Friends** of TTLA Mike Blockstein and Reanne Estrada are principles of Public Matters (motto: "Creative Strategies for Civic Engagement"). Below, Blockstein tells TTLA about a recent and typically collaborative Public Matters project, "PDub Productions: Neighborhood Narratives in Historic Filipinotown":
"One of the most common questions about Los Angeles' Historic Filipinotown (Hi Fi) is: "Where is that?" An equally common question is, "Why is it called that?"
"Pdub Productions is an innovative youth media + civic engagement program in which local youth create digital content about Hi Fi to be featured on interactive Mobile Hi Fi Immigrant's Guides and on HyperCities, a UCLA-based award-winning map-based online platform that blends participatory community-driven content with scholarly analysis. Pdub Productions serves the needs of high school-aged youth in Historic Filipinotown (Hi Fi) while they in turn serve the needs of the community. "Filipinos are the largest Asian population in Los Angeles. Despite large population numbers, the Filipino community and its issues are often overlooked. Designated in 2002 to recognize its historical significance as one of the city's oldest Filipino enclaves, Hi Fi has few cultural or physical markers to indicate the area's status. The area is actually in a primarily Latino neighborhood. It is better known for its proximity to the 101 Freeway and as shortcut to downtown than as a cultural nexus. The focus of Pdub Productions is on using new media as a way to connect with, explore and promote Hi Fi's rich history and culture. "Pdub is distinctive for its breadth and depth. The project is led by the Pilipino Workers Center and Public Matters in partnership with HyperCities, UCLA Remap, the office of Council District 13, the School of Visual Arts and Humanities, and a community advisory board of community leaders, scholars, and media industry professionals. Pdub Productions engages high school-aged youth, themselves mostly recent immigrants, as documenters, researchers and storytellers. Pdub youth become experts, advocates and content producers about Historic Filipinotown. "Through the program's extensive partnerships with UCLA, local artists and media professionals, community leaders and organizations, and the local City Council office, students work in a rich environment that provides them with a sense of belonging and entitlement in the neighborhood; professional and educational models and contacts; and direct community engagement. The media they create about Hi Fi results in increased public appreciation, investment and interest in the neighborhood. "Recently Pdub Productions created four "immigrant's guides" to Historic Filipinotown in partnership with UCLA Remap using GPS-enhanced Nokia tablets to present the stories of residents and Filipino immigrants in Los Angeles from 1898 to the present. "Stories of Filipino "Fountain Pen Boys" (students sent to study in LA) in 1898-1945, Filipino Farm Workers in 1945-1965, a Latina Teen from 1965 to 2002, and a Filipina Caregiver from 2002 through today, are mixed with anecdotes, stories and contextual information presented by residents and community members. 00000176-76cf-da8e-a97f-7fdf8b730000 "These guides bring the area's unseen past and present to life while one walks around the neighborhood, through maps that provide historic, geographic and demographic information, and rich audio-visual content. Not only do the guides offer a rich historical lens onto a culture that is all-too-often silent or erased but they also address practical, everyday issues (such as how immigrants found the services they needed). "The user finds and accesses content on the tablet while walking around the physical space of the neighborhood and learning about the cultural, geographic and physical landmarks. The mobile media guides elevate the visibility of Hi Fi within the city of Los Angeles, translating into increased opportunities and resources for the community. Of equal importance is the fact that the process of creating the guides is participatory and multi-generational. This galvanizes interest within Hi Fi itself amongst community members and residents who directly contribute to the guides' contents, their conceptual framework and their deployment in the community. They are not only a source of pride, but also a greatly needed repository of the stories and value people have invested in Hi Fi."
**=Disclosure: TTLA's blogger was a volunteer adviser to Public Matters regarding the org's recent efforts to call advance media attention to the Hi Fi project's September 26, 2009 public opening and related fundraiser.
Photo credits: Top: The PWC's newly built jeepney making one of its inaugural runs through Hi Fi, on September 26.. Photo copyright and courtesy Pilipino Workers Center 2009.
Middle: Gerald Gubatan posing with a cut-out of his father Severo Gubatan whose stories are prominently featured in the Mobile Hi Fi Guides. Photo copyright and courtesy Jenn Su 2009.
Bottom: The tablet device and a map on paper. Photo copyright and courtesy Public Matters 2009.