March Newsletter

Mark Your Calendar

Girls Rock Athens Camp

Girls Rock Athens Camp 2018 will take place from Monday, July 30- Friday, August 3rd, with our camp showcase in the afternoon/evening of Saturday, August 4th! (Time and venue TBA).

We are so excited to rock with Athens' youth again this year!
 

Register Here for Girls Rock Athens Camp 2018!


Grown Assed Rock Camp
May 4th - 6th

Similar to our Girls Rock Camp; women, trans, and non-binary adults will have the opportunity to learn an instrument, songwriting skills, and perform at a local venue in Athens.

This year, the camp will feature workshops on songwriting, stage presence, DIY merch, booking shows and creating a press kit, DIY recording, and more! The three days will conclude with a showcase for the newly formed Grown Assed Rock Camp bands on May 6th from 7:00-9:00pm, and will feature a performance from Awkward Thrust.

There are only two spots left for this camp session! 
 

Register Here for Grown Assed Rock Camp!


ACTIVIST SPOTLIGHT

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Born and raised in Mississippi, Rashaun Ellis is a bold Black woman of about 35 with a southern accent, a contagious laugh and a tendency to swear. Since spending her twenties in communes, land trusts and Washington, D.C., the activist settled in the Classic City, worked at a community-owned grocery store, co-founded the Athens Queer Collective, led workshops in white allyship, and wrote for The Flagpole, a local alt-weekly with a cynical, liberal tone that suits her perfectly. “I’ve experienced the community, the people here in Athens who swear up and down that they’re not racist, that there’s no racism in their communities,” Ellis said. In Ellis’ experience, people who live with privilege don’t always realize when they contribute to the marginalization of certain communities, because it often happens through microaggressions.

“Some people are just straight-up racist,” she said, but “we really have to be able to draw the line between blatant racism and microaggressions and implicit bias.”

And that’s exactly what Ellis facilitates in the white allyship workshops she leads.

Deconstructing the implicit biases enforced by American society and culture is the primary focus. She helps attendees accept their places of privilege and shares with them data and facts supporting the existences of casual and systemic racism. “In general, I’ve encountered people who want to learn, who want to grow, and I think that as time passes and as this conversation continues, privileged persons are understanding more and more that one of the most important, powerful things they can do is listen and follow the lead.”

Ellis is involved in work regarding women’s issues, casual racism in the workplace and workplace discrimination in general. She's a freelance writer, works for admissions at the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and serves on the Board of the Athens Queer Collective, spending much of her time focusing on outreach and ally education.

“We (the Athens Queer Collective) do what we can to create safe spaces for queer people and queer people of color,” she said, adding that the Collective emphasizes helping “the marginalized within the marginalized.” To that end, the Collective (still in what Ellis calls “its beginning stages”) runs an LGBTQ+ Youth Group and a Transgender Support Group.

“As a woman of color, as a Black woman and as a queer person, I feel very grateful to be involved in that organization and to be able to play my own role - and to be able to write my own history.”

Check out the full interview with Rashaun on our blog! // Learn More about the Athens Queer Collective here!


MUSICIAN.

Support Girls Rock Athens with a new shirt that has something to say!

Lots of music reviews take special note of "females" in bands or "all female" bands. While we think being a woman in a band rocks, it'd make some happier to be noted primarily for our musical talents and passions not JUST by our gender. If you feel this way, say so with a t-shirt! Proceeds go to Girls Rock Athens!

Buy Now


Become a sustaining donor

At Girls Rock Athens, we believe that youth deserve a space to develop and use their voice through performance and song writing. After just one week, 80% of campers express confidence in their ability to handle challenges as compared to 57% before camp begins. Your continued support is instrumental to providing a space for youth self-empowerment in the Athens community. If you would like to become a sustaining donor to help fund and uphold these values, check out the link below! 

Donor Info


Stay In Touch! 

Don't want too many emails? Don't worry! GRA doesn't send emails daily or even weekly. Sign up for our master mailing list to keep in touch about camp sign- ups, volunteer opportunities and more. Stay tuned and don't forget to tell your friends!

Email Sign Up Here

ACTIVIST SPOTLIGHT: Rashaun Ellis

Emily Rose Thorne, media intern

 Photo courtesy of Rashaun Ellis

Photo courtesy of Rashaun Ellis

In a 19-bedroom house called Morningstar in a commune called the Farm, nudity is commonplace.

Once, Rashaun Ellis stepped out of the shower - the only one in the house - to find a five-year-old boy brushing his teeth at the sink. Another time, an elderly housemate casually walked in on her when she was using the bathroom and proceeded to take a shower.

“One day, I was taking a poop, and a sixty-year-old man named Harold walked in completely naked and started to shower,” Ellis said, laughing. “Harold walked naked from his bedroom to the bathroom - the bathroom was downstairs and outdoors - with a towel on his shoulder.”

Ellis says Harold was a great roommate.

The Farm’s proper name is Twin Oaks Community, and it’s tucked into the mountains of Louisa, Virginia, about 30 miles north of Richmond and two hours from Washington, D.C. Rose quartz covers the ground and sticks up out of the road alongside a massive garden. Residents, a hundred or so during the warm months, work on the farm, take care of children, lounge in the saunas, host festivals and compost.

It’s an income-sharing, feminist ecovillage where Ellis completed a 4-month media and marketing internship as a recent graduate of Delta State University.

