Festival for Change kicks off

By Jackson Somes


From Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, the Changemaker program will be holding the annual Changemaker FEST here at USD. The event includes a myriad of events ranging from morning yoga instruction to a series of TED Talk styled speakers. Thursday night will feature the climax of the festival with a musical performance.

The weeklong event is put together by the Changemaker Hub program. The Changemaker Hub is a USD program designed to work with existing clubs and organizations to provide the concept of a ‘changemaking’ perspective. It serves to complement an Ashoka U designation as USD as a Changemaker Campus in 2010.

Assistant director of the Changemaker Hub, Juan Carlos Rivas, says the Ashoka U designation isn’t permission to now work in a way that promotes changemaking, the designation highlights what the campus has already done. “The Changemaker Hub itself is the manifestation of that designation,” Rivas said.

According to John Loggins, associate director for the Center for Community Service-Learning, ‘changemaking’ is generally focused on providing social improvement within a community, but keeps a broad and inclusive interpretation.

“We want to make sure we’re inclusive of all perspectives, we won’t say ‘this is how you do changemaking, the way you do it is wrong,’” Loggins said.

Loggins continually emphasized the function of the changemaker program to work with existing frameworks.

“The Changemaker Hub is designed to say ‘we’re going to work with organizations that are already doing these things on campus and help them add the changemaker lens,” Loggins said. “The lens for changemaking, or the way you can make change, can be very diverse.”

Any student, club or organization is capable of utilizing the resources of the Changemaker Hub. Loggins provided an example from earlier that day. “The sociology honors club came in this morning and they are not a changemaker club, their object isn’t to change the world but they have different programs…and those can be changemaking events,” Loggins said. The Changemaker Hub provides services such as advising and marketing to help put the lens of changemaking on existing organizations.

A part of the Changemaker FEST is centered around showcasing successful examples of working with a changemaker lens in the past. To highlight these past success stories the FEST will feature a panel of graduate speakers utilizing changemaking in their graduate careers.

However, there is a gap between the Changemaker Hub and many students. Student reactions to the looming event were generally lackluster and coupled with confusion about what the Changemaker Hub is.

“They make changes, I think, but I don’t know much,” junior Amanda Gates said. “I didn’t even think there was a changemaker festival.”

Sophomore Ryan Pollock resonated this same sentiment. “I have heard the name [Changemaker Hub] before, but I don’t know many specifics about it,” Pollock said.

Those who were familiar with the Changemaker Hub said they knew of the program through other organizations. “I’m only aware of it because of the telefunding script,” junior Alex Richwood said. Richwood is a former student fundraising caller at the Degheri Alumni Center and said he did not know what the Changemaker FEST is or when it is being held.

Junior Diana Tenenbaum was familiar with the Changemaker Hub due to her experience as a preceptorial assistant. “They taught us about it in preceptorial training,” Tenenbaum said.

According to Tenenbaum there was a presentation conducted by the Changemaker Hub to the crowd of preceptorial assistants where they explained what it means to be a changemaker campus.

Tenenbaum continued to say that she remembered the festival from last year but wasn’t particularly impressed. “I didn’t really like the Ted Talks,” she said, admitting she found them to be disengaging.

The issue of outreach is a concern the Changemaker Hub is trying to tackle. “Juan Carlos [Rivas], the assistant director of the Changemaker Hub, is leading our efforts and is continually making presentations and facilitating workshops for various groups on campus, from RA’s, to clubs and orgs, to classes, to Greek life,” Loggins said.

Rivas said that the primary outreach tool used by the Changemaker Hub are the programs created by the Changemaker Hub. Programs provided by the Changemaker Hub include fellowships, scholarships and workshops. “The reality is our programs are the best way to reach out to people” Rivas said.

Loggins showed excitement for some of the events that will be taking place during the Changemaker FEST. He was particularly enthusiastic about a program called Writerz Blok. Writerz Blok is a program founded by graffiti artists and sponsored by the Jacobs foundation. “They have redefined what it means to be a spray paint street artist,” Loggins said. These artists created a park for kids to learn how to use their creative energy through street art and graffiti.

“They have a park out in southeast San Diego where you can go and practice, they’ll teach you designs and now they do community beautification projects for the city,” Loggins said.

The Writerz Blok event is taking place in front of the UC where they will teach people how to spray paint and give them an opportunity to practice spray paint street art. This event is happening the Thursday before the Changemaker FEST, Sept. 26.