“Living, Learning Laboratory:” Freedom Square, CCG & KitchenSanctuary, Youth Media and Uptown Summer

Our focus is through the hearts, eyes and ears of three hardcore Sancturians, who have planted seeds: Ellie Markvoitch, Jillian Hirsch and Azuré Keahi. They share their experiences for a deeper understanding of the urban ecology and the participatory programming that bubbles up from it. Our guests share their relationship with these spaces and how they fit into the larger mission and story of the Sanctuary and its diverse threads. Each of these guests have had independent visions that they brought to the Sanctuary and realized through their lifelong love for community. Today is a focus on our commitment at the Sanctuary to be process oriented — transformational, not transactional.


Ellie Markovitch

A Child Having A Child A story of Denise Ramos and Nijear Howard. Denise Ramos was 14 years old when she had her son Nijear, and her life changed rapidly and dramatically in the next 8 years. In this short documentary, she reflects on her struggle trying to be a teenager in school and a mother when out of school, how she learned to be a parent on her own, and what she would tell other teenagers in her situation. Created by Denise Ramos, Ellie Markovitch, Cindy Khoo, Andrew Lynn, Nijear Howard, and Branda Miller. A Youth Media Sanctuary project with NY Media Alliance and the Missing Link Street Ministry. First shown at the NY Shout Out Youth Media Film Festival, June 5, 2010.

“The Have and Have Nots,” For HVCC student and filmmaker, faith in God is an important part of her life, August 2011




Check out these youth created recipes!!! https://recipestories.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/diy-snackshop-cookbook-small-color.pdf

Check out these amazing photos from the herstoric first StoryHarvest!

Jillian Hirsch

Freedom Square was an amazing participatory art project, of which Jillian Hirsch was a visionary educator. We got a creative place-making grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which was matched by the City of Troy. To learn the story that stimulated the making of Freedom Square, a few years before Jillian joined our Sanctuary community, check this out:

Azuré Keahi

Azuré Keahi, Business Manager, (she/they) is a mixed race Kanaka Maoli, mother, grower, writer, and record keeper based in Troy, NY. Her first taste of food sovereignty came through her childhood — foraging for lilikoi (passionfruit), guava, and mountain apple on the eastside of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. Transitioning to the continent revealed opportunities to explore earthwork as healing for herself and surrounding community. Motivated by the stark parallels of food apartheid on island and in inner cities, she continued to explore accessible ways for cultivating edible oases on post-industrial soil. She spent 5 seasons nurturing the Sanctuary for Independent Media’s block-wide, public food forest and demonstration garden, Collard City Growers. Having managed a food business in NYC, farmer’s markets for Denison Farm, holding worker-ownership at Capital Bookkeeping Cooperative and the gifts of her Native Hawaiian, Filipino, and Chinese ancestors, she is guided by diverse experience and history. She offers a wealth of curiosity and critical thinking to farm business and is especially interested in sharing how thorough recordkeeping processes and analysis are crucial to the success of reliable food systems and disentangling from the colonial values that define conventional business.

Check out Azuré’s words as she shares a tour of Collard City Growers:

Check out this video, with community performance with Reverend Billy celebrating the beehives that Azure and Christian brought to the Sanctuary campus.


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About The Sanctuary

We use art and participatory action to promote social and environmental justice and freedom of creative expression.

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