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Producing publics : an ethnographic study of democratic practice and youth media production and mentorship Poyntz, Stuart Robert 2008-12-31

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PRODUCING PUBLICS:AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF DEMOCRATIC PRACTICE AND YOUTHMEDIA PRODUCTION AND MENTORSHIPbySTUART ROBERT POYNTZB.A.(H), Queen's University, 1990M.A., Simon Fraser University, 1995A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTSFOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Curriculum Studies)THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAVancouverApril 2008© Stuart Robert Poyntz, 2008ABSTRACTWhile youth media production work has increased dramatically over the past twodecades, researchers still lack an adequate theorization of how institutionally-mediatedyouth production programs instigate democratic acts. Central to this deficiency areshortcomings in the two dominant frameworks typically used to conceptualize thedemocratic potential of young people's media work.In response to this, I turn to the work of Hannah Arendt and use her conceptualizationof public action as framed in relation to a "pedagogy of natality" to assess therelationship between creative youth practice and democracy. While Arendt's frameworkoffers a compelling vision of democratic action, her model is also invaluable for mappinghow production work affects adolescents' democratic experience. It focuses the analyticlens on agonistic struggles that expand the way youth register and pay heed to plurality.I demonstrate this utility through a critical ethnographic study of the Summer VisionsFilm Institute, an initiative designed around a series of two-week digital video productionprograms for youth aged 14-19. In examining the Summer Visions program, I address theexperience of student video producers but focus close attention on the work andexperience of peer-to-peer youth mentors in the program for the following reasons. First,peer education has a role in many youth media programs but there continues to be adearth of research on peer mentorship in media production settings. Second, whilestudent participants take part in Summer Visions for ten days, the mentors are involved inproduction work on a daily basis over a seven-week period. Most are also former studentsof the program and so they offer a more robust set of case studies.iiUsing Arendt, I demonstrate how media production programs contribute incontradictory but nonetheless important ways to the formation of new publics, notbecause such work leads to straightforward forms of position taking about specificpolitical projects, but because it leads to forms of thoughtfulness that challenge the lureof oblivion that haunts our lives and prevents us from seeing those who are different andyet part of our worlds.iiiTABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract ^ .iiTable of Contents ^ ..ivList of Tables viiAcknowledgements ^ viiiDedication ^ xiINTRODUCTION ^ 1CHAPTER 1 Youth Media Production Pedagogies and Democratic Practice ^..12Mapping the Early Influences ^ 15Television and Youth Media Production in America in the Post-War Years ^ 19Canada, Media Culture and a Nascent Media Education Movement ^ 24A New Era: Media Education and Media Production in the 1980s and 1990s ^ 29Production Pedagogies and the Interpretation of Democratic Acts ^ 37CHAPTER 2 Hannah Arendt, Democratic Practice and A Pedagogy of Natality ^.52Conjuring Publics and Liberal Notions of Public Experience ^ 53Hannah Arendt and the Public Realm ^ 57The Role of Plurality ^ .60Spaces of Appearance and Transformative Practice ^ . 62Public Acts and the Lure of Oblivion ^ 67Arendt and Habermas . 72Democratic Practice and a Pedagogy of Natality ^  .75The Summer Visions Film Institute and Democratic Practice ^ .84CHAPTER 3 Critical Ethnography and the Summer Visions Program ^ 89Critical Ethnography ^ 89Program Setting ^ .98Study Participants 101Position of the Researcher ^ 106Data Collection and Procedures . 110Data Analysis ^  116CHAPTER 4 The Summer Visions Program — Natality and Pedagogical Design .....122Summer Visions Film Institute — Program Characteristics ^ .123Program Coordinators' Beliefs about the Mission and Goals of the Program ....125ivSummer Visions and A Pedagogy of Natality ^ 133Mentor Preparation and Training for Natality  134Media Production and A Pedagogy of Natality 148Conclusion ^ 166CHAPTER 5 The Struggle Over Meaning and the Production of Plurality in YouthMedia Work ^ .169Summer Visions 2006 170In Between and Audience ^ 176No Regrets and the Belatedness of Race ^ 188NE1 and the Production of Thoughtfulness  198Conclusion — Youthscape and Summer Visions 211CHAPTER 6 Youth Media Production Mentorship and Living in the Public Realm ..215Mentorship and Media Production ^ 216Macie — Discovering the Social Life of Ideas and Experience ^ 220Dominic — Struggling to Keep Up 234Terrence — The Contingency of Audiences andthe Social Nature of Production ^ 243Conclusion ^ 253CONCLUSION .255Limitations of Study ^ 262Implications for Youth Media Educators ^ 263Future Directions .267Conclusion ^ 268Bibliography .269Appendix A ^ 287Summer Visions Mentor Questionnaire ^ .288Appendix B ^ 296Summer Visions Mentors, Individual Interviews (January 2006) ^ 297Summer Visions Mentors, Group Interviews (June 2006) ^ .299Summer Visions Mentors, Individual Exit Interviews (Fall 2006) ^ 300Community Media Educator, Interview (Spring 2006) 302Community Media Educator, Interview (Fall 2006) ^ 304Pacific Cinemathêque Director of Education, Interview (Spring 2006) ^ 305Pacific Cinemathêque Director of Education, Interview (Fall 2006) ^ ..307Classroom Teachers, Individual Interviews (Spring 2006) ^ .308Classroom Teachers, Individual Interviews (Fall 2006) ^ 310Summer Visions Instructors, Individual Interview (Spring 2006) ^ 311Community Members, Individual Interview (Spring 2006)  313Appendix C ^ 314UBC Research Ethics Board's Certificates of Approval ^ 315viLIST OF TABLESTable 3.1^Coding Table ^viiACKNOWLEDGMENTSIt is very difficult to imagine completing a project such as this without a great deal ofsupport and encouragement from many people. Central among these has been mydoctoral supervisor, Dr. Peter Seixas. Since meeting Peter in 2000, he has been a modelof intellectual curiosity and insight. He has continually asked provocative and timelyquestions about my work and future directions and has provided necessary support whenmy faith in the value of my dissertation began to wane. I also want to thank my othercommittee members: Dr. John Willinsky, who has prompted me with difficult questionsand trenchant observations; and Dr. E. Wayne Ross, who has been a source of wisdomand advice both in relation to my thesis and in regard to the challenges one faces inpursing an academic career. I have also benefited greatly from course work andconversations with other faculty members at UBC. Dr. Jo-Anne Dillabough has been acentral figure in shaping my interest in the work of Hannah Arendt, while Dr. MichelleStack and Dr. Deirdre Kelly have played important roles in encouraging my research inmedia education and youth media production. I also want to express my thanks to Dr.Mary Bryson, who has been a fount of professional and intellectual insight.This work would not have been possible without the participation and contributionsof many friends and colleagues who have worked with the Summer Visions FilmInstitute, Cityschool and Pacific Cindmathêque. To the student filmmakers and the youthproduction mentors I want to express my gratitude and admiration for the quality andsuccess of your work. Many of the production mentors discussed in this study are peopleI believe will have a powerful impact on the communities in which they live. These youthand others not mentioned in this study have already played a major role in shaping aviiimedia production program that has become a vital resource in Vancouver. Corin Browneand Patti Fraser are both friends and models of engaged teaching whose influence andpresence are recorded throughout my research. Jim Crescenzo is a remarkable educatorwho shows unwavering commitment to his students and to the practice of teaching. Hetoo is a friend and a source of inspiration whose influence is evident throughout thefollowing pages. Jim Prier and Shelley Mason have been unwavering in their support andhave been a remarkable example of caring community members eager to assist youngpeople to achieve full and vibrant lives. Were it not for my former colleagues at PacificCin6mathêque, this study would not have been possible. I miss Jim Sinclair and HazelCurrie and thank them both for their support in helping us to develop the Cin6matheque'sthriving Education Department.Dr. Cheryl Meszaros and the Spruce Harbour reading group have been vital sourcesof intellectual inspiration and amusement. Carla, Rosa and Michael have been goodfriends and tremendous sources of encouragement. The East Vancouver "families" —Matt, Selena, Sadie and Daisy, Mark, Susan and Levy, and Marcus, Amanda, Zac andOscar — will always be deeply important to me. Pam and Trish are godmothers to our sonand my favourite people in the world to cook with and imagine retirement in the future. Iam forever grateful to my wife's family, Dr. James Hutchison and Cecilia Hutchison andto our new family, Glen and Mimi Brownlee. My mother is no longer alive to see thiswork, but her love and remarkable strength are part of my bones, and as I go forward, Icarry her with me. My older brother, Donny Poyntz, has been nothing short ofremarkable throughout my return to graduate school. He has maintained unwaveringixsupport, has been an "uncle" like no other, and has been a friend when I needed someonejust to listen and to get me to play hockey again.Last, to my immediate family, I express my deepest gratitude. Our son, Hamish hasgrown from an infant into a vibrant, funny, creative, smart and beautiful child during thetime it has taken me to write this dissertation. He is our favourite person in the world andif I have missed more than a few bedtimes over the past couple of years, I so lookforward to exploring real and imaginary worlds with him in the future. Of all the peoplewho have made sacrifices to help see me through this process, it is to Pennie that I offermy greatest thanks. You have supported me, encouraged my writing, and done the lion'sshare of work in our family. You have shown me how to move on with things and to lookforward to the future. I am forever grateful to you and want you to know how much Ilove getting old together.xDEDICATIONTo Pennie and Hamish, with love and gratitude...xiIntroductionIn the contemporary globalized period, media and communication technologiesoccupy a central registry in our lives. This situation is not entirely new but thedevelopment and expansion of new media and the rise of information technologies haveproduced a break from the political, economic and cultural order of an earlier, industrialera. Marking this break is a shift from a culture dominated by print literacies to a culturedominated by the television and newer forms of digital media. There are of course manysigns indicating what this change means and how it is impacting the lives of individuals,communities and nations. Given that the focus of this dissertation is on the experiences ofyoung people, however, perhaps the most obvious and immediate indication of a changeis evidenced by the amount of electronic media present in the lives of North Americanyouth today.Beginning in infancy, children learn the language of mass media growing up on aconstant diet of screen images, audio messages and text-based communication thatcompete with schools and families as the primary storytellers and teachers in adolescents'lives. By way of example, most recent studies indicate that the television is on for six-to-seven hours per day in Canadian and American households (Statistics Canada, 2005). Ofthis time, children and young people spend between two and three hours actuallywatching TV; the rest of the time, the TV is a background environment, a kind ofelectronic-scape echoing throughout our days. The radio and other audio electronicresources (i.e., MP3 players, podcasts, etc.) fill another two to three hours while,depending on family income', the average North American teenager spends two to fourhours per day on the Internet and/or playing computer games (Kline, 2004; MediaAwareness Network, 2000; Castells 1996). In comparison, statistics in the United Statessuggest the average person spends fourteen minutes per day for "interpersonal interactionin the household" (Castells 1996, p. 333). A study (Livingstone, 2002) of media use inhomes in the United Kingdom indicates similar results, noting that "[t]ime spent inmediated, as opposed to personal, communication is at a historical high" (quoted inKline, 2004, p. 146). Indicative of similar trends, in Canada, 57% of eight to sixteen-year-olds now have a TV in their bedrooms, 39% have a video game console, and 30%have a video or digital video player (Media Awareness Network, 2000).Adding to this situation, the language of marketing and branding continue toproliferate (Buckingham, 2000b; Kline, 1993). It is estimated, for instance, that thenumber of advertisements seen daily by young people now averages between 2500 and3000 (Goodman, B., 2001). No one of course pays attention to all this information" butits very