Be in the know, you know
NWA Civic Lab began as Southside Civic Lab in 2017 when Artist's Laboratory Theatre was headquartered in South Fayetteville.
The Civic Lab process begins with facilitated "listening parties," which allow community members the opportunity to add their input to the conversation. The goal is to identify issues that repeatedly come up in these listening parties, which then become the thematic concerns of the project. The process then moves into a research phase in which selected community members from a variety of social and economic backgrounds, termed "Neighborhood Ambassadors," engage with the topic first-hand and report back on their findings.
The first Civic Lab revolved around themes of housing insecurity, homelessness, and gentrifications, issues that became the core of the script The Good Person of South Fayetteville, which was developed out of these community conversations.
In June 2019, The Artist's Laboratory Theatre received the Robert E Gard Award from Americans for the Arts for the Southside Civic Lab project. This is a national award that "celebrates exemplary work at the intersection of the arts and community life."
The next Civic Lab project focuses on issues related to transportation and community access to public transit. Again listening parties will allow for community engagement, and Artist's Lab will again work with Neighborhood Ambassadors, who will conduct "community system audits" wherein they will ride the bus, attend public meetings, and will share their personal experiences with transportation and public transit.
What is the NWA Civic Lab?
The NWA Civic Lab is a 12-month long community-based, site-specific theatre project that explores civic issues impacting communities of Northwest Arkansas. The project will culminate in the creation of an original play. Audiences will attend public events related to the topics of the play, such as facilitated community conversations, or Listening Parties, that will steer the focus of the development of the play, as well as staged readings of the script in development.
An Invitation to the Springdale Listening Party
The theatre will host a NWA Civic Lab Listening Party on the topic of public transit at Arts Center of the Ozarks on Dec 8, 2019 at 2 PM. The event is a community conversation about the current transit needs and vision for the future of public transportation in Northwest Arkansas. Arts Center of the Ozarks is located at 214 S Main St in Springdale. The event is free and open to the public. You can reserve your ticket here.
- 2:00 PM Doors Open. Attendees are invited to give input about public transit through interactive maps, story booths, and surveys.
- 2:45 PM Story Circles Begin
What's Next for the NWA Civic Lab?
Next up for the Civic Lab is the final stage of the Southside Civic Lab: a performance of Good Person of South Fayetteville staged on the South Fayetteville bus routes, thus connecting the two areas of focus from our past and present topics—housing insecurity and public transit. The Artist's Laboratory Theatre are also developing a play with Venceremos, a workers' rights organization, on the creation of a new play titled No Somos Maquinas (We are Not Machines), that examines and critiques the poultry industry and centers the experiences of poultry workers in the region.
For more information and questions, contact Erika Wilhite, Artistic Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit artlabtheatre.com
Here are a number of opportunities to give back over the holidays.
During the holiday season, our social feeds fill with an array of charitable opportunities. We wanted to do our best at collecting and sharing requests for local donations. This is a running list, so if you are aware of others we should add, please drop an email to email@example.com, and we will update the post.
It's getting colder outside which means 7hills is starting to need those cold-weather items to help our neighbors experiencing homelessness to stay warm! Here's a short list of items currently needed.
If you would like to donate to Ranger's Pantry, individuals may drop off dog or cat food donations to the Community Resources Division office located at 125 W. Mountain St in Fayetteville, or at any one of the City of Fayetteville Fire Stations. Monetary donations are also accepted, and 100% of proceeds are used in the purchase of food.
Did you know? As of today, Ranger's Pantry has assisted 118 families (including 238 pets) and distributed over 8,000 pounds of food.
Every child in the care of the Northwest Arkansas Children's Shelter from mid-November to New Year's Day will receive Christmas gifts, whether they are residing with them on Christmas Day or not. Many of the kids have never had the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with yummy food, treats and gifts. With your help, they can make sure that all of the children in their care have a very happy holiday season. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 479-795-2417.
Donate a sleeping bag to help keep our neighbors in need nice and warm. Donations can be dropped off at the Samaritan Community Center located at 1211 W. Hudson Road in Rogers.
Also, Walmart has selected the Samaritan Community Center to the be the first test site nationally for their new Registry for Good! Here's how it works: You can go HERE to connect to their current needs list. They are seeking personal care items as they are not covered by SNAP benefits. Select the items you would like to purchase on SCC's behalf. You can either have them delivered directly to the center (delivery charges apply on orders under $35) or you can pick the items up and drop them off at one of the SCC locations.
