'The Fixers' Project Aims At Showing RNC Visitors More Sides Of Cleveland

Screenshot of the first 'Fixers' film, focusing on the Harvey Rice Wraparound School.
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When the Republican National Convention takes over Cleveland this summer, much of the activity will be downtown, heavily choreographed and under tight security. An art project launching today is showcasing tours of Cleveland that locals would like to give visitors if they had the chance. 

The series of short films called ‘The Fixers’ began with a look at the Harvey Rice Wraparound school on Cleveland’s east side. Here’s a clip:

“Day in and day out it’s hard to see, to step back and see, the vision of oh, this is really massive, and it really is making a change and a difference in this world, and this school, and this community.”

Kate Sopko is the lead artist on The Fixers project.  She spoke with ideastream’s Tony Ganzer.

GANZER: “Why is this wraparound school the first stop on your virtual tour?”

SOPKO: “So the wraparound school is the first release of the tours, it was the last one we shot.  I was very interested early on in a number of different topic areas, one of them being, and this is just as somebody sort of as an observer, in the fact that Ohio’s funding of public schools has been declared unconstitutional in the past.  You know it has led to inequality in outcomes in schools depending on where you live.  As we did in each of these stories I just started asking questions of people who are in policy, who are organizers, who are working within the field and asking ‘what does this look like right now?’ And what emerged was this amazing story about wraparound schools, which is a pilot strategy that United Way has been unfolding over the past three years, basically partnering with a whole bunch of community organizations saying ‘how do we solve for what we’re seeing?’  And that can be anything from kids coming to school hungry, or going home for the weekend hungry, or concerns about safety for kids walking to school.”

GANZER: “Many of the voices we hear in the first film give a nod to serious challenges the community faces, but also strike a hopeful tone.  Let’s take another listen to a clip:”

“It’s bigger than whatever it is, and as long as we have everybody playing their part, whether if it’s in parenting, whether it’s spending more time with teachers, getting more involved, the problems and everything we have will take care of themselves.”

“Investments have been made.  Dollars, cents, material goods, people, there’s a true buy-in…particularly all the partners who are engaged in this work.”

GANZER: “What would you hope that RNC delegates, or visitors to Cleveland would take from this profile of the school?”

SOPKO: “This is a federal-level political moment that’s coming to a local place.  What I would hope for is the takeaway would be that we would learn some more stuff. We learn about what’s really just not working for people. We learn about where investments have been made, and are really working well, and would benefit from more investment, which I think the wraparound story is a good example of that.”

GANZER: “What are some of the other places your project will highlight?”

SOPKO: “We will be hearing from a woman named Marvetta Rutherford, who’s been a rider of public transit for 45 years or so, and she’s speaking about basically what riding transit is like for her on a daily basis, what outcomes we’re seeing with workable transit for people.  That’s one.  We will be speaking to a remarkable young woman named Nadia Loftus, she’s 17. She lives in the Kinsman-area, and basically was privy to a lot of gang-related murders that occurred especially over this past summer and fall, and started organizing around it, and really stepped up to talk about: peer-based interactions matter a lot to how neighborhood-level violence plays out.”

GANZER: “How will you try to make this more visible for RNC delegates or visitors?”

SOPKO: “It will be up at SPACES from today through the convention, and we are also going to be hosting a series of screenings and dialogues around the city, because really just putting the films out is just the beginning.  This is meant to be a city-wide conversation with as many people as want to engage and learn more, basically be a part of this dialogue in a deeper way.”

Kate Sopko is the lead artist on The Fixers project, a series of films giving tours of Cleveland by Clevelanders, which RNC visitors may not be exposed to. 

The series launched today at the SPACES gallery. 

==

ideastream's civic engagement team will host an online panel discussion & screening of “The Fixers: Stories from A Greater Cleveland,” episodes 1-4.

The event is Tuesday, June 28th at 6:30 pm on OVEE, moderated by Lawrence Daniel Caswell, ideastream Associate Producer for Civic Engagement, Web & Social Media.

Kate Sopko and 4 of the “fixers” in the films will be there.

The ideastream event page - https://www.facebook.com/events/505449979649065/

Register for ideastream's OVEE screening of "The Fixers" at https://ovee.itvs.org/screenings/pohz6

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