Born and raised in Mississippi, Ellis is a bold Black woman of about 35 with a southern accent, a contagious laugh and a tendency to swear. Since spending her twenties in communes, land trusts and Washington, D.C., the activist settled in the Classic City, where she's worked at a community-owned grocery store, co-founded the Athens Queer Collective, led workshops in white allyship, and started writing for The Flagpole, the local alt-weekly with a cynical, liberal tone that suits her perfectly.

Ellis holds a Bachelor’s in journalism, a degree she said was worth nothing more than the paper it was printed on until she found the Flagpole. Since then, she has written about Roxane Gay’s memoir, misogyny in the Athens music scene, the importance of Athens PRIDE in the Trump era and the efforts of local law enforcement to deconstruct racial biases amid anti-Black police brutality nationwide.

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Athens calls itself progressive; Ellis calls it “crunchy.” 

“Before I really got involved in local activism, I already lived and worked among the predominantly white, crunchy-hippie community here in Athens,” she said, referring to her time as a Produce Manager and Board member at the Daily Groceries Co-Op, which sources locally grown, organic food -- and where, Ellis remembers, “a half-pound bag of kale costs 3 dollars.”

The people who shop at Daily are generally white and affluent, and most would consider themselves progressive. However, Ellis says many Athenians aren’t as culturally aware as they might think they are.

Ellis recalls a time when one of her favorite regular customers at Daily told her that she and her husband had just moved into a large, beautiful home downtown. The customer begged Ellis to visit, and when she did, she discovered that the lady was living in what was once a Black schoolhouse when Athens was racially segregated.

“She was like, super proud to be living in this house, and talking to me about it like I would be so fascinated to see this fucking house,” Ellis said. “Why would anyone want to invite a Black person and be like, ‘Oh, I live here now, we’ve renovated it?’”

Ellis said this moment, which continues to bother her after several years, exemplifies the tone-deafness among many well-meaning privileged people in this community. She said it's one experience where she realized just how often people living in the status quo don't realize that their actions have racial implications.

“It should either be a museum, or it should be razed to the fucking ground,” she said.

This lack of awareness is one factor that motivated Ellis to get involved with local activism. Her work involves helping well-intentioned Athenians become the beacons of progressivism they believe themselves to be. 

“I’ve experienced the community, the people here in Athens who swear up and down that they’re not racist, that there’s no racism in their communities,” Ellis said.

But, she says, those people are generally affluent, predominantly white, mostly heterosexual and primarily Christian, proudly living in gentrified areas of a town where systemic racism runs deep and long. This can lead to the level of tone-deafness that breeds implicit bias and a false sense of allyship.

In Ellis’ experience, people who live with privilege don’t always realize when they contribute to the marginalization of certain communities, because it often happens through microaggressions.

Some people are just straight-up racist,” she said, but “we really have to be able to draw the line between blatant racism and microaggressions and implicit bias.

And that’s exactly what Ellis facilitates in the white allyship workshops she leads. 

Deconstructing the implicit biases enforced by American society and culture is her primary focus. She helps attendees accept their places of privilege and shares with them data and facts supporting the existences of casual and systemic racism. Many people in privilege won’t accept the experiences of marginalized people, she says, but statistics and documentation help them grasp it.

Attendees have been generally receptive to her messages.

“I think there is a community of privileged people out there who want to use that power for good,” she said. “In general, I’ve encountered people who want to learn, who want to grow, and I think that as time passes and as this conversation continues, privileged persons are understanding more and more that one of the most important, powerful things they can do is listen and follow the lead." 

Ellis said she learned a lot of the skills she utilizes in these workshops back at Twin Oaks and other communes she lived in, like Open Circle in Virginia and a land trust called Blueberry Hill.

Sharing resources exposed her to “the sometimes exhaustive (but always worth it) processes of collaborating with others to make decisions and meet goals,” she wrote in her application for a Daily Co-Op Board position. “I can listen, I can go slow, I can rethink my decisions, and I can admit when I am wrong.”

Now, in the crunchy Athens that she’s come to love, Ellis is involved in work regarding women’s issues, casual racism in the workplace and workplace discrimination in general. She's a freelance writer, works for admissions at the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and serves on the Board of the Athens Queer Collective, spending much of her time focusing on outreach and ally education.  

“We (the Athens Queer Collective) do what we can to create safe spaces for queer people and queer people of color,” she said, adding that the organization emphasizes helping “the marginalized within the marginalized.”

To that end, the Collective (still in what Ellis calls “its beginning stages”) runs an LGBTQ+ Youth Group and a Transgender Support Group.

As a woman of color, as a Black woman and as a queer person, I feel very grateful to be involved that organization and to be able to play my own role - and to be able to write my own history.

From Our February Newsletter

Mark Your Calendar


International Women's Day Week
March 5th - 11th
Because one day just isn't enough. Check out the events below!

