Taking Action through Art
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.
Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb,” 2021
Standing up for what you believe in is the Girl Scout way. It’s important to say that first and foremost—since 1912, young women across this country have made their voices heard loud and clear through Girl Scouts. Take Action projects are a great way for girls in Girl Scouts to let their voices be heard—and not all forms of “taking action” look the same.
Sometimes, “taking action” in your community is about finding your voice and the best way to amplify it. Many Highest Awards projects address a physical need of a community, such as a garden filled with local wildflowers to help pollinator populations bounce back from decline. But Highest Awards aren’t just tangible things—sometimes, a Highest Awards project is about amplifying an issue to the community at large by getting the message out in creative ways.
For Amanda Gorman, it was through poetry that she found her voice. Amanda is the youngest person to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration, and the first poet to recite a poem at the Super Bowl—two of the largest venues for a voice to be heard in the United States of America.
Here at Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, Gold Award Girl Scout Ella Cope worked with local artists in her community to design and create a mural that put a spotlight on her hometown Oxford’s long history in the Civil Rights movement. Depicting the station wagon that three Freedom Riders took in the summer of 1964 and were murdered in for their cause, the mural acts as a memorial for those who lost their lives in the fight for racial justice while also honoring others who have fought for equality. Ella’s mural is woven with imagery that represents many facets of the long fight for Civil Rights in her community, allowing her to communicate a broad subject and encourage others to learn more.
Like Amanda Gorman, many young women have found their voices through poetry. Cydney Brown is a Gold Award Girl Scout and the Youth Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. As the Youth Poet Laureate, Cydney works in her community to educate others on the importance of poetry.
It can be hard to know where to get started. Inspiration is out there and it is everywhere. Think about what you are passionate about. Take something that makes you angry and create a positive or honest piece of art about it.
To help start the conversation in your troop, watch Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural poem and the Inaugural poem Maya Angelou performed at Bill Clinton’s Inauguration in 1993. Both Maya Angelou and Amanda Gorman talk about similar themes and use similar language. Some questions to consider after watching or reading with your troop are:
- What similarities do you seem in these poems? What makes them different?
- What emotions do you see present in the poems? How do they make you feel?
- If you were to write an inaugural poem, what would you talk about? Who is the audience for a poem like this?
Get out there and get inspired! After looking at these two poems for inspiration, consider other forms of art that have inspired you. If writing a poem isn’t for you, try creating a piece of artwork that talks about an issue you are passionate about and share it as a troop.
Here, on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, and into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning,” 1993