Another Year of Summer Institute and Youth Media

Next week I’ll be rejoining Youth Rights Media for their summer institute program, a “five-week long youth employment program designed to give YRM Interns hands-on work experience in community organizing and media making in order to build their sense of power, leadership capacity and commitment to generating community change.” If it sounds awesome, it’s because it is. Participants basically experience a highly accelerated version of the programming available throughout the year, which includes video production, audio engineering, basic media literacy and research skills in order to address social issues in their community.

Last year when I helped facilitate the program, I was leaning towards youth media as a research agenda. I actually put together a media literacy curriculum with the expectation that I would be working as an artist/instructor during the fall and spring. However, due to lack of funding and participation, we had to shelf those materials. In the following months I was fortunate enough to meet danah boyd, when my advisor brought her into a class I was in. Her ethnographic work on youth and myspace as well as the collaboration with Mizuko Ito and others “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out”  was very influential at the time – PAR methodology focused on youth demographics following the drumbeats of Henry Jenkins and others was very enticing. But the fact that my proposed class never came to be led my attention elsewhere, and so there was a lot of work and thought I sort of left where it was last year.

At the same time, I’m currently busy preparing for semi-structured interviews for the final research work on my thesis, rewriting the paper I presented in May for an anthology, and worst of all… brushing up on my math for the GRE. Believe it or not, qualitative methodologies do not exactly keep your arithmetic sharp (which is pretty embarrassing since I want to apply to programs this fall).

At the same time, IDC is going on right now and the media I’ve seen coming out of it looks great! I almost submitted something for a workshop based off of the public art project I did with YRM awhile back, but I didn’t for two reasons – one, I felt like I needed a break at the time, and two, for the reasons I mentioned above. Youth media is a very cool and exciting focus area in media studies, and I think there’s a lot of work to do. But I’ve felt like my work has taken me away from it… maybe Summer Institute will reinvigorate my interest!

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