 


Grown Assed Rock Camp
May 4th - 6th

 

Similar to our Girls Rock Camp; women, trans, and non-binary adults will have the opportunity to learn an instrument, songwriting skills, and perform at a local venue in Athens.
*Register here!*


 


SPOTLIGHT

 

This year, we will highlight a community activist each newsletter alongside our usual Volunteer Spotlight. Our first local changemaker is Mokah-Jasmine Johnson, who released her first book, Spirit of an Activist: Stop Sitting on the Sidelines, on Feb. 21. Mokah is passionate about “improving race relations” and “addressing systemic racism and discrimination on all levels because it cripples our society and no one deserves to be mistreated or devalued because of racist beliefs.” Her activism in the Athens community began when she noticed a lack of diversity and inclusivity in the Athens music scene and started the annual Hip-Hop Awards to recognize multicultural music and musicians. Later, news of a racist incident at a downtown bar prompted Mokah to lead an anti-discrimination march and rally with Athens For Everyone, another social justice nonprofit. She then co-founded the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement with her husband, Knowa Johnson, and now serves as its President. AADM began as a means of protesting allegations of discrimination in Athens businesses and has expanded to include advocacy and education on issues that threaten fair treatment of Athens’ community of color. Mokah works to create social change, equality and racial justice in Athens through other channels as well: she is the Vice President of United Group of Artists, the founder of the VIP Girlz Hip-Hop and Leadership Program and the Hip-Hop Director of Girls Rock Athens. Her goal is “to inspire people to take control of their circumstances and step out on faith and get involved in their community.” Click here for the full story on our blog! // Order "Spirit of an Activist: Stop Sitting on the Sidelines" here!


Looking for info on our summer youth camp?
We hope to have dates and registration up by the next newsletter. We are so excited to rock with Athen's youth again this year!

MUSICIAN.
Support Girls Rock Athens with a new shirt that has something to say!

Lots of music reviews take special note of "females" in bands or "all female" bands. While we think being a woman in a band rocks, it'd make some happier to be noted primarily for our musical talents and passions not JUST by our gender. If you feel this way, say so with a t-shirt! Proceeds go to Girls Rock Athens!

Buy Now


Become a sustaining donor

At Girls Rock Athens, we believe that youth deserve a space to develop and use their voice through performance and song writing. After just one week, 80% of campers express confidence in their ability to handle challenges as compared to 57% before camp begins. Your continued support is instrumental to providing a space for youth self-empowerment in the Athens community. If you would like to become a sustaining donor to help fund and uphold these values, check out the link below! 

Donor Info


Other Ways to Donate

Registering us as your non-profit organization through your Kroger and Amazon account helps us by doing things you already do! Check out the links below! 

 


 

Stay In Touch! 

Don't want too many emails? Don't worry! GRA doesn't send emails daily or even weekly. Sign up for our master mailing list to keep in touch about camp sign- ups, volunteer opportunities and more. Stay tuned and don't forget to tell your friends!

Email Sign Up Here

ACTIVIST SPOTLIGHT: Mokah-Jasmine Johnson

Emily Rose Thorne, media intern

  Image courtesy of  Mokah-Jasmine Johnson

Image courtesy of Mokah-Jasmine Johnson

Most Athenians remember the 2015 scandal over General Beauregard’s, the Confederate-themed bar on Clayton St. that closed for days after being caught serving a drink with a racial slur in its name. 

People took to the streets of downtown to protest the bar and rally against discrimination. The march drew attention to the poor treatment of minorities among many of Athens' bars and businesses, from explicit racism like the drink's name to subtler practices such as the establishment of exclusionary and presumptuous dress codes.

It was also one of the first major projects organized by local activist Mokah-Jasmine Johnson, for whom "improving race relations [and] addressing systemic racism and discrimination on all levels" are not only goals but primary passions.

Johnson was born in Jamaica and later immigrated to Orlando, Florida. She holds a a Bachelor's degree in Marketing Management and a Master’s in Education, Media Design and Technology from Full Sail University and started her first business, a music marketing and promotions company, at the age of 19.

She moved to Atlanta, Georgia with her husband Knowa in 2010, where they worked as freelance hip-hop media and marketing specialists. They relocated to Athens in 2012 to raise their children and co-founded the United Group of Artists (UGA Live), a special events production, management and marketing business, later that year.

Over time, the couple identified flaws in the Athens music scene in terms of diversity and inclusivity: the music industry has historically prioritized white and male artists over those of other identities, even in a progressive college town like ours.

In response, Mokah and Knowa established the annual Athens Hip Hop Awards (AHHA), a movement for diversifying the types of music and musicians honored in the Classic City. They have maintained the AHHA since its creation through UGA Live, despite resistance from the same unwaveringly rock-focused venues and individuals that neglected hip-hop when the couple first moved to town.

When General Beauregard's offensive drink made the news, Mokah and Knowa joined forces with local social justice organization Athens For Everyone to organize an anti-discrimination march and rally in protest. The demonstration led to the foundation of one of Mokah's most prominent projects: the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement (AADM).

  Image courtesy of  Mokah-Jasmine Johnson

Image courtesy of Mokah-Jasmine Johnson

AADM, of which Mokah is currently President, began as a means of protesting discrimination in local businesses and has expanded to include advocacy and education on all issues that threaten fair treatment of and equal opportunity for Athens' community of color. The organization offers various programs such as Every Day Readers, an adult literacy and math skills tutoring initiative, and Civil Rights & Racial Justice, which provides educational resources and workshops tailored to those of marginalized identities.

"I am passionate about knowing and defending my civil rights and helping others do the same," Mokah said.

Discrimination cripples our society, and no one deserves to be mistreated or devalued because of racist beliefs.
— Mokah-Jasmine Johnson

Mokah founded and operated the VIP Girlz Hip-Hop Dance and Leadership Program from 2013 to 2016 before becoming involved with Girls Rock Athens. She taught a workshop on The History and Culture of Hip-Hop during summer camp 2016 and became the GRA Hip-Hop Director the following year "to help diversify and expand the program."

This year, Mokah said she is "preparing to host a series of GRA Hip Hop workshops and youth activities."

She said she wants to emphasize to young people to never "let your circumstances define you, and [to] stand up and speak out for what you believe in."

