Saturday, June 14, 2008

Documentary: Marnella Bingham-Mosley

My documentary is about Marnella, a woman who loves to help her community, a woman who learned from her experiences and changed, a really great person who is dedicated to make a difference in others lives, and pursues her goals towards that. So she started by changing something about her life.

I chose to present her through the light of her own words, so what is to follow are fragments of the conversation me and Sandy had with her at her office, The Courtesy Janitorial on the Alberta street.

The NE Alberta neighborhood.

Interview with Marnella

Sandy: "Portland is so small ... "

Marnella: "So very very small, and you know what? Portland is a great place to work together, where people if they really want to put a little effort into it, they can find everything that fits, you know... "

Sandy: "So you do his cards... "

In the meantime a man came to her office and took his business cards designed by Marnella.

Marnella: "My son was killed in 2003 and so I made a memorial t-shirt, and it was just a collection of pictures that I have scanned into the computer, then I made them into a collage, then he took that collage and printed on a t-shirt, and it was so nice ... it printed it in color. With the computer aid there is little that we can not reproduce if we put our minds to it. "

Sandy: "So you're good with graphics? "

Marnella: "You know what? Is not... I do a lot of things for churches, just like he does, doing books and stuff [...] allows me to get a lot of history, cause churches have a lot of history, and it gives me connection with a lot of different people [...] these pastors have these great grand ideas that they fall asleep on and wake up with, so that I was able to position [...] their ideas into graphics; so it is... it turns out well for me cause I don't have any formal training, just working with them, you know... and just starts from a root a long long time ago before computers were even into fashion. "

Marnella remembers her past and how it all started for her leading to a change.

Marnella: "My pastor was 92 years old when he died but he put every every year he was in charge with seventeen different churches in Portland, so he had every year a little convention, so we had to put together all that history, and put it back together, take pictures of the different pastors, and different churches, so it just put me in connection with a lot of different people, and from that, experiences just go on and on and on. "

For Marnella churches represent social institutions where she was doing more socializing than service, and it all played a big part in her choices and the changes she made to her life. She decided to do something that made a difference within the social framwork of churches, cause after all it was more about the service that you can provide to the people, the essence of what she was going after.

Marnella: "My pastor was 92 years old. And then he died; is ... you know... just kinda' make me have to make some choices about where I were, then my son was killed in 2003, [that] make me to have another set of choices, about who I was and what I wanna do... and churches became a very social institution, so I was doing more socializing than really doing service. So as I changed, starting to make some changes I started to think how can I be of better service to people, you know, because that's what the ministry is all about, being a service to other people, to help people. "

This is the letter Marnella received from the Governor for outstanding merits as a Youth Manager and the hard work for the Leaders Round Table.

Discussion about the Rose Scholar.

Marnella: "Last night I just found out about Caesar Rose, so I didn't really kinda' commend him, but I try to think about... "

Sandy: "I'm sorry, what was that?"

Marnella: "Caesar Rose, who the Rose Scholar was named after. Oh he wasn't a nice guy ... to me...the country in South Africa was named after him, Rhodesia; he went into the country and had the king of the country sign a document, then came in and just murdered the people and slaughter the people... cause, you know, they want resources, you know, typical of America, typical of European countries to go in and and just invade other folks' lands, strip them of their resources then go home, and think it's OK! Somebody is gotta pay for all that! "

In America there is an opportunity, cause people... But is just how our system is,you know, I had to experience my son's death, experience my own turn around and to make me realize that the way I was going was just not right.I didn't know everything, I thought I knew a lot, but when I got downtown to school I realized I didn't know everything at all, you know... Something has to wake you up! "

Sandy: "So is all these changes made you decide to go back to school?"

Marnella: "I always wanted to go back to school, for my grandmother, she died when I was nine years old, but she was the most wisest person I know. She didn't have anything but a sixth grade education, she came from Mississipi during the migration."

Marnella then talks about the influence her grandmother had on her and her cousins, and how the seeds planted at that early age proved to be a positive influence on her life, and not only hers but her cousins' also.