existence is a function of the fact that marketing to children and youth hasexpanded from a $100 million industry in 1983 to a $12.7 billion enterprise at the start ofthe new century (McChesney, 2002, p. 28). Advertisers have also become moresophisticated in targeting young people, as evidenced by the development of techniqueslike cool hunting in the 1990s (Klein, 2000, Goodman, B., 2001) and the expansion ofviral marketing (Walker, 2004) in the 2000s. Through these and like developments, theelectronic media have become an "almost constant background presence," a fabric threadthroughout our lives (Castells 1996, p. 334).In response to this, media education and youth media production in formal andinformal education settings have come to be seen as crucial resources capable of helpingyoung people to shape and influence their lives and the communities in which they exist.2Interest in the transformative possibilities enabled by learning through and about the massmedia is not new. Emergent and more sustained forms of media education have in factbeen in existence since the earliest days of broadcast media. If this reflects both theanxieties and the sense of opportunity created by the role of media and communicationtechnologies in young people's lives, one result is youth media production work insideand outside formal education contexts has come to be understood in a variety of ways(Charmaraman, 2006).For example, such work has often been represented as: an intentional process ofdesign using available resources to create meaning (Kress, 2000; New London Group,2000); a means for developing critical-thinking skills and engaging minority youth(Jernigan, 1998); a tool for fostering student-centred classrooms (Reilly, 1998); a creativeact that can build self-esteem (Buckingham, 2000b); a possible site of progressive culturebuilding (Goldfarb, 2002); an occasion for studying cross-cultural communication andaudience reception (Buckingham, Niesyto and Fisherkeller, 2003); a positive way torecognize the significance of minority youths' lives (Goodman, 2005, 2003); and, aprocess for producing multimodal texts that convey meaning through images, music andlanguage (Hull and Nelson, 2005). In addition, for some time, there has also been astrong belief that youth media production has a crucial relationship with young people'sdemocratic practice (Burnett, 1996; Kellner and Share, 2005; Stack and Kelly, 2006,Luke, 2000; Hobbs, 1998b; Morgan, 1998; Giroux, 1994). How this relationshipoperates, however, continues to be much debated (Sefton-Green, 2006; Burn and Durran,2006; Burn and Parker, 2003; Buckingham, 2006a, 2006b; Goodman, 2003; Buckinghamet al, 1995).3I argue in chapter one in fact that while media production work has itself increaseddramatically over the past two decades, we still lack an adequate theorization of howinstitutionally-mediated youth production programs instigate democratic acts. Central tothis deficiency are shortcomings in the two dominant frameworks typically used toconceptualize the democratic potential of young people's media work. On the one hand,the radical emancipatory notions of democratic practice underlying a dominant strain ofcritical media pedagogy no longer adequately describe how youth media work connectsyoung people with social and political change. On the other hand, liberal conceptions ofempowerment and creative voice remain inadequate for conceptualizing the democraticforce of young people's participation in the production of culture. In response to theseshortfalls, in this study, I have turned to Hannah Arendt and used her conceptualization ofpublic action as framed in relation to a pedagogy of natality to assess the relationshipbetween creative youth practices and democracy.I find Arendt useful for these purposes because rather than conceptualizingdemocracy in terms of notions of autonomy and emancipation or the articulation ofyouthful voices, she offers an alternative framework, one that more helpfully reveals howmedia programs impact young people. Arendt conceives of public acts as instances ofagonistic struggle that preserve freedom by fostering plurality. By this she meansdemocracy is a form of associational political action in which we initiate meaningthrough experience with others (Isaac, 1994). It is not action based in a set of rights thatone possesses; rather, democratic practice is constituted through action that positions onein relationships with others in ways that interrupt discourses of power and processes ofhabituation which attenuate our sense of reality (Curtis, 1999; Buckler, 2001; Arendt,41968). Such acts produce a space of communicative plurality because they reveal thecontingencies that shape and affect our ability to act in concert with others. Democraticpractice is thus about actions that expand our world by bringing us into contact withothers in ways that contest and challenge the social nature of meaning. Through suchactions, we enter into a state of becoming which affords opportunities for new meaningsand new forms of experience to take hold.Pedagogically, Arendt's model of public experience and democratic practicetranslates into a pedagogy of natality, or new beginnings (Levinson, 2002; 1997).Essentially, this means pedagogy is about generating agonistic struggle for students. Todo this, however involves a paradox. On the one hand, it is about teaching as though theworld is "out of joint" (Arendt, 1968, p. 189), as if it were not what it might be becauseof the way power sediments in discourses, institutions and visual texts. On the otherhand, a pedagogy that supports democratic practice among youth must also avoidteaching in an attempt to transform the world on behalf of young people. It can't providea fully articulated political project which students inherit because when this happens, itappears as though the route toward the resolution of the world's problems were already inplace. This, however, removes from students their own future role in the body politic.Teaching for natality or the possibility of new beginnings and new forms of experience isthus about constituting productive forms of uncertainty in the service of futureengagement. This means pedagogy supports democratic practice when it helps youngpeople to think with an enlarged mentalite, "to care about matters of common concernand to act on this concern with others" (Isaac, 1994, p. 158).5In this dissertation, I use Arendt's work on public experience and its translation into apedagogy of natality to examine the pedagogical design and the experience of a group ofyoung people involved in a youth media program located in Vancouver, BritishColumbia. I make the case that while Arendt's framework offers a compelling vision ofdemocratic action, her model is also invaluable for mapping how production work affectsadolescents' democratic practice by fostering or negating agonistic struggles that expandthe way youth register and pay heed to plurality. I demonstrate this argument through acritical ethnographic study of the Summer Visions Film Institute, an initiative designedaround a series of two-week digital video production programs for youth aged 14-19.Summer Visions is organized through a partnership between Cityschool's Film andTheatre Department and Pacific Cinemathêque, a local film institute. It operatesthroughout July and August in a converted high school automotive studio and is targetedat low-income or otherwise marginalized youth from across the Lower Mainland regionin British Columbia. The program began in 2000 when a teacher at Cityschool, acommunity media producer and the author worked together to organize the funding,administrative structures and the first iteration of the project's pedagogical design. As Iargue in chapters two and four, Summer Visions offers an ideal case study in thisdissertation because the program shares many of the aims and objectives of othercommunity-based media projects.In examining the summer program, I address the experience of student videoproducers but I focus central attention on the work and experience of peer-to-peer youthmentors in the program. I attend closely to the insights and practices of these youth fortwo reasons. First, peer education has a role in many youth media programs but there6continues to be a dearth of research on peer mentorship in media production settings(Charmaraman, 2006). Second, while student participants take part in Summer Visionsfor nine or ten days, the mentors are involved in production work on a daily basis over aseven-week period. Most are also former students of the program and so they offer amore robust example to demonstrate how Arendt's work can help us to make sense of theway creative media work impacts young people's relationships with democratic practice.Research Objectives of this StudyTo document how an Arendtian framework of public action, conceived in terms of apedagogy of natality, can be used to assess the way democratic practice is and is notfostered through a youth media program, this study addresses the following researchquestions:1. What is Hannah Arendt's understanding of public acts and how is this related to ademocratically-oriented pedagogy?2. In what ways does Arendt's conception of public action as conceived in relationto a pedagogy of natality help us to understand the relationship betweendemocratic practice and (a) Summer Visions' pedagogical design and mentortraining program, (b) the production of Summer Visions videos, and (c) theexperience of youth production mentors in the program?3. In what ways does the conceptual focus offered by Arendt's framework helpeducators, researchers and young people understand and address the forces andtensions that can undermine the role of democratic practice in youth mediaproduction programs?7Brief Overview of ChaptersTo address these questions, in chapter one I provide a short history of the field ofyouth media production pedagogies in the United Kingdom, the United States andCanada. I assess how youth media work has been understood in relation to democraticpractice and where limitations and tensions remain in these conceptualizations. I focus onthe early development of production work in the UK and then examine how the rise oftelevision in the 1950s and video production technologies and community-based mediaproduction in the 1960s and 1970s in the US and Canada shaped debates around youthmedia. I note how media education and youth media production changed in the 1980s andhighlight limitations in critical media literacy projects that evolved during this decade. Toset up my turn to Arendt's model of public experience, I show how questions about therelationship between democratic practice and students' media work were complicated inthe 1990s and 2000s. David Buckingham's research on young people's media use loomslarge in this discussion, setting the backdrop for my turn to Arendt.In chapter two, I introduce Hannah Arendt's model of the public realm and identifyhow a conception of democratically-oriented pedagogy arises from this work. Idifferentiate Arendt's position from liberal notions of the public sphere and from JurgenHabermas' recent work on the public realm. I note that Arendt understands public acts tohave a dual function in relation to democratic practice. Such acts resist normalization,domination and alienation, thereby securing the persistence of a common public world.At the same time, Arendt argues these actions simultaneously preserve freedom bybringing into view the socially contingent nature of meaning and our ethicalresponsibility to this. I then show what a democratically-oriented pedagogy inspired by8Arendt's conception of the public realm would entail. I indicate the similarities anddifferences between this framework and tendencies within critical media pedagogy andthen conclude by suggesting why the Summer Visions Film Institute offers an interestingexample to evaluate how youth media production pedagogies impact democratic practice.In chapter three, I outline the critical ethnographic method used in this study, situatethe Summer Visions program in relation to the community and school where it takesplace, and describe key participants in the research. I locate myself in relation to thesummer program, indicate my data collection resources and procedures, and describe themethods used in my data analysis.In chapter four, I situate Summer Visions in relation to other youth media programsand examine the program's pedagogical design in relation to the notion of natality. Iexamine the program coordinators' beliefs about Summer Visions' mission and goals andnote tensions and differences in regard to these beliefs. I detail the mentors' preparationand training and examine the pedagogical practices used throughout the production cycle.Throughout, I note how Arendt's conception of public experience and a pedagogy ofnatality helps to reveal the role of democratic practice in relation to Summer Visions'pedagogical design and mentor training program, thus addressing Research Question#2(a) listed above.Chapter five examines how a struggle over meaning is enacted in the production ofSummer Visions videos. I situate this analysis by summarizing the array of videosproduced in the program in 2006, noting common characteristics and features and alsopointing out that some have little to do with acts that contest meaning, especially inregard to the way power operates belatedly in discourses and practices. I suggest why this9is the case, especially