What is the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI)?
(“SLI”) is our annual 10-day intensive that serves as the foundation for all of UBW’s community engagement activities. SLI builds the global network of community arts practitioners, and what Zollar calls “front line social justice workers,” by connecting dance professionals and community-based artists in a learning experience that leverages the arts as a vehicle for social activism and civic engagement. SLI was begun in 1997 and formalized as an annual UBW program in 2004.
SLI Core Components
Dance for Everybody - This movement jam/dance class embraces the ideas that each individual has a unique and powerful contribution to make, and that our bodies are a powerful source of agency.
Entering, Building and Exiting Community (EBX) - based on experiential learning, we embody effective leadership practices that strengthen and develop our understanding of community engagement. Participants gain tools and methodologies for entering, building and exiting community, including navigating a variety of assumptions regarding community-based practices.
Understanding and Undoing Racism presented by The People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond (PISAB) - Through presentations, reflection, role-playing, and strategic planning, this intensive process challenges participants to analyze the structures of power and privilege that hinder social equity and prepares them to be effective organizers for justice.
Asset Mapping - Asset mapping is a process of assessing what resources, skills and strengths are available in the group and/or community. UBW's philosophy is that often communities are addressed by what they lack and not by what they offer. We model and practice asset mapping within various modalities (art-making, community assessment, etc.) so that participants may apply the philosophy to their own work.
Deep Learning through Research, Discussions, Dialogue, Panel and Story Circles – Participants are given thematically based research prompts as well as informational sessions and presentations to investigate and include in our experience together.
Culminating Performance – we have found that creating together towards performance is an integrative process that allows participants to synthesize, rebuild and re-stabilize after deep change processes. Together with UBW, participants create an artistic product reflecting both their learning and their vision for community growth and change. With an emphasis on dance and song, we use various artistic genres including creative writing and visual art, to process, synthesize, and communicate so we can understand the power of culture to support a community of agency.
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Past SLI participants have this to say...
"It's not just about dance, it's about being around empowering [artists] who, despite what society believes is beautiful, or smart, or talented, create a presence that can't go unnoticed."
2009 SLI alum
"When I applied to the UBW Summer Leadership Institute, I thought it would be a great opportunity to experience something completely new that would challenge me and make me think about myself in new
ways ‐ and it did."
2009 SLI alum
Educational theorist, Lloyd Daniels, brought the term "community engagement" to UBW in 1990 during a 3-month residence with Junebug Productions in New Orleans.