Patrons & Partnerships

Ep 19: Gainesville Girls Rock Camp with Coral Smith

February 10, 2022 Library Partnership Branch, Alachua County Library District Season 1 Episode 19
Patrons & Partnerships
Ep 19: Gainesville Girls Rock Camp with Coral Smith
Show Notes Transcript

Thanks for joining us for another episode of Patrons & Partnerships, presented by the Library Partnership Branch of the Alachua County Library District.

Our guest today is Coral Smith, one of the co-directors of Gainesville Girls Rock Camp, a nonprofit that uses music and performance to uplift marginalized voices, encourage self esteem, community and self expression in girls and gender expansive youth. In this episode, we talk about the history of GGRC, the live showcase they put on for the campers each year, and some of the other events they have planned in 2022.

To find out more, visit GGRC's website, their Facebook page, or their Instagram

Visit the Alachua County Library District website to browse our collection and to find other resources and services offered at your favorite, local library!

You can view a transcript of this podcast on ACLD's YouTube Channel.

Eleanore:

Hi, thanks for joining us for another episode of Patrons & Partnerships. Our guest today is Coral Smith, one of the coordinators for Gainesville Girls Rock Camp, a nonprofit that uses music and performance to uplift marginalized voices, encourage self esteem, community and self expression in girls and gender expansive youth. Unfortunately, this interview was recorded in November, so some of the events have already passed. To find out what GGRC is up to, visit their Facebook, Instagram, or email them at gainesvillegirlsrockcamp@gmail.com [music] Hi, Coral, would you mind telling us a bit more about yourself?

Coral:

Hi, there. Well, my name is Coral Smith. I grew up in Florida, but I moved to New York after college. I lived there for five years working in producing with small theatre companies and small nonprofits, mostly in the arts, mostly arts admin, because my background is in arts. I cut my teeth basically in New York, which was very intense. And then I moved back to Florida to be close to my family, and I just love it here. I think it's just the coolest little crunchiest town and I'm just in love with it fully. So I moved here in 2019. And I got hired by GRC in actually 2020, which was kind of a wild year, as we all know. It was sort of like a chaotic but incredible shift for me, and I really am digging working more with like, youth empowerment and teaching youth through music and performance art. It's been such an incredible journey.

Eleanore:

Like, New York City?

Coral:

Yeah, New York City. Eleanore: Okay, that's a big change going from

Eleanore:

NYC to like a sleepy little college town.

Coral:

It was, but it was so needed for me. Like I was kind of caught up in that hustle culture. So it was like, not sustainable for me. And then when I got a chance to finally slow down in Gainesville, I was like, Yes, this is it. I need this. I need this so bad.

Eleanore:

A very nice change of pace. Could you tell us more about Gainesville Girls Rock? What it is, the history, its goals?

Coral:

Yeah. So Gainesville Girls Rock Camp was founded in 2013 or ‘14 by three women and nonbinary folks in the area who are all musicians locally, have really great connections to the music industry, and as individuals in the industry, noticed that there weren't a lot of spaces for young girls and gender expansive youth to kind of be expressive and like have that creative outlet. They founded the Gainesville chapter of Girls Rock Camp. Girls Rock Camp is actually a global initiative. So there are rock camps all around the world that do the same thing that we do, which is teach empowerment, social skills, social justice, and performance through music. So it's like a really, really cool initiative to kind of give space where there typically has not been for girls and gender expansive youth in the music industry. And it's just like a really fun organization that is just centered around joy and expression and creativity. It's like the funnest job ever.

Eleanore:

How long has the Gainesville chapter of Girls Rock been operating?

Coral:

So it's been about seven or eight years, I believe. And I have just joined in the last two. Like I said, I joined in 2020. We had to put on an online camp, which was so incredibly challenging, but ultimately super rewarding. The community and the campers who have gone to GGRC in the past were really wanting to do it and really needed that connection, like in the middle of COVID needed something to show up to everyday. We felt like we needed to really show up for our community and for our camper base. We put on a sweet little virtual showcase, and it was a lot, a lot of fun. And then this year in 2021, we were able to meet in person, which was like such an amazing experience because my first year as a co-director was online camp, it wasn't like the real in-person thing. And my co-director Jenarchy, they said that camp is like this incredible in-person experience. You can feel the good energy, and it's just such a high of a time. And so when I was finally able to experience that in 2021, I was on cloud nine for like a week afterwards. It was so much fun to be able to engage with the kids and have the space for all of us to talk and heal and emote and be around like-minded people. So it was just such - amazing does not even begin to cover it. It was, it was absolutely incredible. So yeah, I'm super lucky.

