Co-Creation, Collaboration and the Making of The Issue

Co-Creation, Collaboration and the Making of The Issue

By Jason Wyman with input by Open Signal, Free Spirit Media / The Real Chi, Austin Public / Austin Film Society, and Orange County Public Library

In January 2018, The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture published the first issue of  The Issue, a new intergenerational arts and culture magazine. With the tagline “designed to inspire a future where all belong,” the magazine brings together unique voices, images and perspectives in a powerful collection of stories about identity, art, and community. Each piece in the first issue of The Issue emerged through a series of intentional, co-creative collaborations between the contributors and our editorial team, led by Editor Myah Overstreet.

The second issue of The Issue (coming October 2018) represents a network of Alliance partnerships:  with Open Signal in Portland, Oregon, Free Spirit Media / The Real Chi in Chicago, Illinois, Austin Public / Austin Film Society in Austin, Texas, and the Orange County Public Library in Hillsborough, North Carolina. The editorial process includes group video calls that provide a space for youth media leaders and practitioners to share work in progress, deepen relationships, and learn about collaborative distribution, curation and intellectual property. This process is deeply embedded in the identity and culture of the magazine and is intended to disrupt a traditional call-for-submissions process.

On Friday, April 20, 2018, The Alliance hosted a video conference for our Youth Media network with Bay Area artist and educator Anna Maria Luera called Personal Narrative and Storytelling. Anna Maria emphasized the idea that for the most powerful personal narratives to emerge, the conditions to safely share those stories must be planned and cultivated with intention. This became a central theme that spurred a deep conversation about agency and creative responsibility. Inspired by this idea, we began to identify some shared practices that would characterize our emergent creative process, group practice and editorial vision for The Issue:

  • Build community through teamwork and safe space: collective group agreements, flexible boundaries, engaging and inclusive activities.
  • Deploy mindmapping (with technology like Coggle) as a tool and strategy for co-creation, non-linear story development, and generation of visual elements.
  • Create opportunities for anonymity in the feedback process through forums, sticky notes and online boards.
  • Use objects to prompt and inspire expansive imagination and abstraction. Stretch the possibilities of storytelling.
  • Rely on questioning and active listening as a framework to build trust, unlock memories and identify core narratives.

Check out the first issue of The Issue here.  Join the Alliance today to support Youth Media Collective Action and the national Youth Media Network — the next generation of creative storytellers.

Jason Wyman is a social practice artist in San Francisco; they co-lead the Youth Media Initiative for The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture.