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Guest Blogger – Melanie

Unique Film Opportunities

The Community Media Center (CMC) and Steepletown Neighborhood Services partnered together to implement a project called Elevating Voices. Jen VanderHeide, Elevating Voices Project Coordinator, and some of Steepletown’s staff member’s organized a week long opportunity for the Honoring Our Youth (HOY) participants. The events were scheduled for Mon. Dec. 8 – Thurs. Dec. 11 to meet for 2 hours each day. Also that week, we welcomed our December group of new HOY participants; coincidence or not? The decision to merge the two groups, and have our new participants launch into a project right away, yielded a great outcome!

On Monday, our new participants were prompted by, “What’s your story?” to generate some brainstorming about a message they wanted to share with the community. Then, they were briefed on the current Hollywood industry. Students were taught “Techniques of Interviewing” in preparation for the following day when the interviews took place. Tuesday, the students learned to use the tripod and the video camera and began directing their stories on film with some technical assistance provided by Gretchen Vinnedge from the CMC. Wednesday and Thursday were exciting days as the students crafted their masterpieces using editing software, Final Cut Pro, on MacBooks brought in by the CMC.

This project was a unique opportunity for our participants. Steepletown has had a video published in the past that shares our students’ stories,  but these four videos were written, directed, edited, and produced by pairs of participants new to Steepletown. Not only did our participants enjoy the project but it gave the staff an opportunity to see the creativeness and personalities of each individual. That’s not always something we get to experience the first week of working with new participants. To see the finished product of the four students click on their name

Barbara                      Jacob                      Jessica                      Nubia

The students were also connected with an opportunity outside of Steepletown. Gretchen invited each of our participants to join the Youth Channel of Grand Rapids and several have expressed interest in meeting with this group every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month. We look forward to these participants joining their community in sharing information that is important to them. A great big thank you is extended to the Elevating Voices through the CMC; Jen VanderHeide and Gretchen Vonnedge especially!


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