Every Youth Voices installment begins with an exploration of each student's understanding of their neighborhood. Students are asked to critically examine their neighborhood on a geographical, social, and personal level. The students brainstorm ideas through several exercises that begin to build the foundation for their multimedia neighborhood stories.
For the Leimert Park Youth Voices we are implementing a condensed version of the program over the course of four Saturday workshops at KAOS Network. We've introduced the use of production notes in the form of a packet to give the students an on-going resource to document their research, explore and formulate story ideas, and help them stay on track as we move forward.
During the first workshop, the students discussed and wrote about their personal connections to the neighborhood, identified an object that links them to their neighborhood, and mapped their neighborhood. A lot of work for one session, but the students were eager to get started.
To begin recognizing the students' relationship to their neighborhood, they were asked to bring in an object that demonstrates what connects them to their community. All the students chose the masks they had made for the Day of the Ancestors, which took place in Leimert Park in June. In addition to making the masks the students took part in the festival's procession, which featured the masks as well as traditional African attire and music. The event was a collaboration between LA Commons and several local organizations.
It was clear that all the students are deeply involved with various neighborhood activities, as well as have strong opinions regarding some of the major issues affecting their community. These include the condition of Leimert Plaza Park, the on-going closing and eviction of long-time businesses, and the need to create more opportunities for young people to get involved in a variety of activities. They wrote about this in their production notes packet and shared their ideas in the larger group. As with any research done for a production, their thoughts and ideas will become the basis for the direction and theme they select for their project.
We continued this personal research into the map building component of the workshop. The students were asked to identify 10 "Hot Spots" in their neighborhood that address a variety of markers. These speak to some of the concerns the students had already voiced, so they were quick in naming their "Hot Spots" and began to lay them out as part of the personal neighborhood map. These included: Name a place that you want to see changed and why; a place that has history; a place that is no longer there; and more.
Once the students had drawn their maps they placed a second transparent layer directly on top of their map. On this layer they added description and stories based on their experiences with these "Hot Spots." Click here to see the personal maps of Anbiya, Bashiri, Carolina, Joy, and Lewa.
Once completed they shared their maps and ideas with the group, effectively creating a third layer to the maps, as each student voiced their experiences and stories. Simultaneously the others in the group began to see the similarities and differences with their own experiences, and shifted from a purely personal to a communal perspective on their neighborhood.
Stay tuned for more of the students' work as they begin the multimedia workshops and begin capturing media to develop their digital stories of Leimert Park.