Youth Media Sanctuary
Media Alliance presents
Youth Media Sanctuary
“Youth Media Sanctuary” is a new community arts project in North Central Troy, designed to teach multimedia skills to young people on the margins of city life and to help develop urgently needed independent local voices in our economically devastated neighborhood.
Media Alliance is partnering with the Missing Link Street Ministry (a community-based organization that runs “Feed-A-Kid” and several after-school programs in their building across the street from ours) to offer a summer youth media workshop in July- August, 2010. The summer media workshop will be followed in the 2010-2011 school year by an in-depth, sequential learning project to identify, develop and support local youth media artists and to educate them as peer-trainers over the course of six months.
The Sanctuary is located across the street from the Missing Link Street Ministry. This low-income neighborhood—still filled with beautiful brownstones, once the nation's fifth wealthiest community and the heart of the American Industrial Revolution—now struggles with poverty and abandoned buildings, health and nutrition problems, the neglect and criminalization of its residents. There is a dire need for empowering education.
Newspapers and television only report on the disasters here, such as fires, floods and murders. The media coverage of last week’s violence was predictably unenlightening—we learned more or less what happened, but not why. There is a crying need for positive—or at least honest—representations of the North Troy community, which like any other is filled with families who share good times and bad, hope and despair, and… love.
As a new initiative, “Youth Media Sanctuary” will build on the expertise and trust developed through our previous community media arts and education collaborations to create sustainable infrastructure for local youth productions in Troy.
The Youth Media Sanctuary project begins in July 2010 with a week-long camp, followed in the fall by a six-month program (meeting 5 hours each week). Students will learn how to:
• Write, shoot and edit using professional equipment and techniques.
• Create, evaluate, and teach media.
• Produce media portraits of the local community, resources and history.
In the week-long camp, approximately 30 minutes of original media will be produced. Projects will include group projects in the form of 3-5 minute documentaries and animations. Local guest artists will contribute expertise in video art and animation, poetry, dance and rap. Content will focus on the youth participants’ “points of view,” sharing their personal experience, struggles and dreams.
In the six-month peer-training program, the extended process will allow participants to fully explore media making as a creative practice. Each participant will produce their own personal video, as well as work collectively on crews to support each other’s project. They will incorporate extensive research into the project, and have the opportunity to engage with their friends and families to give voice to their community. Final individual projects, approximately 12- 28 minutes each, will include documentary, music video, animation and experimental media art. A collective introduction and conclusion to the series of videos will be produced as a group.
The primary goal of the “Youth Media Sanctuary” project is to create a corps of skilled youth media artists who can in turn train their peers, and help build the infrastructure necessary to support their work.
Though we're starting modestly with a partner in our own neighborhood, we envision decentralized production facilities throughout the Capital Region filled with youths acquiring the diverse interdisciplinary skills necessary to become distinguished independent media makers with the passion to pass their knowledge on.
The result will give voice to the local North Central Troy community, which will resonate from the local to the global.
For a sense of the material with which we’re working, please see these two short clips available online:
“Gang Life,” with Alvin Gyles. www.blip.tv/file/3504147
“Children Having Children,” with Denise Ramos. www.blip.tv/file/3504166
This project is being proposed and will be managed by Media Alliance, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. Its partners include the Missing Link Street Ministry and RPI Prof. Branda Miller.
Media Alliance, founded in 1977, moved its headquarters to North Troy in 2005 . Media Alliance is run by a six-member board of directors (all of whom are artists and educators living and working in Rensselaer County), a paid staff of three, and scores of volunteers. The budget is largely comprised of small contributions from hundreds of contributors, along with support from the NY State Council on the Arts, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Community Foundation, and other grantors .
Media Alliance owns, operates and has offices in The Sanctuary for Independent Media , a century-old former church that has been re-purposed into a telecommunications production facility dedicated to community media arts. The Sanctuary for Independent Media is a place where community-engaged interdisciplinary artists experiment with aesthetic form and challenging content, with the overarching goal of shedding light on media arts’ vital role in the process of building a democratic society. The Sanctuary for Independent Media, located at 3361 6th Avenue in North Troy, hosts screening, production and performance facilities, and arts and education training in community media and media arts.
The mission of Media Alliance is to address common needs of nonprofit organizations providing electronic media programs and services to artists, organizations and the general public in areas including, but not limited to, production, distribution, exhibition, research, preservation, appreciation, and to further development of this field. Media Alliance has a mandate to sponsor and encourage cultural, and educational activities among media organizations, artists, and the general public, by conducting research, by gathering information, by organizing and disseminating information among the membership, by effectively communicating and cooperating with organizations, independent producers, funding sources, and the general public, by responding to issues of concern to the field, by public information programs, and by administering property. Visit www.MediaSanctuary.org for more information.
The Missing Link Street Ministry, located directly across the street from The Sanctuary for Independent Media at 3370 6th Avenue, was started several years ago to address the rampant drug use and pervasive violence in the community. The ministry’s programs include Feed-a Kid, Gun Buy Back, Clean-up the Neighborhood, Anti-Violence Campaign, and a host of after-school arts & crafts and sports activities.
The founder and leader of the Missing Link Street Ministry is Pastor Willie D. Bacote, an ordained elder in the A.M.E. Zion Church.. He hopes to bring media education and communication resources to neighborhood youth, many of whom are beneficiaries of his “Feed-A-Kid” program. “The youth media program represents hope for these kids,” said Pastor Bacote.
