Olivia Evans Associate Producer in Spokane, Washington Youth Media Fellow
During my time with the Alliance, I have had the pleasure to dive into the realm of Youth Media, and interact with passionate leaders in the field, which is something I have always wanted to do. Youth Media is highly underrepresented and no one really knows where the hubs are located. In this Youth Media Playlist, I hope to guide and enlighten readers to a handful of strong movements for change in communities around the United States — that are happening RIGHT NOW. The importance of youth expression is not limited to what type of media that is being made, or even what the stories are about. All content that is birthed through the ideals of our young cousins, brothers, sisters, students, etc, is vital to the overall elements that make up our vibrant imaginations, cultures, beliefs, passions, hopes, and social change. These ideals are what drive our communities into a direction for the better, rather than suppress input from a large cluster of society that is not taken seriously in most spaces. I do find that it can be hard for people to stray from the societal structures, ideals, and expectations already put in place, but that is certainly not true for everyone. As a mother, I am constantly absorbed in the mind of a hyper imaginative, 4-year old. My daughter weaves through different stories, tells me her beliefs and loves, her passion towards art & her friends, and shows me how to complete tasks in a way that may be peculiar to most. That is the point of Youth Media. To absorb and teach a different side of the spectrum that facilitates beautiful artwork, expressing oneself, and healing. This is what we need to change communities in a positive way and let the voices who are not heard and typically undermined, yell from the mountain tops!
YOUTH MEDIA PLAYLIST
AJ “The Wordsmith” Scott, Bethany Montgomery, Chuck Copenspire
Power 2 the Poetry, Spokane, Washington Video
Video Link: “Poetry as Activism | Bethany Montgomery | TEDxSpokane”
EXCERPT: Power 2 the Poetry is a performing arts organization of three artists and Eastern Washington University grads, AJ “The Wordsmith” Scott, Bethany Montgomery, and Chuck Copenspire, who use spoken word to inspire change and creativity in Spokane’s youth. Bethany is the founder of the spoken word movement, which promotes freedom of expression and provides a platform for underrepresented demographics, such as LGBTQ+, people of color, youth, people with disabilities, through her advocacy work. For a year now, centered on youth outreach, they have performed at public schools and events in Spokane, and hosted poem writing workshops at local libraries, as well as open mic nights/ poetry slams. In November 2018, the fierce group raised the spirits of the audience at the Spokane TEDx Talk series at the Bing Crosby Theater. Their presentation illustrated the importance of using words, in particular poetry, in the need to accommodate self care, defeat depression – anger- & confusion, promote unity in communities, usher hope & survival, and to harness one’s energy in a healthy way. They aim to inspire and motivate their audiences to break out, be noticed, and be heard, and participate as a community because it is only through unification where we can accomplish greatness. They are known as, the “Warriors of Light,” and they are here to show YOU that your voice means EVERYTHING.
QUOTE: The purpose of Power 2 The Poetry is (from website): “To express our inner truths and feelings as a way to heal, To express academic subjects in a way that is easily absorbed, To express difficult truths and ignite others to do the same, To expose brilliance and ignite others to be brilliant, To expose people to insight, bravery, and vulnerability, To expose taboo issues and buried history for the education of all, To expose the past, presenting a future that transcends the issues of today, To ignite the passion from within and be the change we wish to see, To ignite an inner fire in our sleeping leaders who will shape the future, To ignite those in the shadows and be a beacon of hope, To ignite the voice of the unheard.”
Link to Website: https://power2thepoetry.com/
Isaiah Grant & Azaria Kates
RYSE Center, Richmond, California Video
Link: “Behind My Moves”
EXCERPT: In 2018, Azaria Kate, 17, graduated from the RYSE Advanced Media Producers Internship. Within the year, Azaria learned “the importance of storytelling, video production, and community transformation, said Gemikia Henderson, an independent filmmaker and video production coordinator at the RYSE Center. Gemikia assigned a project to dig deeper and tell a personal story. For the project, Azaria chose to express her passion for dance, which is a recurring theme in her art. It was filmed at RYSE and in part at Kennedy High School. In so doing, a piece of her that was once hidden is now present to herself and her community. The filmmaker of the short is Isaiah Grant, and they worked together to build a seamless edit. “Behind My Moves” shows the beauty of what happens when you let people see your true self.
QUOTE: “There’s more than one way of expression and young people that have watched it has gotten to know her personally and has connected to her story through their own experiences.” — Gemikia Henderson
Link to Website: https://rysecenter.org/
Student group from the Animation II Summer Camp
Austin Film Society, Austin, Texas
Video Link: “Summer @ Austin Public – Animation Creation Session II: Xyla & Lammie”
EXCERPT: In the Summer of 2018, the Austin Film Society invited kids to participate in the Animation II Summer Camp at the Austin Public. The film was made by campers who learned different animation techniques and story structures. At the end of the camp, the AFS hosted a screening event and invited families to join in as they viewed all of the student works. As each group presented, the campers discussed their process of making the animation and as a result, they reflected on what they learned throughout the week at the camp. The Animation II Summer Camp provided a great way to connect kids with media and spark conversation with their parents, peers, and teachers. Also, it shows the community the actual impact, although a short period, that storytelling and art can have on the youth and how having access to the camp allowed so much more than how to create a well done film. It required the students to create an idea that solely came from their imaginations/ personal experiences.
QUOTE: “The Austin Film Society’s mission to empower our community to make, watch and love film and creative media.” — Yolanda Gamble
Link to Website: https://www.austinfilm.org/
Appalachian Media Institute / Appalshop All Access EKY, Whitesburg, Kentucky
Link to Video: “Not Your Mamaw’s Sex Ed”
EXCERPT: Tanya Turner, a Sex Educator and native Appalachian resident, is showcased for her unique twist on Sex Education with a group of teens from her community, who may not have had the opportunity to learn in depth about their bodies and sex, and the pattern that develops not doing so. As part of the Sexy Sex Ed Initiative, Tanya has been teaching these classes for eight years. In the Spring of 2018, Tanya hosted Sexy Sex Ed workshops. These workshops were held at the Boone Youth Drop-In Center at the Appalshop. Tanya describes the need for Sex Ed classes in rural areas, and the underlying discrimination happening within these communities that leaves its habitants with little resources for sex education information, birth control options, and self care awareness. Tanya hopes to be a hub in her town in case a person is interested in learning. This lays a stepping stone into future discussions about the trivial nature of Sex Ed in Appalachian areas versus the rest of the country, which will only open up more opportunities to change this unfair cycle.
QUOTE: “Teaching a kid how to use a condom is so far down the list of the things they need,” Tanya Turner said. “The actual issue is not about lack of information—it’s about lack of safe space to talk through issues and ask questions. It’s often a lack of ability to communicate.”
Link to Website: https://www.appalshop.org/