Voices is a story-sharing project with audio and photography elements which will encourage youth to engage with elders. The project will help raise awareness around issues in their neighborhood, while building and strengthening intergenerational social networks. At the most basic level, storytelling is a way of keeping a family’s or a community’s stories alive. Interview topics can be tailored to address specific themes or community issues. Stories will be collected and archived as a means to create further dialogues and grow networks
Has your proposal changed due to COVID-19?
Boyle Heights Beat has been continuing with its programming virtually since stay-at-home orders were put into place in mid-March. Mentors continue to meet with students on Zoom calls and students report and conduct interviews online and by phone; writing articles focusing on the current pandemic.
To protect their safety and the safety of others, our youth reporters can begin the Voices project with elderly persons existing in their family circles and then branch outward as safety concerns are lifted.
If we are unable to conduct interviews in-person in the near future, Boyle Heights Beat will work with other non-profit organizations and churches serving the elderly communities to set up recording equipment to enable interviews to be done digitally. With the additional grant funding, we can provide organizations with laptops and WIFI connections to create storytelling spaces throughout the neighborhood.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of the future, we can focus our storytelling and reporting to highlight the changing and emerging needs of the community resulting from the quarantine and its aftermath- economic, mental, and social.
Stories will be edited, transcribed and translated as needed and aired on our podcast and published on our website and print editions. Journalist mentors and producers will work with students and outside organizations to promote and publish the content on local and national outlets.
Stories throughout the year will be gathered and archived. It is still our hope to create installations of the oral histories, either in public or online, as a means to engage the youth and elderly communities and further dialogues and grow intergenerational networks.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
City of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project?
Expand existing program
What is the need you’re responding to?
Boyle Heights is a neighborhood in the East Los Angeles area of nearly 100,000 residents. Only 5% of the population over 25 has a four-year college degree. Sixty-two percent of residents are low-income, with 62% having limited English proficiency.
Over the past decade, Boyle Heights Beat has catered to much of the neighborhood’s need for information in Spanish by producing a bilingual print newspaper, website and podcast. This need has become even more apparent during this time of the Covid-19 Pandemic, where limited information has been readily available to the Spanish speaking population, especially with the elderly population.
With many youth no longer communicating in Spanish, young and older populations are becoming further isolated from each other. Through “Voices” Boyle Heights Beat will work to build and strengthen relationships between youth and the elderly; creating dialogues and giving voice to both populations, which often are overlooked and ignored.
Why is this project important to the work of your organization?
Over the last decade, Boyle Heights Beat has a proven track record in the neighborhood and has become a source the community relies on for information and engagement. Many of the issues reported by youth journalists focus on transformative policy and systems of change.
A healthy community requires opportunities for residents to engage with each other and their leaders and a way to know their voices are heard. Through its storytelling Boyle Heights Beat provides residents these opportunities and helps influence the development of community priorities.
By training youth as community reporters and conveners, Boyle Heights Beat helps empowers them as community leaders and agents of change. Youth reporters can help train others and help both young and old tell their stories.
With our connections in the community, Boyle Heights Beat can partner with other local non-profits to publish exhibit the oral histories to create an even greater reach and deepen community connections.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?
Direct Impact: 10,000
Indirect Impact: 100,000
Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.
Direct impact includes not only participants, but our average followers on our website and social media channels. Our indirect impact includes the number of Boyle Heights residents who can benefit by increasing connections in the community.
Research shows that aging adults play critical roles in the lives of young people, especially the most vulnerable in society. The key is to change social norms to encourage relationship building between generations. This storytelling project can help cultivate a sense of purpose for both youth and the elderly, and help reduce isolation and the likelihood of depression.
Through storytelling, residents are able to connect with, uplift each other and give voice to the issues facing the community.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
From our program’s beginnings researchers at UCSF created a survey to measure our project’s success and impact. We conduct these surveys and interviews with participant’s and community members while
Carmen González, an undocumented former youth reporter, is currently attending Santa Monica City College and hosting and producing her own radio show. “Boyle Heights Beat taught me that I can give a voice to the voiceless. I’ve learned so much from my community and how to see it through different lenses. Boyle Heights Beat has given me the tools to uplift everyone’s story.”
Another former youth reporter, Ricardo Ayala, graduated from UCLA and now works a legal assistant working to help reunite families who were separated at the US/Mexico border. “Boyle Heights Beat was the beginning of my journey towards working in community work. As a journalist, documenting the reality of residents in my community, I gained valuable skills that I have been able to put into practice.”
District 14 Councilman José Huizar said, “Boyle Heights Beat has elevated and articulated a greater understanding of the issues of our day- our history, our triumphs, and our challenges.”
With the help of a LA2050 grant our storytelling project can continue to tell important stories of our community and uplift those who don’t always have a voice. With the focus of connecting youth and the elderly in the community, we hope to add more value to our mission and develop symbiotic relationships which benefit the community and its residents as a whole. Our success will be measured by the ability to both create and sustain these relationships, elevate voices and issues in the community and create a network which can be used to help advocate for those in need.
Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?
Social and emotional support
Government responsiveness to residents’ needs
Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?
LA is the best place to LEARN
LA is the best place to CREATE
LA is the healthiest place to LIVE
Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?
Access to the LA2050 community
Host public events or gatherings
Office space for meetings, events, or for staff
Capacity, including staff
Strategy assistance and implementation