By Tanner Yea
In trying times, the best places to look for support are often in your own backyard: poets, musicians, artists and intellectuals you can stand with and learn from in order to help create real change and support in your community.
You can find such a slice of life in Pensacola’s backyard on September 30, as From the Ground Up Community Garden hosts 100 Thousand Poets for Change—a “grassroots organization that brings communities together to call for environmental, social and political change within the framework of peace and sustainability.”
First formed in 2011 by poet organizers, the event has evolved into much more than a poetry reading. Through concerts, readings, lectures, workshops, flash mobs and theater performances, they hope to address issues like homelessness, global warming, education, racism and censorship.
“The world is in a divisive place right now and positivity is at a premium,” said Brett Hutchins, Music Director of From the Ground Up Community Garden. “In hosting this event at the garden, we hope we are providing a safe haven for folks to speak their heart to a group of people yearning for their words.”
100 Thousand Poets for Change is a global event, but each individual event is tailored to the community. Pensacola’s event is focused on poetry and spoken word, and the theme revolves around social justice—though the words and views of any topic can be heard.
In addition to offering a public platform to help facilitate change, the event is also a donation-based fundraiser. All funds raised during the event will go towards the community garden and the Dixon School of the Arts.
“Education has become a main focus for the garden, teaching children the importance of sustainability and growing their own food. Knowledge is power, but it’s also independence,” said Hutchins. “We want Dixon students, as well as others who visit and volunteer at the garden, to know that.”
The Dixon school itself is a K-8 private school that serves underprivileged youth. In addition to their normal curriculum, they incorporate music, arts, yoga and dance as part of their overall education. The From the Ground Up Community Garden is also focused on childhood education, designed to be a place where children and their families can learn about agriculture, health and community.
Many of the global events for 100 Thousand Poets for Change aren’t just limited to traditional art. For example, Egypt has hosted Mimes for Change that have used their influence to help change and improve their communities for the better. Pensacola will join the ranks of cities like Agadir, Morocco; Belem, Brazil; and Florence, Italy in this peaceful movement.
“It’s our mission to be a community hub for music, art, education and sustainability. 100 Thousand Poets for Change is a perfect event to connect those dots in a meaningful way,” said Hutchins.
Hutchins also stressed that the event will give people a voice and let them know there are others in Pensacola who share the same points of view. He said he hopes the event will also encourage openness and connection.
“At this point, 100 Thousand Poets for Change will continue to be a force,” he said. “We are proud to have Pensacola as a dot on their worldwide map, if only to let people know the amazing sense of community we are building in this town.”
100 Thousand Poets for Change will be held on September 30, 3 to 5 pm, at the From the Ground Up Community Garden at 501 North Hayne St.