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Truth and Reconciliation: "I'm Listening...." | District 4
“I’m Listening….” is a collaboration between the Cincinnati Police Department and artist Brent Billingsley to work with youth around the city using the power of art therapy.
District 4 Artist: Ella Emannuel
District 4 Engagement Specialists: Hannah D’Souza and Avery Frank
Narrative by Billingsley:
Engagement! Engagement! Engagement! One very important thing that I have witnessed as a mentor, father, community advocate and Behavioral Health Specialist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is that presence matters. And the more that you engage a child that is in crisis, the better they will respond. This project allows for such engagement opportunities to happen between cultures that have historically been fractured, misunderstood and ultimately plotted against one another. The very nature of effective engagement happens when both parties feel “SAFE.” This project includes Engagement Specialists with years of experience advocating for youth whose occupation involves creating safe spaces for parties to communicate effectively. This project places less authority on ones whom are accustomed to it and more on the trained professionals whose job is to advocate for those, whom at times, feel voiceless. It includes artists and poets whom shall come with great expectations of changing outcomes. It includes officers whom are willing to humble themselves and take time out of their very busy schedule and engage youth in the districts they have been sworn to protect. This project of police/community therapeutic artistic engagement is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY!
“I’m Listening….” will pair Cincinnati Police Department officers and local teens to create a collaborative mural to strengthen police-community relationships. Officers in each of CPD’s five districts will participate with 10 youth from the district’s neighborhoods in a series of 8, 3-hour artistic workshops facilitated by lead artist and project manager Brent Billingsley. Artwork produced in the workshops will be combined into a large-scale, portable mural to be displayed at a chosen venue. The image will be Law Enforcement engaging the members of a community in either a spiritual, meaningful, playful, or heartfelt and always positive manner.
Times and areas have been designated to engage each other in an artistic, safe, and open-minded space that allows challenging questions to be presented. Community Dwellers, Leaders, and Advocates will also be invited to come add feedback and support the project. Food will be provided during each engagement opportunity, creating more shared experiences. Journals will be provided to participants and documentation of thoughts and experiences will be encouraged. At the beginning of each session, a 15-minute creative writing session with suggested topics will also take place with the intention of sharing these thoughts and ideas at the end of each session. Project will be professionally documented with images, 60-second clip videos, and a 10-minute documentary of the project from start to finish including candid interviews and organic interactions.
Art work will be displayed at the Freedom Center, date TBD.
2026 East Seymour Avenue