This is a call and response led by Tony Jordan that brings youth from all over Savannah, and from all walks of life, together under his guidance. Hip hop is the beat that brings together the work of All Walks of Life (AWOL) Inc., a non-profit in Savannah, Georgia dedicated to the success of youth in the greater Savannah area.
Tony founded AWOL with other artists in the area. "I started seeing something that... in terms of energy, we could maybe evolve in the community," shared Tony, reminiscing about AWOL's early days.
Before AWOL, Tony worked as a parole officer, and saw there were not many options for the youth he worked with. He created AWOL in response to that need. Many of the students from AWOL are compelled to attend by different youth programs or because they are identified as youth that might be at risk. The program has grown to encompass its namesake, and embraces youth from all walks of life.
AWOL runs project-based programs in theater and performing arts, music recording, film and photography, and computer recycling. "The mission then and today is to promote and provide the youth support through hip hop and life." Projects rotate and give participants the opportunity to showcase the craft they are developing.
The theater and performing arts has produced several successful interpretations of Shakespeare, mixing the classic literature and hip-hop. The music recording project develops an album that they release after completion, and the film and photography participants are given Flip cameras to create and share on their own cinematic productions.
The computer-recycling program teaches youths how to fix old computers, and then gives the computers to individuals in Savannah's low-income housing. It is this program that Tony is particularly proud of, both for the valuable skills the participants learn and for the value that they give to their community.
"I wanted to be creative, cool and hip, and maintain the hip-hop code and things of that nature." Tony considers himself a positive product of the hip-hop culture, and it is something he is proud of despite the bad press the genre often gets. "I don't want to make it sound like I'm one sided in my views, but I think we focus too much on the negative aspects of hip hop and don't show enough of the positive aspects."