Starfire Council helping create inclusive artist collective in Lower Price Hill

Studio C, a free project incubator for nonprofits, is now in its third week. Seventeen teams are working diligently to “understand people” — a critical component that will allow the nonprofits to have a firm understanding of the populations they serve so they can then come up with viable solutions to reduce family-centered poverty.

Design Impact, in partnership with the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, will begin its more intensive work next week with eight of the 17 nonprofits. Not every team will move forward — the final eight teams will be decided through an interview process. The remaining nine weeks of the curriculum will feature studio time and workshops as nonprofits work on their projects.

"Design thinking is important because it’s dynamic," says Tim Vogt, executive director of Starfire Council, which works to build a more inclusive Cincinnati. Starfire has participated in Studio C before, but with a different project.

“Nonprofits get stuck a lot,” he says. “In the old days, there were five-year plans, but the work is so dynamic now, the learning needs to be dynamic as well."

In Starfire’s first iteration at Studio C, it worked alongside Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services and its Early Intervention Team to look at how it could transform its services and influence the bigger system to build relationships.

Rather than a “captive client” situation, Vogt says it’s “an empowering future when marginalized people are pillars of the community.”

In this year’s program, Starfire is working in partnership with Kachelle Cunningham, a Lower Price Hill resident, to shape an artist collective — and with the help of Community Matters — an Artist in Residence program that would allow a member of the Collective to shine.

Cunningham helped launch the collective with “I Wish This Was," a social art project where stickers with dialogue boxes are placed around open spaces to prompt community members to envision an area that could be something else, such as a garden or library.

“I love being a part of Lower Price Hill and the artist's collective so I and other residents can work together to help the community,” Cunningham says.

For Danyetta Najoli, Starfire community builder, the Collective is “designed to bring residents out of their private spaces to share their art,” and in doing so, individuals will get to know one another and families will be strengthened.

“When family members are known, people are more likely to help each other out," Najoli says.

Stay tuned for more updates on teams' progress as Studio C narrows down the playing field.

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Brittany York is a college educator, freelance writer, and the event producer for Ohio Civics Essential. She loves travel and photography. Keep up with Brittany on Instagram @brittbrittbrittbrittany.