Reframing violence in Chicago through youth-led storytelling

KOCO Youth Map issues related to violence in their communityThe stories we share and tell one another make a big impact on how we see and respond to the world around us.

Most of us only read stories about violence in Chicago, but for some young people, they see it happening in their neighborhoods.

Its a hard thing to tackle a topic like violence and find solutions to end it, especially when their communities receive fewer economic and social resources to make real impact.

The issues and circumstances could make anyone feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Some people think that this is how it always was and how it will always be.

But our friends at the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) disagree. They know that engaging with neighborhood residents to identify key issues and including them in the process of planning, training and organizing, KOCO makes big progress on major issues like violence.

For the past several years, theyve successfully waged campaigns addressing youth empowerment, housing and education. Theyve most recently been involved in campaigns challenging the city on school closures and trauma centers in the south side as well as addressing the socio-economic pressures of food deserts such as the lack of fresh and healthy food options.

KOCO asked us to help develop a summer youth media program to deepen young peoples analysis of violence in the community through media creation and story-based strategy. Were hoping that these stories will help reframe the issue of violence in Chicago and mobilize more organizations and individuals to move toward real, positive change. In the process, weve been developing a toolkit for other communities to use to engage the public through storytelling and social media.

Were also collaborating with the Chicago Youth Service Projects igniTech program, where weve taken on two out-of-school youth to work with us at our studio, learn more about technology, and assist us in implementing the program at KOCO.

So far, weve learned so much from the youth weve been working with at KOCO. Weve learned that violence in their community isnt just gun violence, though it is often framed that way.

Violence is also being isolated from the rest of the city or not having the proper resources for economic empowerment to live healthy and productive lives.

Violence is seeing their schools close.

Violence is seeing their families and friends loose their homes.

Violence is not getting the help they need when they are afraid or depressed.


KOCO Youth summer program

At LimeRed Studio, we cant promise that we can end the violence. Thats a tall order and no one organization is going to be able to do it alone. But were doing our best to contribute our problem solving skills, communication design expertise and volunteering our time to work with communities who are trying to end it.

KOCO is one of them. Well be posting more insights, youth media projects and findings as we help roll out the program this summer. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out KOCO, and igniTech Chicago at Youth Service Project??or contact us??to see how you can help.

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