Mokah said that she and her husband have received positive responses from the many members of our community who have been influenced by their work.

"I realized that our efforts were truly having an impact on the community because we can see people on various levels making more of an effort to let go of their biased beliefs and include connection with Black and Brown people in the process," Mokah said. "On a daily basis, both black and white people come up to my husband and me to thank us for making a positive impact in the community."

  Mokah Johnson claps after a performance during the Hot Corner festival in Athens, Georgia on Saturday, June 10, 2017. (Photo/Emily Haney,  emilyhaney.com )      The Red&Black

Mokah Johnson claps after a performance during the Hot Corner festival in Athens, Georgia on Saturday, June 10, 2017. (Photo/Emily Haney, emilyhaney.com

The Red&Black


Mokah's first book, Spirit of an Activist: Stop Sitting on the Sidelines was released Feb. 21. Only 150 hard copies will be printed.

"Spirit of an Activist tells the story of Mokah-Jasmine Johnson from her early days as a Jamaican immigrant in the United States to her recent work in building the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement in response to racial injustices in her hometown and nationwide. Part survival manual, part manifesto for the examined life and part biography, Spirit of an Activist is, above all, an honest and searching book that will inspire readers to actualize their potential as citizens during these desperate and politically fraught times. Mokah’s is the voice of wisdom and experience, leadership, and love, with a parting message that we are all bound together as neighbors, no matter our differences."

"I want to inspire people to take control of their circumstances and step out on faith and get involved in their community," Mokah said of her motivations to write the book.

From our January Newsletter

MUSICIAN.

Lots of music reviews take special note of "females" in bands or "all female" bands. While we think being a woman in a band rocks, it'd make some happier to be noted primarily for our musical talents and passions not JUST by our gender. If you feel this way, say so with a t-shirt! Proceeds go to Girls Rock Athens!

Buy Now

Mark Your Calendar

Boys Who Rock for Girls
February 9th, 10th, and 11th

Boys Who Rock for Girls is a 3 night adult benefit for Girls Rock Athens. Each musician or group will cover songs by their favorite women, transwomen, or nonbinary artists.


International Women's Day Week
March 5th - 11th
Because one day just isn't enough. During this week, Girls Rock Athens will have trivia, women and non binary DJs and musicians. There will many more activities to come so stay tuned! 

Grown Assed Rock Camp
May 4th - 6th

Similar to our Girls Rock Camp; women, trans, and non-binary adults will have the opportunity to learn an instrument, songwriting skills, and perform at a local venue in Athens.
 

SPOTLIGHT

 

Suncana Pavlic is a 17-year-old senior at Clarke Central High School. She became involved with Girls Rock Athens last year to help found the Girls Rock Athens Youth (GRAY) Board with friend and fellow volunteer Jordan Rhym. Suncana’s role includes helping to organize events, contact performers, manage social media and run the website for the Board. Currently, she is juggling her work with the GRAY Board with her role as the Senior Visuals Editor at Clarke Central’s ODYSSEY Newsmagazine and her internship with Dr. Thomas Mote, a climatologist in the University of Georgia’s geography department. Suncana is helping him with a long-term ecological research project in Puerto Rico. Next year, she plans to go to college for environmental science and says she will “continue to compose my own music and stay in touch with the amazing things Girls Rock Athens is always up to.”

Become a sustaining donor

 

At Girls Rock Athens, we believe that youth deserve a space to develop and use their voice through performance and song writing. After just one week, 80% of campers express confidence in their ability to handle challenges as compared to 57% before camp begins. Your continued support is instrumental to providing a space for youth self-empowerment in the Athens community. If you would like to become a sustaining donor to help fund and uphold these values, check out the link below! 

Donor Info

Other Ways to Donate

Registering us as your non-profit organization through your Kroger and Amazon account helps us by doing things you already do! Check out the links below! 

 

 

Stay In Touch! 

Don't want too many emails? Don't worry! GRA doesn't send emails daily or even weekly. Sign up for our master mailing list to keep in touch about camp sign- ups, volunteer opportunities and more. Stay tuned and don't forget to tell your friends!

Email Sign Up Here

From Our Newsletter:

GRA THANKS YOU!

WE WOULDN'T BE POSSIBLE WITHOUT YOUR SUPPORT

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Girls Rock would like to thank the many local restaurants that helped provide meals during camp including: Ted's Most Best, 1000 Face's Coffee, Tazik's, Automatic Pizza, Heirloom, The Grit, Viva! Argentina, and of course Hendershots Coffee who let us host our camp showcase. We were also very fortunate to have many adult and junior volunteers to help run the camp and encourage our campers throughout the week. Girls Rock is grateful to be surrounded by a community who invests time and money into this organization.

GIRLS ROCK CAMP RECAP

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This year, we had 16 campers which developed into four bands known as Personal Computer (pictured), The Black Stars, Savage Squad, and The Verge. Throughout the week, their goal was to write and eventually perform their own songs. They also were responsible for creating their own band logos and merchandise.

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Campers were instructed in a variety of different areas including: drums, guitars, bass, keys, rap, and, for the first time, a hip-hop dance workshop from VIP Girlz. Other workshops included zine-making, body image & media literacy, punk rock aerobics, poetry, vocals, and Herstory of Women Who Rock and Rap.

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With the help of Joel Hatstat, each band was able to record their songs in a professional studio. 

