The Yesler Terrace Summer Youth Media Program
The Seattle Housing Authority has committed to a fifteen-year plan for the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace. Built between 1941 and 1943, Yesler Terrace is home to 1,200 residents and represents one of the most diverse and economically challenged communities in Seattle. The majority of families in Yesler Terrace earn less then 30 percent of the cities medium income.
The Yesler Terrace Summer Youth Media Program creates a venue where teens discover their expressive voice through photography and video as a means to examine the history of Yesler Terrace, the diversity within their community, and the potential impact upon this community of the redevelopment project. In doing so, the program promotes civic engagement, community action, and builds community connections.
Inherently collaborative, the Summer Youth Media Program draws upon the experience of numerous Seattle photography, video, educational, and youth oriented programs for teens ages 13 to 18 residing at Yesler Terrace and surroundings. The seven-week summer program was developed in partnership with experienced photographic arts organizations such as Youth In Focus, Photographic Center Northwest, and the Fine Arts Department Photography Program at Seattle University. The Multimedia Resources and Training Institute further strengthens and expands the curriculum by offering instruction in video production and journalism. Based at the Yesler Community Center, students have access to the RecTech digital media lab located in the heart of their community.
The first goal of the program is to empower youth to act as community advocates. With an emphasis on individual and communal expression, this project allows students to engage with their community concerning its identity, history, and future. Students not only learn important skills in the arts and communications but also essential lessons in collaboration, teamwork, and leadership.
The second goal of the program is to teach creative and expressive communication skills through photography and video. During an extensive seven-week period, students learn digital photography, video production, digital imaging, journalism and documentary practices in interviewing, investigation, and writing. The program also focuses on creative expression through the photographic arts.
This program concentrates on the community of Yesler Terrace and Seattle’s Central District where youth violence, gang activity and juvenile incarceration are among the highest in the city. As a result, many children in the neighborhood face diminished prospects of reaching their potential as fully participating members of the community. Participants are recruited through the Yesler Terrace Learning Center, Garfield High School, The Multimedia Resources and Training Institute, Seattle Housing Authority, and the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation.
The Summer Youth Media Program at Yesler Terrace inspires youth to become the voice for their community through documentary photography and video. It connects them to community leaders and residents and encourages them to see themselves as advocates for their community. Their work will become an important archive concerning the redevelopment project for the community and the city of Seattle and will promote dialog within the community. We are committed to the creation of a sustainable program that will record the redevelopment process at Yesler Terrace and provide a direct voice from the community as the project evolves.