in regard to challenges faced by youth mentors in the program, andthen follow this discussion with an extended analysis of three films made in 2006. Eachdemonstrates how a struggle over meaning is produced in Summer Visions, thusaddressing Research Question #2(b). Not all these videos successfully carry through onthis work and so I also use these videos to indicate how practices of sedimentation andconditions of belatedness can limit and undermine agonistic struggles in youth mediawork. This analysis is meant to contribute to Research Question #3.Chapter six concludes my analysis. Here, I assess the degree to which participation inthe program has fostered an understanding of the ethical and social conditions underlyingthe production of meaning among a group of peer-to-peer mentors. I focus on thisquestion as a way of demonstrating how an Arendtian conception of public action can beused to understand the relationship between democratic practice and the experience ofyouth mentors in the program. I draw on extended interviews with a group of mentorsand examine their narratives for insights into how Summer Visions has shaped theirinvestment in and responsibility to plurality and the social construction of meaning. Ofcourse how such an investment in public experience arises is not a straightforwardprocess. Nonetheless, the mentors' descriptions offer a telling portrait of the successesand tensions that are part of the way young people become oriented to democraticpractice through media production work. In this way, chapter six addresses ResearchQuestion #2(c) and Question #3.In the conclusion, I revisit my research questions and summarize how Arendt'sframework of public action conceived in terms of a pedagogy of natality helps to makeclear the way the Summer Visions program fosters forms of democratic practice for a1 0group of young people. I assess the limitations of this study and also indicate futureresearch directions that arise from this work.' Higher income families tend to spend less time watching TV and more time on theInternet, while the reverse is true for those at the lower end of the income scale (MediaAwareness Network, 2000)." Most estimates suggest we respond positively or negatively to approximately twelve(Neuman, 1991).11Chapter 1Youth Media Production Pedagogies and Democratic PracticeThe past two decades have witnessed a significant growth in youth media productionprograms in schools and among not-for profit arts organizations and community groups.As these developments have taken shape, young people, teachers, media educationprofessionals, researchers, and activists have argued that there is a vital relationshipbetween practical production work and adolescents' democratic practice (Kellner andShare, 2005; Stack and Kelly, 2006, Luke, 2000; Hobbs, 1998b; Morgan, 1998; Giroux,1994). Just what this relationship is, however, remains unclear (Sefton-Green, 2006; Burnand Durran, 2006; Burn and Parker, 2003; Buckingham, 2006a, 2006b; Goodman, 2003;Buckingham et al, 1995).This is hardly a problem unique to those who work, teach and conduct research aboutyouth and media. Long since the publication of Dewey's Experience and Education(1998/1938), educators have struggled to demonstrate how schools and other sites oflearning can be laboratories of democracy. Marking the way educator and student-ledpractices support democratic habits, however, can be tricky (Molnar, 2005; Kelly, 2003;Wilson, 2002). Youth media production has special significance in this regard becausethe ability to analyze and critically respond to the way influence and power are exercisedin an expansive media system is crucial if our visual culture is to be a space ofcontestation and struggle (Hjarvard, 2003). With this in mind, in this chapter, I provide ashort history examining limitations and tensions in the way youth media productionpedagogies have been understood in relation to democratic practice in the UnitedKingdom, the United States and Canada.12I begin by focusing on the early development of production work in the UK under theinfluence of F.R. Leavis and Denys Thompson, and then examine how the rise oftelevision in the 1950s and portable video production technologies and community-basedmedia production in the 1960s and 1970s in the US and Canada impacted thedevelopment of youth media. Throughout, I mark how conceptions of democraticpractice are understood.I turn to the 1980s and note how the field of media education and youth mediaproduction changed as a result of economic recession and the influence of British culturalstudies as exemplified by the formative work of Len Masterman (1985, 1983b, 1980). Ibriefly indicate how this work influenced the integration of the key concepts model ofmedia education in secondary school curricula in the UK, Canada, and the US, and alsomark parallels between Masterman and the development of critical media pedagogy inthe US. I note that a distinguishing feature of this work is a new attention to thepotentially critical role popular culture can play in classrooms, particularly when teachersattend to the active relationship audiences have with media texts. I suggest how thecritical interrogation of media texts is framed in relation to a radical, utopian notion ofdemocratic practice, especially in the work of Giroux and Aronowitz (1991), and thenhighlight limitations in this project.In the 1990s, I note that youth media production began to proliferate in response bothto the perceived limitations of "critical consumption" (Willis, 1990) in media educationand to the increasing availability of low-cost digital production resources. Community-based, informal education organizations were central to these developments in Canadaand the US. I argue that as this work has evolved, there has been an increasing move13away from talk of a relationship between youth media production and notions ofemancipatory, radical democracy. As evidence, I indicate that even in a program like theEducational Video Centre in New York, which draws on certain Freirean notions ofpedagogy as part of a project geared toward political consciousness-raising, it isincreasingly clear that youth media work does not lead to radical democratic practice(Goodman, 2005, 2003). It does, however, further a range of other significant outcomes.I note that questions about the relationship between democratic practice and youthmedia production have been complicated in the 1990s and the 2000s by exaggeratedclaims from mainstream and often commercial sources about the potential fordemocratizing knowledge offered by new media technologies (Goldfarb, 2002). I indicatewhy we need to be cautious about such claims and also argue that we need a convincingframework to assess the relationship between youth production pedagogies anddemocratic practice, particularly in an age when practical work is increasing in bothinstitutionally mediated and more private youth spaces (Sefton-Green, 2006;Buckingham, 2006a). Some, including David Buckingham (2006a, 2003), have urgedcaution here, worrying that the development of such a framework risks imposingeducators' political interests onto students' work. Instead, he argues research is betterconceptualized in terms of the way young people use media. I note that this turn to mediause in research has born important results, leading to a much deeper understanding ofhow production work impacts young people. I argue, however, that democratic practiceseems to be implicit in much of what we know media production facilitates for youth.Because of this, I propose a turn to Hannah Arendt's work on the public realm. Arendt isnot typically thought of in relation to youth or media production, yet her work on public14acts and the notion of natality or new beginnings afford valuable resources for examininghow youth media production experiences lead to "outer-regarding norms and actions"that preserve freedom, even if they do not secure autonomy (Trentmann, 2007).Mapping the Early InfluencesThe rich history of media production pedagogy is inseparable from the developmentof media education. In fact today the boundaries between the analytic work of mediaeducation and the creative work of media production are porous (Burn and Durran, 2006;Buckingham, 2006b; Goldfarb, 2002; Luke, 2002, 2000).Media education, like movements in mass literacy, has a long history of concern forquestions of democracy. Education about and through the mass media began with theearly history of cinema itself, with the development of actualite films in the 1890s andthe early use of educational films in European, American and Canadian classrooms(Goldfarb, 2002; Swan, 1984). By the 1930s, the first sustained forms of media educationwould appear, largely in response to the growing power of visual culture, includingcomic books, the cinema and advertisements (von Feilitzen, 2000). Walter Benjamin'sprovocative essay, "The Author as Producer,' was among the earliest examples of apedagogy addressed to new media forms. Other examples — including the work of F.R.Leavis and Denys Thompson (1933) in the UK, and Marshall McLuhan (1951) inCanada — were more conservative, aiming to inoculate audiences against the perniciouseffects of mass communications. Pedagogically, the ideal was to denigrate popular mediaas lesser cultural forms while promoting aesthetic productions (from the traditions ofliterature and visual art, etc.) thought to hold the key to a fuller and richer life. Leavis andThompson (1933) feared that mass media would lead to the loss of an "organic15community with the living culture it embodied" (p. 1). Among other things, this wasthought to pose a threat to the stability of the working class whose mark on political lifewas increasingly apparent and volatile in the pre-war years.Perhaps surprisingly, the first school and film club-based production programs startedin the UK during this period. Largely developed under the direction of English teachers —influenced by the work of Leavis and the "practical criticism" of I.A. Richards (1929) —this work was driven by a desire to map how the technology operated. As a result,students didn't make complete films but instead were given exercises to explore filmgrammar. Such activities were derived from the Soviet filmmaker and montage theorist —V.I. Pudovkin (Sefton- Green, 1995; Buckingham et al., 1995). This emergent interest inproduction pedagogies continued after the war and throughout the 1950s as filmeducation took off in Britain, led by educational initiatives at the British Film Institute(BFI) and the founding of the Society for Film Teachers, later to become the Society forEducation in Film and Television (SEFT). Reflecting the ongoing influence of Leavis,work during the decade centred on developing what BFI writer Grace Greiner describedas "a critical approach to film, ... to develop standards of taste discrimination" (quoted inSefton-Green, 1995, p. 79). The creative outlet offered by filmmaking held some appeal,but the real focus was on developing an understanding of film language in order toprotect young people against what another writer at the time called, "the moral dangers ofthe cinema" (Jan Marie Lambert Peters, quoted in Sefton-Green, 1995, p. 80). Productionwork was not thought to be an outlet for democratic practice, in other words, as much asa useful process that held the potential to protect young people against a commercialmedia thought responsible for undermining and diminishing democratic life.16In the 1960s, this sentiment continued to carry significant influence but a pedagogicalshift changed the debate. A new division among educators interested in youth mediaproduction surfaced. Underlying this division was a common concern for how best toinvolve working class children in schooling. Unlike older cultural forms such asliterature, new media, including film, seemed to offer this possibility. In an importantway, this assumption reflected a change in attitude about popular culture itself Suspicionremained in certain quarters about the impact movies could have on youth, but by the1960s, it was becoming evident that cinema could be tremendously useful in theclassroom, particularly where the interests of working class youth were concerned. Thisnotion reflected the influence of writers like Richard Hoggart (Uses of Literacy, 1957)and Raymond Williams (Culture and Society, 1958 and The Long Revolution, 1961),both of whom were critical of Hollywood and early commercial television but were eagerto transcend the distinctions between high and low culture that had characterized thecultural criticism of Leavis. Hoggart and Williams argued that culture is best understoodto refer to patterns of meaning within everyday life. Making sense of these patterns meantstudying popular culture texts, particularly for working class adults and children whowere often alienated or excluded from participating in the world of high culture.Pedagogically, this turn led to a new split among educators. On the one hand, itresulted in a form of snobbery toward production work itself Paddy Whannel and PeterHarcourt's (1964) edited text, Film Teaching, best represents this position. Here,filmmaking was equated to a form of manual labour, a kind of mundane exercise in skillsbuilding. In contrast, attention to the social role of cinema, particularly with the aide ofthe new science of semiology, was seen to offer "opportunities for the exercise of critical17distinction" (Sefton-Green, 1995, p. 84). Through