HOME, Inc. is a multi-faceted non-profit organization in Boston that has contributed to the flourishing of arts in the city. Establishing a culture of media literacy education through collaboration with public schools and research institutions is another critical outcome of HOME’s activities since the 1970s. This essay summarizes the outcomes of using the historical method for exploring HOME, Inc.’s roles and impact on the Boston community, including artists, between the mid-1970s and 2021.
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Methods and Sources of Information
To gain as much data as possible, a three-step data collection methodology was developed. The first stage included exploring information accessible from HOME’s official website/social media accounts. Within the frame of the second step, the archival search was conducted to study the media mentions of HOME in local newspapers, including Gay Community News and East Boston Community News, and professional publications. Finally, to include more evidence from primary sources, a personal interview with Alan Michel, HOME’s long-time director, has been conducted.
HOME, Inc.’s Impact and Scope of Activities from a Historical Perspective
HOME and Boston’s Artistic Community
Throughout its history that began in the mid-1970s, HOME has been focusing on two parallel lines of activity. The first of them refers to public events and services to support Boston’s creative professionals, such as artists, video creators, and sculptors. In 1974, HOME, Inc. started as a group of volunteer artists from diverse disciplines (A. Michel, personal communication, March 2020). During the first two years after its creation, HOME supported a few video and mural art projects developed for local food distribution outlets and the Bromley Heath housing development project (A. Michel, personal communication, March 2020). In 1977, at the Bates Art Center, HOME stepped up its measures in supporting artists by providing more than fourteen creators and art groups with affordable art studio space (A. Michel, personal communication, March 2020). In the 1980s, HOME actively participated in the organization of exhibitions and fundraising events to support artists (“Coming events: 4 sat.,” 1982). It also enabled local sculptors to install their works at five locations to celebrate Boston’s 350th birthday (HOME, Inc. & Scholastic Media Association, n.d.). Therefore, HOME’s activities have always been centered on supporting artistic expression.
HOME, Inc. and Boston’s Public Education System
Another line of activity that permeates HOME’s history is improving youth’s access to media literacy education. The organization’s first prominent efforts in this regard took place in the 1980s, which did not go unnoticed by local media sources. In 1981, HOME’s lectures about video tools and cable TV in education were advertised by local news sources (“What’s happening: Education,” 1981). Six years later, HOME took its education-centered activities to the next level by starting the Teen TV project in which Boston’s teenagers were introduced to the art of journalism (Freitas, 1987). Aside from teenager education, the project helped to grow the community’s awareness of adolescents’ perspectives on social issues, including addictions to illicit drugs (Freitas, 1987). As these facts suggest, HOME’s work could have multiple positive effects on the community, for instance, encouraging the use of media-related knowledge for reducing misunderstanding between diverse generations and assisting teenagers in exploring the world.
With the lapse of time, HOME’s education-focused projects enabled it to earn the trust of its future partners – public schools and organizations involved in media research. In the 2000s, HOME gained more recognition in the education field and undertook a series of media literacy and health projects involving schools (A. Michel, personal communication, March 2020; Consortium for Media Literacy, 2014). Between 2008 and 2009, HOME launched the Teen TV website to facilitate participants’ online access to media production lessons and conducted a one-day conference on media literacy for educators/decision-makers (Michel, 2009). That and subsequent biennial conferences became possible due to HOME’s close collaboration with trustworthy research institutions, such as TechFoundation and professionals from the MIT Media Lab (Michel, 2009). HOME’s continuous efforts in exploring the role of media literacy in the instructional process and sharing these insights with relevant stakeholders, including educators, curriculum developers, and school program coordinators, have shaped its positive reputation.
HOME, Inc.’s Mission and Impact on the Community Then and Now
As the aforementioned points and the timeline in the Appendix demonstrate, HOME has been loyal to its original mission, supporting arts and education projects in the surrounding community, for many decades. That devotion continued despite temporary difficulties, including the destruction of the Thomas Plant Shoe Factory (HOME’s very first venue) and preparatory work to occupy the Joshua Bates School in the 1970s (A. Michel, personal communication, March 2020). The next twenty-five years after moving into the school and establishing the Bates Art Center also became the period of resistance to outside development efforts (A. Michel, personal communication, March 2020). However, HOME did not suspend its work in media literacy promotion and supporting community art projects, which could be a sign of both adequate support from sponsors and the team’s goal orientation.
At the present moment, HOME’s ability to continue pursuing its mission remains uncertain. Intrinsic motivational factors affecting the current situation are the recent change in HOME’s focus and the organization’s merger with the Scholastic Media Association – one of its former partners (A. Michel, personal communication, March 2020). External objective factors, such as the threats of infectious diseases, have also limited HOME’s service provision capacity to a great extent. Particularly, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., HOME had to suspend its classes and projects at schools (A. Michel, personal communication, March 2020). As of now, HOME does not operate any programs, and A. Michel (personal communication, March 2020) is unsure about the organization’s future.
Finally, HOME, Inc.s’ influences on non-profit partners and the city’s community are diverse and range from promoting community arts to contributing to the culture of media literacy education. Between 1974 and the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., HOME managed to retain a sense of purpose and work towards achieving its arts- and education-related purposes. Currently, HOME’s future is difficult to predict, but the organization has already left a legacy in Boston.
Coming events: 4 sat. (1982). Gay Community News, 10(20), 22. Web.
Consortium for Media Literacy. (2014). Research highlights. Connections – MediaLit Moments, 57, 4. Web.
Freitas, J. (1987). Television for teens. East Boston Community News, 17(8), 3. Web.
HOME, Inc. & Scholastic Media Association. (n.d.). HOME’s history. Web.
Michel, A. (2009). Media literacy, teaching and learning and 21st century skills. Shaping Media, Shaping Lives. Web.
What’s happening: Education. (1981). East Boston Community News, 11(13), 12. Web.
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