International Partnerships in Bloom!

LONDON – Thanks to our partnership with Vivendi, Stephanie and I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people working with youth in Paris and now London and it has me thinking about the power of partnerships.

Last year, Reel Works was invited to become a member of the HIVE Learning Network in NYC. Hive is a Mozilla project that was founded through The MacArthur Foundation’s digital media and learning initiative to fuel collaborations between cultural organizations to create new learning pathways and innovative education practices together. Reel Works is one 39 cultural organizations working with youth in NY and we have completed two collaborations – Kickflip with CityLore – that brought together our teen filmmakers with skateboarders – and Youth Science Filmmakers, a partnership with the American Museum of Natural History. We have just begun a new collaboration – Transmedia Teens – with MOUSE, The Lamp, Radio Rookies and New School. These projects have had a huge impact on Reel Works teens but also the way we think about what we do as educators in the field of digital learning. Which is not the same as thinking of ourselves as film teachers.

20130219-192817.jpgWorking with teens for 12 years, I have seen first hand how the digital revolution has changed the way young people relate to media. When I was a teen the filmmakers like me never worked with poets, musicians, artists or computer nerds. Today, my students will make a film, create a song, write a poem, build a blog or a YouTube Channel – in one day – without seeing boundaries or borders – they experience media and creation fluidly. Youth Media folks like us need to pay attention and get out of our silos.

So, naturally I have come to Europe thinking abut international partnerships that can use the new online platforms to enable teens in Brooklyn to collaborate directly with peers in Paris, London or anywhere. What would happen if immigrant teens in NYC collaborated with immigrant teens in Paris? Or if court-involved youth in Brooklyn connected with young people in similar situations in the UK? What would they find in common? What would they learn about another culture and the meaning of citizenship? Could they make a movie using online tools? These are some of the questions we explored with the amazing folks at Forum des Images in Paris and with Catch 22 in London. I met also with the Mozilla Foundation which is setting up a HIVE UK and is creating exciting new tools, like Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker, to make these collaborations possible. Vivendi is excited to build cultural connections and understanding among the youth of the over 30 Create Joy partners they support world wide.

So, I’m coming home feeling excited about the new possibilities new technologies are making possible and opportunities that Reel Works teens can discover as they become pioneers in building and creating with youth around the world. No boundaries. No borders. No silos.

John Williams, Co Founder & Executive Director


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