Creative Placemaking: Youth Media and Environmental Stewardship

Participatory media workshops integrate interdisciplinary arts practice and environmental science. Focus is on the collaboration between youth media makers and trans-disciplinary mentors, including documentary makers and media educators, historians and scientists, journalists and poets, photographers and painters, “bio-artists” and community networks.

Diversity is critical for program goals, especially based in economically disadvantaged, long neglected neighborhoods with little voice or power. The honoring of a holistic process — from idea development to pre-production, production to post-production, and ever increasingly important, social media as a tool — viewers to awareness, engagement and action.

Participatory action research and media practice forms a foundation, which begins with building trust in the quest for truth and justice, balancing practice and product, intertwining artistic and professional excellence. Special attention is given to the role of technology in aesthetic form and persuasive content. Designs are created to tap on all participants’ strengths and desire to learn and grow in new ways, strategically formulating a powerful network of talents and expertise to the collective as well as individual process necessary for the most in-tune creative eco-system.

A key challenge and goal is to develop leadership, sustainability and change in our youth media programs. Towards this goal, youth return in following years as media mentors for their colleagues, shifting the power of engagement and education to advanced youth participation. We are exploring the integration of youth media education with fighting racial inequities and environmental stewardship, integrating arts education to focus on critical thinking and independent leadership skills.

Echoes from Lock One

From July 11-August 11, North Troy produced a multimedia documentary on the legacy of the Erie Canal in one of NY’s most economically challenged and environmentally devastated neighborhoods, highlighting the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal.  Created by Youth Media Sanctuary producers in The Sanctuary for Independent Media’s “Uptown Summer 2017” program, stories intertwine art and science to connect history and heritage with contemporary life. Funded by grants from Regional Economic Development Corporation and New York State Council of the Arts, and National Endowment of the Arts, Art Works.

In collaboration with diverse organizations, schools and community programs, “Echoes from Lock One” transforms negative stereotypes of our economically disadvantaged and environmentally devastated neighborhood of Census Tract 404 in North Troy into compelling messages of hope and transformation. Intertwining frames of art, science, and history, youth were researchers, artists and medimakers. Based on their research, expert guidance, and artistic interactive workshops, the youth will compiled narratives. The process of producing the media includes vast community engagement and the sharing of personal journeys. “Echoes from Lock One” transforms the present negative stereotypes of economically-disadvantaged, environmentally-devastated North Troy, NY into a new vision showcasing the riches of an area alive with artistic, cultural, educational and social assets, especially the power of youth voices.

As our youth media makers immersed themselves in production, they also worked with scientists to test the Hudson for antibiotic resistant organisms, experienced boat rides, created aquariums for regional fish, visited regional historical sites, compiled scrapbooks and research logs, and added their stories to the Hudson River’s legacy.

This collaborative documentary shares historical and present stories of North Central Troy in relation to the Erie Canal. The experimental documentary will feature diverse techniques including a portraits of youth’s experience growing up a couple blocks away from Lock One, historical vignettes, painterly landscapes of the river, scrapbooking and visual and aural collage.  Historical influences include Thomas Cole’s “Course of an Empire” series of prophetic paintings,  Melville, Blake and others. In collaboration with Rensselaer County HYouth will create educational signage for the neighborhood to spread what they have learned about our Hudson River Estuary Historical Society, we will expand perspectives on Erie Canal history through lived history.  

Urban Art Reclamations: Our Upper Hudson Heritage

“Building on Eco-Displacement” with Brandon Ballengée

Our program NATURE Lab (North Troy Art, Technology and Urban Research in Ecology) uses media and interdisciplinary arts as a seed to reclaim public space and build community.  Situated on a neglected block in Troy, NY, along the northern shores of the Hudson River Estuary, this living learning laboratory engages networks of artists and scientists, media makers and gardeners, community organizers and neighbors in collective actions stimulating environmental health and sustainability. Youth workshops are intergrated with NATURE Lab Artist Residencies and workshops, in collaboration with scientists, bio-artists, and other environmental justice enthusiasts.

As a biologist and artist, Ballenge created environmental at and public field trips for “ecosystem activism.” Brandon participated in workshops during Uptown Summer 017 working with local youth. Bio artist Brandon Ballengee offered workshops about “ecosystem activism,” seining at Ingalls Avenue Boat Launch, studying mutated fish under microscopes, and building a prototype for a web lab with aquariums featuring fish from our Hudson River Estuary. Youth will create educational signage for the neighborhood to spread what they have learned about our Hudson River Estuary. Averill Park HS Science teacher Darlene Hunter joined in, to test the water in the Hudson River for antibiotic resistant organisms. We developed a permanent exhibition of these results of these workshops. Funded by NEA Art Works “Urban Art Reclamations: Our Upper Hudson Heritage,” DEC Hudson River Estuary Grant: Troy Citizen Science Center, “Teaching Environmental Stewardship,” funded by DEC Environmental Justice. Environmental Stewards: Antibiotic Resistant Water Testing in Hudson River, Funded by Bender Science Foundation.

Stay Informed

Sign up with your e-mail address to keep up to date with events, workshops and other announcements from The Sanctuary.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Don’t worry, we ❤️ privacy and won’t sell your information, ever—and you may unsubscribe at any time.

About The Sanctuary

We use art and participatory action to promote social and environmental justice and freedom of creative expression.

Learn More