this, students could learn to appreciatethe expressive subtlety of great international film, while simultaneously learning why theproducts of Hollywood studios or commercial television networks were suspect.On the other hand, Douglas Lowndes' book, Film Making in Schools (1968), arguedthat taking film seriously meant learning how "new media in themselves offer new anddifferent ways of seeing" (Sefton-Green, 1995, p. 85). Lowndes argued that this requiredpractical work, which afforded students a wider range of resources to understand theirsociety. He hoped to use film and other forms of art to politicize urban youth. By fusingvision and expression and allowing young people to tell their own stories, Lowndesargued filmmaking offered a form of counter practice to traditional academic work. Thiswas thought promising as a way for working class youth to take control of their lives inways that would influence their future prospects.Looking back, it's clear Lowndes' argument reflected the legacy of "the prevailingideologies of progressiv[ism]" that held court at this time (Sefton-Green, 1995, p. 86). Inthe end, such progressivism romanticized student creativity and largely served to validate"middle class achievement,... [while] conspiring to fail working class children in whoseinterests child-centred programs were presumed to operate" (Sefton-Green, 1995, p. 85).At the same time, the Whannel/Harcourt film criticism position failed to escape from adeep-seated suspicion — one that continues to resonate in education circles today — thatpractical work is limited to the application of analytic knowledge, rather than a resourcethrough which such knowledge can be learned and understood. As the 1970s began then atension circled around how youth media production was understood in the UK in relationto democratic practice. Those who saw production work as capable of offering expressive18possibilities, especially for people excluded from cultural life and social and politicalparticipation, seemed incapable of simultaneously attending to the social and politicalrole of cinema and pedagogy. Meanwhile, those who focused on the analysis of cinema'srole as a social and political force seemed unable to combine this position with attentionto how production work could alter and expand the lives of young people and others. InNorth America, the history of youth media production work is somewhat different, and inan important way, developments taking place in the US and Canada during the 1960s and1970s seemed at least on the surface to offer a way beyond the bind afflicting UKeducators.Television and Youth Media Production in America in the Post-War YearsThe arrival of television in North America in the 1950s, unlike in the UK, wasgreeted with a degree of enthusiasm in education circles. Like film and radio before it anddigital media today, initially, television was envisioned (and promoted) as a tool capableof supporting the extension of democratic ways of life (Swan, 1984; Goldfarb, 2002). Itseemed to offer educators a means of breaking down the barriers of locality by providingan 'electronic window on the world' that revealed new experiences previously onlyavailable to those able to travel to far off places. In the US, interest in the role oftelevision in education was also fueled by Cold War concerns (Goldfarb, 2002). Thesuccessful launch of Sputnik in 1957 accentuated a crisis evident in the American publicschool system throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In response, largely under the leadershipof the Ford Foundation and the National Association of Educational Broadcasters,television was proffered as an ideal tool for teaching and indoctrinating urban youthwhose schools were plagued by under-funding, teacher shortages, and supply gaps.19Television could reach more children while simultaneously extending the influence ofexemplary teachers contracted to deliver lessons.Not surprisingly, if this rhetoric and practice held up for a time, the results of theseearly efforts were mixed. Test scores seemed to rise, but evaluation studies demonstratedthat "television instruction was most effective in limited doses, and that it should not takeup a major portion of any pupil's day" (Goldfarb, 2002, p. 49). Beyond the schoolhousewalls, it was also becoming apparent that "most children's programming was producedwith the size of the audience rather than children's education in mind[. As a result,]television [became] the source of anxious discourses about mesmerized childrenentranced by mindless cartoons, punctuated by messages from paying sponsors" (Kline etal, 2006, p. 132; Kline, 1993). Fueling these concerns among educational progressiveswas additional research which indicated the effects of commercial media on children'ssocialization reproduced class divisions. Television, it turned out, "could both supportlearning and school achievement among brighter middle-class students who wereintellectually prepared, but also distract poorer students from reading and homework,leading to a downward spiral of academic achievement" (Kline et al, 2006, p. 132). If thedrive toward media education as opposed to education through the media needed a boost,these studies seemed to provide it.Concerns about children's leisure time were of course not new, but debates abouttelevision in the 1950s suggested that older worries about the place of fighting, vulgarity,and sexuality in children's games and pastimes were shifting (Cook, 2001). Now the realquestion was: what happens when control of childhood itself moves beyond the reach offamilies and local communities — to film and television studios, boardrooms, and20advertising agencies? The popularity of cultural critics like Vance Packard (The HiddenPersuaders), Marshall McLuhan (The Gutenberg Galaxy, Understanding Media), andlater, John Berger (Ways of Seeing) fuelled these debates. Pedagogically at least, oneresponse in the 1960s grew out of developments taking place in the arena of communitymedia production.The story of local, community-based media initiatives differs depending on nationalcontext, but if we begin with the US environment for the moment, it's clear that thedevelopment of portable video recorders and cable television distribution systemschanged the landscape of advocacy video work during the 1960s (Jankowski, 2002).Community media refers to a wide range of communication forms — including, radio andtelevision, newspapers and magazines, and now, electronic communication networks —which are used in relation to a geographically defined space and a local set of issues andactions. In the latter half of the 1960s, artists like Nam June Paik in the US positionedtheir work as community resources and experimented with video as a way to documentstreet protests, bystander commentary and civil rights activism, among other publicevents (Goldfarb, 2002). The success of this work informed other artists and alongsidethe development of the first 16-millimetre film production workshops for inner cityteenagers at Buffalo's Channel of Soul and the Film Club in New York City, significantoptimism began to emerge about the role portable and relatively inexpensive videotechnology could play in effecting social change, particularly for youth (Goodman,2003).By the 1970s, this optimism was given further life through the development ofcommunity access cable television distribution. Community access became a reality in21the United States through a federal mandate that required the burgeoning cable mediasystem provide access to cable broadcasting for the community. In the early 1970s, thislead activists to launch video collectives and community broadcast centres in rural andurban locales. Aided by newly available government arts funds — provided byorganizations like the National Endowment for the Arts, which was created in 1965 — thestaff at non-profit video centres and cable access television stations — like Appalshop inAppalachia and Downtown Community Television and the Paper Tiger TelevisionCollective in New York — started to provide production workshops for communitymembers as part of their work. The point here was to serve those "whose interests andviews were typically not represented in the mainstream medium, from the networks topublic television" (Goldfarb, 2002, p. 67).At least initially, the idealistic aim of the community video movement was to usevideo to reconfigure the public sphere. The mobility and access of the portable videotaperecorder was envisioned as a resource capable of reclaiming the cultural space dominatedby broadcast television. Lili Berko captures this sentiment:The coupling of the portable videotape recorder (porta-pak) with theadvent of the videocassette offered artists and social activists alike anopportunity to participate in the production of images that were to shapetheir culture. The most revolutionary aspect of the porta-pak was itsmobility. Through video, the mystique of production was shattered and thestreets became equally important sites of textual inscription. Video soonbecame the vehicle through which the social world could be easilydocumented, the vehicle which would record the voices and the images ofthe Newark riots, or a Mardi Gras celebration; as such it proclaimed thepublic sphere to be its own (quoted in Burnett, 1996, p. 292).Berko nicely captures here the spirit of a left-media critique that was highly influentialduring this period. The essential argument here — which has a bearing on the division wewitnessed in the UK — is that video production can be the very source for a robust and22popularizing critique of the mainstream broadcast media. That is, the US communityvideo movement suggested that artists, activists and students don't need to fear media.Rather, they can become the media and through this, reclaim the public sphere in waysthat transform social and political life (Burnett, 1996).Video education programs grew out of these developments. To begin with, theseprograms were centred in non-profit organizations or community groups and were drivenby a fairly didactic pedagogy. Goldfarb (2002) points to a crucial essay published byJames Donald in 1977" in defining this project. Essentially, Donald argued students couldbe taught analytic skills for critiquing the mainstream media through productionexperiences. The aim was to teach students to be critical producers and not justconsumers. By learning to use video cameras, design interviews, write scripts, and makegroup editorial decisions, Donald argued, students would learn "the first crucial step ofrevealing the human construction, the non-naturalness of the products of the media ...[Students would learn] to reveal how the ideological messages of the mass media are puttogether ..., and to seek effective codes for [their] own messages" (Donald, quoted inGoldfarb, 2002, pp. 68-69). As these developments were taking place, David Trend(1992) has documented how experiments with media production technologies in USschools during the 1970s allowed a brief period of hands-on work where students couldinvestigate how knowledge is produced and reproduced through technological means.This ended in the early 1980s when funding cuts undertaken by the administration ofPresident Ronald Reagan ended most school-based production initiatives (Trend, 1992).The notion of student-as-producer would continue to find resonance in the late 1980s and231990s, however, especially as technological changes made it increasingly possible forschools and informal education organizations to develop media production programs.Canada, Media Culture and a Nascent Media Education MovementIn Canada, the genesis of production pedagogies has been equally attuned to issues ofmedia and the democratic participation, but a slightly different set of concerns has driventhe agenda. Attention to media culture and media production on this side of the 49 thparallel has long been influenced by anxieties about cultural sovereignty and the abilityof broadcasters to reflect the country's diverse populations and regions (Druick, 2007;Andersen et al., 2000; Swan, 1984). These issues inspired the development of theCanadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 1936, whose mandate was and is todevelop national programming that promotes all things uniquely Canadian'''. TheNational Film Board (NFB) followed in 1939 and under the guiding vision of JohnGrierson, it dominated Canadian film production for the next two decades, pioneeringwork in social documentary, animation, documentary drama, and direct cinema. In 1955,in response to the introduction of television three years earlier, the Fowler Commissionled to the development of the Canadian Broadcasting Act (1958) and eventually, theCanadian Radio, Television, and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in 1968. Inthe mid-1960s, these developments coalesced and contributed to a cultural andeducational environment ripe for the growth of early media education and youth mediaproduction work.Operating in partnership with provincial ministries of education and the NationalAdvisory Council of School Broadcasting, CBC Radio began school broadcasts in the1930s (Swan, 1984). The programming on offer supplemented teachers' curricular24resources and was especially popular in rural communities where education through themedia provided access to material and information not otherwise available. In the 1940sand 1950s, the NFB continued the tradition of providing audio-visual resources