SPOTLIGHT

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Emily Rose is 18 years old from Athens, Georgia. She went from being a Girls Rock camper herself, to a junior volunteer, to writing blogs for Girls Rock Athens. She attends Mercer University and is double majoring in Journalism and Law & Public Policy on a pre-law track. She is a writer, musician, activist, and feminist who hopes to use her platforms to inspire positive change by providing different perspectives on the world’s political and social issues. Emily is determined to make a difference. I think we can all agree she'll do just that.
*Check out her website here!*

DONATE 

From food and equipment donations to donating monthly or weekly, every little bit helps Girls Rock continue to uplift and empower its campers. Even
registering us as your non-profit organization through your Kroger and Amazon account helps us! Check it out below!

Donate Here

Stay In Touch! 

unnamed (4).jpg

Don't want too many emails? Don't worry! GRA doesn't send emails daily or even weekly. Sign up for our master mailing list to keep in touch about camp sign-ups, volunteer opportunities and
more. Don't forget to tell your friends! 

Email Sign Up Here

GRA 2017: Day 5

Friday is always bittersweet for everyone at camp. It is the last day of a long and intense week, but it's the end of an empowering experience full of music, friendship, learning, and inspiration. 

We started off our last day with a hip-hop aerobics workshop before heading into the final instrument instruction. Each group finalized what they had learned and most had a song or set of songs/lines/chords that they could all play together. The five drummers, for example, wrote and coordinated a drums-only song that they plan to perform at Saturday's showcase, and the bass players learned six classic bass lines over the five days:

 

Next, the campers headed to a workshop called Herstory of Women Who Rock and Rap. They discussed how the music industry is dominated by men and how there is an expectation that successful artists should have some kind of white, male presence. They split into groups and chose some of their favorite non-male artists, looked up more information about that they may not have known before, and shared with the rest of the group in an attempt to educate one another on female artists and to combat a) the way that the history we learn is saturated with mostly white, mostly male people and b) the way that the music scene in particular is dominated by mostly white, mostly male artists. Both are problems that lead to a lack of self-confidence in young folks who don't have white or male identities, so by having this discussion we hoped to help the campers break through the social barriers of music and the world at large. Some favorite artists they picked were Lucinda Williams, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Auli'i Cravalho, Avril Lavigne, Rihanna, and the androgynous David Bowie.

Lunch was next, and we were extremely fortunate to host Shehehe as our final (female-fronted!) artist. The campers loved their show, and in no time, they were all up out of their seats and dancing, which they hadn't done for any of the previous performers.

 

Friday afternoons at Girls Rock Camp are always chaotic and intense, but fun and exciting, for both the campers and volunteers. For four hours after lunch, our bands rotated from recording in the studio with Joel Hatstat (Joel Hatstat Audio), running through their set on the Boys and Girls Club stage, and practicing and planning with their band.

Recording is always a fun experience for them as it makes them feel like a "real band" and allows them to hear their own original songs in high quality. They are looking forward to receiving the CDs with all the bands' songs on them in the coming weeks! Practicing on-stage helped them get a feel for playing in front of an audience, and we discussed specifics like stage presence in order to help demystify the showcase and calm any nerves.

 

Finally, they had some free time to play and socialize in the gym until it was time to go.

We are so incredibly proud of all the work these wonderful young people have done this week! As one instructor said, participating in Girls Rock Camp is like experiencing a three-year band relationship in just five short days. It can be exhausting and stressful at the same time as empowering and inspiring, and we are always amazed when we watch campers work together, support one another, and ultimately overcome the challenges that inevitably surface when navigating the creative process. It is incredible to watch and to see their progress each day as they work towards their performance.

They are smart, impassioned kids. Many of them are already feminists, proclaiming to us when we asked in a workshop about gender roles which activities are for boys vs. for girls that "they can do anything they want" before we even had the chance to get that message across. They know where our society is lacking in terms of representation and acceptance and they are ready to fight for it.

Overall, Athens' music scene will be in good hands when these young people start to make their mark. They are all amazing, and it was an honor to work with them and watch them learn, play, and just have fun throughout this wild week. We are so impressed with the final results as well as with the way that they conducted themselves and collaborated this camp session!

 

Thank Yous and Extra Information

Every year, Girls Rock Athens is thankful for the support of Athens' Guitar Center and for Athens School of Music. Both donate or allow us to borrow some of their gear during camp weeks, and Athens School of Music has let us use their space for our Ladies Rock Camps in the past. We also have several volunteer instructors who teach lessons at one or both of those places, and we are grateful for all they have done for us over the years! If your child would like to continue learning their instrument of choice, both Guitar Center and the Athens School of Music offer lessons of all styles to all ages and experience levels. The Athens School of Music runs an ensemble program where students can work with a band and perform, and Guitar Center has a music camp in mid-summer.

Girls Rock Athens has other programming throughout the year aside from our summer camp. In the spring, we run a weekend-long Ladies Rock Camp* for adults, and we have various events year-round such as with our GRAY (Girls Rock Athens Youth) Board. We are also laying plans for the future, such as a week-long hip-hop/rap camp with our hip-hop director, Mokah Jasmine Johnson. We are so thankful to her for volunteering at our camp session this summer to teach hip-hop dance routines to our campers!

