Civic Life Online:learning How Digital Media Can Engage Youth

The latest in our ongoing discussions on how digital media can engage youth from our area and around the world.

Civic Life Online:learning How Digital Media Can Engage Youth

Before going digital-focused, I lived in the cultural and media capital of Philadelphia – New York City. I enjoyed and was grateful for the diversity of institutions, people, and ideas I encountered. When I moved to Dallas, I was disappointed to see just how little cultural offerings met my needs and aspirations for my young son. With two new young kids, and a lot of catching up to do, it was obvious that digital media was important to sustain and grow a family.

Minority media creators and content providers work with the local economy

There’s no doubt that vibrant cultures are also vibrant economies and entrepreneurial opportunities. Cities with thriving cultural spaces attract more tourists and residents, and attract creative talent in the form of writers, actors, filmmakers, and music producers. Dallas has successfully attracted artists who can help the city become the first “film city” in the Lone Star State and attract more award-winning films to the city.

Dallas is a historic home of narrative and high school drama programs, particularly in the black community. DFW Independent High School Drama Programs partner with local and national Hollywood talent to celebrate diversity and social justice through the production of first- and second-year drama classes at Dallas Independent School District. The drama program is at the top of their game – alumnae include Halle Berry, Monica Potter, Leona Lewis, Taye Diggs, Rosario Dawson, Sanaa Lathan, and Academy Award winning actor Forest Whitaker.

In the area of fiction, Dallas is gaining momentum with authors like Mark Douglas, Elmore Leonard, and Romelle Domburg. Our community also has generations of good fiction fiction writers and has been a literary hub throughout the South and Southwest – more than 2,000 bookstores and libraries along the Texas-Oklahoma border, where Dallas joins the chain of over 2,000 local book stores and libraries. Dallas Local news is a vibrant culture site that connects the art world with the daily life of Dallas citizens. The Dallas Morning News explains the historical and current political landscape in Dallas. Recently, digital and mobile media have become much more versatile and enhanced the creativity and power of storytelling.

The quality of content is more important than delivery

Content delivery matters, but it’s not all that matters. In this case, quality matters, and quality wins. While the issue with distribution and quality is clearly evident in Dallas, the quality is also apparent in the writing of Dallas-based writers, many of whom are hosting panels in Dallas in solidarity with the Women’s March. Here’s the power of quality: it engenders respect. Choosing a quality narrative is more impressive than choosing anything else. “What should I read?” is a rhetorical question – “What should I read?” is a commitment. And it all starts with the good faith and commitment of a storyteller.

The elders and our values are vital

Young people need their elders to set an example – not just on topics relevant to the “general public,” but as mentors and role models for younger and older learners. A writer like Alice Ruth Pittman is a great example. Her stories may never appear in newspapers or be disseminated through broadcast media, but her stories of civic engagement, and people power, are essential for connecting with the next generation.

The local leadership is important

Leadership can help build and sustain creative influence. First-generation Americans (FBA) and immigrants to Dallas create new perspectives, inspire others, and assist in integrating. They hold spaces to hold others accountable, encourage others to speak, and work together for what is best.

Having an open mind helps promote social change and facilitate healthier environments.

During city leadership positions, I have witnessed cultural harmony and an open mind among racial, economic, political, social, and generational groups – a city full of creative energy that spreads to their neighborhood, their work environment, and their lives. I want to thank Mayor Mike Rawlings and the City of Dallas for their pioneering and bold initiatives. They continue to envision a great Dallas – a place where young people can experience themselves and others in ways that instill confidence, joy, and empowerment, that connect to hearts and minds, and inspire trust and reciprocal action. Youth in Dallas know what’s possible. They know what’s good for them, and what will be best for their families. They know what can be built and what’s needed and what can truly make a difference. What’s not needed is an old and staid media culture that refuses to embrace the new.

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