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Meet Alizah Silver

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alizah Silver.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
The LOVE ACTIVISTS really started when I was a child. I was a courageous little girl with bright eyes and a warm spirit. My name, Alizah, means joy in Hebrew and I’ve always known that joy was my path, my way out. As a child, I had an abusive father who the courts ordered I stopped seeing when I was eight years old. Growing up without a Dad also created its own trauma. I was raised by a single mother who is the most brilliant and loving person I know, she was obese for most of my life and used food as a coping tool for the stress she was enduring. I grew up in New York, a place of diversity and cultural abundance. In high school, I moved to Mandeville, Louisiana, a small, republican town in the deep South where I experienced extreme racism and poverty for the first time. For most of my childhood, I was overweight, lost inside, hiding my trauma and didn’t love myself.

In high school, one of my best friend’s Father overdosed and her mother was in jail. My mom ended up adopting her and her younger brother and raised us all together. I witnessed their extreme anger and unhealthy coping tools and how a family who was willing to teach and nurture certain values and character traits with unwavering unconditional love and support could change the course of a child’s life. I saw the power of love. My adopted brother and sister are the first in their family to graduate college and now have beautiful children of their own.

After high school, I began traveling, first to Costa Rica where my cousin taught me how to surf, about the ocean and the importance of taking care of my body. He helped me become an individual, myself, free. At Louisiana State University, I studied abroad in Puerto Rico and Argentina and traveled all over South America, witnessing the racial divide, economic gaps and injustices our schools, institutions, governments and beliefs have created.

I became a teacher with hopes of making a difference, correcting these wrongs and giving children a chance. I started working for KIPP in the lowest-performing school district in our nation at the time, North Forest, Houston, Texas. It was there I learned to write curriculum, figured out my teaching and management style and began to understand some of the painful things that were happening to my students. I realized that above any reading, writing or mathematics skills that I taught, the most valuable lesson of all was love. Without that, these kids were stuck in emotional pain and behavioral acting out. I started an anti-bullying initiative called “Fight Hate with Love”, teaching our children to emulate Martin Luther King and Gandhi by using non-violent action and big, smart words to solve their problems. Even today, eight years later, when I visit my old students (who are now taller than I!), they tell me how they fight hate with love. However, my fulfilling work and service, college degree, and enough money to meet my needs wasn’t filling an emptiness, a hole inside that scared me. Burnt out and wanting to grow, I decided to move to Los Angeles, California, a lifelong dream.

In Topanga Canyon, on the west side L.A., I started teaching at a school on a horse farm on top of a beautiful, wooded mountain. I met my mentor who taught me the power of a child’s imagination and learning through music and nature. We did all of our learning outside, hikes every week, organic homemade food and had amazing parent involvement. I began yoga teacher training and learned the power of self-love and self-care. I realized the importance of meditation, movement and breathwork as powerful tools to deal with my own trauma. I knew I needed to share what I had learned. I started teaching yoga to adults and noticed the west side bubble that most of the LA yoga community stayed in and wondered why all these talented healers and teachers were only on the west side. I created my own summer camp, CAMP LOVE, where I continued to develop my ideas and curriculum for teaching children about love. We cleaned up trash at the beach, made walking sticks and medicine bags and searched for items on our hike as we learned about nature, we drew our feelings as we listened to the philharmonic play at the Hollywood Bowl and always practiced meditation and yoga. I now, not only had direct experience with children suffering from trauma and unmet basic needs, but could contrast that with children who are given everything: organic food, their own garden, animals, rock-climbing, art, dance, yoga, and music lessons, a safe home, support from parents and the adults in their community and most importantly love. I felt the disparities. It was eating away at me. Driving from East to West L.A., reminded me of my travels, reminded me of the South, reminded me to stand up.

My eyes were opened more with the 2016 presidential election. Was this happening to wake us up, to expose the darkness, the truth, so we could heal as a collective? I realized at that moment that the time is now and that it is our responsibility to lay the foundation for the next generation to do something different. December 3, 2016, I woke up and started writing. I didn’t even stop to think. After about 12 pages, I called my mother and told her, “it feels like every moment in my life has worked up to this moment right now Mom! I know my life’s purpose!” word for word. What I wrote down that day is a description of my life at this present moment and everything that is the LOVE ACTIVISTS.

In 2017 I became a full time teacher at KIPP Empower Academy elementary school in South Central L.A. and have implemented my curriculum with over 1000 K-4th grade students so far. I have family yoga nights, teacher yoga and I run a volunteer program bringing enlightened teachers to share their area of expertise with the children, parents or teachers. In March 2018, I wrote a rap song about yoga for my kids. They liked it so much, I created a music video and recorded my students rapping our first song, “Yo Yo Yoga”. Now I could see that through video creation, I could reach more children and more teachers across geographic borders faster. I have written 6 songs since and helped to direct 4 music videos that are free teacher resources on YouTube! Come support the movement at our next event, LOVE ACTIVISTS Benefit Concert December 7, 2019 at Peace Yoga Gallery in DTLA!

LOVE ACTIVISTS is now a 501c3 Non-profit organization and I am a CEO! The main focus of our organization has been mentoring children to be compassionate leaders, artists and activists in their community. We have also designed and implemented (with over 1000 students in South Central, LA at our pilot school KIPP Empower Academy) a social-emotional learning and social and environmental justice curriculum that we aim to get in as many schools across the country as possible! The curriculum that we have been working on includes 10 music videos (we are almost done with our 4th!) and 10 classroom instructional videos (we have 2 complete!). We plan to have our curriculum published and all 10 songs, music videos and instructional videos in 2020. I have a big year ahead!

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I use art as activism and educational teaching tools. I write hip hop songs based on my lesson plans to help my students internalize the vocabulary. I teach the songs to the 24 children in my after-school mentorship program, find beats and record them. Finally, I create music videos featuring the kids that are meant to be used as teaching tools for the classroom or brain breaks. All of the content covered in my curriculum will be put into a hip-hop song, music video and an instructional video and all of our media will be used to supplement the curriculum that I am trying to publish. The goal or message of our art and curriculum is to teach children to love themselves, love others, love the earth and take action to make the world a better place… to protect what is sacred, the voiceless, children, plants animals and nature. Memorizing, recording and performing the lyrics transforms these children’s lives and allows them to be compassionate leaders of their community. We want to make social-emotional skills, healing trauma, non-violence and social and environmental justice cool!

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
Most of my friends are artists and creatives and I wouldn’t be able to create what I have so far without the help of my friends! When your content is being used to help others and the planet, people want to help! I’ve had incredible producers like Problem, Maejor and Toure Harris donate beats, Aftermaster Studios in Hollywood record the kids and some incredibly talented cinematographers and editors volunteer their time or charge very low rates for the cause. When we do good work and are aligned with our higher purpose in our art, the world will help you create it. But I am still living paycheck to paycheck and just scraping by!

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Watch and share our videos!!!

Watch YouTube: Love Activists

https://youtu.be/meQN9HpcTSw
Instagram: @loveactivists
https://www.instagram.com/loveactivists/?hl=en

Facebook: @loveactivistscollective
https://www.facebook.com/loveactivistscollective/

Donate: venmo @Alizah-Silver or Facebook Fundraiser
https://www.facebook.com/donate/2474503106115454/

Come to our Benefit Concert December 7, 2019 at 5 PM – 10 PM at Peace Yoga Gallery 903 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90015
https://loveactivistsbenefitconcert.eventbrite.com

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Rachel Rambaldi, Paul Olaechea

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