It’s A Wrap!


Our fourth annual pop-up event was a great success with a tremendous response from the community. Thank you to all who attended and to all who helped organize this amazing event. Click here to check out Montgomery Community Media’s video on our Common Ground project and see for yourself why we are proud of this community work 



See you next year!


Celebrate With Us!

CG Invitation

We’re a few short days away from our fourth pop-up event. Join us as our youth present their hard work through performances, visual art, and graphic design. We hope to see you there!

Window Murals


There are less than two weeks left in the Common Ground program and everyone is busy finishing their projects for the big culminating event! The visual arts group has done an amazing job with the beautification of the CAQT Community Center. Teen mentor Karina Chavez talks about all the great work the visual arts team has accomplished so far:


Karina (l) painting with teen mentor Ashley

“Common Ground is such a fun program to be in. It’s fun working with the kids and communicating with them. The first week we got to know each other, played name games to remember everyone’s name. Then we started working on our folder to decorate it the way we want. Next project we did was, we drew out what our identity means to us, where we come from and what we like from our culture. With that project we used a type of acrylic material to glue it on a plastic board. This week we have been working on the windows using visual image instead of words. Also, we are doing a straw project where we use a straw to blow into it and get the paint around on the paper to make lines, and shapes.”


Our big pop-up event is on July 28th 7-8:30 pm. Please join us at 8733 Carroll Ave., Silver Spring, MD to celebrate the youth’s work and this wonderful community!

Fun and Learning in Week Two

CG Week 2 collage

It’s the second week and students are settling in to their artistic disciplines. After a week of introductions and overviews, the youth are working hard on completing their various projects. Dee Lam, our media arts mentor and in-house photographer, is hard at work helping the Common Ground youth design logos that symbolize the Carroll Avenue/Quebec Terrace neighborhood:

Hello my name is Dee Lam and I’m working with the media arts. This is my 4th year in Common Ground. This week was so fun. The kids are designing a t-shirt for the pop up event. We taught them how to use Adobe Illustrator and how to create symbols for their ideas. The kids have a lot of ideas to put on the shirts. I’ve been enjoying my time so far at Common Ground. I got to see old faces and new faces and work with my lead artist. He is pretty cool to work with and fun. I’m learning how to use a camera and how to use design programs. I feel like this summer will be the best summer for me.

Week One Done!

IMG_4842Common Ground 2015 has officially started! With a record number of 30 students enrolled and the first week completed, the Common Ground project is looking at its most exciting summer yet. Youth will focus on three disciplines for the program: visual art, spoken word/performance, and graphic design.

One of our teen mentors, Yuchabel Sanon, details her experience of the first week:

Yuchabel guides youth in writing exercise

Yuchabel guides youth in writing exercise

“Hello, I’m Yuchabel and I’m the teen mentor for the spoken word project. This week we have been playing a lot of games so the kids can get to know each other and feel comfortable with their surroundings. We also have them writing in their journals everyday. Thursday was their first day writing poems in their journals. I like working with the different groups and seeing how kids react to certain things. I’ve learned their favorite game is Museum (which is starting to get worn out). I also love working with my teaching artist. She’s very out there and likes to be energized which is always a good thing. My favorite part is writing in our journals because I just like writing and being poetic.”

Chris Bantum and youth in the graphic design workshop

We have four more weeks until our pop-up event on July 28th. Check back regularly for more updates until then!

Our Biggest Success Yet!

The end of the summer brought an end to the third year of Common Ground. Dozens of youth participated in our Pop Up Event, which was also attended by elected officials, community leaders, residents of the neighboring community and friends. The youth shined brightly during their live performances and their creative arts provided an extra layer of connection.

If you missed the event, here is one piece of digital media that the youth created. In this video, participants share their personal stories of immigration, or those of their parents or grandparents. Fully produced by the youth who participated in the Common Ground program, this video exemplifies why we take so much pride in this project. Please watch the video for yourself and see why we are excited about our next generation of leaders.

Common Ground youth who worked with Arts on the Block this summer proudly shared the mosaic artwork they created. On display at the event were the coaster-sized starter projects through which they learned how to use color and design effectively, and practice mosaic skills. Also on display were the mosaic projects they were commissioned to create: fanciful designs for four address plaques for Carroll Apartments, the four completed mosaic plaques, and a big, beautiful sign for outside the YMCA community center in official YMCA colors!

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Big Push Towards the Finale!

Our final week at Common Ground leading to the Pop-Up Event has been a busy one. Between shooting interviews, editing footage, and working on our choral poem production, we have had little time for a breather.

Mentors and participants work on visual arts.

Mentors and participants work on visual arts.

Our Media Arts “majors” are discovering the tedious nature of subtitling interviews done in Spanish for their immigration documentary, but are making strides in their editing skills and are getting quicker and more confident by the minute.

This week we shoot our choral poem in front of the green screen. This will be the interdisciplinary piece between the Performing Arts participants and the Media Arts team. A collaborative poem will be read by the Performing Arts particpants in front of a green screen, which will be paired with relevant imagery in post production by our media team.

The Media Arts team gets ready to roll tape.

The Media Arts team gets ready to roll tape.

Being so busy has been good, as the energy among the teen mentors and middle schoolers is high and focused. The more they realize that this event is what they make it, the more ownership and pride they take in it. The excitement for the Pop-Up Event can been felt in the air at Common Ground as everyone looks forward to Tuesday. We're Getting Close!