Hip-hop with Mokah was a favorite among our kids this week! Open registration for Mokah's VIP (Virtuous Intelligent Phenomenal) Girlz Hip-Hop Dance and Leadership Program will begin soon, and the program runs for four months for girls between the ages of 7 and 14. Girls Rock is proud to be affiliated with VIP Girlz and we are thankful to have had the opportunity to integrate the two programs this camp session as well as have Mokah herself come teach. From the VIP Girlz website: "Mokah is a notable entrepreneur, educator, activist and mother; she’s currently the President and co-founder of Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, an organization designed to combat discrimination through education and activism. Mokah is also the VP and co-owner of “United Group of Artists” (UGA Live) a grassroots event promotions company; the founder and program director of VIP Girlz Dance and Leadership program, the Hip Hop Director for Girls Rock Athens; an experienced adult educator and a civil rights advocate whom aims to uplift and inspire others." Apply for VIP Girlz here! Financial aid is available for eligible participants.

 

*Ladies Rock Camp - Ladies Rock Camp is a program that also functions as a fundraiser. It is a 3 day condensed version of the girls’ camp but for women 18 and over. It usually takes place some time in the spring on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Our first LRC was held in 2015. All positions are volunteer during this week so as much of the tuition paid can go back into the organization, Girls Rock Athens. No experience or personal instruments are needed. The cost is $200 for the session, and because it also functions as a fundraiser, there is no financial aid available. However, if you sign up with a friend, the price is reduced to $150 each, and we can also work with you to create a payment plan. You can sign up on our sign-up page or via paper applications (available at our events or through request to have it mailed to your address).

Future program ideas we hope to bring to our community:

- other genres (electronic, hip hop, acoustic, ukulele)

- after school programming

- one-off weekend day program

- sessions (weekend day for 6? weeks)

- community workshops

- more! input welcome!

GRA 2017: Day 4

We opened Thursday morning with a workshop on body image and media literacy led by Executive Director Jenn. Campers discussed how women are portrayed in advertisements, movies, and other media and thought about society's expectations for how women and girls "should" look as well as why some of those expectations are extremely unrealistic. One camper created a hashtag campaign, #represent, and each camper who wanted to participate had an opportunity to share something that they would like to see represented in media:

After the morning's instrument instruction, campers gathered in the stage room for an "open mic." They supported one another and worked on their confidence by putting themselves "out there" to sing in front of all their new friends.

Lunch followed the open mic, and campers watched a band made of three junior volunteers -- Jordan Rhym on drums, Stella Perkins on guitar and vocals, and Emily Rose Thorne on bass -- who then explained to the campers that they had only practiced the set twice and talked to them about the importance and fun of improvisation in a band.

 

After lunch, campers had the experience of making "merch," or merchandise, with their band logos on them. Each band rotated around the four workshops over the two-hour period to make their own guitar picks, stick-on patches, show posters, and - the favorite - screen-printed t-shirts with the logos they designed during Tuesday's Logos workshop.

Next, the bands went to practice. They are finalizing their song(s) to prepare to practice performing on-stage for everyone to watch as well as for recording in the studio tomorrow afternoon! It will be an exciting and important experience for them to practice playing in front of an audience and recording with a professional just like a "real" band.

They wrapped up the day by finishing their zines from the previous days. Tomorrow will be a long and exciting last day of camp, and we are all looking forward to the show the day after!!

 

Showcase Details:

Where: Hendershot's Coffee, 237 Prince Ave, Athens, GA 30601; Hendershot's is in the Bottleworks building on Prince Ave (near The Grit and Viva! Argentine). There is additional parking in the back of the building.

When: Saturday, August 5, 2 - 4 PM (campers should arrive at 1 PM to prepare)

GRA 2017: Day 3

Wednesday morning began with the campers gathering in groups with others who aren't a part of their band to encourage making new friends. Each group chose a song they all knew and liked to sing on stage for everyone else. We practiced singing a round (each group sang the same part of a song but started at different times for the effect) and sent them to the designated rooms for instrument instruction.

After reviewing the previous days' lessons and learning new chords, notes, techniques, beats, and tips, campers met with Emileigh for a vocals workshop. They discussed breath control, pitch and matching notes, projecting their voices, and singing as a group.

Lunch today was special for the campers because, as there was no performer, they were able to sign up for karaoke on the stage for their friends to watch after they had finished eating. They supported one another as they took turns singing into the mic along to a song of their choosing. Some performed in pairs, some in groups, and some went solo -- they built up energy that they maintained as they headed to the last of the week's poetry workshops.

For finishing the three-day workshop, they each received a certificate with a unique superlative such as "The Bubbly Poet" or "The Happy Poet."

Afterwards, they headed back into the Hip Hop Workshop with Mokah and her VIP Girlz. Learning the dance moves and coordinating with each other to perform a group dance has definitely been a highlight for them, especially because each workshop ends with a friendly competition between the dancers as they split into two groups. We are very excited that some of our campers have begun signing up to participate in the VIP Girlz program after enjoying the workshops at Girls Rock Camp! (Here's the link to do so!)

Then, they assembled back into their bands to work on their songs. Some bands have written two full songs! Others have one down with another in the works. The campers are doing a great job working together to create their songs, write their lyrics, and work together to prepare for the performance. During practice, the campers took a break to take their band photos with professional photographer Jennifer Keene. These photos will appear in the brochure at the showcase.

Band 1: The Black Stars (Arabella, Lucinda, Myca, and Mollie)

Band 2: Savage Squad (Laniyah, Destiny, Taliyah, Denim, and Jayda)

Band 3: The Verge (Genevieve, Evin, Ruby, and Vail)

Band 4: Personal Computer (Charlotte, Anne, Lilly, and Katia)

 

FInally, they ended with the second installment of the zines workshop. We look forward to seeing them tomorrow to keep up their great work and work on DIY Band Merch in the afternoon!