Eleanore:

So 2020, you did a virtual program, and 2021 was more in person but I'm assuming was still modified because of COVID restrictions. What does a typical summer with Girls Rock look like?

Coral:

So typically in years past, the organization rents out a space like a school or a church, and there's like an assembly room, there's smaller rooms where band practice happens and where instrument instruction happens. And then in the assembly rooms like, we do workshops and lunchtime concerts and the, you know, the group circles. So we have these spaces where, you know, we're in tight places and it's not exactly the most COVID friendly. So this year, we had to be masked up for the whole day, which was awesome. The kids were such troopers. They had no problem at all wearing the mask all day, even performing and singing through the mask. So those are the precautions we took. Usually, I feel like in the past times, camp was really like, up close. And like, before COVID we were able to be more, you know, hands on with the things but like, we had to be really careful. We had sanitizers. So it was just little extra steps. It didn't change a whole lot. Except there was always that constant… You know, you're thinking about how can we make this safer, basically. And we were actually really lucky. No, nothing happened at camp, you know, no, COVID happened, like no, anything like that. During the camp, it was just the most secure. I'm just like, really proud of our organization for how we handled it.

Eleanore:

It's a little early to really ask this question. But are you planning any restrictions for 2022, or are you hoping to be able to go back to more normal operations?

Coral:

Well, I think now going forward, things are starting to open up a little bit more. Concerts are happening again, which is cool. So I think we're just going to have…We're just going to be - it’s more of like a mindfulness, depending on where the virus looks like this time next year, I think really depends on how we handle it. But I think that kind of security, I think will always be with us, to always make sure that we're providing a healthy and safe environment for folks.

Eleanore:

And I don't know, here's hoping maybe it'll become normalized to wear a mask if you're feeling sick.

Coral:

Exactly. I was just thinking that. I was like, you know, it's just a small thing that you could do, you know.

Eleanore:

Yeah. What events does Girls Rock usually attend or holds during off-season?

Coral:

So right now we're working on holding two events. The next two months, we want to hold an all-ages karaoke night. So usually when karaoke goes down in downtown, it's very much late night, drinks, and things like that. And we kind of want to open up that space for like, all ages folks. Like, folks who don't drink, and kind of make it like a safe, fun place to hang. Because during camp time, one day, we had karaoke, and all the campers were really jazzed to do it. And we did not have enough time to get to everybody. And so it was a crushing thing where we were like, No, I'm sorry, we can't continue karaoke. [laughs]

Eleanore:

Didn't think it would be this popular. Coral: No, I thought that they would all be terrified to get up and sing. But turns out karaoke is the great unifier. And I've always thought about it. [laughs] So we're going to do a karaoke night. And then in December, we're going to do a holiday cover show, which we're super excited about to do kind of like outdoor cover, holiday extravaganza. That sounds really fun. Where can people find you online to find out more about these events?

Coral:

People can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, our website is www.gainesvillegirlsrockcamp.com. We're trying to get more active on Tik Tok. So we'll see how that goes in the next year. [laughs]

Eleanore:

Yeah, that's where like, all the teens are hanging out now. It’s like…

Coral:

That’s where [laughs] all the youth are. Jenarchy is really, really into it. And I'm just like, I believe in you, like, go for it.

Eleanore:

Good luck to them. What sort of support would you like to see from the community, both now and going forward?

Coral:

Well, the community has always been such a huge support for us ever since the founding of the organization. The community shown out to give their support - local musicians, teachers, parents, we've had such incredible support from our community. So I think some of the conversations we're having now with our board and with our directors is talking about how can we service the community. How can we service you all and say thank you and make it more of a relationship. Because you know, we want to be putting on events that are like, you know, celebrating our diverse musical talent, we want to be putting on events that are inclusive. The community has shown up for us since day one. So we are now brainstorming and thinking of ways that we can strengthen the relationship and what we can do to give back to the community.

Eleanore:

You were going to provide us a clip to play during the episode. Could you talk a little bit about that clip?

Coral:

So the clip is the live performance of the showcase, which is the culmination of the week of camp. The campers get five days to rehearse, learn, create with their band. They come up with band names, they come up with costumes, they like, do the whole nine yards, and it's super awesome to see where their brains go. So the showcase is us celebrating their achievement at the end of the week with a live audience. And it's just such a good-vibes time. They have their coaches there, like, all of their peers and friends and family are cheering them on. It's just the most incredible conclusion to an already amazing week.

Speaker:

So this song is a - is a collaboration of lyrics from the campers. We took it all, one lyric line from each camper and we made it into one camp song. So these are their amazing lyrics and we are their backing band. We need all the campers on stage to sing it with us. [applause] Yeah, come on up. [music] [music] [applause]

Eleanore:

You give them a space where they can actually display the skills that they've worked on over the course of the camp?

