Blog

The Educated Little Monsters

The Educated Little Monsters are not a paint-by-numbers art class. They are a community cultivating, visual and performing arts program that has a rigorous practice schedule, regular performances, and is completely student lead aside from department mentors. 

The departments cover everything from graffiti street art, dance, hip hop to creative writing and poetry.

Jazo Brooklyn; an outspoken activist and artist steps in as mentor and a second mother to every ELM member. She founded ELM After teaching her own son that his creativity is valuable. She decided to tell as many young people in her community that their friends and culture are their biggest resource to creating.

 

Please take a moment to meet Brooklyn’s own emerging youth lead arts movement ELM.

 

This is Jazz- She is the Matriarch and beating heart behind ELM.  If you talk to her for very long you’ll see everything she does–she does for them. 

There is nothing higher than them
When you look UP this is all you should expect to see
Set nothing above them
Love them
Nurture Them
Create no boundaries
This pictures helps me see the growth in them
The confidence
No they’re not looking down
But they see no one above them
— Jazo
I always tell them that women are our nurturers and that we need them just as much as we need our men.
I tell them to treat every woman as their QUEEN and to always present themselves as KINGS.
We have to change the perception of how the youth look at each other.
That moment you realize they are paying attention.
And that their bond is royalty.
— Jazo
ELM-4web0043.jpg
Elm is important in my life because it has helped me to build confidence and try new things. I was very shy before, but now I have alot of new friends and family. I’m not scared to push myself to try new things and preform on stage. I can be Megan at dance when we make jewelry and do art I can speak my mind and my feelings. It really is like a family. Everyone helps out and makes sure I can go to a event or class and that I don’t miss out because my mom is on bed rest and can’t take me. So you even learn how to trust others.
— Megan
My biggest challenge has been standing up for myself when I was being bullied at school. But I was able to use my voice and speak up and defend myself. I spoke with my parents and Vice Principal and counselor at my school. By the end of the school year the same kids who would bully me wanted to be my friends so I was a big girl about it and we became friends. I got to do a dance with one of them in my school and some even came to see me dance at the Elm winter showcase. It taught me that sometimes it’s not that someone dislikes you or hates you, but sometimes that person is going through big problems or are afraid to trust and have friends or maybe jealous, but it doesn’t mean you have to treat them the same as they treat you. You can be the bigger person and then they can see you are a really good friend.
— Megan
My neighborhood is changing a lot, I remember this big white house in front of my building that they would decorate for the holidays. It was there even when my Dad, uncle and aunts were little and now it is gone. There is construction everywhere in front of my building. To the right of my building, down the block, even at my school.
— Megan
One thing I like about myself? I love everything about myself. I love me.
— Megan
I made a portrait of my cat Laila and I love it because it represents a part of me and I made it from the heart, I am working on one for my dog Oreo.
— Megan
If I could change one problem in the world it would be animal cruelty. I love animals. If I could, I would have programs all over the world to shelter them and care for them. From big animals like giraffes and elephants to amphibians, dogs, cats, insects, birds, every animal. Because we are all living on the earth and have to care for our world; The land, animals, and the air for one another.
— Megan
I remember when Megan first started ELM. She didn’t talk to any of us for at least 2 months. She would not sit near us and would always walk into dance class behind her mother. She would go on the stage dance then go home. Im not going to lie, I was a bit worried, but not in a bad way, more like, I hope she feels safe with us. Me and her mother would talk about it often. Her mother said “Megan never said she didnt want to come to class so I’ll keep bringing her”. Then one day two months into her coming to ELM she came to my shop walked back out, a few seconds later came back in, jumped in front of me and yelled “HIII, YAZMIN!” I almost died. She’s been vibe’ with us ever since.
— Jazo
Well I am very proud to say that I have my Dad Angel Collazo and my mom Mariana Collazo. They got married in May 2005 and then I was born in June 2006. I have been the only child all of these years and now I am expecting to be a big sister in November 2015 to my Baby brother.
— Megan

Click to follow Ariel on Facebook

ELM is important because we’re doing something positive with our community. We’re helping people with dreams and we’re connecting with many people. Just the word “community” is what symbolizes ELM.
— Ariel
ELM is about connecting with people who are young and being mindful of what you do and say. It taught me to watch what I say and teach the right things to young intellects. We have to teach the right things for a better tomorrow
— Ariel
ELM-4web0015.jpg
What I learned which is most important is that ‘It takes a village to raise a child’
— Ariel
My neighborhood has changed so much. New buildings. New people. I don’t mind the people. It’s the buildings that cost too much for people who can’t afford to live there. And too many people getting kicked out.
— Ariel
I’m very confident when it comes to my music, and I can think of things that rarely anyone ever thinks of. I’m proud to be indigenous and proud to be an Ecuadorian & Dominican adolescent. I’m proud that I’m mixed and I have 2 amazing cultures.
— Ariel
I worked on my first music project which I love because I was just beginning to find my real music style. And it was really fun reciting verses that I worked on before and finally had the chance to record them.
— Ariel
Joey Bada$$’s lyric from Paper Trails really impacted me, he said ‘They say money is the root of all evil, I see money as the route of all people, cause we all follow paper trails, paper trails and everybody gotta pay their bills, pay their bills’
— Ariel

