volunteerThings at the LAB are off to a great start as we have gotten back to our roots! In the past few weeks we’ve served 7 schools and started 11 new groups focusing on Writing, Visual Art, Theater, Experiential Wellness and Animal-Assisted Education! We hosted enrichments with guest artist and resident all-star Tina Flewellyn of HYPE dance company. We’ve seen youth take risks, find their voice, and begin a process of self expression and exploration. We are expecting great things from these incredible young people and cannot wait to show the world what they create!

And that’s not all….. in the next few weeks we’ll be reaching even more students as we hope to begin groups at 4 more schools- bringing out total to 11 schools16 groups, and a handful of mentorships! But we can’t do it without your help! We need dedicated, experienced, enthusiastic, and energetic volunteers to help is co-facilitate groups at schools across St. Paul!

If you would like to find out more about volunteering at The Lab, please join us for a VOLUNTEER INFORMATION SESSION on Thursday, October 31st from 12:00-12:45pm at Journeys Secondary School (90 Western Ave S, St. Paul, MN 55102).

Can’t make it? Join us for a second VOLUNTEER INFORMATION SESSION on FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8 from 9:00-9:45am At Journeys Secondary School (90 Western Ave S, St. Paul, MN 55102).

Click here for directions to Journeys Secondary School


WHAT TO EXPECT: We’ll update on you on what’s going on at The Lab this year! We’ll talk about current volunteer opportunities and opportunities that we’ll having coming up soon. We’ll also go over basic expectations for volunteers and what being a volunteer at The Lab means. We’ll walk you through the application and background check process. We’ll also have some light snacks and refreshments available.

*Right now our greatest need is for volunteers who can co-facilitate groups and can commit to a minimum of 9 weeks (1-2 hrs per week) of consistent volunteering. (an example volunteer description is attached for your reference)

WHAT TO BRING: We have opportunities starting right away, so we want to get your applications rolling! Please fill out the attached volunteer application. Please bring a current resume, your photo ID, $15 cash or check for your background check, and a good idea of what your availability is like. Additionally, please help us spread the word by sharing this with anyone you think might be interested in volunteering, and then bring a friend to the info session!

RSVP by email: erin.weber@spps.org or by phone: 651-207-9882. 

If you can’t make it but are interested in volunteering, please contact Erin via email or phone.


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MOBILELABIn the past few weeks we’ve served 7 schools and started 11 new groups focusing on Writing, Visual Art, Theater, Experiential Wellness and Animal-Assisted Education! We hosted enrichments with guest artist and resident all-star Tina Flewellyn of HYPE dance company. We’ve seen youth take risks, find their voice, and begin a process of self expression and exploration. We are expecting great things from these incredible young people and cannot wait to show the world what they create!

And if that isn’t enough we launched a MOBILE LAB AP to boot! Check it out on your Android or iPhone now and experience The LAB’s latest from wherever and on the go!


The Lab is thrilled to announce that our friends at Wet Paint Artist Materials and Framing, a locally owned business in St. Paul, is supporting us with a back to school donation drive!

Here’s how it works: We’ve created an art supply wish list for our supporters to donate for our visual arts programming for 2012-13. From August 17 – September 30, Wet Paint will match any donation made for The Lab. There are two ways you can help! If you’d like to buy products in person go to Wet Paint’s store at 1684 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105.

Or, you can purchase products for The Lab online! Wet Paint has created an online store for us at This Link. All you need to do is select what you’d like to purchase and Wet Paint will match your donation. We are so grateful for Wet Paint’s continued support of our work and for the opportunity to help support this great local business! Thank you Wet Paint!

The past two weeks have been filled with excitement and anticipation in The Lab’s Visual Pathway program. Last week we had the opportunity to visit the minneapolis sculpture garden at the walker art center. Students were able to see works from major artists and spend a beautiful afternoon outside.

Yesterday we had our final group exhibition at The Bindery Projects in St. Paul. Students did a phenomenal job designing their show, hanging their work, and leading guests around the gallery to show off their work. We are so proud of the hard work and dedication our students have put into this experience, and wish them all the very best this summer. We look forward to seeing some  of them next fall!

We’ve had a big week in the Visual Art Pathway! We’ve been making collaborative works inspired by Tim Rollins + K.O.S. as well as Los Angeles – Mark Bradford who makes large scale collages of maps and text. We created a collage of a map of St. PaulOur work this week has been all about building community and creating a collective voice.   Read about Tim Rollins and Kids of Survival at this link: http://fryemuseum.org/exhibition/3315/ 

Next week we will begin creating works in response to social issues the students identify and wish to talk about. and….Please enjoy these photos of our process and of the final murals we created!

This Week in the Poetry Pathway

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It has been another exciting week in the Poetry Pathway!! The student and their writing have been deep and focused. As a result, the songs and poems being written are getting better and better. The students are feeling extremely confident and eagerly await the last two hours of the day, when the class takes place, to work on and practice new pieces while polishing up old ones. The community that these youth are creating is so important.  They are supporting eachother, collaborating in their writing and recording, and practicing their stage presence and performance skills. 

