If You Want to Change Your Community, You Need to Know Who You Are
The sixth week of the Pathfinder Fellowship brought us to the HUB LA, which is a loft space in Downtown Los Angeles that's been redesigned into a creative work space where individuals can go and collaborate. While there, we participated in two separate workshops designed to support and expand our newly developed communication skills.
When we arrived, we were welcomed by Tani Ikeda. Tani co-founded imMEDIAte Justice, which is a community outreach program devoted to empowering young women with the tools for radical documentary filmmaking. Ikeda kicked things off with a writing exercise where we were asked to start our sentence with the prompt, "the truth is." People are usually reserved when sharing personal feelings but we have become like a family, a second family, so no one is scared to share their personal stories.
After we shared our writing prompt, we all felt strong, passionate, powerful, respected, motivated and slightly surprised because people were sharing a lot more than they did in the beginning of the program. Ikeda praised our ability to turn our truths into real raw emotions. The exercise was real, to the point that the adults even participated and got to express their feelings and emotions. Ikeda directed us to explore a second prompt, "there was a time," which forced us to go even more in depth.
We then combined excerpts of our responses into mini-monologues, like this:
The truth is I try to project my voice but get turned down.
Where my voice tries to echo yet there is no sound.
There was a time when my audience would listen.
There was a time I would travel through a tunnel until I had a clear straight vision.
We each filmed our monologues and learned how to operate all the equipment you need to make a film—like a video camera, boom mic, a slate, and lighting.
It was inspiring to know that we can communicate truthfully and open up to one another without being judged by our peers. It also felt good knowing that we have people around us that have such similar backgrounds compared to people who just complain about life's daily routines. Life is real and it's what you make of it at the end. Just like Kelly Clarkson sings, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
Our individual truths that we wrote in the morning lead to the collective truths of the group in the afternoon, which lead us into the second workshop led by Rudy Espinoza. Espinoza is the Executive Director of LURN, which is a nonprofit dedicated to building stronger communities through innovative work. Before teaching us how to address the collective truths we revealed in the morning workshop, Espinoza shared his own story. He was extremely truthful about his family history—both parents were immigrants with limited education and he was affected by abuse in his home environment. We were all inspired by his eventual achievements in education. He earned both bachelor's and master's degrees from top universities. It reminded us that no matter how dark or painful our pasts are, the future still holds promise.