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South Dallas Filmmakers List Community Concerns


by Rob Tranchin 11 Jul 2008

Not very long ago, I was invited to spend some time working with a group of teenagers from the South Dallas area enrolled in a summer program called Sight and Sound. It’s one of the programs offered by an organization called Preservation LINK, the mission statement of which begins with the sentence, “Often we speak […]

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Not very long ago, I was invited to spend some time working with a group of teenagers from the South Dallas area enrolled in a summer program called Sight and Sound. It’s one of the programs offered by an organization called Preservation LINK, the mission statement of which begins with the sentence,

“Often we speak of our youth as the future while ignoring that they are also our present.”

I love that sentence.

For two years now, David Herman, the director of the program, has offered young people a chance to use video to document and explore their community and to strengthen the bonds that hold it together. The students get the opportunity to earn four college credit hours and make money as they learn.

The theme for this summer’s program centers on “social issues,” and on the day I was there the class was asked to list the issues that concerned them most. Here is a list of the things they care about:

trash in the community, poor recreation equipment in the parks, abandoned houses, increased homelessness, drug addiction, prostitution, poor condition of the streets, gangs and violence, lack of school funding, old hand-me-down textbooks, lack of support for extra-curricular activities, child safety, public gambling (specifically violence associated with shooting dice), hazardous waste, domestic violence, random shooting, child abuse, teen pregnancy.

The list is remarkable in that the students were advised, as would-be documentarians on a tight schedule, to list only those issues that involved locations or people they knew and could easily access.

I spoke with David yesterday, and he told me that the class has decided to focus on teen pregnancy, abandoned houses, and parental awareness/child safety. Their projects are due in August.

If you go to Preservation LINK’s website and check out the gallery, you can see a photographic exhibition called Through the Eyes of Our Children. Unpretentious and straightforward, these often very moving photographs were created a few years ago and are the result of a media literacy program conducted by Preservation LINK with students from various DISD schools.

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  • Rob, thanks for sharing. The students are hard at work and your welcome to come back anytime. This Friday we will be conducting a critique of sorts based on the week’s work.

  • James Olaofe

    I think the issues the students have decided to focus on this year, as always ,are very topical, most especially the pervasive issue of abandoned houses which has the potential of further ravaging depressed communities as we’re being bombarded with the ever increasing rate of home foreclosures. It would most gratifying to see what aspect of this public malaise the students are focussing on in their projects. Several angles come to mind: Social impact of foreclosures, economic impact on the community, focus and impact on individual families, stress on social services and help givers, increased homelessness to a mention a few. As we know, a picture can tell it in a thousand words so a photographic journey through a once popular, thriving neighborhood would tell and document it in a thousand unforgettable ways !! Goodluck to the students and looking forward to the intriguing end products
    James

  • Dave Herman is doing really important work developing latent creative talents and abilities in students that have a lot to say. The students came to Dallas iMedia Network last year for a field trip and to learn some new media skills, and we absolutely fell in love with their work.

    Hopefully, we can cablecast some of their finished product on iMedia Youth Channel on Time Warner and Verizon Fios.

    Best wishes to the Sight and Sound students and to Dave Herman, a remarkable young man implementing his dream to bring incredible opportunities for self-expression to our youth – today!

    Lisa Hembry

  • I am happy to see that Mr. Herman is helping to document the life of South Dallas from the perspective of the youth. I grew up in South Dallas between 1974-2001 and I wish that I had some pictures of the real people, stories, additions and pure beauty that transpired there. I wish the Children and Staff at Sight and Sound many blessing toward their projects. Also I will offer FREE original music to any of the film makers who desire music for their pieces. You may contact me at [email protected]