designedto inform and educate Canadian children and youth about their country through a nationalschool program that offered films addressing curricular areas like geography, history,natural science, art, and health. Much of this work is now remembered for its didactictone, aesthetic formality and strident commitment to information provision andcitizenship building (Druick, 2007). Besides encouraging film use in the classroom,however, the NFB's work in schools fostered important connections and partnershipswith the education community. These linkages led teachers to join the NFB educationprogram and also set the ground for a long tradition of collaboration between NFB staffand schools (Swan, 1984). In the 1960s, following an internal study about the use andvalue of TV in schools, CBC television began twice weekly Canadian School Telecasts.Like the NFB program, this initiative was also intended to teach students about Canada,but it had the added objective of supporting students who were doing poorly in academicsubjects like physics and chemistry, English and social studies. CBC's school broadcastslasted until the end of the 1960s, when changes in federal communications policy allowedthe provinces to develop their own educational broadcasters. This led to the creation ofTV Ontario, Radio-Quebec and eventually, Access Alberta and the Knowledge Networkin British Columbia (Wilson et al., 1984).Provincial broadcasters would subsequently become crucial providers of audio-visualresources meant to support diverse curricula. At the same time, in the mid-1960s thetradition of using broadcast media in Canadian schools would take a more critical turn.25Up until this point, CBC and NFB media resources had largely been used to enhancestudent learning by providing education through the media. But a burgeoning awarenessthat popular television and movies were shaping and impacting young people's lives ledto the development of film courses in secondary schools in various districts throughoutCanada (Andersen et al, 2000, p. 140). These courses would blossom into a "screeneducation" movement that fostered an early period of growth in media education, whichas in the UK, drew inspiration from cultural shifts in the way film was understood. Nolonger seen simply as forms of entertainment, screen education focused on the waypopular, Hollywood movies reflected social and cultural values. Films — and particularlythose that addressed social and cultural change in the 1960s, including Easy Rider andMedium Cool — were thought to deserve critical attention in the same way novels andother print-based forms deserved literary attention. This meant teaching students tounderstand the language of cinema as well as the way movies engage with and shape theprospects for social and political change. A progressive and well-funded Ministry ofEducation in Ontario was especially noteworthy for supporting this work. Unfortunately,most of these courses were short-lived as budget cutbacks and a shift to "back-to-basics"philosophy effected school curricula in the late 1970s (Andersen et al., 2000).Nonetheless, these developments were significant in breaking down barriers regardingthe use of popular culture in schools.Reconfiguring the relationship between learning and popular media was alsoinfluenced by two other developments in Canada during the 1960s. First, as in the US andthe UK, Canadian educators in Toronto and Vancouver began experimenting with thedevelopment of 8mm and Super 8mm filmmaking classes and student film festivals26during this period (Duncan, personal communication, January 31, 2007). Much of thiswork centred on the aesthetics of production and the role filmmaking might have inproviding students with a voice. Nonetheless, these initiatives, alongside early school-based video production programs, were significant developments that allowed students toengage in hands-on work with newly portable media technologies (Duncan, personalcommunication, January 31, 2007). If this was important for advancing pedagogies ofproduction in Canada, a more provocative set of developments was simultaneouslyunderway outside the schoolhouse walls.During the 1960s, film culture in Canada changed. For the first time really, the"glimmerings of a truly Canadian cinema" began to appear (Knelman, 1977, p. 11). Butfor the NFB and CBC, English Canada had largely been absorbed with images fromelsewhere until this period. This began to change however, in the early 1960s. Spurred onby newly available funding from the Canada Council for the Arts (created in 1957) andinfluenced by successful and innovative work coming from France's New Wavedirectors, both French and English Canadian cinema showed signs of new ambitions andcuriousitiesw. Coincident with this, the film and video co-operative movement began todevelop across the country, providing equipment and community for a range of film andvideo makers for the first time. Vancouver's Intermedia, a loose collection of artists,filmmakers, poets, and performers was the first group to receive funding support for thiskind of work. The collective dissolved in 1972 but a series of media-related organizationsdeveloped from its ashes, including: Pacific Cinematheque, Western Front, SatelliteVideo Exchange, Video Inn, and the Canadian Filmmakers' Distribution West (nowMoving Images Distribution). Other cooperatives developed in cities and communities27across the country, feeding a growing interest in media culture and the role of portablemedia technologies in the development of aesthetic and social change.In the midst of these developments, the NFB initiated a new program in communitymedia production that would become renowned for its innovative work. Challenge forChange was created in 1968 and is still considered a model for community participationin television and film production (Druick, 2007). The inspiration for CitizenShift, theNFB's current citizenship participation website, Challenge for Change was developed todocument and provide research into the everyday struggles of communities sogovernments might address obvious inequities across the country (Burnett, 1996). Bornof a time when growing social unrest and flourishing resistance movements — includingQuebec nationalists, feminists, and those fighting for First Nations sovereignty — weretransforming Canadian society, the program employed "a cinema-verite aesthetic, withthe camera work and direction increasingly taken out of the hands of professionalfilmmakers and surrendered to community members themselves" (Hutcheson, 2005).More than 80 productions were created, and in combination with the burgeoning culturalnationalism of the era, Challenge for Change broke down barriers between professionalsand amateurs. "The idealism of Challenge for Change was based on notions ofdemocratic access" (Burnett, 1996, p. 296). It was about giving people the technology totell their stories, and in a country that had long struggled to define a cinematic legacy, theprogram contributed to an innovative documentary tradition. The NFB's flagshipinitiative in community media lasted until 1980. Over its history, work produced includedfilms on First Nations communities in Alberta, African-Canadian communities inHalifax, and impoverished people in Montreal, all of which was shown in schools across28the country (Swan, 1984). If this helped to expand the repertoire of films available toCanadian educators, more important for our purposes was the way the programdemonstrated how social justice pedagogies could be married to new media technologiesto promote social activism and change. In the 1990s, this agenda would be taken up againby not-for profit groups working with Canadian youth, but not before a period oftransition in the 1980s, when alternative forms of media production and notions ofstudent-as-producer would wane both in school and informal learning environments.A New Era: Media Education and Media Production in the 1980s and 1990sIn the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and, eventually, Brian Mulroney leda neo-conservative turn in a period of economic recession in the UK, the US and Canada.Ultimately, these events curtailed the development of production-based youth work for atime. Simultaneously, however, if the implementation of media production programs inschools and among community-based organizations became more difficult, the nascentsuccess of early school-based film education programs in the UK and Canada ledambitious education officials (in London and the province of Ontario) to focus attentionon the formalization of media education in elementary and secondary schools. Inundertaking these initiatives, the work of Len Masterman (1985, 1983a, 1983b, 1980)would prove to be crucial.The notion that media literacy is fundamentally a process of fostering conceptualunderstanding through both analytic and production activities has been at the centre ofteachers' pedagogical practices for over two decades. Often called the "key conceptsmodel," a crucial assumption here is that young people's work with certain concepts canlead to empowerment and informed democratic practice in a media saturated society.29Masterman's influential text, Teaching the Media (1985) was really the firstcomprehensive treatment of this pedagogical method. Using slightly differentdesignations, and drawing from work in political economy, British cultural studies, andsemiotics, Masterman argued that media education is about teaching students to engagewith issues of production, language, representation, and audiences. By understandingthese conceptual frames, young people are enabled to address how meaning operates inthe electronic media. These concepts allow one to map mediated experience and areespecially important when students create their own texts. Youth production was neverMasterman's field of expertise, but he didn't ignore the benefits arising from student-made work. He cautioned that early production projects can imitate the mass mediaprogramming children and young people regularly see, or turn media education into anexercise in technical writing. But he also described how this work enables youthfulconfidence and critical understanding to flourish". When undertaken with a critical lens,then production was thought to be a "necessary means [for] developing an autonomouscritical understanding" (Masterman, 1985, p. 27). In this way, Masterman attempted asynthesis of the expressivist traditions in British media literacy alongside the moreprovocative analysis of media language offered within British cultural studies andsemiotics. Literary and ideological forms of deconstruction were at the centre of hisframework and were understood to hold the potential to empower students to investigatehow hegemony (particularly in relation to class) operates in the mainstream media.Because media culture is a vernacular in young people's lives, Masterman alsoargued that teaching critical production literacies must be non-hierarchical. Educatorsstill have a central role in making "problematic what [students] think they know," but30practical work was not understood to be about recuperating students' tastes (Masterman,1985, p. 28). Rather, it is about opening the curriculum to student interests and concerns,thus changing the learning dynamics characteristic of industrial classroom life (Luke,2000). Ever suspect of the whims of progressive education, Masterman was equally waryof teaching practices that substitute the views and opinions of educators for those ofstudents. This is another version of what Paulo Freire called, the "banking" concept ofeducation, where "the scope of action allowed to students [extends] only as far asreceiving, filing and storing the deposits [of knowledge]" (Freire, 1970, p. 72). In contrastto this, Masterman (1985) challenged teachers to make media education a dialogic,democratic pedagogy, one which "involves listening carefully and responding directly towhat has just been said. It [must] genuinely [be] a group process (rather than somethingwhich is engaged in by a number of discrete individuals) in which members recognize thepower which can be generated through co-operative learning, group action andreflection" (p. 33). If successful, critical autonomy was thought to be the result. ForMasterman (1985), this meant: "The acid test of any media education programme is theextent to which pupils are critical in their own use and understanding of media when theteacher is not there" (pp. 24-25).With this publication, Masterman's critical pedagogy influenced teachers around theworld. His work was formative in shaping media education and production curricula inthe UK throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, while also influencing educationalpublications by organizations like the British Film Institute. In Canada, Masterman's(1985) text was a key resource informing the design of Ontario's secondary schoolcurriculum in 1987'. The media education components of this curriculum, in turn,31influenced the development of media literacy in British Columbia in the mid-1990s andcurricula in the remaining provinces and three territories in the 2000s (Media AwarenessNetwork, 2007). Masterman's work was similarly formative in the development of medialiteracy and production pedagogies in the US (Goodman, 2005, 2003; Kubey, 2003;Hobbs, 1998a, 1998b).Sefton-Green (1995) has argued that at least one reason for this success is that theliterary and ideological forms of deconstruction