A Note From our Publishers – Oct. 2020
A Love Letter
Giving Voice is a love letter to our community. Everything we do at Big Picture Initiative, we do out of love. We believe in arts education opportunities for all, spanning in age from children in our schools and community centers to folks in retirement communities. From the 50-foot tall “Abraham Blue” mural on the Peoria County Courthouse to enhance the visual vibrancy of our city, to our new endeavor, Giving Voice, we are showing what we love about our community. It’s all the nooks and crannies, the highs and lows, and the diversity that makes us who we are. We also know in our hearts that the people of Central Illinois can make our community a home with a bright future, and our youth are an essential part of building that future.
We believe the arts give students a voice—a voice that is often hidden in the quest for test scores and metric achievements. The arts fill a void for students to give them a platform for self-expression and contribute to their environment. Big Picture Initiative’s first arts education programs were based on visual arts, and the team has decided that now is the time to expand into communication arts. By gaining experience in being more effective communicators and having a public audience, we help prepare the next generation for their place in the future.
Through Giving Voice students will cover subjects that young people are passionate about: social justice, racial equity, the environment, living during a pandemic, adapting to the virtual world, finding employment during a job drought, learning to be influencers, and pitching in to improve to our community. Giving students a voice to address our community’s most pressing needs gives them an opportunity to experience real-world situations where learning is relevant and applied.
The writers in our first issue were selected because they care about community, too. We posed the question “What does our community need?” Unlike many of the voices that are broadcasted every day, the students didn’t comment on potholes or taxes, but on concepts of kindness and understanding. We are proud to feature their voices in our first issue.
Please join us in this act of building community.
Doug Leunig, Eileen Leunig, Mark Misselhorn, Maggie Misselhorn,
Heather Ford, Nikki Romain, Heather Brammeier