Well we are calling this project Made Collaborative. And if you read this early blog entry, you probably already know that the project’s primary mission is to collaborate with participating urban youth to develop collaborative comics stories and other creative content based on their own interests and ideas. And by doing so, we hope to foster creative thought and provide a truly positive collaborative experience to participating youth and artists alike.
That’s the project in a nutshell anyway. However, this project didn’t actually start off as a comic-based project. In fact, prior to starting this project, I don’t think I actually read a comic story from beginning to end in my entire life (and I’m certainly not proud to admit that now).
Indeed, when we started this project, it was just based on a very simple premise that perhaps something uniquely positively could potentially be generated by connecting urban youth with talented artists. What that “something” would ultimately become was anyone’s guess at the time. The main objective at the time was to just facilitate the collaborative process and see what came out of it.
And with time, what came out of it was this comic-based project. And as we move forward with these “This and That” blog entries, we will try to capture just how this project has evolved over time in that regard, culminating in the creation of our first comic series called “Back of the Yards” and, separately, the Made Collaborative Scholarship Fund, which will provide talented urban youth with opportunities to attend fully funded pre-collegiate educational programs of all types, fulfilling the very core of our project’s mission of urban youth empowerment.
The Mission Statement
Made Collaborative is a grass roots organization that develops unique comics-based content that is inspired by sponsored collaborations between participating urban youth, artists and others, designed to promote general understanding and also, through such collaborations and the Made Collaborative Scholarship Fund, youth empowerment.
The Vision Statement
Made Collaborative’s vision is to develop broad creative content inspired by collaborations in the pursuit of understanding, not to obtain “answers,” but rather, to help better reveal our shared humanity …
and also just have a little fun along the way.
(opens in a new tabWhat if your dreams became real?
It doesn’t get more real than Back of the Yards, on the South Side of Chicago, when you’re growing up as a teen. It’s where fantasy and the power of story can build resilience, foster healing and lead to greater understanding.
Based on the stories and experiences of real urban youth, Made Collaborative presents Back of the Yards, a story of gritty truth that’s beyond your wildest dreams.
Andre was the first character to take shape in Phase One of Made Collaborative’s youth outreach, and hence, he takes the lead role in our initial story arc. He is a curious, creative and charismatic boy who comes about his powers as a result of a mysterious encounter with a being beyond space and time.
Andre learns that he has a certain mastery over the strange world that we all go to when we dream. But, does that mastery carry over into the waking world, too? Moreover, what would Andre do with that kind of power?
Tamia’s story of first love and betrayal is surely relatable but it’s also based on the true life experiences reported to us by participating urban youth. And, like many of the kids in our program, Tamia turns to creativity as both an outlet and an escape from her daily struggles. She is an avid artist and journaler. Her perspective gives the story emotional depth and balance.
Tamia is a powerful young woman still in search of her voice. Will she ever realize the heights of her potential or will she continue to be stifled by those who seek to take advantage of her?
Russell and Draymond share a fraternal bond that is cemented by the fantastic world they both share. It’s a world inspired by the manga and video games so popular in today’s youth culture. The stories they create make them feel powerful when they are so often made to feel powerless by neighborhood bullies and other stressors.
Many of our Phase One participating youth had similarly intricate imaginary worlds, worlds they would create with others. Made Collaborative has provided a structured outlet for these stories and we’ve developed them into real comic books with the help of professional artists and writers. The story is set in a fictionalized version of the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, with a real history.
You can learn more about all of these characters, as well as the corresponding comic collaborations here.
The Scholarship Fund
The Made Collaborative Scholarship Fund was started in 2019 with a grant of $10,000 from the project’s founder, and a corresponding commitment to donate 10% of all proceeds from the Back of the Yards comic series to the Scholarship Fund going forward. The Made Collaborative Scholarship Fund provides talented urban youth with opportunities to attend fully funded pre-collegiate educational programs of all types. The youth will be selected to receive these scholarship funds by an independent third party non-profit organization, Scholarship America, based on a combination of merit and financial need.
This is a grass roots project in the truest sense. Started with a summer spent volunteering at a local Chicago after school program and evolved into today’s current incarnation. Just a rag tag group of artists trying to do something they thought was cool in their spare time. And if you’d like to learn about any us, just click on any of the mugs below.