NWACSA is in need of your support. They need travel size toiletries and any size men's pants. You can bring your donations to the Center at 1670 W Sunset Ave., STE B, Springdale, AR, 72762. For more information, call 479-347-2304.
As the holiday season approaches, some of you may want to give items to the local women's shelter and their clients. They have created three Amazon wish lists to help fill their needs. All you have to do is purchase the items and click ship.
The Community Resources Division in Fayetteville is seeking holiday gifts for seniors to be distributed to our neighbors on the Meals on Wheels program! Donations will be accepted now through mid-December. If you would like to donate, give them a call at (479) 575-8260, and they'll be happy to get you started!
As in years past, great gift ideas include: crossword/sudoku/jigsaw puzzles, coffee/tea, mens & women's robes/nightgowns, socks/slippers/house shoes, emergency radios, first aid kits, gift cards—and more!
Fayetteville Public Library patrons can bring in canned goods and other non-perishable food items and get overdue fees waived during Food for Fees Week. The program begins Monday, Nov. 11 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 17.
Library patrons will get $1 in overdue fees waived for each can or box of food donated during the drive. Food for Fees will not cover replacement fees for lost or damaged materials. Unopened, unexpired, non-perishable, non-glass donations will be accepted.
Items needed include:
- peanut butter
- canned tuna fish or chicken
- canned soup or fruit
Restoration Village, a long-term facility for women and children in crisis, is in need of adult and child toothbrushes and male and female deodorant! Please reach out to them HERE if you are willing to assist with this need!
MEI is now accepting new or clean, gently used coats of all sizes for Marshallese youth and others in need now through Dec 20th. MEI is located at 614 E Emma Ave Suite 203, Springdale, AR 72764.
There are over 60 children in Northwest Arkansas waiting on a mentor to volunteer their time. Now is that time.
Guest Post by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Arkansas (@BBBSNWA)
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Arkansas made its first match in 1995. Nearly 25 years later, we are still matching kids in one-to-one relationships with caring, vetted adults. We know that our programs are effective. Children in our youth-mentoring program are 52% less likely to skip school and 86% of kids matched with a mentor have improved self confidence.
Right now, we have an urgent need for volunteers in our community. You can volunteer as a Big Brother, Big Sister, Big Couple or even a Big Family. All it takes is about four hours a month with a commitment of at least one year. We match our kids with Bigs based on where they live and what they like to do for fun. If you love fast cars, or building robots, watching the latest Disney movie or crafting necklaces, we have a Little who loves the same things.
Big Brother Ketan was recently matched with his Little Brother Ryan. Ryan waited over a year to be matched. He has a neuromuscular disorder which leads to low muscle tone, and it took some time to be able to find the right match. At their match introduction, they immediately bonded over love of Marvel movies and their strong passion for learning. One of their goals for the year is for them to learn Spanish together. Ryan's dream is to be a mechanic and, on their first outing, Ketan reported that Ryan asked to look under the hood of his car. Ketan does not have the same interest in cars but absolutely believes in fostering Ryan's quest for curiosity and learning. So, when Ketan heard about Tinkerfest at Amazeum where a car was to be dismantled, he immediately reached out to Ryan's mom to plan to take him. Ketan said Ryan had the time of his life and was able to take apart a carburetor.
There are dozens more children just like Ryan who want a mentor in their life. If you are ready to become a defender of potential—simply fill out an application on our website at www.bbbsnwa.org or attend an upcoming volunteer orientation.
The upcoming orientations are:
· Thursday, Nov. 7, 6 to 8 p.m. at the Panther Health and Wellness Clinic in Siloam Springs
· Sunday, Nov. 10, 2 to 4 p.m. at our Fayetteville Office - 91 W. Colt Square Dr. Suite 3, Fayetteville
· Thursday, Nov. 21, 6 to 8 p.m. at the Roger's Public Library
· Saturday, Dec. 7, 9 to 11 a.m. at our Fayetteville Office - 91 W. Colt Square Dr., Suite 3, Fayetteville
· Wednesday, Dec. 11, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Bentonville Public Library
Youth Guardians of Conservation NWA (YGCNWA) is on a mission to provide high school students with authentic, real-world, scientific leadership experience.
