The UW campus is finally starting to buzz and bustle with the arrival of fall quarter, but Comm Lead’s Scott Macklin has had anything but a sleepy summer. The Associate Director spent the past months sharing his time and media production expertise with various youth development programs—from West Seattle to Uganda—and translating their collaborations to video.
Macklin’s mentorship is founded on the principles of community-centric storytelling and “deep hanging out.” Rather than taking a prescriptive approach to teaching, Macklin empowers youth to seize upon their own stories and then equips them with the skills to tell them.
Below are the projects Macklin’s aided:
Riffing on the Dream
Inspired by the Question Bridge project, the Black Student Union (BSU) of Chief Sealth High School set out to document the voices of the school’s African American students in a film. Riffing on the Dream is formatted as a Q&A, with questions sourced from the entire student body and the respondents reflecting on their experience of blackness, prejudice and high school in the answers.
Equipped with Macklin’s multimedia instruction and filmmaker Scott Squire’s lent equipment, the BSU members spent three months (outside of class time) designing the project, selecting the questions, running the cameras, conducting interviews and tailoring the final flow of the video.
“Scott was instrumental,” said CSHS faculty Paul Fischburg, the Project Manager for the film. “He helped [the student creative team] see both the complexity of the task we were embarking on and a path that would make it possible to accomplish. In the end, Scott also did the grunt work of taking our team’s paper edits and the raw video and crunching the final product under an unrealistic time-frame.”
The film was screened to other students and faculty on the second to last day of the school year, sparking an involved follow-up discussion with the student filmmakers. Since then, Riffing on the Dream has been selected for the Social Justice Film Festival, which will take place this October.
“With Scott’s help and expertise, our Black Student Union was able to creatively and powerfully pull together the community’s voice on key issues of race in our school community,” Fischburg said. “This work will ripple out to keep the conversation going – of breaking down stereotypes and undoing racism – in our school and outward.”
AWAKEN: RecTech Youth document the Delridge Mural Project
Only three miles from Chief Sealth HS, Macklin was advising another group of enterprising young storytellers from the RecTech Youth Media Institute (YMI). Sponsored by the Seattle government, RecTech strives to overcome barriers to technology access and education with engaging youth and adult programs. This summer the YMI interns partnered with the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and Director David Bestock to document the creation of the Delridge Mural Project.
Under the direction of San Francisco mural artist Louis Chinn and local artist Sara Ferguson, Youngstown teens designed, gathered community feedback and crafted the Duwamish-inspired mural that would span a 210 foot swath of Delridge Way (an area that had been plagued by gang graffiti). And during each step of the way, the RecTech interns were there to capture their peers at work through film, photos and one-on-one interviews. Macklin helped overhaul the YMI curriculum and then aided the youth on site during production and editing.
“It’s been an engrossing, rich experience and a lot of hard work,” said Leslie Howle, the RecTech Site Lead. “We were fortunate to Scott as guest lecturer, mentor, and adviser to the project. We appreciate all of his time and expertise with advising us when planning, focusing our interviews, and shaping the direction of our story.”
The final product, titled Awaken: Building Community through Art, is a short documentary on both the environmental themes behind the mural and the positive impact its creation had on the Delridge community at large.
Capturing the Obumu Flow
Macklin’s youth mentorship spans far beyond Seattle. Last March, he and Comm Lead alum Jonathan Cunningham traveled to Kampala, Uganda to partner with the Bavubuka Foundation to create the Obumu Media Lab. There, they taught workshops for youth, dedicated to community-centric storytelling, hip-hop journalism, video-editing and entrepreneurship.
But the journey didn’t end in Africa. Upon their return, Macklin and Cunningham presented their work at the Experience Music Project’s POP Conference in April. Then in July, the two partnered with One Vibe Africa to curate a multi-media ZIWA art exhibit—replete with pieces from the Obumu Media Lab as well as from other Ugandan and Kenyan artists and youth—at the 2312 Gallery. The above video, produced by Macklin, celebrates the music of the Obumu Collective, effortlessly flowing between its multi-locational performances.
CWEST: Learning to Build, Building to Learn
For some projects, Macklin lent his videography skills directly. But even without youth behind the camera, he was still telling their story.
Career Workplace Exploration in Skilled Trades (CWEST) is an impactful, but little known program, run by the Seattle Public School district. The CWEST class invites teen participants from anywhere in the district to learn collaboration, construction and communication skills by building a group project. No prior craftsmanship experience is necessary and the classroom is linked to off-campus internship opportunities and paid work.
“Students get the satisfaction of learning something new, mastering the tools and materials, and then seeing the results in a functional piece of work that they can claim as their own,” explained CWEST teacher Richard Ely.
To improve the visibility of the program, Ely turned to Macklin. Over the course of the class, Macklin filmed and interviewed students from all over Seattle as they built a full-size ticket booth inside the Rainier Beach High School wood shop. Their process is documented above.
NDLON: Celebrating the Day Laborer Community
Macklin’s final summer project captured an age-less issue—immigration reform. At the request of organizer Xochi Flores, he traveled to LA and filmed the Seventh National Assembly of the National Day Laborers Organization Network (NDLON). This year’s theme was “Nuestra Lucha, Nuestra Voz” (Nothing About Us, Without Us). After five days of speakers, demonstrations and marches, the attendees celebrated their work with a concert, headlined by Quetzal, Cambalache, Los Jornaleros del Norte, Ceci Bastida and special guest Chuck D of Public Enemy.