The Empathy Project – Team

The Empathy Project is a growing community response to gun violence with many artists and organizations involved in the memorial, remembrance, and change effort.

Jane Gabrielle is a writer, songwriter and visual and performing artist.  Her work inspects the intersectionality of inward-focused creative practice, informed by ancestry and spirituality, and outer-focused visionary activism in stewardship of the Earth that engages socially with public art that encourages sustainability in the environment and personal commitment to spiritual and cultural transformation.  Gabrielle strives to create work that encourages care of the Earth and all of its inhabitants in a socially, economically and environmentally just “beloved community” as envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Gabrielle graduated Goddard College with a BFA in Socially-Engaged Art in 2022. 

Bryan “Harvest Blaque” Hancock
Bryan  “Harvest Blaque” Hancock is an actor, Slam poet and Hip-Hop Performer. Bryan works at The Jefferson Center music lab as there lead Hip-Hop studies teacher. He serves as an artist in residence at Carilion Clinic, and is currently heading Roanoke’s effort to establish a Youth Poet Laureate program. Harvest is the host/curator of the bi-weekly poetry show Soul Sessions. For 9 years, Soul Sessions has been the peaceful, creative hub for all walks of life. Soul Sessions is an open space for one to let their soul be free and their voice be heard through open mic poetry.

City of Roanoke Youth and Gang Violence Christopher Roberts coordinate efforts by various groups and agencies trying to control gun violence. He has been a coach, counselor, and advisor for young people, serving at the Roanoke Valley Juvenile Detention Center, Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, Hope Tree Family Services Cottage and as a board member of the Kirk Family YMCA. He believes that one-to-one relationships are key in addressing even the most complicated of community challenges.

Images above are by team member Jennifer Hayward, a photographer and the social media and content manager for Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Robyn Schon has been the general manager of Roanoke’s Berglund Center for 25 years. Robyn works to make Berglund Center a welcoming center all of the Roanoke community. The facility hosts sporting events, concerts, musicals, strong community traditions such as the annual Nutcracker, trade exhibits, special events, conventions and meetings. Just like the picture says, Robyn believes that love is at the heart of our community.