Occasionally, we get the honor of introducing new local organizations to our audience. Today, that organization is Youth Guardians of Conservation of Northwest Arkansas (YGCNWA). Co-founded by high school science teachers, Matthew Holden and Cameron Simpkins, YGCNWA is working to equip students throughout Northwest Arkansas with experiences that will allow them to become the next generation of conservation leaders. Their plans are pretty rad, learn more by checking out our Q&A below.
What inspired the creation of Youth Guardians of Conservation?
It emerged from our mutual passion for the environment and education. We noticed a lack of opportunities for local youth to get involved in authentic conservation research experiences and wanted to utilize the resources of Northwest Arkansas (universities, state and federal agencies, corporations, etc.) to provide new and unique opportunities for students to actively participate in research and conservation at the local, regional, and global level.
How did your personal journey's lead you to this effort?
Cameron: Matt and I have a common passion for the environment and education. Matt interned for me as a student teacher for my AP Biology courses while he was pursuing his Master of Arts in Teaching. Prior to becoming an educator, Matt worked as a wildlife conservation biologist and saw the importance of conservation first hand. Having taught in multiple school districts in Arkansas, I have been exposed to varying attitudes toward environmental education and toward science research in general. It's amazing how many young people (or not-so-young people) have not spent time in their own backyards! Curiosity can be a practice that is embedded in our daily lives. After completing my undergraduate degree, I realized the responsibility of an educator to facilitate the practice of curiosity. And when I took on Matt as a student teacher intern, I wanted to model that facilitation. What we found was that two things got in our way—funding and the four walls of the classroom. When we put our two environmentally-concerned heads together, YGCNWA was conceptualized. We want local youth to get involved in authentic, real-world research conservation experiences, to discover how conservation and science affect them personally and empower them to become the global conservation leaders of the future
What are your primary goals?
- Foster global citizenship through meaningful and authentic cultural and scientific experiences for local youth
- Making these experiences as accessible as possible for all students and families
- Practice sustainable tourism by carefully selecting and monitoring the locations of our expeditions
- Support sustainability and conservation efforts in Northwest Arkansas
- Offer opportunities to build partnerships with local environmental supporters and create access to local environmental experts
- Educate our project participants about local and global environmental issues
- Provide students and families with opportunities for environmental stewardship
- Create environments where participants feel safe and comfortable
- Develop programs with purpose, focusing on enrichment and education at the core
- Raise awareness about how science research can affect policy, economics, local communities
- Engage in real science research experiences
What needs are you serving or gaps are you seeking to fill?
We hope to bring educational, cultural and research experiences to the students and families we serve. Specifically, we select actions that move ourselves and participants forward in a pattern of progression, from Education to Research to Culture. Through this model, we are looking to engage two core groups in the community:
Underrepresented Youth in the Sciences
We want to reach students who are traditionally underrepresented in the sciences (women, African Americans, Latinx) because many of these students do not ever consider the possibility that they could become scientists or conservationists. Often, because they are not exposed to people that look like themselves in these occupations. We want to provide these students with opportunities to work with scientists and professors that they can relate to, and thus increase the likelihood of them being inspired to continue in science research.
Rural Youth in the Sciences
We want to reach as many students as we can regardless of location, however, many students in rural areas may have never left the state or had a chance to participate in authentic science research. We want to provide opportunities for these students, especially if they have never considered becoming a scientist or conservationist.
What experiences are you hoping to deliver?
High impact science experiences. These could include field trips to labs or field stations to work with real-world scientists and experience the research first hand, international trips to conduct conservation research while learning about a new culture, in-class presentations or demonstration labs conducted by scientists, professors, and graduate students.
It is our hope that these experiences will create "hook moments" or "aha moments" where students feel inspired to become future conservation leaders.
As an example, in June of 2020 we will be taking a group of 21 students down to Costa Rica to work with the Holbrook Travel and the Latin American Sea Turtle Organization. Leatherback sea turtles are an endangered reptile with a 100-million-year history! Students that participate in this experience will work side-by-side with researchers to collect data on leatherbacks and help protect their nests. Matt was recently awarded the EPI's Costa Rica Sea Turtle Ecology Teacher Fellowship. There are less than 100 educators around the globe selected annually for this fellowship.
How can the local community get involved, support these efforts, and learn more?
We are actively partnering with a number of local businesses on upcoming fundraising events, which will be posted on
Direct charitable contributions would go a long way toward helping provide scholarships for youth to participate in our regional and international experiences as well as help us secure research materials (pipettes, beakers, test tubes, reagents, incubators, etc.) and field supplies (nets, quadrats, transmitters, environmental quality probes, etc.) for youth-led research projects.