GRA 2017: Days 1 & 2

The first two days of our summer program are off to a great start!

Monday

On Monday morning, the volunteers greeted our 18 campers and gathered in our main room to set the Group Agreements for the week. Rather than establish rules such as "raise your hand before you speak" or "be quiet," we prefer our campers work together to come up with agreements that they all feel will provide them with the best camp experience. 

 Our campers' agreements included "be a croissant, not a bagel," meaning to focus on being open-minded rather than closed-off from others. Later in the day during a Songwriting workshops, they came up with guidelines to remember when writing their own songs and wrote them on the whiteboard.

Our campers' agreements included "be a croissant, not a bagel," meaning to focus on being open-minded rather than closed-off from others. Later in the day during a Songwriting workshops, they came up with guidelines to remember when writing their own songs and wrote them on the whiteboard.

Next, we assembled for instrument instruction: the campers chose from guitar, keyboard, bass guitar, drums, and rap. Volunteers, almost all of whom are performing musicians themselves, spend an hour and a half each morning helping students gain a working knowledge of the basics of their instrument of choice so that they can work from what they learn when building a song with their bands.

Campers then went to a Songwriting workshop led by rap instructor Mariah, who guided the group in picking apart some of their favorite songs to identify which elements made them fun to listen to so that they could use these methods as inspiration for their own songs. On the white board in the photo above, Mariah and the campers brainstormed how to come up with lyrics. Then, they sang along to a catchy song Mariah wrote for the occasion.

At noon, campers went to lunch in the main room. The lunch performer for the day was a group called Palms of Fire, an all-female drum circle playing West African rhythms on traditional drums from the region. They played some of their songs for the campers, answered their questions about the genre, songs, culture, the drums themselves, and the art of performing, and then helped them experiment with the drums.

After lunch, campers went to the first of three poetry workshops. Like the songwriting workshop from earlier in the day, poetry can help them write lyrics for their bands' songs.

Next was one of the highlights of the day, the Hip Hop Workshop. Dancer Mokah, along with two students from her VIP Girlz Dance and Leadership Program, led the workshop and taught dance routines to the campers. VIP Girlz is "designed to develop future leaders by encouraging students to use their voices and/or their bodies to make a positive impact in society" with aims to "build self-confidence, encourage teamwork and ... [help students] identify their purpose and develop lifelong skills needed to succeed in today’s society." The kids enjoyed learning from Mokah and her students and were excited to work together to complete group routines.

Finally, the campers picked their bandmates and headed to their band rooms to work with band coaches in getting started in the collaborative process. Playing with a group for the first time can be a challenge, but each of the 4 bands made a lot of progress in writing and playing an original song as a group! The first day of band practice is a time to brainstorm ideas and get started playing with one another. All 4 went farther than that in the creative process and worked on writing and playing something entirely of their own; some of them even had band names picked out by the end of the day!

During our closing assembly, each camper had the opportunity to share something they learned about themselves and something they like about the person next to them in the circle.

 

Tuesday

Campers arrived this morning excited to get back to work with their bands. We started off the day with a workshop called "Don't Box Me In," which is more of a group conversation about what boys and girls are generally expected to consider "for boys" or "for girls" and why it's okay to break out of that "box" we create for ourselves. The example used was football -- while campers agreed that football is traditionally "for boys," they also all agreed that girls are allowed to enjoy it, too.

Then, it was back to instrument instruction. Campers reviewed the chords, beats, notes, and lines that they learned yesterday before jumping into new material. Afterwards, they got with their bands in the main room for our Logos workshop. Each band worked together and designed a logo to represent their band, drew it out, and prepared it for screen-printing onto their own patches later this week. 

Next was lunch, during which our volunteer keyboard and vocals instructor, Emileigh, performed her original songs on guitar and mandolin. Like each lunchtime performer, she offered time for the kids to ask questions about music, performance, life in the music industry, specific songs, or whatever else they might want to know.

After lunch, they attended the second Poetry workshop and then went back to Mokah and her VIP Girlz to revisit yesterday's routine and learn another. Split into two groups, the campers learned from their peers in the VIP Girlz program and ended the workshop with a showdown. They supported one another and had a blast dancing together.

At last, the bands went back to practice. By this time, most were getting far along in their original songs. Yesterday they worked on coming up with their individual parts and bringing them together to create something cohesive; today, they largely delved deeper into that process and focused more on timing and switching from one part of the song to another. Building off of each other's ideas and supporting one another in the creative process is extremely important, and this did not prove to be a problem for the campers. The bands are coming together and some are already planning specific elements of their performance for the showcase this Saturday!

Then they gathered with special guest Prosper to create their own zines, a small magazine representing their personalities and interests.

Tomorrow's Stage Presence workshop will help them get even more ideas and a greater sense of preparedness for the showcase!

 

Showcase Details:

Where: Hendershot's Coffee, 237 Prince Ave, Athens, GA 30601; Hendershot's is in the Bottleworks building on Prince Ave (near the Grit and Viva! Argentine). There is additional parking in the back of the building.

When: Saturday, August 5, 2 - 4 PM (campers should arrive at 1 PM to prepare)

 

For more photos and videos of camp week, follow us on Instagram at @girlsrockathens!

Meet the Volunteers: GRA 2017

Tomorrow is the first day of our summer program! Last week, we "met" the campers by reading their responses to some open-ended questions. Now, we've asked this summer's volunteers to answer the same questions we asked our campers on their applications: 3-5 favorite musical artists, why they want to volunteer, what they hope to learn as volunteers, what they are most excited to teach, and who their biggest female role models are.