Marnella: "I never knew I was poor [...] never knew what poverty is all about; but she would sit on the porch, and I didn't realize it was her sixth grade education, that's all she had, she would read to us, she would encourage us to go to school; she had morals, she just had such a wisdome! So my thing was always to go to school, and always she even talked us about going on to college, and then... but she died when I was nine years old [...] But two of my cousins, who live in Alaska, both of them have Masters degree [...] One of them plays in the Alaska symphony, and she is the lead violonist, and the other one she is the national basketball (coach), she coaches for the Olympics, girls, basketball, she encourages girls to go on to college, and you know... just great things, all from a seed."

Talking about education...

Marnella: "Somebody has to set the standard for these girls, because these women...
[...]women have rights to employment, they have rights to a lot of different things, exercise them! ... you know, do not become dependant on a man!"

We talked some more, about the nature of friendship, gardening, chickens, tomatoes, the taste of the products... mundane things and community issues. I also found out we like the most the same comedy show, According to Jim; Marnella also likes to watch home decorating shows. She likes the main character of the comedy, Jim, because " he is so funny, cause he thinks he is so right, but he is so wrong." I really liked how she summed up the main character's charm...

Marnella is dedicated to help others and she is the founder of the AASF, the African American Scholarship, along with Saundra Woods.

Marnella: "Another thing I'm working on is the scholarship for African Americans who are high school seniors. This is the application, and they have to write a 500 word essay, so I'm in the process of helping a fundraiser. I had a tea at my house just recently. This is a broschure... I had a tea at my house last month, which is kind of like an old fashion thing, but I've raised $200 [...] it really worked out well."

I asked her about the logo, she said "the logo came from an artist [...] Phil Reed, he designed it and donated to us." Phil lives in the same neighborhood also, just few blocks away from Marnella's work place, or so I understood.

Marnella is a talented self-taught graphic designer, besides muchof her work for the churches she also designed the broschure and the scholarship application for AASF.

She is also interested in education from another point of view, more related to the political life of the city, especially the way the budget is administered. She sees education as a priority, and she says is going to express that in a creative manner. I'm looking forward to see her next designs.

Marnella: "My next thing I'm designing is this thing is going to say: DO WE INVEST IN EDUCATION OR DO WE INVEST IN PRISONS? We really do not have a choice..."

Phone ringing...

Marnella Bingham-Mosley is currently a PSU senior student, finishing her major in Community Development.

Visiting the Obama center and Earl's barbershop

Getting ready to visit the Obama center and few other places:

We were next to the Sisters in Action center

Visiting the Obama center was a very interesting experience. The people we talked to over there showed an entusiasm that I haven't seein in quite a long time.. it reminded me of when I was an adolescent.

The volunteers inside were helpful, and they shared some of their experinece while volunteering for the Obama campaign. An interesting thing I liked a lot were the kids drawings for the campaign... these are just drawings the kids offered to do for the campaign, while visiting their center, on their way home from school.

Another Obama drawings of the kids:

Obama for change drawing:

Pretty powerful message from the campaign slogans... that we are making a difference, each one of us:

The end of the day:

We visited Earls' barbershop and talked to him.

Sunday Barbeque at the lot - May 24th

A couple of Sundays ago, we had a meet and greet the neighbours event going on... there were signs posted, food, and people. The site attracted people from the neighborhood, and they came up and talked to us... enjoyed some of the great cookings two of the neighbours offered to help us with. By the way, the chicken and the pig grilled were so tasty! Here there are some photos from that day:

These are the signs in front of the lot:

This is Mike, he lives in the neighborhood. He also cooked a very tasty chicken on the grill... he says he'd love to open a restaurant one day.

Here is Mike's roomate, they both cooked very tasty barbeque at the lot.

Another shot of the crowd from the lot, that day.

The grill and the temporary shelter for the food.

Sandy and two of the neighbors passing by who came at the lot:

Mike's bike, he is very proud of it, and Sandy smiles back at me while pointing at the bike: