize that broken communities are my canvases, people’s stories the pigments and their talents, the tools that shape the art we create. Making art in forlorn places is like making a fire in a frozen winter night. It brings light, warmth and hope.