1. Jenn W, 34, is the executive director of GRA. Her favorite artists include Salt N Pepa, Tom Waits, and Biggie Smalls, and youth empowerment is her passion; "it comes from remembering when I was a teen and not feeling heard or adequately having my feelings or thoughts respected." Aside from creating an environment that encourages self-expression at GRA, Jenn is most excited to teach the Body Image and Media Literacy workshop to help kids understand that "we are being sold unreachable expectations of ourselves." She hopes that the workshop will help kids "remember to love who and how they are at any moment, knowing that no one can sell them that love in a bottle," but she wants to learn what the campers have to offer, too; their perseverance reminds her to keep trying, and their kindness reminds her to be kind and to understand that the world is more than the anger and hate displayed in the media. (On the lighter side, she hopes to see what kids find "cool" these days after being shocked to find that some kids aren't interested in Beyonce.)

2. KyKy Renee Knight will be 25 next week and aspires to be like her mom, who she describes as fierce, fearless, giving, caring, sure, and strong, always carrying herself with compassion and grace and calling out "problematic and adverse positioning ... without apology." For now, KyKy is a member of the band Harlot Party and is excited to volunteer with GRA after an "irreplaceable experience" band coaching and giving guitar instruction at this year's Ladies Rock Camp. She knew then "that I wanted to work with the young campers, to watch them pull their talents to create something cool and unique" just as the adults did. She is amazed by kids' insightfulness and ability to tackle challenges, so she is excited to watch them create, problem-solve, and come together to write music. While of course she is thrilled to teach them guitar riffs and techniques, she especially looks forward to "[sharing] a little bit of my experience writing and performing as a black woman in a scene that's been historically white and male, because I think playing in bands can seem intimidating and unwelcome to a lot of non-cis, non-white, non-dudes and I want to encourage the campers to know that there is a space for them too in music, even if we have to fight for it." Her own favorite artists are Lauryn Hill, Regina Spektor, Chance the Rapper, Tera Melos, and Noname.

3. Leticia, a fan of Tragic Mulatto, the Cows, the Pretenders, the Glands, and Metallica, looks forward to learning time management and socialization as a volunteer among the "chaos and magic of our biggest camp in years." She is excited to partake in all of our workshop topics, from stage management to special techniques, from self-defense to self-esteem, from girls' representation in society to healthy relationships and issues related to school: "fortunately, I get to dip my beak into a little of everything!" Her role model is her mom because, to put it simply, "she kicked ass."

4. Emileigh, 30, wants to volunteer at camp because she finds our topics and themes worthwhile and especially looks forward to sharing with the kids how to use and better their voices. Her favorite artists include The Beatles, the Olivia Tremor Control, Simon and Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, and Velvet Underground, and her role model is a college professor who taught her to "investigate and think in ways I hadn't before."

5. Daelynn White is 15 and hopes to conquer shyness, "help young girls understand [that] it's okay to be yourself," and learn "how to handle responsibility" as well as contribute to the conversation about self-esteem as a junior volunteer this summer. They have a silly personality and look up to their mom, who encourages them to be confident and "a better person by helping others." Daelynn's favorite artists are Rihanna, Alessia Cara, Chance the Rapper, and Jcole.

6. Hannah, 24, says that volunteering with GRA is "a great way to connect with my community and work towards a mission I believe in." Though she is not a musician herself, music is a big part of her life that she is excited to share with our campers, and she hopes to learn "how to rock [and] how to approach things from new perspectives" while volunteering. Her role model is her grandma, her favorite artists are LCD Sound System, Talking Heads, David Bowie, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and she is most excited to talk about how girls and women are viewed in the music industry.

7. Some of Stella Zine's favorite artists include The Need, Fifth Column, Heavens to Betsy, Cypher in the Snow, Tribe 8, and Athens' own Pylon. She is excited to teach guitar and to band coach this year at camp, something she has done before at Girls Rock Atlanta. A musician herself, she is energized by the creative process and finds that "creating safe space[s] and facilitating this collaborative process for young women is powerful to be present for and absolutely inspiring." Her own bands are mostly "feminist punk, gothy lo-fi blues and indie rock" -- such as her band of eight years, Pagan Holiday -- and she had a transformative experience at an Appalachian music camp as a teenager that is part of what inspires her to volunteer at Girls and Ladies Rock Camps today. The healing qualities of feminist music in a supportive environment inspired her to co-found a Riot Grrl Chapter in 1994 in Atlanta, where she felt empowered by the "experience of women and folks beyond the binary supporting each other." She currently studies feminist music therapy at Georgia College and teaches mental health expressive art at Live Forward.

8. Emily Rose is a 17-year-old vegetarian, journalism and political science student, and GRA intern. Her favorite artists include FIDLAR, Nirvana, Mac Demarco, Thayer Sarrano, and the Front Bottoms, and she is looking forward to coming back to camp to volunteer again after participating as a camper for a few years. She finds it "rewarding to share music and messages of confidence and female empowerment to kids in this age group... empowering them and offering music as an outlet can help equip them with the tools to overcome difficult situations and feelings that start to arise at this age." She is excited to learn from the campers, too, as "young kids are often better at building each other up and accepting each other's differences than adults." Aside from bass instruction and assisting with band coaching, she is most excited to contribute to conversations about self-esteem and body image/media literacy. She doesn't have a specific role model but, as an aspiring political journalist and/or human rights lawyer, she looks up to all unapologetic female politicians who fight for true equality.