YM: The Role of Youth Media in Transforming "Our Dying Cities"

Detroit, MI has become a national icon of failure. Media coverage highlights drop-out rates, unemployment, and entrenched political dysfunction. These problems are real, and deep-rooted, and they constitute a social crisis for the city. Within this state of crisis, youth leadership has never been more important.  As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his 1967
book, *Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?*, we need to provide young people with opportunities for self-transforming, structure-transforming activities that will allow them to rebuild our dying cities.

Two programs, Detroit Future Schools (DFS) and Detroit Future Youth (DFY) use digital media arts to do just that. Working both inside and outside of schools, we are growing a network of youth, artists and educators committed to building the visionary youth leadership Detroit needs.

DFS works inside of schools to reinvent the purpose and practice of education. Rather than prepare future low-wage workers, or future professionals who will leave Detroit in order to be successful, DFS believes Detroit schools must prepare future leaders who will commit themselves to transforming their own lives and communities through social
entrepreneurship and community organizing.  DFS partners K-12 teachers with digital media artists to design the instructional practices we need to fulfill that purpose. Students produce media projects exploring essential questions that are relevant to students lives and the future of the planet, while integrating core content, and building classroom cultures based on mutual-transformation.

DFY works outside of schools, weaving a network of youth programs that focus on social justice based education and multimedia creation, who are using digital media for self and community-wide transformation. Their long-term goal is to build a city-wide youth movement that builds the future creators, problem-solvers and social change-makers Detroit needs. DFY produced a "Curriculum Mixtape," featuring workshops and media developed by each of the 12 DFY partner organizations. The USB Mixtape highlights media created by youth, with a curriculum book of accompanying lesson plans that were co-designed by youth leaders and their adult allies.

This workshop will give participants a hands-on experience of one workshop from the DFY Curriculum Mixtape. It will also include a panel presentation
that will tell the story of how a grassroots coalition launched these programs with a federal stimulus grant, and explore what each program is doing to invest in Detroit's future by building authentic youth-leadership in the present. Through this workshop, we hope to find allies engaged in youth-led, paradigm-shifting work within their cities and exchange lessons and resources with them. We will present curricula, media samples and evaluation instruments that have come from our programs.


Ammerah Saidi
Bryce Anderson-Small
Jenny Lee
Ammerah Saidi
Jenny Lee
Piper Carter
Siwatu-Salama Ra
Dakarai Carter
Rayven Roberts
Matthew Love