that are at the centre of Masterman'sproject lend themselves to assessment in schools. Even when students are producing theirown media work, in other words, it is possible to assess whether they are right or wrongin their use of a specific sound design or a genre style. It is also easy to assess forcorrectness when one is concerned with a student's analysis of an advertisement or theirassessment of the lighting and editing techniques used by news broadcasts. Because ofthis, while Masterman's pedagogical framework was intended to discourage educatorsfrom using the key concepts model to support a "one-size-fits-all" curriculum (Morgan,1998), this has not always happened in practice. In fact, Morgan's (1996) research inOntario in the 1990s indicated that teachers tend to use deconstruction as part of a fairlytraditional pedagogical formula in which students are asked to assess for truth and othernon-negotiable outcomes in analyzing the media. Where this was a disappointing result,Masterman's work also posed a larger problem specific to my concern for therelationship between youth media production and democratic practice.In the context of the 1980s, Masterman attempted to negotiate an important shift inthinking about media education and youth media production. He was especiallyconcerned to move both fields away from evaluative judgments that discriminate against32the mass media as lesser forms of culture. To do this, he emphasized investigation inmedia education and media production with the aim of having students determine howmeaning is constituted and circulated in popular culture. Ideological deconstruction inmany ways was and is the central drama in this project. This, however, posed a difficultyfor Masterman. On the one hand, his agenda was more nuanced than some (Sefton-Green,1995; Buckingham, 2003) have argued". At the same time, Masterman's most importantwriting was produced in a time when ideological deconstruction meant leading youngpeople toward autonomy relative to the hegemonic conditions operative in mediaenvironments. By this I mean media education and youth media production were seen tofurther democratic practice when they led children and young people to an emancipatorycondition in which they are free from the constitutive influences of the mainstreammedia. Evidence that Masterman conceived of media literacy and democratic acts in thisway is apparent when he frames deconstruction as a rational, objective form of analysisthat distances students from the media's influence. It is about a process of demystificationthat politicizes and positions students on the outside of media culture so they can act inways that lead toward alternative social futures. Or at least that is the hope. The difficultyis research in both classroom settings and informal learning environments has been hardpressed to show such outcomes (Sefton-Green, 1995; Buckingham, 2003, 2000a, 1996;Goldfarb, 2002). Moreover, it is not entirely clear what autonomy visa vis themainstream media would mean today. Where this uncertainty was a problem inMasterman's project, it was perhaps a more significant difficulty in the critical mediapedagogy that developed in the US during the same period.33Critical media pedagogy (Giroux, 1996, 1994, 1988; Aronowitz and Giroux, 1991;McLaren et al, 1995) also drew on British cultural studies while rejecting modernist andconservative educationalists' claims about the destructive force of "mass culture" ondisenfranchised youth. Rather, in a postmodern world where the simulacra and electronicmedia are everywhere, Giroux, Aronowitz and others argued pop cultural forms aresignificant sites of confrontation and agency. Movies, television programs, andadvertisements, etc. produce "a complex and contradictory sphere in which dominantculture attempts to structure experience through the production of meaning" (Sholle &Denski, 1995, p. 19). Because these forms are always incomplete texts, however, theinvestments youth make in them mean the popular media also "provide possibilities formore open democratic formations" (Sholle & Denski, 1995, p. 19). Ever concerned tochart the often-brutal effects of economic globalization on minority, working class andeven mainstream youth, Giroux and Aronowitz also addressed the rise of neo-liberalismin the US and the dramatic impact these developments have had on the schooling systemand on other institutional structures that regulate and produce young people's lives. Inresponse to these forces, they argued young people must engage in active reading andwriting to produce critical practices which work as forms of counter memory againstcurrent regimes of truth and justice. In this way, Giroux and Aronowitz challenged theintentions of a conservative education system and suggested that classrooms and informaleducation sites could act as alternative public spheres where possibilities for constructingnew identities and imagining new social orders could be explored. The role of youth inthis struggle is to produce counter hegemonic acts in "support of the long revolution"(Sholle & Denski, 1995, p. 28).34In articulating this vision, besides making clear the powerful and provocative rolepopular culture resources can have in classrooms, Giroux and Aronowitz contributed tothe development of media literacy by foregrounding the vital work audiences dointerpreting texts. By drawing attention to this work, critical media pedagogy has helpedto make clear how media use can strengthen community bonds while affirming marginalsubject positions, particularly among young people. Additionally, work in this traditionhas proved crucial in furthering the development of culturally relevant curricula that isresponsive to the analysis of race, class and gender, particularly in North America(Duncan-Andrade, 2006; hooks, 1994, 1996). At the same time, if these contributionshave been significant, the problem for critical media pedagogy has continued to be howmedia literacy or youth media production are understood in relation to democraticpractice.For many progressives it is difficult not to be sympathetic to the ambitions andcommitment of critical media pedagogy, particularly as articulated throughout the 1990sand 2000s in the work of Henry Giroux. His relentless attention to the Disneyfiction ofchildren's culture (1999), to the powerful and leading ways race and fear are conjoined inHollywood cinema (1996), to the place of militarization in youth media (1996), and to thepoisonous role of cynicism among intellectuals in the American academy (2001) are vitalcontributions to our thinking about the way contemporary media operate as forms ofpublic pedagogy. At the same time, underlying this work is a sense that media literacyand youth media production are related to a kind of "militant utopianism" (Giroux, 2001,p. 125; Ellsworth, 1989). That is to say, the role of media pedagogy in relation todemocratic practice is conceived as a function of the way media literacy produces35particular kinds of "critically engaged political agents" (Giroux, 2001, p. 125). It is notenough, in other words, that young people learn to conceive of their lives in relation tothe social and political conditions that shape and organize their experiences and theirwork as media producers. Rather, in Giroux' articulation media literacy supportsdemocracy when the critical analysis of media texts fosters forms of utopian thinking andaction that lead to the development of "social, political and economic structures [that]...truly turn power over to the people" (Giroux, 2001, p.123). The difficulty is that it isunclear how media education or youth media production might fulfill this ambition.Goldfarb (2002) and others (Buckingham, 1996) note, for instance, that while criticalacts of viewing may help young people to play with and even challenge how meaning iscirculated in popular commercial media it is not at all clear that this leads to the kinds ofpolitical alliances and actions Giroux (2001) has in mind when he talks about producing"new democratic forms of human association" (p. 120; but also see Giroux, 2007). This isthe case because exploiting the openness or incomplete nature of media texts can hardlybe presumed to lead to forms of counter memory in the service of social justice today.Teaching young people to read media texts "against the grain" is no doubt a usefulpedagogical strategy; but in many instances, young people's media texts are nowproduced on a model of "trans-media intertextuality" (Kinder, 1999, 1991), which ismeant to encourage playful and open readings by audiences. This happens becausecorporate consolidation in both global and national media markets has left fewer andfewer companies in control of the brands, products and programming that are part ofyoung people's lives. One result from this is that many youth-oriented media texts are notcharacteristically discrete any longer. Instead, they are intentionally meant to be36intertextual. In a sense, they are both individual products and marketing platforms forother corporate goods and programs. As such, they operate as incomplete texts that areopen to a variety of readings. The difficulty this poses for critical media pedagogy is thatwhile some of these open readings may involve issues of social and political power, thisneed not be the case. Educators and others might work with young people to developsuch critically informed readings, but the outcomes of this work are hardly guaranteed tolead toward counter hegemonic acts in "support of the long revolution." At best, I suggestthey foster an understanding of the plurality and contingency of meaning itself. Theupshot of this is the relationship between critical reading strategies and counterhegemonic democratic practice is not straightforward (Ellsworth, 1989).While helpful for understanding the socio-economic setting in which youth now live,then, critical pedagogy has yet to offer a convincing description of the relationshipbetween youth media production and democratic practice.Production Pedagogies and the Interpretation of Democratic ActsThis is significant because there has been a renewed focus and interest in productionpedagogies within media education since the early 1990s. In the UK, the US and Canadainformal education groups — community associations, not-for-profit arts organizations,and university-community partnerships — have played a particularly important role inthese developments (Sefton-Green, 2006; Buckingham, 2006a; Goodman, 2003; Harveyet al, 2002; Goldfarb, 2002). More recently, schools have also been significant sites forproduction courses but in the early 1990s, budget shortages and the association ofpractical work with vocational training streams discouraged schools from opening newprograms (Goldfarb, 2002). In the meantime, informal organizations have tended to37conceive of youth production as the pivot point through which a dialectic of "doing" and"analysis" merge (Buckingham, 2003, p. 133). The effect of this is to render productionas praxis, which means young people are afforded opportunities to locate themselves andtheir work in relation to larger social worlds, not simply by acquiring a set of conceptualtools, but in how they make sense of these tools through creative acts.As with earlier practices, a great deal of video education work outside of schools hasbeen targeted for at-risk, low-income adolescents (Sefton-Green, 2006; Harvey et al,2002). The Educational Video Centre (EVC) in New York is a good example of this kindof programming. For our purposes, EVC is of interest because, as Goldfarb (2002)argues, while the program intends to involve young people in public life, the agencycharacteristic of this work is no longer framed in terms of a utopian emancipatorypractice.As a non-profit media organization, EVC aims to help young people investigate howpower relations (especially in regard to race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability) shapecommunity deficits, identity relations and social life (Goodman, 2005, 2003; Goldfarb,2002). The group's central goal is "to build students' skills in documentary productionand media literacy while nurturing their intellectual development and civic engagement"(Goodman, 2005, p. 207). They do this by developing a pedagogy of critical literacy overthe course of an 18-week afterschool Documentary Workshop. Students work togetherresearching, shooting and editing a film on a community-based social problem of theirchoosing. Learning to deconstruct media is a key part of the process so time is given tothe analysis of stereotypes in news and youth media and to examining how audio andediting codes, as well as visual, linguistic and spatial conventions produce meaning in38still and moving images (Goodman, 2005). Students make sense of these conceptualresources by creating videos and applying "the analytic concepts they have ... learned"(Goodman, 2005, p. 211). In conjunction with this, EVC has also developed a key set ofteaching practices called "continuous inquiry." This approach gives "students theopportunity to move between the personal and public spheres, starting with the self-referential and then reaching beyond themselves to study their community at large"(Goodman, 2005, p. 215). Dialogue-based teaching organized through small group work,alongside opportunities to pose questions, conduct interviews, and challenge adults inpositions of authority feed students as they learn to imagine how the world might beotherwise than