Coral:

Exactly. I think it's one thing to culminate a week and be like, okay, you did the thing. GGRC like, puts them on the stage to be like, Okay, now do it. [laughs] Take everything you learned and put it out there. It's just such a good lesson in courage, and putting yourself out there and doing things that scare you, but that are ultimately in a safe and joyful place. So there really is no better place than the stage at that showcase. Like if I could perform on that stage, I would, like - [laughs] It’s the most welcoming and warm, fuzzy feeling. It's just such a good time to see them present what they've done.

Eleanore:

I think that was all the questions I had. Was there anything else you wanted to talk about today?

Coral:

Oh, I did want to talk about some upcoming programs that we are working on. Historically, GGRC has only done the summer camp, which is really great. The summer camp has occasionally run two weeks. They'll do like a Camp A and a Camp B, which is awesome. You get to service more families, more youth. But we are working with local organizations and technical companies to create and put out a training program which is for kids 16 and up, but we're designing the class so that anybody can take it. I plan on taking it because I am technically challenged in so many ways. [laughs] My co-director Jenarchy is a literal rockstar and has so much of the technical knowledge that I'm just like, in awe of them. So we are developing the curriculum together. And it's basically a three module system where you come in the first couple of days and you kind of learn about what it takes to be a part of a stage team, what it means to be a stagehand, what it means to work in a safe environment and to practice good safety measures and also like, how to plug in a guitar, how to read a stage plot. All of these lessons that are foundational to working a backstage show. There's a gap in the community. There may be like, some young musician out there who's playing open mics at like 16, 17, but then really wants to learn how to get into that world. And the way you get into that world is being exposed to it and being - and being in it, like living in it. So the training program is, you learn how to be a stagehand, be behind the scenes. And then it's a live application, like on a live stage. So like, the Bo Diddley Plaza, Music GNV, all of these live performances, the students will actually get to practice actively, which is such a cool thing. We're working on developing that curriculum, and we're gonna start promoting and accepting applications in like, the winter, like in the new year, so we're super excited to get that off the ground.

Eleanore:

That's really cool. Were there any other events you wanted to promote?

Coral:

No, I think that that's that's it for GGRC. Eleanore: That’s it? Yeah. Eleanore: Okay. Coral, thank you so much for talking with us today. The work that GGRC does sounds awesome. Yes. Thank you for asking about it. And if you really are vibing with it a lot, you can volunteer with us. We have so many volunteer opportunities. So if it's something that you're really interested in, I'm a Church of GGRC kind of person. So I'm like, come on and see what we're about. [laughs]

Eleanore:

Where can people find information about volunteering? Is there anywhere on your website?

Coral:

Usually, we put a call out for volunteering, around major events like the camp, or if we're doing something - like the training program, we'll probably make a call out for folks to help volunteer. Anybody can email us at any time to get involved. I'm always checking email, gainesvillegirlsrockcamp@gmail.com. Eleanore: Okay. Any way you can reach us, DM us through Instagram or Facebook. Like literally, we're here for it.

Eleanore:

Okay, I think that's all I had for you today. It was great to meet you. It was great to interview you. Thank you for agreeing to this today.

Coral:

You're so welcome, Eleanore. I'll talk to you really soon.

Eleanore:

See you. Have a good day. Coral: You too. Bye. [laughs] [music] Thanks for listening to Patrons & Partnerships. If you know of an individual or organization you’d like to recommend for an interview, email us at lpsfprogram@gmail.com. To listen to more episodes, find us on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Spotify. And be sure to check out the Alachua County Library on Spotify while you’re there for chill playlists to read to, hand-picked by our librarians. Storytime on the Green is back for the new year starting January 11th. Visit our site at aclib.us/storytimeonthegreen for a list of times and locations for all branches. Partnership staff hold storytimes at Smokey Bear Park

off of 15th every Thursday at 10:

30am, weather permitting, and we have a representative from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to help you sign up. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library provides preschool children with a free book every month until age 5 - if you have a child under age 5 in your household, it’s a great opportunity to encourage their love of reading. Have you heard the news? Your library card now grants you access to hoopla, a music and video streaming service with thousands of albums, comics, and movies you can enjoy on any device with the hoopla app. There's no need to place a hold - all of the content is available on demand at any time. To check it out, go to aclib.us/hoopla. Looking for a way to encourage your child’s love of science and technology? Then place a hold on one of ACLD’s STEM kits, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Gainesville. Each kit includes hands-on educational exploration of a STEM topic, with an interactive toy, book, and DVD on topics ranging from electricity to physics. Check out the full listing of kits at aclib.us/stem-kits!