Madison Public Library’s work with at-risk and court-involved teens through the Bubbler’s Making Justice program has made significant headway since the summer, with weekly virtual workshops for teens at the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center.
These workshops feature a mixture of local artists and maker groups, as well as Making Justice artists and alumni who have left Madison but can offer workshops remotely. “I feel like a lot of our artists now have figured out how to emphasize the benefits of virtual workshops and offer something that would be more difficult in person,” said Teen Services Librarian Jesse Vieau, who coordinates the program. “I’m constantly impressed by the strength of our team.”
Making Justice’s partnerships with Madison Metropolitan School District and the county’s youth Shelter Home include workshops and instruction on storytelling, graphic design, beatmaking and tattooing.
This winter, Madison Public Library and the Bubbler are offering an internship to a Making Justice alumnus. Artemas (ar-TEE-mas) participated in the program’s Urban Bubble project after he dropped out of high school. Now, he’s pursuing his GED, and his work as a library page and intern for Media Projects Bubblearian Rob “Dz” Franklin will earn him the last credits he needs to graduate. Vieau said he hopes Artemas’s experience will inspire future Making Justice students to recognize the importance of pursuing education, even in difficult circumstances.
In the coming year, Making Justice aims to do more outreach and preventive work — particularly in neighborhoods where court-involved and at-risk youth live. One Making Justice artist is developing projects that older students can take home for their younger siblings to work on while the older kids are doing homework.
Thanks to Madison Public Library Foundation donations, Making Justice can pay artists who present workshops; provide materials and supplies for participants; and offer technology like iPads, computers, webcams and software that wouldn’t otherwise be available at places like the Juvenile Detention Center.
Making Justice is supported by lead gifts from Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, Epic, Madison Arts Commission, Patricia Meloy, Leila & Mickey Straus Family Foundation, and Scooter Software.