News Release

Homeless Teens and At-Risk Young Adults Participate in 01SJ Global Festival of Art Enabled by Cisco

Bill Wilson Center residents to design digital art for public display on new "San Jose Culture Network" powered by the Cisco Digital Media System
Apr 24, 2008

SANTA CLARA, CA - April 23, 2008 - Homeless teens and at-risk young adults at Bill Wilson Center, a non-profit, community-based agency that provides counseling and support services to youth and families in Santa Clara County, will work with professional artists to develop new media artwork for the 2nd Biennial 01SJ Global Festival of Art on the Edge, June 4-8, in downtown San Jose. Festival organizer ZER01 and Visionary Festival sponsor Cisco announced today that all creative works will be displayed on a new "San Jose Culture Network" of digital signs powered by the Cisco Digital Media System technology at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center and several other locations throughout San Jose.

The young artists, ranging in age from 14 to 24, have already started attending weekly hands-on workshops staffed by new media artists and will continue their training through June 8. As part of the new "San Jose Culture Network," their artwork will be showcased across more than 20 large screen LCD displays using the Cisco Digital Media System's Digital Signage solution, which will allow for the easy management and publishing of the young artists' compelling content.

The Cisco project, developed with artist Dorit Cypis, ZER01 and Bill Wilson Center, is called We-C. The goal of We-C is to engage young adults in transitional life situations to critically look at themselves and consider how they want to be "seen" by the public, to whom they are often invisible. The artists-in-training will work in a wide array of new media art and creative media formats, including digital still cameras, live music, poetry, and the performing arts.

"Cisco has a deep and lasting commitment to use technology innovation, employee participation, and strategic social investments to build stronger and healthier communities," says Sandra Wheatley Smerdon, Community Relations at Cisco. "Working with ZER01 and We-C, we are using our digital signage technology to enrich the Festival and possibly bring hope into the lives of these teens and young adults. Through We-C, we aim to call attention to the issues facing the young adult homeless population in Santa Clara County and to illustrate the power of the human network to connect a part of the community that is often not visible." According to a Santa Clara County homeless survey in 2005, up to 1,800 people aged 25 or younger sleep on county streets on any given night.

"The young people we work with at Bill Wilson Center have lots of opportunities to discuss and analyze what has happened to them in their young lives," said Sparky Harlan, Bill Wilson Center's Executive Director. "But rarely, if ever, do they have the opportunity to use different forms of artistic expression to articulate who they are and who they want to be. ZER01 and Cisco are providing them with an amazing opportunity."

We-C will be part of the 01SJ Festival, North America's largest festival of digital arts, which is expected to attract 20,000 visitors, and feature more than 100 works from world-renowned artists and performers at the intersection of contemporary art, technology and pop culture. There are currently plans for the "San Jose Culture Network" powered by the Cisco Digital Media System to establish a permanent presence at the convention center and at other spots in downtown San Jose after the Festival ends. For more information about the Cisco Digital Media System, please go to

About Bill Wilson Center

Bill Wilson Center provides housing, education, support, and life skills to the youth and families in Santa Clara County. We also support youth and families in achieving long-term success through counseling, mentoring, and building connections to the community. We take a "no-fail" approach to help ensure success. For more information please visit

About 01SJ Global Festival of Art on the Edge

This Festival, which debuted in San Jose in 2006 under the aegis of its parent organization ZER01, will be held every other year. The five-day digital art festival, to be held June 4-8, will incorporate multimedia exhibitions, films, concerts and performances throughout downtown parks, public streets, museums, theaters and clubs. From a hip hop, multi-media meditation on Antarctica to robot art, from conversations with artificial intelligence to operatic performances of Google headlines about the environment, from avant-garde cinema to new musical forms - more than 100 works will be featured at 01SJ. Festival venues will include the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose City Hall Rotunda, The Tech Museum of Innovation, the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art, and the San Jose Convention Center. Major Festival sponsors are the City of San Jose, Cisco Systems and Adobe Systems.