With our 28 eighth grade podcasters at Vaughn next Century Learning Institute, we've explored the story of Pacoima and compared it to the story often told of this community by the media: poverty, gangs, pollution. But Pacoima is not a single story.
In our first week, we put up a large basic map of Pacoima. We talked about the what the stereo types of Pacoima are. What is true? What is not? What is missing from the story?
Then the students wrote down memories good and bad, important people or places or events on post- it notes. They then placed those notes on the map. The black and white map quickly became a colorful collage, illustrating the point that a place is defined by the people that live there. The details of experience create many different versions of the same place.
As we learned in one of our lessons watching Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
Our youth podcasters set out to tell the story of Pacoima in a different way. By talking about what they've observed, and what interests them. The complexity of their ideas fills in the missing story. Who are these kids? What are they like outside of the single story we hear of the challenges they face? Well...you'll have to tune in and listen!
We celebrated what we've learned and pumped ourselves up for the production half of the program by visiting The Gr818ers at their new space Unite Cultural Center. We talked, and danced, and ate empanadas. Originally from Pacoima, the founders of the Gr818ers, Eric and Lorenzo Chapman, and Pierre Areola , teach their message that your challenges are your power through Hip Hop dance workshops and art.
Stay tuned for the first youth led episode of Changing the Narrative Pacoima! My things come and go so quickly here!
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Changing the Narrative Pacoima is made possible by a generous grant by The California Arts Council a California state agency. To learn more go to arts.ca.gov Thanks!
Now we get to work!!