the way they found it. Clearly student-centred, EVC's productionpedagogy demands reflection through a portfolio assessment and student exhibitions that"offer a rich portrait of what students are capable of knowing and doing. They givestudents an opportunity to publicly show their best work and talk about it with membersof the community, including parents, other students, teachers, principals, researchers,producers, and artists" (Goodman, 2005, p. 222).Though related to work in critical media pedagogy and the community video andvideo education movements of the 1960s and 1970s, EVC highlights a shift in productionwork in the 1990s and 2000s. Goldfarb (2002) captures this when he explains that EVCand like programs are fundamentally therapeutic. Their objective is "to use videoproduction to provide a means for working through the social and psychological issuesthat play a role in ... students' ability to make it through the school system and life, andto help students make meaningful connections to their communities through theproduction process" (p. 72; also see Goodman, 2003). The excitement young people feel39toward video and other forms of digital media production thus operates in the service ofdeficit reduction; which is to say, EVC is focused on using video production technologiesto provide disenfranchised young people with access to experiences that provide for moreequitable opportunity.I note this, but also add that EVC facilitates civic engagement by showing studentvideomakers how "to use media as a tool to educate, inform, and make change in thecommunity" (Goodman, 2005, p. 207). This involves the politicization of youth throughdocumentary projects that allow young people to become more fully engaged in theircommunities. Examples of such engagement include the use of EVC-produceddocumentaries to facilitate public forums on issues like school funding, neighbourhoodviolence, and homeless teenagers. The work of EVC students has also reached largeraudiences through broadcast on PBS. This, in turn, has helped to open youth-centredissues to debate in communities throughout the United States (Goldfarb, 2002, p. 78).From our perspective, what's important about this work in relation to questions ofdemocratic practice and youth media work is that older rhetorics, such as were evident inthe community video movement and video education programs of the 1960s and 1970shave waned. No longer is documentary youth video work envisioned as a means throughwhich youth or other community members might reclaim the public sphere. Nor arenotions of radical democratic practice part of EVC's conception of youth video work.Rather, here youth media work operates as a form of capacity building in support of whatJohn Dewey would have understood as "a civically active 'articulate public' that has theintellectual capacity to engage in collective dialogue and inquiry into the most pressingsocial problems" (Goodman, 2005, p. 226; Dewey quoted).40The work of EVC is significant and yet, I argue there is a need to understand howother forms of youth media production — beyond documentary programs explicitly gearedtoward "in-depth documentation, research and public discussion of a communityproblem" (Goodman, 2003, p. 105) — relate to democratic acts. Urgency underlies thisproject because as technological developments and changes in youth media culture havetaken shape over the past decade, there is the sense that young people's media use hasbecome more active, that production has become a characteristic feature of adolescents'everyday media experiences. Increasing attention has thus focused on how thiscomplicates student video making as pedagogical strategy.At the centre of this discussion is a complex set of tensions produced in conjunctionwith the development of digital media technologies. The availability of low cost,consumer and semi-professional production and digital editing technologies has beeninstrumental in the expansion of youth media programs. At the same time, technologicalchange has created opportunities for increasing numbers of children and young people touse media production resources — such as, digital still and video cameras, inexpensivemusic mixing and web design software, as well as social networking websites — outsideof formal and informal learning environments (Buckingham, 2006a, 2006c; Livingstone,2003; Lievrouw and Livingstone, 2002; Livingstone, 2002; Valentine and Holloway,2002). A wide variety of new media — for instance, video games, web-surfing on theInternet, and branded toys, like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, etc. — also involve youngpeople in designing their own solutions, directions and ways of navigating media texts(Buckingham and Sefton-Green, 2003; Luke, 2002, 2000). The result is young audiencesnow seem to have increasing opportunity to alternate between their roles as media41consumers and media producers because performative relationships are more and more acharacteristic feature of adolescent media cultures (Buckingham, 2000a, 2000b; Adamsand Hamm, 2000).One response to this has been a renewed focus on youth "voice," as though digitaltechnologies allow young people both unproblematic and unfettered democratic access.These notions result in part because youth media projects often describe what they do ashelping young people to 'find their voice,' or aiding 'silenced voices' by providingteenagers with the skills and access needed to express their stories (Soep, 2006). Thecelebration of voice, particularly in relation to notions of democracy, however, is hardlytrouble free. A number of research reviews tell us that young people do realize emotionaland identity benefits when they 'tell their own stories' and 'find their own voices.' At thesame time, David Trend (1997) notes that media producers who work with marginalizedyouth often hold to the modernist assumption that all self-expression is always liberating.Writing from a poststructuralist perspective, Mimi Orner (1992) notes further that"celebrating student voice can backfire, by positing a fully egalitarian environment wherenone exists, thereby obscuring rather than unsettling uneven distributions of power"(Soep, 2006, p. 201; Buckingham, 1996). Video in particular, is tricky in this light. Itholds an appeal as a resource for marginal communities. But in her study of youth videoprograms, Nicole Fleetwood (2005) cautions that "media projects have a tendency topursue the fantasy of 'authentic' youth experience, which itself often embodies asensationalized portrayal of racialized urban youth" (Soep, 2006, p. 201). Fleetwoodshows this tends to lead to the reification of inequalities in youth media products andprocess. Finally, Deirdre Kelly (2006) notes that while digital technologies may facilitate42expressions of youth voice today, it remains the case that: "Young people do notparticipate equally in the making of culture in the everyday world or in public spheres,which contributes to their subordination. [In fact, there] are few youth-generated self-representations to counter dominant images of children as violent and irresponsible — asbrainless consumers of fashion..., not ... thinking, contributing citizens" (pp. 35-36).A related and equally problematic response to the growth of digital technologies hascome from those who produce and market media products to children (e.g., the Americanbroadcaster, Nickelodeon and its parent company, Viacom), as well as their cyberguruallies. Both groups are notoriously sanguine about the educational and politicalpossibilities of new digital media and have been quick to pick up and exploit thesedevelopments. For instance, they have been at the forefront in promoting the idea of the"N-generation," a group of young people thought to be preternaturally attuned andactively productive with new media (Kline, 2004; Buckingham, 2003, 2000; Tapscott,1998). This kind of talk has lead to utopian claims about the potential for new media todemocratize knowledge (Goldfarb, 2002; Sefton-Green, 2006).Suspicion that such claims are inflated remains however, not least because researchindicates that children's and adolescents' uses of new media is not as revolutionary as isoften suggested (Buckingham, 2006a; Buckingham, 2006b; Buckingham, 2006c; Burnand Durran, 2006; Kline, 2004; Valentine and Holloway, 2002; Livingstone, 2003;Livingstone, 2002; Lievrouw and Livingstone, 2002; Kinder, 1999). In regard to recentnew media, for instance, there are a number of technologies — Instant Messaging andchat, computer games, and text messaging (SMS) on cell phones — that adolescents tendto make their own. But there are many examples of software more clearly associated with43production activities — such as Web-authoring, graphics, animation, and, mostimportantly for our purposes, digital video editing software — that young people don't useregularly or intuitively (Burns and Durran, 2006, p. 274). Moreover, Kline's (2004) workin Canada indicates that the kind of "interactivity and connectivity" experienced throughtechnologies like online and console-based video games have not "transformed youthfulentertainment cultures" as much as they have supplemented "play options by[, forinstance,] building on boys' interest in war and conflict games, sports, and fantasy role-play" (p. 152). Sonia Livingstone's (2002) UK-based research supports theseconclusions. While broadcasters like Nickelodeon have been key players in promotingnotions about "digital kids," then, much of this "rhetoric of empowerment" is betterunderstood in relation to the production of children as a distinct market niche with theirown tastes, concerns and desires (Buckingham, 2000b, p. 96). To the extent that suchmarkets take shape, it then becomes so much easier to target young people with exactlythe products and services Viacom and Disney, etc., want to sell (Goodman, B., 2001).The result of this is that schools and informal education environments remain crucialsites for young people to exploit the possibilities offered by digital media technologies,including video production. The importance of student work with digital media wasconveyed to schools as far back as the 1980s when children's early fascination withcomputers suggested that digital technologies would be ideal for cultivating activelearners (Kline et al., 2006). This approach received further impetus through efforts bymost Western governments to make digital literacy a national objective during the 1990s(Tapscott, 1998; Kline et al, 2006). As a result, training in digital video and multipleliteracies has increasingly come to be understood as a necessary part of preparing all44young people for life in the new information economy (Kline et al, 2006; Luke, 2002,2000; Goldfarb, 2002; New London Group, 1996). In North America, this has fueled anincrease in information technology courses — in graphic design, web-site authoring, anddigital video production — in schools (Goodman, 2005; Buckingham, 2006b, 2006c;Livingston, 2002; Luke, 2000). At the same time, it's less clear that the use of digitalmedia technologies in schools has nourished a more democratic student body (SeftonGreen, 2006; Gandy, 2002; Goodman, 2003). In fact, while the presence of remarkableteachers means there are always exceptions, digital production in North Americanschools has thus far largely been about skills development or the development of youngpeople's creative voice via a technology thought to be 'their own'. Numerous technologystudies report on "the accessibility of technology but few address the question of how andwhether teachers are integrating technology into the classroom in effective ways"(Charmaraman, 2006, p. 4). While the role of digital media in the school curriculumcontinues to be the site of investigation, then, studies about the relationship of digitalvideo and adolescents' democratic practice have not been forthcoming.On the other hand, many informal education organizations in North America, the UKand around the world continue to use digital video as a means for engaging with youngpeople (Sefton-Green, 2006; Kinkade and Macy, 2003; Goodman, 2003; Goldfarb, 2002).Here too, though, research remains wanting. The booklet What works in youth media: case studies from around the world (Kindade and Macy, 2003) provides an overview ofcase studies that emphasize how youth-based media projects provide young people withvoice and an audience as well as opportunities for personal and civic engagement. As apromotional tool targeting politicians and policy makers the document is enthusiastic, but45as with most literature in this field to date, it is short on academic rigour in regard to itsfindings (Sefton-Green, 2006). Just the same, these developments are part of a largereffort to involve youth in media enterprises', an effort exemplified by the developmentof UNICEF's website, Media Activities and Good Ideas by, with and for Children(MAGIC), which itself is a response to the Oslo Challenge'. The typical aims of youthmedia organizations include: aiding self-expression, preparing youth for life in a digitalworld, offering young people healthy recreational activities, preparing youth for careersin the media, and building community bonds (Charmaraman, 2006, p. 43). In Canada, anumber of organizations have built on relationships with community media arts,independent film, and film and video cooperative movements from the 1960s and 1970sand have developed youth media programs to serve these ends. Pacific