Newport residents team up with Salve students to develop sidewalk parade

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Residents in the city’s Broadway/North End neighborhoods have been partnering with Salve Regina art students and local artists throughout the spring semester to create a hope-themed sidewalk parade, which will step off from the Florence Gray Center at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 22.

Public viewing is available throughout the procession as it winds through the North End neighborhood before ending at Miantonomi Park with a barbecue celebration. The parade is designed to express a unique vision of hope in the community and is part of the fourth annual Newport Daffodil Days Festival. Rain date is April 29.

The Advanced Studio Concepts class taught by Susannah Strong, assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History, partnered with Olivia Kachingwe and the Newport Health Equity Zone along with several other nonprofit organizations to create the parade. It is a civically engaged art project shaped directly from the visions, skills and creativity of neighborhood residents.

Strong and Kachingwe began organizing behind the scenes for the parade in November 2016, and since early March, a series of collaborative, mentored workshops have been held in an open studio format at FabNewport, where Broadway/North End neighborhood residents have been working together with students to design and fabricate parade features such as banners, signs, streamers and costumes. Additionally, Salve Regina music students will be playing upbeat, New Orleans-style jazz during the parade.

“The notion of a sidewalk parade is something that on any given day a group of people can get together – and it could be five people, or it could be 50 people,” Strong said. “There’s an empowerment and freedom that comes with that and the act of walking together in unity. The level and enthusiasm coming from the community has been incredibly rewarding. It’s been very touching and moving seeing the relationships that are coming out of this and really that’s at the heart of the whole project. The parade is a celebration of those relationships.”

The sidewalk parade is one example of the type of community collaborations being spearheaded by Salve Regina faculty as part of a $173,800 grant from the Davis Educational Foundation to intentionally infuse community engagement and civic learning into the University’s curriculum.

The courses developed by faculty in each of the three years of the grant are built around a significant project developed in conjunction with partners that will fulfill a demonstrated community need and allow students to apply concepts and skills they learn in class. Regardless of discipline, students will be engaging with literature, practice, and reflection on justice, fairness, and social change in relation to their subject matter and their community project.

More information is available at facebook.com/sidewalkparade.

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