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Up from the Understory: The Art of Regional Change
Creating Community by Sharing Stories of Renewal
The Art of Regional Change's (ARC) pilot community media project, Up from the Understory, explored how rural communities in the Sierra Nevada foothills go about making change to create local jobs, sustain the rivers and forests, and build a stronger sense of connection to each other and their place.
Over the course of four months, rural youth and adults from Blue Mountain area of Calaveras County came together with UC Davis scholars and students to create media about the community's history, culture, economic decline, and current renewal efforts.
Blue Mountain youth learned to produce photo essays, a blog, and short videos. They teamed up with community advocates, environmentalists, Native American leaders, small business owners, and elected officials to generate personal stories about how an area devastated from a century of boom and bust resource extraction cycles is rallying to create a new future based on collaboration and sustainable development.
Four UC Davis faculty contributed to the project blog, led a community mapping workshop, and worked with a team of university students and community leaders to make a short video that provided historical context to the youth-produced revitalization stories.
Project participants presented their work at a series of public screenings and discussions in June 2008. They are currently holding meetings and discussing how to take the project forward.
For more information and images, visit their blog or contact jesikah maria ross (ARC Director) at email@example.com.
Comments from participants:
"Participating in the ARC initiative was personally very gratifying; I have rarely felt so certain that my knowledge and the University's resources were being used in a way that made good on the UC's (and my) responsibilities to the general public."
- Mike Ziser, Professor, English
"The best thing that I got out of this project was a better sense of community. It made me feel hopeful."
- Cate Watkins, Youth Participant
"A project like this gives us older folks a wonderful opportunity to interact with young people we wouldn't otherwise know. Acting as friends and guides, we can help them to see the rich resources we have in Blue Mountain and perhaps encourage them to join us in activities that improve the quality of life for all of us here."
- Blue Mountain Public Screening Participant