Sin Cita/Without Appointment is a learning journey across Puerto Rico – an opportunity as artists to listen and engage with vibrant and vulnerable communities, while examining our own approaches and strategies to instigate positive social change. In a symbolic effort to mark two years since the arrival of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, members of four arts and culture organizations are initiating a 114-mile solidarity walk across Puerto Rico, from September 7 – 20, 2019.
Our intention is to explore what’s possible when people look inward to revive traditions and cultural practices that support the spiritual and material development of communities. Meaning they have learned to trust themselves to find answers or solutions to resolving issues within their community that allows them to take control of their own future.
The walk will be captured in a series of video vignettes to be posted daily and a short documentary film featuring interviews with artists, community leaders and others along the route who can express the change, growth, joy, and adversities that residents on the island continue to experience today.
As a result of the recent political crisis in Puerto Rico our plans have been greatly affected by its impact on communities there. One member who lives in old San Juan has been participating in the marches daily, and some other members have joined in protests here in the Northeastern U.S. Additionally, we have been gathering as much information as possible, and holding back on our promotions. We ultimately want to align our efforts with what is most beneficial for the people.
A couple of things we are we are currently doing involve collecting messages in a book for the next governor, and organizing fitness walks to help members prepare for the journey. All of this was inspired out of the climate there, and we believe little efforts like this can sometimes have big impacts.
Starting in Quebradillas, in the northwest corner of the island where Hurricane Maria rejoined the sea, the group will walk a diagonal trajectory across the Cordillera Mountains to the southeast coast where the storm first made landfall in Yabucoa on September 20, 2017.
At the conclusion of the walk, the collective will convene at the historic Villa Carmen Atelier, where we will share our experiences and findings with the artist community in San Juan.
“As a collective we have been working in the Puerta de Tierra neighborhood of San Juan for the past two years, acknowledging the communities unique working class history through a series of workshops, multimedia reports and public murals. This walk is a continuation of our commitment to engage with communities in Puerto Rico and support their efforts in rebuilding,” said Keir Johnston, co-founder of Amber Art and Design.
In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated vast tracts of land across the archipelago of Puerto Rico, leaving in their wake an unprecedented natural disaster, exacerbated by a man-made disaster – by way of the U.S. government’s willful negligence in providing a timely or adequate response to the crisis.
The organizations and individuals participating in the Sin Cita/Without Appointment collaboration are: ArteSana (www.villacarmenatelier.org), a San Juan-based community museum and art space dedicated preserving the cultural legacies of Puerta de Tierra; ArtsEverywhere (www.artseverywhere.ca), an international platform for artistic journalism; Amber Art & Design (www.amberartanddesign.com), a Philadelphia-based public art collective that facilitates social/economic/political transformation through the arts; Heryk Tomassini (www.heryktomassini.com), a Puerto Rican born multi-disciplinary artist and architect; and Ken Johnston, (www.ourwalktofreedom.com) an intrepid hiker responding to the call of social change, history and ancestral spirits
Sin Cita/Without Appointment was born out of our shared interest as a group of concerned international artists focused on ways of advocating community partnership, collaboration and the development of individual cultural expressions towards the advancement of social justice and in defense of basic human rights in Puerto Rico and beyond.
For more information groups or organizations wishing to participate in the walk across Puerto Rico, or to serve as a host family in Puerto Rico, may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or they may contact Ken Johnston directly at email@example.com.