Learning Action Buffet offers positive energy for those who want to get creative
Written by Cassie McClure
Photography courtesy LAB and by Cassie McClure
Las Crucens have a new space to express themselves creatively. The Learning Action Buffet, better known as LAB, is a non-profit organization which strives to be a creative hub where participants young and old can pursue life goals while investing positive energy in the community.
LAB uses a three-pronged approach to creating that space for youth: creating art that can be heard, seen, touched, eaten or worn; expressing communication in their own ways; and action that makes a positive difference. The LAB team is an intergenerational mix of artists, educators, social service providers, creative media technicians, musicians, and social justice advocates.
Lamaia Vaughn, President of the LAB Board and a faculty member with the Dona Ana Community College Creative Media Technology Program, explains that the mission is simple: “They should have fun doing good things.” LAB’s longer mission has four goals: to advance fairness, to create community cohesion, to foster the exploration of interests, and to incubate entrepreneurship.
Using space at DACC, LAB members work on their Youth Career Development Radio Project, producing a radio show that airs on KTAL 101.5 on Saturdays at noon. At a recent meeting, LAB members Kellin Acree, Kobe Teal, and Annie Quintana went into a separate room to record. Kobe did the interview with Annie while Kellin listened for sound quality.
For the radio show, students interview each other and feature local bands, artists, and filmmakers, along with spoken word and short stories. They also feature a calendar of events and a segment on health and wellness. They seek out stories to practice their interviewing and mixing skills.
“Kobe wanted to do this podcast, and was shy, but we empowered him to do this,” Lamaia says. “Now with writing script coming every Wednesday afternoon, he’s getting more comfortable.”
Kobe agrees, “I want to be able to assist Kellin who already knew so much.”
Kellin, who had already taken classes at DACC and had a background in producing music, has happily been guiding the radio show with the other LAB members. “I love collaborating and working with people, especially when it comes to kids and I know it’s our future,” Kellin says. “Without communication and trust, nothing is going to grow and if we can teach kids that at an early age, instead of being competitive they can build camaraderie. Then we can see the change.”
LAB also has pop up events integrating on-going projects, like the Happy Canvas tapestry that members and public participants are welcome to decorate answering the question, “What does your heart beat 4?” The tapestry will come together like a quilt and be routinely taken to events that LAB hosts or displayed somewhere in Las Cruces.
Another project, called “We got it,” explores the therapeutic benefits of hand drumming while increasing team building skills. Music is a common theme at the Wednesday meeting. Annie explains that while students in Las Cruces may have access to music in schools, the type of music tends to stay very regimented. LAB gives a bit more freedom to explore other instruments and styles.
“For sure, I grew up here and there’s not a lot to do, especially artistic things,” she notes. “The city has spaces for physical activity, but this is a space to just talk about whatever is going on in our lives.”
Annie’s mother, Judith Quintana, is a board member. “I liked the mission, especially for kids in or coming out of high school. If you choose not to ‘party,’ there’s not a whole lot for kids to do,” she says. “There’s not really a place for them to communicate in a safe and tolerant way. LAB gives kids in Las Cruces a place to be thoughtful and kind and creative and safe.”
If you’re interested in joining or helping out email: firstname.lastname@example.org or go their Facebook page: facebook.com/LearningActionBuffet. LAB students are actively seeking original music, spoken word, short stories and monologues to be aired on their radio show. To see them in person, the LAB team will be at Salud! De Mesilla on July 11 for their summer fundraiser and will give a presentation about their organization at DACC on July 27.