By the time August rolls around, Twin Citians can pick and choose among an embarrassment of (often free) cultural riches. On any given night, there’s live music or dancing in some park or another; there are likely a few outdoor film screenings and a neighborhood festival or two as well.
With so much going on, I’d like to call your attention to a modest, but worthy event that might otherwise slip your notice: participants in Saint Paul Neighborhood Network’s youth program are throwing a film festival for the community tonight, complete with free food and live music; the evening will be capped off with a 45-minute screening of shorts made in recent months by the area young people involved in SPNN’s media workshops and classes.
I love this program (and similar offerings by Minneapolis Television Network and Twin Cities Youth Media Network), because it gives local youth the necessary hands-on experience – with the specialized gear and processes of television production – to assume some creative agency in what is usually an exclusive, top-down sort of medium. The resulting programs are part and parcel of what SPNN puts on the air. In this media organization, young people’s voices matter – and their voices matter, not because they’re a desirable consumer demographic, but because they’re citizens, with a tangible present and future stake in the community of which they’re a part. What’s more, for these programs SPNN actively recruits youth too often marginalized in our civic conversations – seeking out kids from low-income or new immigrant families, youth of color or who are differently abled, or GLBT youth.
And because these young people are given the know-how, confidence and control of the means of media production, the rest of us have the privilege of access to each of their distinct, and heretofore unseen views on the world: what they see and hear and worry about, what they love and value. And I think that’s well worth a night out with the family on this lovely August Monday night.
Munchies, Movies & Music – an SPNN Youth Film Festival will take place from Monday, August 13 from 7-9 p.m. in Downtown’s Mears Park, 221 E. 5th St., St. Paul. For more information about this and other SPNN Youth offerings, visit www.spnn.org/youth.