Pastor Bacote is a graduate of Payne Theological Seminary, holds a Bachelors of Christian Ministry and a Masters of Divinity from Christian Bible College and Seminary, and is a Commissioner of Deeds for the City of Troy. The first African American to sit on the board of directors of the Lansingburgh Boys and Girls Club as well as a former commissioner for the Troy Housing Authority, he resides in Troy with his wife Gloria.
According to Pastor Bacote, “The vision of this ministry mandates that we go into the entire world preaching and teaching the Word of God to those who are still lost and caught up in whatever addictions continue to shackle them down, to develop community awareness and support to ex-offenders to help them make a positive re-entry into their communities, create and implement projects for youth to prevent their involvement in the criminal justice system.” Visit www.MissingLinkStreetMinistry.com for more information.
Branda Miller, a Professor of Media Arts in the Integrated Electronic Arts Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, brings three decades of experience in youth media, community media, media arts and education to this project. She has developed numerous media literacy and education projects using interdisciplinary electronic arts production. An Emmy Award-winning editor, Professor Miller’s course “Art, Technology and Community” connects RPI students to the Sanctuary and Missing Link.
Professor Miller will serve as Media Arts and Education Coordinator. She will work with the Media Alliance artist/educator team and Missing Link community members to ensure project completion.
In addition to Prof. Miller and the staff and volunteers at Media Alliance and the Missing Link Ministry, a number of other media education professionals and college interns will be involved in this project. This crew will be working with teenaged and young adult members of the North Central community, who will be trained in media production skills with the expectation that they themselves will continue the program by training peers.
While many others will be recruited, two young adults from the neighborhood are already involved in a pilot peer-training project at the Sanctuary:
Denise Ramos, 23, shares: “I got pregnant at 14; now I’m just trying to keep my son safe. I’d like to use media to teach young teens that are having kids now.” www.blip.tv/file/3504166
Alvin Gyles, 24, explains: “I had to learn everything on my own to survive. I want to share stories about growing up in gangs, to help my community.” www.blip.tv/file/3504147
Media Alliance artist/educators
Andrew Lynn, adjunct professor of media production at Hudson Valley Community College and past Education/Development Manager for Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s Youth Channel, has been a visionary artist/educator on the Media Alliance team for the past 5 years. He will teach weekly workshops as part of this project.
Victoria Kereszi is a media artist, educator and curator; she uses media for empowerment of girls. Founder of the "Eyebeam: Women Behind the Lens" video series, she was MNN Director of Programming, and currently works with Unseen America in Troy.
Jim de Sève, award-winning documentary director of Tying the Knot, has taught several documentary and camera workshops at the Sanctuary.
Bhawin Suchak is an educator, filmmaker and teacher at Albany Free School, and founder of Youth FX.
Ellie Markovich is a professional photo-journalist who has worked in NYC and Paris, France. Born in Brazil and now a resident of Troy, she is fluent in three languages with extensive experience producing on-the-street interviews. Ellie is currently in the MFA Program in the Arts Department at RPI. A student of Professor Miller’s “Art, Community, Technology” course, she is the lead “Artist/Educator” on the peer-training pilot project with Denise Ramos and Alvin Gyles.
Media Alliance staff and volunteers
Dr. Steve Pierce, Executive Director of Media Alliance, is a media reformer and multi-media producer, with three decades of experience in the organizational and technical implementation of telecommunications infrastructure. His PhD is from the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he is a member of the adjunct faculty.
Americorps VISTA staff, including the Media Alliance Community Outreach Coordinator and the Technology Coordinator, enhance our capacity to fulfill the mission of advancing media reform and media justice in the greater Capital Region and the economically disadvantaged communities directly surrounding the Sanctuary.
Volunteers are the hearts and brains that make this a thriving, vibrant community media arts center, and their diverse skills and expertise will help drive this project.
Interns come from several colleges in the region. They seek real-world practice to enhance their academic studies, and will help support the “Sanctuary Youth Media” project.
Teenagers and young adults from North Central Troy will learn, through media arts and interdisciplinary education grounded by real-life cultural experiences, to integrate art and independent thinking into their lives. They will combine individual and collective points of view, and develop critical independent learning and professional skills essential in the “information age.”
For those without the ability to be recognized or listened to, media-making projects at their core offer the power to be heard. Through recognition that they will truly have a personal voice, and that their voice will be heard, participants will be genuinely committed to realize their goals.
“Youth Media Sanctuary” aims to help bridge the digital divide, both in terms of immediate outcomes and as a call to the future. We hope to give voice to, and access to the voices of, a chronically under-served population—the youth of North Central Troy.
This project will connect to Media Alliance’s work toward media reform in the NY State Capital Region, creating a local base for media literacy, education and networking, and hands-on skills training, training people to produce their own media and media advocacy.
An immediate outcome will be working with the Missing Link Street Ministry to directly reach the North Central Troy communities. This will include film screenings and public activities at the Missing Link Street Ministry. Our intent is to provide the population of the Capital Region with much needed independent media resources vital to developing an involved citizenry in a democratic society. Our initial success affirms the large demand and lack of resources for citizens engaged in social change; a great need exists to connect them to networks of media activists and alternative media resources.
With voices of the most economically disadvantaged neglected, mainstream media outlets reinforce bonds of poverty through class/race stereotypes, advertisements and programming promoting poor nutrition, and a consumer lifestyle often devoid of core human values.
These personal representations of Troy can echo far beyond the city limits, calling out to the community media makers’ friends, families, and others, as well as to representatives of the institutions with which they are entwined—including the legal, educational, healthcare and penal systems.
Headquartered on the very streets where North Central youth struggle to survive, the partnership between The Sanctuary for Independent Media, the Missing Link Street Ministry, and Capital Region media artists is key.