Lastly, we are always seeking collaborations with partners: University of Arkansas and NWACC professors, local research lab, undergrad and graduate students, and local like-minded organizations.
Any parting words?
As we often remind students, you could know all there is to know about cancer and never cure it. Then you could use all that education, engineer a cure and test it via ethical valid research, and that still would not be enough. The key to positive change is when the research reaches society, in the constant back-and-forth of the conversation between culture and science.
We aim to motivate students to integrate environmental stewardship into their lives at home, in the community, and across any path they may travel. Join us!
Seeds that Feed, a local nonprofit focused on collecting surplus produce that can be distributed throughout the community, is one of ten organization selected to take part in ReFED's national accelerator program.
These upcoming fundraisers will feature the culinary creations of seven different local chefs—giving locals the opportunity to have a some delicious food and make a difference at the same time.
From brunch to hors d'oeuvres to dinner, you may work up an appetite just at the idea of supporting these local causes.
The Art of Welcome Dinner Featuring Chef Matt McClure
Dinner at 21c Museum+Hotel in Bentonville on Saturday, September 28th benefitting Canopy Northwest Arkansas
Celebrate our region's proud culinary history with a three course meal, courtesy of The Hive's award-winning Chef Matthew McClure. In addition to the dinner, the event will include art and storytelling. Through performing arts, you will experience the culture and diversity our newest Arkansans bring to Northwest Arkansas. You will also hear personal stories of resilience and triumph, and learn about Canopy's vision to see refugees and the community thriving together.
Learn more and purchase tickets HERE.
An Evening at The Farm Featuring Four Local Chefs
Dinner at the Apple Seeds Teaching Farm in Fayetteville on Saturday, October 5th
This intimate farm dinner benefit will be held at the Apple Seeds Teaching Farm at Gulley Park. Guests will enjoy cocktails & hors d'oeuvres in the garden, live music and a multi-course dinner featuring local products and gourmet delights prepared by local chefs: Jason Paul of Heirloom at The 1907, Michael Robertshaw of Persephone on Wheels, Matthew Barclay of Bordinos, and Heather Artripe of Ozark Natural Foods.
Proceeds will support Apple Seeds and the school children in the region that participate in their educational programs across Northwest Arkansas. In 2018, Apple Seeds reached more than 10,000 school children through its school and farm-based educational programs.
Learn more and purchase tickets HERE.
Sunday Brunch with Chef Simon Brown at Native American Cultural Celebration
Brunch at the Museum of Native American History (MONAH) on Sunday, October 6th benefitting Partnership With Native Americans
The brunch will be the featured event on Sunday of the Native American Cultural Celebration. With a performance by the Cherokee Indian Baptist Choir, guests will be invited to dine on delicious food prepared by BlakeSt's Executive Chef, Simon Brown, listen to live music and learn about the work of Partnership With Native Americans, their new campaign, and food sovereignty. During the brunch, guests are encouraged to explore the silent auction with a number of items up for grabs. As the only paid-ticket event of the celebration, all proceeds from the event will benefit Partnership With Native Americans and their on-going work to help build strong, self-sufficient Native American communities.
MONAH's Native American Cultural Celebration will celebrate the diversity and enduring spirit of Native traditions and cultures. Native artists, actors, leaders, advocates and more from across the country will come together in Bentonville to celebrate their individual cultures and experiences while providing an opportunity for the local community to learn about Native American cultures that are thriving and surviving today. The headlining presenter for 2019 is actor Wes Studi, who will receive an honorary Academy Award this year.
Learn more and purchase tickets HERE.
Taste of the Mountain Featuring Chef Justus Moll
A culinary tour at Mount Sequoyah on Saturday, October 12th
Lastly, join the Mount Sequoyah Center in Fayetteville for a culinary tour of the Mountain! Guests will travel across their campus and make stops in five locations. Executive Chef Justus Moll will prepare five small plates that will be accompanied by perfectly paired wine, beer, or cocktail. Non-alcoholic tickets also available. The final stop will have an extra drink and live music to enjoy!
The Mount Sequoyah Center is a community space where all are welcome to enjoy the grounds. They are a multi-faceted space with lodging, dining, event, meeting, and recreation space for the community and visitors. It is a non-profit that welcomes other nonprofits, individuals and businesses to host programs, as well as producing its unique programs such as summer camps, swimming, and tennis.
Learn more and purchase tickets HERE.