City Stories 2012

In its fourth summer, City Stories was a hands-on camp for Indianapolis youth, run by Y-Press.

The goal was to encourage young people to tell the stories about their communities using visual images and audio. The end product were audio slide-shows that profiled businesses and organizations in the neighborhood.

Y-Press had partnered with The Indiana Partnership for Young Writers the previous summer to create Digital Profiles: A Unit of Study, a lesson plan developed by teachers for teachers based on the City Stories model.

In 2012, however, Y-Press teamed up with the Felege Hiywot Center, a gardening center in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood, for a 10-day camp. As in previous years, the first week was spent learning how to take photographs, how to collect sound using a digital recorder, how to meet and greet potential interviewees and how to write questions to tell a story. Each session was led by a Y-Press alumna/us and a seasoned editor, and had Y-Press journalists working with the smaller groups.

For this camp, Aster Bekele, the center’s director, gave us a special challenge: to tell stories that showcase the neighborhood and its food. At first, the group worried that it would be difficult to find food stories in Martindale-Brightwood, which has lost many of the gardens, restaurants and stores of years past. But the campers and counselors found many, including a combination barbecue/car wash around the corner, and a fire station staff that cooks healthier. Y-Press and Felege Hiywot staff accompanied youth in the field and provided technical support.

Y-Press journalists also held a mini-camp at the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, located on the city’s Southwest side. They helped campers produce an audio slide-show about the West Indianapolis Peace Park, a park and garden founded to commemorate local young people who lost their lives to drugs and violence. The workshop provided production training, including the minute details of editing sound.

To view all seven audio-slideshows, click here.

In both camps, counselors and campers alike not only recorded sound and took photographs, but also learned how to produce the slide-shows, using an audio editing program called Adobe Audition and slide-show software called Soundslides. Both sites were provided the equipment, and staff were training in order to continue their storytelling.

Special thanks to Freddi Jacobi and Indianapolis Star photographer Kelly Wilkinson for their photography workshops in advance and at the camps.

Both camps were funded by the Summer Youth Program Fund, a collaborative effort of local and national funders who support summer programming for Marion County youth.