Short Talk Panel YM: Youth Organizing, Guerilla Media, and Critical Consciousness

From the Bottom Up: Using Media to Inspire, Education and Activate
Presenters: Joanna Marinova, Marvin Brow, Angie Emmanuella
In an environment where youth are boxed in by arbitrary limits on their curiosity and creativity, media can reignite their imagination and opens the door to endless possibilities. Too many have been anesthetized by their education and have stopped asking questions and thinking critically about the world around them.  Press Pass TV is an award-winning organization that harnesses the power of media to provide meaningful education and a tool for organizing to youth living in underserved neighborhoods.  We transform reactionary violence with creative self-expression and empower communities to find shared solutions. We do this by teach life-sustaining technical skills that can brake the cycle of poverty many of our young people face.

Join us for a case study of how we have created a unique partnership-based model that works with young people to support various movements around the New England Area.  These grassroots movements have successfully taken on transportation rights, immigration justice and environmental pollution. We will examine past victories and current battles around reducing the violence and creating a just and fair educational system.  We will look at models using citizens journalism and more creative "edutainment" approaches.

In addition, we will examine some of the political barriers and difficulties and backlash some of our youth organizers have experiences doing this work. We will share best practices on how youth can be awakened from being passive consumers displaying high levels of learned helplessness, to active participants, contributors and builders of their future.

Guerilla Media: Teaching Social Justice Media Tools at LA CAUSA Youth Build Charter High School in East Los Angeles
Presenter: Alexandrina Agloro
For two years, University of Southern California Ph.D. student Alexandrina Agloro has collaborated with staff and students at LA CAUSA Charter High School to teach media skills classes. LA CAUSA, which stands for Los Angeles Communities Advocating for Unity, Social Justice, and Action, is a diploma-granting high school for students in East Los Angeles who have been previously pushed out of the school system (considered “dropouts”) and are returning to school to earn their degree. East Los Angeles has a 94% Latino population, and the school reflects this demographic. In 2011, the Social Justice Media Tools course brought together students, staff, and the Ph.D. student to collaboratively design a digital media curriculum where students kept blog-style digital portfolios of their work. Additionally, the students critiqued the structure and content of each class in a wiki, which ultimately led to the students re-imagining and re-designing the curriculum at the end of the semester. In 2012, using the student re-designed curriculum, a new group of LA CAUSA students chose social justice topics that were the focus of their digital portfolios. Sample topics included: sex education, immigration, child abuse, food deserts, police brutality, neighborhood gang violence, and social justice through music. Projects included interviews, multimedia presentations, and remix video making. The focus of the course was to use free available software to design portfolios that crafted a message about relevant social justice topics from a young person’s point of view.  

In this talk, we propose to showcase a few digital portfolios created by LA CAUSA students, and have Tony Bautista (Sustainability Director at LA CAUSA) and Alexandrina discuss what it’s like to work in a university/community organization partnership. We plan to bring a few students from LA CAUSA to the conference where they will be able to present their projects and discuss their experiences in the course.

Los Angeles Communities Advocating for Unity, Social Justice, and Action (LA CAUSA) engages historically disenfranchised young people and their families from East Los Angeles to take action against the injustices that impact low-income communities of color. LA CAUSA fosters a commitment to social justice and nurtures a variety of skills necessary to act as agents of resistance and community transformation. LA CAUSA fulfills this commitment through the creation of an inclusive and supportive community where we utilize culturally relevant instruction within our educational, vocational, housing and leadership development programs.  For more information, visit: http://

Youth Organizing and Media - A National Field Scan
Presenters: Christine Schweidler, Meghan McDermott, Teresa Basilio
In 2011-2012, Global Action Project ( and DataCenter ( conducted a national research project that sought to understand how youth organizers are using media to advance social justice work and movement-building work throughout the United States. In this session we propose to present the findings of this national study.

While many studies have assessed the impact of media on youth or how youth use media in general, few have explored how young people use media to effect change. Our research documents how and why youth organizers are using media for organizing, framing community stories, and conducting media analysis. We sought also to understand the role that media making and media analysis played in deepening the political engagement of youth. In addition to examining media use by youth organizers, we also identified trends, needs, and challenges to integrating media into advocacy and organizing efforts led by young people involved in immigrant justice, educational justice, gender justice struggles and other social justice struggles. The project captures how youth are integrating media in new ways, yet also face significant barriers and gaps. For example, key research questions focused on identifying new media practices among youth organizers, identifying successful strategies, identifying supports for media production and analysis to strengthen political education, leadership and deepen engagement, and to capture critical stories that reflect struggles and efforts educational, immigrant and racial justice struggles and efforts across the country.

Participants will hear about: a) the media needs (i.e., analytical, creative, and technical) of youth organizers working across issues nationally; b) trends, practices and barriers that must be identified and addressed; c) the role of media in youth movement building and engagement; and d) what has shifted in the landscape of media and organizing.

Our research findings will contribute to an informed dialogue about the media needs of youth organizers by moving beyond simple access towards deeper engagement in analysis, storytelling, political education, and leadership. We hope this data will support youth, organizers, practitioners and allies to understand, as well as generate new ways to respond to/increase the scale and impact of youth-led work on the ground. We hope to share our findings with the DML community, and ultimately with organizers, funders, and movement-building allies seeking new knowledge on cross-disciplinary methods and opportunities for media analysis and production as a strategy of deeper youth engagement.

Joanna Marinova
Marvin Brow
Angie Emmanuella
Alexandrina Agloro
Christine Schweidler
Meghan McDermott
Teresa Basilio