Welcome to a special Youth Media edition of the Alliance eBulletin – we are excited to share with you the goals and vision of our programming in youth media and invite all members and partners into the work with us. The National Youth Media Network is a longstanding Alliance program designed to connect, support and elevate a diverse and visionary group of intergenerational media artists, youth media-focused organizations, educators, practitioners and culture workers across the country. Over the last five years, our national program was co-envisioned and co-led by Bay Area-based producers Jason Wyman and Myah Overstreet who together developed a Fellows program of youth arts leaders who reimagined how the Alliance could best serve our emerging artists and our communities and create new models for the field.
At the beginning of the pandemic, our Youth Media Network team held weekly gatherings, so members could share stories of what was happening locally and brainstorm strategies for how to respond. Our Fellows produced interactive virtual sessions and extraordinary comic zines on Being Good Ancestors, Rebuilding Systems, Redefining Normal, and Making Access Tangible – in preparation for our 2nd Annual Youth Media Virtual Summit. We gathered and curated articles, websites, books, videos, and resource guides to expand our collective thinking and discover even more connection and possibility. This work, and this group, inspired me every day of the week.
In Jason’s 2020 End-of-Year letter, he wrote:
“For the past five years, I have had the honor to tend to and care for The Alliance Youth Media Network. Looking back, I see a multi-racial, multi-gender, intergenerational, youth-centered, cross-geographic, issue-oriented, emergent, and decentralized autonomous collective that co-creates small, accessible, healing, liberatory, inquiry-initiated, art-and-story-based virtual and physical gatherings. And when I look into its future, I see a myriad directions and possibilities…it is overwhelmingly beautiful.”
Kapi’olani (Pio) Lee and Aimee Espiritu have created a model for that future. The 2021 program is called The Youth Media Leadership Workshop. Pio says, “…we believe that your story is powerful, that it is yours alone, and that what you share is meant to be shared. The Youth Media Leadership Workshop is designed to provide an intergenerational youth-centered space that supports its participants in their storytelling practice by exploring new skills and knowledge through inquiry and project-based learning. We also believe that the Youth Media field has answers (especially during these times) that others can learn from, and we will be presenting the results of our inquiry-based work at our national Youth Media Summit in July as an example of youth leadership.”
Our new Fellows will join Aimee and Pio producing the Summit – a virtual gathering designed to lift up, center, and name the spaces and places where youth and young adults create with and for each other. The Summit will be a week-long online event in July, and will feature youth-led presentations and workshops, a Leadership Lab with Aimee Espiritu, virtual roundtables that explore critical questions posed by our network members and youth artists, as well as a festival of new youth media videos, stories and multimedia produced by our members. Check out upcoming activities and the Summit agenda on the website. If you’d like to get involved, contact Pio at kapi’firstname.lastname@example.org
As we move deeper into 2021 and look towards 2022, The Alliance is building more intentional connections between the Youth Media Leadership Workshop and Arts2Work, the Innovation Studio projects, and our Exhibition and International programs. Centering the voices of youth and mentoring next generation creatives is a project for all of us.