We have to admit, after learning more about about local nonprofit Rise Up International and its director, Jesse Roberts, for our piece in today's issue called "To the Streets of Palestine" we're kind of believers in the work this organization is doing.
You've probably come across Rise Up through the Roots festival, which they produce, or through their merchandise, which you would probably recognize if you saw.
But all that is just how the organization raises cash. It's what they do with that money that's really interesting—providing scholarships for kids to go to secondary school in Nicaraqua, keeping schools open in India for really poor kids there, and, now, teaching street art to Palestinian youth.
What's extra cool is that the U.S. State Department is behind them. Roberts has made multiple trips to the Middle East in the last year as a kind of "art ambassador" for the United States on the dime of the State Department.
Most recently, he went during the November fighting between Hamas and Israel. Read all about it in today's issue of the Source, on stands this afternoon.
But here's an excerpt in the meantime.
After a morning flight, Roberts was just checking into his hotel when air raid sirens began blaring.
“I’m there the very first day of the conflict,” said Roberts. “I literally got to the hotel and the first bomb went off.”
He opened the door to his room and saw people rushing into the hallway. They headed to the conference rooms in the basement of the hotel, which doubled as bomb shelters.
Staying there wasn't an option given that the students he was there to work with were outside on soccer fields, in classrooms and in the community centers of Jordan and the West Bank.
It was these places that he would spend the next week, working closely with a friend from Tunisia, Soudani Jawher, to teach kids to make giant murals, to make stencils and spray paint walls, to practice screen printing and generally make art—something many of them said they had never done before.
“A lot of these places we went,” said Roberts, “they don’t have art in these schools. For a lot of them, it’s like their first time painting. And these are like 12 and 13-year-olds.”
Pick it up!