Organizations join forces to purchase center for community arts and activism

Outta Your Backpack Media and Táala Hooghan Infoshop are working with a new non-profit group known as Siléí Community Empowerment Project to acquire a 4,500-square foot building to serve as a community center. Submitted photo

Outta Your Backpack Media and Táala Hooghan Infoshop are working with a new non-profit group known as Siléí Community Empowerment Project to acquire a 4,500-square foot building to serve as a community center. Submitted photo

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Outta Your Backpack Media (OYBM) and Táala Hooghan Infoshop have joined forces with a new non-profit group called Siléí Community Empowerment Project (SCEP) to purchase a 4,500-square foot community center for social and environmental activism.

For five years, OYBM and Táala Hooghan have worked together to provide access to arts, activist resources, Indigenous youth empowerment, an all ages venue for musicians, and much more.

"We've thought deeply, had hours and hours of meetings, consulted with other organizations and elders, and decided that not only is this possible, but this will enable us to have assured longevity of our vision and enable us to be more effective in our work," said Klee Benally, a volunteer with SCEP. "We are deeply committed to ensuring that this community resource lives for generations to come."

"We've already received a great amount of support and encouragement from our friends and neighbors," said, Ned Del Cajello a volunteer with OYBM and Táala Hooghan. "We are confident that through donations, community fundraisers, lending forward or 'borrowing' opportunities, matching funds, and other creative fundraising activities, we will secure the purchase of the building."

Currently the groups have initiated a Crowdfunding campaign through Rockethub.com. They have until Oct. 3 to raise $10,000 for costs, including an initial down payment.

By donating through the Crowdfunding site contributors can get rewards such as a benefit compilation CD, signed books, heirloom seed packets, a limited edition T-shirt, even personal filmmaking workshops and more.

The campaign was 12 percent funded as of Sept. 14.

SCEP will retain and manage the facility to ensure that the goals and vision of the center will be sustained for years to come. This will include a plan to maintain the building and property only for social and environmental justice community purposes beyond any perceived lifetime of current projects such as OYBM or Táala Hooghan.

OYBM will become a media justice and arts institute for Indigenous youth that will facilitate year-round training in media justice and audio/visual production to support cultural and ecological justice in and around the southwest.

Táala Hooghan Infoshop will carry out its action statement for the "empowerment for youth and the greater community into action in favor of a more just and sustainable world" by having a more reliable, safe space that people know to go to for information and resources.

"Right now there exists no other community action resource center in Arizona, so it's imperative that a space like Táala Hooghan becomes more sustainable so information about grassroots efforts overlooked by the media continue to circulate within Arizona," said Hailey Sherwood, a volunteer with Táala Hooghan.

Since 2004, OYBM has been growing and blossoming dynamically year by year. OYBM has empowered hundreds of Indigenous youth to share their stories through our unique, free movie making workshops. In 2011, OYBM was one of a handful of youth organizations that were responsible for Flagstaff being recognized with the "100 Best Communities for Young People Award."

In 2007, OYBM partnered with Indigenous Action Media and Táala Hooghan infoshop to create its own Youth Media Arts Center.

Every part of both organizations' effort has been 100 percent volunteer and supported by creative community based fundraisers.

For more information, visit www.oybm.org/silei, www.oybm.org or www.taalahooghan.org.

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