Click To follow Ruthy on Facebook 

ELM teaches me that in order to make something out of yourself you have to work hard. Jazz taught me so many different things especially to believe in ourselves and never settle for less because we all have a gift.
— Ruthy
One thing that I really like about myself is that I’m not the type of person to judge people.
— Ruthy
If you really love what you do, no matter how many people doubt you just go for it and prove people wrong.
— Ruthy
The book “The Great Gatsby” taught me so many different lessons. How money can change people and how “love” isn’t always love because sometimes people use you for your love.
— Ruthy
My girlfriend Ruthy introduced me to Jazz and showed her my writing pieces and ever since then I started working with ELM. I’m in the hip hop program.
— Ashley
My favorite memory working with ELM has to be when we all went to a block party to perform with Fat Joe. I think ELM is very important because it gives the younger youth a chance to be themselves. There is no judgement in ELM. ELM accepts you the way you are and that is very important because no one feels left out or uncomfortable. ELM is a family.
— Ashley
My neighborhood has changed in a good way, all of the gangs and violence decreased and a lot of love started to grow.
— Ashley
I would change racism and to change it I would start with schools and teach kids that everyone is different and looks different and that’s okay because what we all have that’s the same is feelings and acceptance is an amazing feeling.
— Ashley
Ruthy has been a big influence in my life, because she taught me that not everyone has the same heart as you and she also showed me bravery and what real love is.
— Ashley

Click to follow Keyshawn on Facebook 

ELM is important because we have the mentality that we starve together, we eat together. ELM is more than a movement it’s a family and I doubt anyone can understand what we go through to be where we are today.
— Keyshawn
Jazz and all my mentors taught me that it’s okay to come out your shell and live the life in front of you. They taught me to be humble and stay true to myself, to love those who are in my life for a reason and use all my resources wisely.
— Keyshawn
My step father has the greatest influence on my life because since he entered our lives he supported me and my mom through everything we’ve had to go through. My step father is one of few people who got me into “Rap” music basically. He is a rapper, and a producer, he has helped me perfect my flow and choice of words when I struggle. Jazz as well since I joined has been open to me. She treats me as if was a second son. She is the person beside my mom and family. They keep me in check to always remind me where I come from and to stay focused.
— Keyshawn
The one problem I would change is gentrification because it is kicking natives out of their homes. Either because they pushed up rent or sold the buildings, leaving more people in the streets, more drug use and the results are people stealing or killing and it sucks.
— Keyshawn
The song “Love Yourz” by Jcole says

”No such thing as a life that’s better than yours”

In this generation anyone with more money than someone else claims to have a better life than that person with less money but in reality you have a similar life like that one person with less money. we all still have life problems, family problems. Money can’t change everything. It will get you through a battle but will you win the war?
— Keyshawn
Lupe Fiasco has changed my life because his lyrics make you think. A lot of people don’t listen to him or hate his music because their intellect doesn’t understand his meaning. At times I have to look up his songs to understand what he means; I literally try to write the way he writes his metaphors are the lines that motivates me to write at the best of my limits.
— Keyshawn
My focus is on my heritage, culture, government, black & brown people, police brutality, immigrants, and the truth.
— Esteban
My father had the greatest influence on me because he is the hardest working person I know and his dreams came true by having a store, car and a family. I come from hard working people and it makes me the person I am.
— Esteban
If you care about the community, grab a stick and draw your feelings about what’s happening in the community.
— Esteban
What song lyrics best describes your life philosophy? Classic by Meek Mill:

’In these philly streets situations is
Police ain’t respecting the youth and
The youth ain’t respecting the truth and
The Glock 9 on me in the coupe and
All I talk is that real shit the truth.’
Even though my mom didn’t finish high school, I like the fact that she pushes us to finish.
— Kassie
Well I used to make small edits in my music for my amusement. I liked doing that because it gave me power like the first product wouldn’t exactly be the best but as I continued progress was made.
— Kassie
ELM is important because it helps keep the youth off the street and away from gang activity. It taught me that all lives matter no matter your race, nationality, skin color, etc. I moved recently because people took over the whole block. They started tearing down buildings and kicking out the people that have lived there for years and white college students moved in.
— Kassie
If I could ask God anything it would be why he took my brother at such a young age.
— Kassie

Click to follow Josh on Facebook

ELM is important because it gives kids in Brooklyn an outlet.
— Joshua
The biggest thing I have learned from Jazz is to face your problems directly.
— Joshua
I want to buy out buildings just to rent out the apartments for cheap so people can live more affordable.
— Joshua
All of my rap lyrics I dedicate myself to remembering because I’m proud of the flow I made. And the kung fu forms I remember.
— Joshua