Brian Lewis : Representation (& youth media)

Brian Lewis talks about making a “documentary” with youth in the TRACE program and the process of creating something in a form which is authentic to the youth voice and exposing the young people involved to the rigor of artistic process.


“The piece isn’t done, we did it for 6 weeks and we did a good job on it but it’s not finished. There is a cycle that happens. We have a product that’s good and it has a lot of questions in it and brings up a lot of good issues, and then we take it to the community and the community gives us feedback and dialogue on it and we go back and we rework it…. That’s an artistic approach.”

TRACE (Teens Re-Imagining Art, Community & Environment) is a jobs-focused teen leadership program run by the Chicago Park District’s Department of Community Recreation. The TRACE program cultivates young creative activists who seek to collaboratively understand and exercise their abilities and shared responsibility to advocate for and create change within their local and wider communities. They do this by using art processes to engage in dialogue, bridge-building and problem-solving. TRACE is a paid internship in the summer and a volunteer opportunity during the school year.

Just Like Us (Radio Documentary) feat. Cornell Square TRACErs
[audio:|titles=Just Like Us (Radio Documentary) feat. Cornell Square TRACErs]

“Here at Cornell Square Park we’ve created a radio documentary about “adultism.” Adultism is the discrimination of youth, ages 14-21 by adults. We explored this topic by raising several conversations about different forms of oppression. After coming to consensus on our topic, we started to learn about journalism and how to use a recorder. We collected interviews and ambient sounds and we also got a chance to do an audio workshop with one of the TRACE facilitators, Jayve Montgomery. Towards the end of the program we started editing and adding different ideas to make our project come together.” – TRACE youth
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Contributor Bio
Brian Lewis is an educator, emcee and activist. He grew up on the south side of Chicago and attended St. Ignatius High School. As a young person, he was a member of the performing arts ensemble Kuumba Lynx. He also was metro editor of Chicago’s Youth Communications New Expressions newspaper, a citywide publication generated by and geared toward high school students with a monthly circulation of 50,000. He was one of Youth Communication’s first high school aged students to become a paid intern with the Chicago Sun Times. He received a BA from New School University, double majoring in Education Studies and
Literature. At the New School he was advised and mentored by the late Sekou Sundiata, and took several classes with him including The America Project. He worked as the program manager for the Union Square Partnership Education Program at Washington Irving high school, coordinating all youth advisory, ESLl support, college and career counseling and after school enrichment clubs and activities. He taught Literature and Art at Christ the King College Prep High School in Chicago’s Austen neighborhood. He has worked as a teaching artist,
counselor and program facilitator for the Chicago Park District’s TRACE program. He currently lives in Brooklyn where he is a candidate for a Masters in Liberal Studies concentrating in Urban Education at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. He is also the facilities coordinator at the New York Transit Museum, the country’s largest museum for urban transportation history. He is also a fellow for the Youth Activist Youth Ally Program, helping to coordinate their restructuring process with a team of other college and graduate student fellows. He also writes, records and performs music under the alias Basik, where he is part of producer Robin Blesch’s international music project, as well as contributing music to the hip hop collective Rubix Cube.

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