This week, they had a chance to perform again at the Advocates for Achievement (AFA), an African/ African-American Employee Resource Group in Saint Paul Public Schools.  They had selected Glo to be honored for his contributions to SPPS and the African/African-American community.  He was recognized at their 3rd Annual Employee Recognition Program at Rondo Education Center on  Thursday, May 17, 2012.  It was very exciting & special for the students to be there to perform and support Glo!

On Wednesday, Master Gardener Lynda Anderson joined us and we tested various types of soil from different areas. We looked at the amount of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and the pH of the soil and talked about what is necessary for growing healthy plants. We also talked about what you can do to improve the health of soil for growing great plants! We’re looking forward to working with Lynda more over the next few weeks to keep learning about gardening as we move towards planting our own garden next fall.

This week, students were able to hear from two fantastic guest speakers- Annie Vann and Lynda Anderson. On Tuesday, Annie Vann joined us Tuesday from the Ramsey County Extension Office to talk about nutrition and physical activity. After getting a few minutes of physical activity in, Annie taught us about the importance of eating a healthy breakfast, the importance of getting 30-60 minutes of exercise each day, and gave us some easy ways to remember these key concepts. She also taught us how to make a quick fruit and yogurt parfait using plain yogurt mixed with a small amount of sugar free instant vanilla pudding mix (we all agreed it tasted like cake batter but was much, much healthier for us- and you can use almost any kind of pudding mix you like!). We added frozen strawberries that were slightly thawed and added in some low fat granola. It was a great treat for our class and a good example of how easy it can be to make a nutritious breakfast you can easily take with you on your way out the door.

And…..Coming Soon…..
Students in the Wellness Lab Pathway are busy brainstorming and planning for a service-learning project that will take place on TUESDAY, JUNE 5 from 12pm-2pm at Journeys Secondary School. The project will feature a fundraiser basketball tournament in which players will pay to enter and play. There will also be food for sale. Proceeds raised at the event will benefit an organization that works to bring an end to gun violence. Students are researching possible agencies who work on this issue.   Students in the wellness pathway collectively decided that the main purpose of the project was to raise awareness and money for such an organization because they want to bring an end to gun violence, and want to help an organization that has a strong mission t0 do this. We are looking forward to seeing how this project unfolds over the coming weeks and hope to see you at the event! 

On Monday, the Wellness LAB went on a field trip to Base Camp (http://www.explorebasecamp.org/) at Fort Snelling. Three boys were able to attend the trip and it was a great time for them to be able to bond and challenge themselves as a group. They started the trip with rock climbing on the outdoor rock climbing wall. All three boys (plus our amazing para, Ms. V!) were able to climb to the top of the wall! Our awesome intern Brady was also able to challenge himself and try out the climbing wall. After that challenge, the boys decided that they wanted to try something a little harder, so they gave the high ropes course a try. The high ropes course is 32 feet above ground and consists of tight ropes, a cargo net, and other obstacles one must face to go from one end to the other. This was much more of a challenge for them all, but we were proud of the boys who did give it a shot and were able to make it most or all of the way through the course. All of the boys really pushed themselves to try something they didn’t think that they would like or be able to do. It was a great team building experience as well as an experience in facing challenges and obstacles and finding ways to overcome them. As an extra added bonus, the day was absolutely beautiful weather, the boys got some great views of Fort Snelling, and we were able to get them t-shirts to remember the experience. Check out the pictures of the course! 

We’ve been working hard this week in the Visual Lab! We’ve been learning about making art in collectives or groups and how that process can change the world we live in. This week we learned about Tim Rollins + K.O.S., a youth artist collective out of New York City that made history. We’ve been working on a mural together combining drawings we made while listening to the words of Bell Hooks, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. On wednesday we had the opportunity to visit High Point Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis and make our very own Mono Prints! We worked with master printmakers and saw cool art being made. www.highpointprintmaking.org

This week marks the beginning of the second of three modules in the Visual Pathway. Our first module was all about self and identity, and this module is all about working together and building community. Students spent the week working on/writing original poetry and creating beautiful collages based on those poems. We learned about artists who utilize both visual art and text in their work such as Barbara Kruger, Adrian Piper and Lorna Simpson.  We were inspired by an interesting project called the “1000 Journals Project”.  This book was developed after a blank journal was sent out into the world, allowing anyone who picked it up to contribute with visual art and words.  The final book was published.  Click here to check it out.   After we finished our collages, we created bound books of our work to make a collaborative piece. Enjoy some samples of the visual art and poems that made it into our Visual Art LAB Pathway book. Powerful.


Consider me a thug.
I give no hugs, hurt with pain

I feel no tugs
Past so bad it makes me mad

Can’t handle the struggle

It makes life last,
If there was two wishes

I’d pray for me to crash
It doesn’t matter what I do

Life still seems bad
Can you do what I do?

Can you judge me without standing a foot in my shoe?
Can you understand what I do doesn’t concern you?

That’s my damn issue.

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