Green Lifestyle

Published on December 2nd, 2013 | by Guest Contributor

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Bring Young Filmmaking into Your Community

It’s not just sugar and rainbows in the New York City Bronx neighborhood, says one young high-school student in a promo for the MyBlockNYC Education Program. MyBlockNYC aims to provide funding to help teach 1,000 New York City teens the art of video making and the medium as a form of expression.

The group recently hosted a fundraiser on Indiegogo (now closed) with the hopes of exposing the reality of NYC life. Their campaign on Indiegogo raised nearly $10,000 of their $12,500 goal.

Outsiders tend to think of Americans and New Yorkers in particular as privileged people. But one side of the MyBlockNYC program exposes the true reality to what’s happening on the streets and the lives of youngsters. The current round of funding is expected to give rise to 200 documentary films, some which may be aired on national television.

“MyBlockNYC offers teenagers a unique opportunity to tell a story and voice their experiences. It frees them from academic constraints and allows them to be imaginative, individualistic, and genuinely express themselves,” says Sandra Cruz a technology teacher at Thomas Edison CTE High School in Queens.

While video becomes the dominant form of global communication, most NYC public schools cannot afford a video literacy program for their students, MyBlockNYC funders argue. They aim to provide the resources so that anyone, regardless of economic background, can learn how to use video to express themselves. Making movies isn’t just about pointing a camera phone at a friend and posting it on YouTube.

Check out some examples for yourself: one of the past student films A Tragedy in the Murphy House is about a 70 year old stabbed in the apartment building of one of the young filmmakers. On a brighter note, this film called The Thing can help restore a little faith in humanity.

Pulling it all together will be a new archival and indexing system called Camra. The MyBlockNYC website already has searchable videos overlaid on a map of NYC so you can see where the films are being made. But it’s not just this program that aims to make cities and societies more sustainable and transparent, using film. The New York based New York Film Academy (NYFA) is an award winning professional film school that also gives professional training to young African filmmakers, in countries like Nigeria. And in a not-so-shabby result, one of the NYFA “trainees” recently grabbed a couple of Oscars.

With so much on YouTube as uncensored “cat” videos, or unlicensed copy infringed content, the MyBlockNYC and other city projects for film give an alternative “take” on using film as a medium for expression, and helping people see fresh angles of their city. I would love to see more NGOs and film schools doing more of this in around the world, to feature the storied lives of citizens around the world, especially those for whom religious or political reasons need to keep their mouth shut.

Karin Kloosterman is a sustainability professional at Green Prophet, based in Israel. I met her on a recent Kinetis trip to cover all the great sustainability innovations happening there. 





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