Brittany Viola

I was blessed to have the idea of Catalyst fall right into my lap. One afternoon, I was about to cross the street on the University of Miami campus when my boyfriend's former roommate, Jipo, jumped out of the car in front of me. It had been quite a while since I had seen him and we began to catch up. Jipo, my friend Lianne, and I ate lunch at a table in the Food Court. Somehow, my community project for Electronic Media Production came up in our conversation. I was explaining how I did not know what I was going to propose to the class. Jipo took out a small flier of this place called Catalyst from his bag. He told me that it was a unique hip-hop venue. It was a place where culture, diversity, and gender came together. It was a place where all the arts of hip-hop were expressed; graffiti, MCs, DJs, and B-boys. He told me that he knew the founder and some of the individuals that worked there, providing me with a couple of names and numbers. Soon after, I called the founder, Joel, and received some additional information. The more I heard about it, the more interesting it became. The facility was located within a church. Joel was a Christian and this was his ministry. Yet, most individuals that attended Catalyst had no religious belief. MC’s would curse during MC battles and Joel would immediately bless them, preaching God’s word. I was intrigued to witness how one roof housed such an array of individuals. I had an idea to pitch to the class!

After being designated as the Executive Producer, I knew I would have the great responsibility of bringing the final project of Catalyst together. In the beginning, the class and I visited Catalyst and taped as a team. I wanted to assist everyone in getting started by familiarizing them with the individuals they would be working with and encouraging them to make creative decisions. The audio, web, and video leaders rapidly developed a vision that has been diligently worked towards since.

My class and I were fortunate enough to experience a once in a lifetime event, the proposal of Joel and Vivian. It was such a beautiful moment that was captured only by the grace of God. I had goose bumps as I watched the entire family of Catalyst become involved in an orchestrated performance. Four plain words were written in graffiti on the back of three basic jeans jackets. Every individual in the room read the words out loud as they were presented one by one. “Marry me” was the last jacket exposed by a break-dancer who did a flip. Joel was on one knee, holding Vivian’s hand, asking her for her hand in marriage.

The Catalyst project has not been effortless or simple by any means. The team and I have run into our fair share of confrontations. However, we learned from them and pushed forward towards completing our ultimate goal. This project has taught me the importance of communication, flexibility, and time management. An astounding amount of time and dedication was put into this assignment. I want to thank my classmates; Mike, Dylan, Andrew, Molly, Matt, Tania, Eli, and Alyssa; for the respect you have given me as I have led this project. I am very proud of each and every one of you and greatly appreciate the hard work you have displayed the past three months. Thank you.

My team and I had high hopes of reproducing and sharing Catalyst as it truly is. Catalyst is a unique, inspiring, encouraging, and life-changing facility that is centered on the foundation of God. It is a home to anyone who walks through its doors. It is a place to learn, a place to grow, and a place to find purpose in life. A special thanks needs to be given to Catalyst; Joel, Vivian, Craig, Magic, Minus, Oscar, the B-boys, the MCs, the DJs, and the graffiti artists. Thank you for the opportunity to experience the biblical foundation Catalyst’s structure is built upon. I would lastly like to thank God for guiding me every step of the way in leading this project. Catalyst: Bridging the Gap has been inspired and brought together by Jesus Christ our Lord.