Cinemathêque, forinstance, arose out of the Intermedia Group in 1972 and began media education and videoproduction programs under the direction of the author in 1995. Two other successfulVancouver-area programs, the Gulf Islands Film and Television School and Access toMedia Education Society, work closely with members of the independent filmcommunity and the local filmmakers cooperative.The history and mandates of these and like groups differ, but of interest for ourpurposes, this expansion in youth media programs has happened as academic researchhas moved away from thinking about the relationship between democratic practice andproduction pedagogies (Alverman, 2004; Buckingham, 2006a; Sefton-Green, 2006). Ibelieve this has occurred because suspicion about the emancipatory claims of criticalmedia pedagogy alongside misgivings about the sufficiency of talk about youth voice inrelation to democratic acts has left a void. Research (Buckingham, 2006a, 2006c, 2000a;46Buckingham et al., 2003; Buckingham and Harvey, 2001; Burn and Durran, 2006; Burnand Parker, 2003; Burn et al., 2001; Burn and Reed, 1999; Harvey et al, 2002) from theUK about what young people learn through institutionally mediated productionexperiences has offered a great deal of insight into creative youth work. DavidBuckingham's (2006a) recent report on media education and youth media production, forinstance, notes that it now appears media production experiences: help students exploretheir emotional investments in the media as well as the way these investments impactidentity formation; provide a safe space for students to explore media-related fantasies;provide opportunities to parody or deconstruct familiar youth genres; improve studentunderstanding of the language of media images; encourage youth to listen to each other'svoices; allow for more purposeful collaborative group creation work; allow for a widevariety of publication and distribution formats and contexts; and, impact the pedagogiesdeveloped in other classes. They can also encourage educators to turn to students whenproducing media about risk behaviours for young people (Buckingham, Niesyto &Fisherkeller, 2003; Buckingham and Harvey, 2001).If this is encouraging, a crucial element is unmarked here. That is, how does this workfacilitate democratic practice? I believe this thematic is an ur-narrative left unarticulatedin what is thought to be significant about the above outcomes. Buckingham (2003)cautions that attempting to articulate this narrative risks imposing educators' interestsonto student media work, thereby censoring youthful tastes and predilections. At best, he(2006a) argues: "the experience of media production is valuable ... in its own right, as ameans of promoting self-expression and communication skills, and also as a way ofdeveloping a more in-depth critical understanding" (p. 44). But if critical understanding is47meant to refer to the way this work helps young people locate themselves in a socio-economic, political and cultural world, I argue we need to clarify what practical youthwork means in relation to democratic practice.With this in mind, I think Hannah Arendt's work on the public realm and her notionof natality can provide valuable resources for examining how media productionexperiences lead young people to conceive of themselves in terms of "outer-regardingnorms and actions" that preserve freedom, even if they do not secure autonomy(Trentmann, 2007). Arendt was also deeply skeptical of radical, utopian claims aboutpublic acts and was skeptical of liberal notions of democratic practice. She thus offers usa "third way" to examine what it means to say democratic practice is instigated throughpractical work. It is to this model then, that I now wish to turn.Written as the Address to the Institute for the Study of Fascism in Paris on April 27,1934, the essay was intended as an investigation into the ways in which media such asnewspapers produce opportunities for new forms of political engagement on the part ofaudiences (Benjamin, 1986).Donald's essay is titled, "Media Studies: Possibilities and Limitations". It waspublished most recently in the edited collection, Media Education: An Introduction, Eds.Manuel Alvarado and Oliver Boyd Barrett (1992).The CBC's mandate was reaffirmed in the Broadcast Act of 1991, which states that allprogramming should: "be predominantly and distinctly Canadian; reflect Canada and itsregions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of thoseregions; actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression; be in Englishand in French, reflecting the different needs and circumstances of each official language48community, including the particular needs and circumstances of English and Frenchlinguistic minorities; strive to be of equivalent quality in English and French; contributeto shared national consciousness and identity; be made available throughout Canada bythe most appropriate and efficient means and as resources become available for thepurpose; and reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada" (CBC Mandate,2007)iv Four pioneering features arrived on the scene from Quebec — Gilles Groulx's Le Chatdans le sac (1964) and Gilles Carle's The Merry World of Leopold Z (1965), producedinside the NFB, and Claude Jutra's A Tout prendre (1964) and Michel Brault's Entre laMer et l'eau douce (1967), produced outside the Board. These followed on theremarkable success of Pierre Perrault's Pour la Suite du monde (1963). In EnglishCanada, Allan King's documentary, Warrendale (1967), about a treatment centre foremotionally disturbed kids, and Don Shebib's Good Times Bad Times (1969), aboutveterans' experiences during the two world wars, challenged the NFB's reputation as theproducer of stodgy documentaries (Knelman, 1977). In the 1970s, this work inspired aremarkable flourishing of Canadian cinema, evidenced by the arrival of classic works likeClaude Jutra's Mon Oncle Antoine (1971), Don Shebib's Goin' Down the Road (1970),and Vancouver filmmaker, Zale Dalen's Skip Tracer (1977).For instance, Masterman (1983) argues his notion of critical reading "needs to becomplemented by practical video work, the production of media materials for studentsthemselves, and by the use of simulations through which a range of alternative codingscan be explored" (pp. 11-12).49vl Ontario's Association for Media Literacy developed their key concepts list to supportthis implementation process. A similar list was developed in British Columbia in 1994(Andersen et al., 2000; Media Awareness Network, 2007). Other lists with a significantdegree of overlap are used in curriculum documents around the world (Buckingham,2003).vn For instance, Masterman neither dismissed production work, as Sefton-Green (1995)suggests, nor was he interested in a top-down model of pedagogy, as Buckingham (2003)argues.viii Examples of such programs includes: Camara! ahi nos vemos in Mexico, theChildren's Express young reporters project in the UK, the Little Masters nationalmagazine in China, Trendsetters magazine in Zambia, and the Palestinian YouthAssociation for Leadership and Rights Activation, a media youth organization located inthe town of Ar-Ram, outside of Bethlehem (Rother, 2006). For an additional cross-section and description of youth media organizations operating around the world, seeMike Jempson's Children and the Media (2007).ix On the 10th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a meetingwas held in Oslo (organized by the Norwegian Government and UNICEF) to discuss thedevelopment of children's rights and their relation to the media around the world. Out ofthis came the Oslo Challenge, which stated, in part, that: "the child/media relationship isan entry point into the wide and multifaceted world of children and their rights - toeducation, freedom of expression, play, identity, health, dignity and self-respect,protection - and that in every aspect of child rights, in every element of the life of a child,50the relationship between children and the media plays a role" (The Oslo Challenge,2007).51Chapter 2Hannah Arendt, Democratic Practice and A Pedagogy of NatalityIn this chapter, I introduce Hannah Arendt's understanding of the public realm andidentify how a conception of democratically-oriented pedagogy arises from this work. Ibegin by differentiating Arendt's position from liberal notions of public experience. Inote that Arendt's concern for the public-political realm arises from her preoccupationwith philosophical, technological, and political developments that attenuate a sense ofreality. Her fear is that our capacity to act in concert with each other, to form the kinds ofengagement that contest the impersonal and alien quality of contemporary society isunder threat. Because of this, "the plural heterogeneous quality of experience" is at risk(Curtis, 1999, p. 24). Public acts are those practices which resist these tendencies byfurthering the plurality of experience and contestation over meaning. Autonomy is notthereby achieved but the possibility for freedom is preserved.I note that Arendt understands this to mean public acts have a dual function inrelation to democratic practice. Such acts resist normalization, domination and alienation,thereby securing the persistence of a common public world. In accomplishing this,however, Arendt argues these actions simultaneously preserve the possibility of newbeginnings. Public acts are thus connected to natality or the promise that things might bedifferent than they are because they bring into view the social nature of meaning and ourresponsibility to this. In this way, they contribute to democratic practice by producing anenlarged mentalite as regards the construction of meaning itself. I explain that on thispoint Arendt's understanding of the public realm is to be distinguished from Habermas'recent work on the public sphere. Where Habermas anchors the democratic possibilities52of public acts in conditions underlying the everyday use of language, Arendt argues suchpossibilities are a function of one's obligation to difference and the social nature ofmeaning. This obligation, in turn, only arises through public acts that make evident thework of plurality.I then examine what a democratically-oriented pedagogy inspired by Arendt'sconception of the public realm would entail. I draw on Natasha Levinson (2002, 1997)who offers a convincing depiction of a pedagogy of natality, or new beginnings. I showthe similarities and differences between this practice and tendencies within critical mediapedagogy and then conclude by indicating why the Summer Visions Film Institute offersan interesting example to evaluate how Arendt's work can be used to examine the wayyouth media production pedagogies impact democratic practice as conceived in relationto natality.Conjuring Publics and Liberal Notions of Public ExperienceIn Western democratic theory, the public realm is often thought to be "a theatre ... inwhich political participation is enacted through the medium of talk" (Fraser, 1997, p. 70;Calhoun, 1993). This description is perhaps too literal because "argument alone is notevidence of an actualized public sphere ... Much of the time [today, in fact,] we arewitnesses to what is rightly called a 'pseudo' public sphere, where politicians and docilejournalists act out a travesty of democratic debate" (McGuigan, 2005, p. 429). Be that asit may, public experience has long been associated with deliberation and the possibilityfor change. Publics promise co-presence in ways that are different from a "group," a"crowd" or a "people." They are reflexive by nature. They involve the circulation ofmeaning in ways that are distinct from the realm of the state, the market and other53institutions like churches, even if they intersect with these organizations andenvironments. Publics offer an experience of belonging and togetherness based on theability to create something new without the aid of external supports. This doesn't meanpublic experience takes place in a social vacuum. On the contrary, it is always mediatedby material conditions that limit who is addressed through public discourse. The socialbasis of public experience, its connection to a specific time and place, however does notnegate the fact that it has a certain imaginary quality (Warner, 2002). Deliberationoperates in the service of the yet to be achieved.In liberal conceptions of public experience, the critical work of deliberation is definedin terms of a rational subject. Democratic practice is understood to be a function ofprivate citizens coming together to exercise their rights in a public domain. Here, privatepersons represent the "proper site of humanity" and rights are not understood asprivileges bestowed by legal authority; they are claims all persons can make based on thecondition of being human (Warner, 2002, p. 39). The public operates as the space whereone defends and negotiates the meaning of these rights. It is "a community withindependent existence, even sovereign claims and the ability to resist or change rulers"(Warner, 2002, p. 39). The public operates to protect private individuals and to do theindividual's bidding, as long as this is done in a way that is deemed fair and equal.Questions of legitimacy are at the centre of a liberal public culture. Power isunderstood to be subject to a form of critical debate. This means: "Whenever anybodyquestions the legitimacy of another's power, the power holder must respond not bysuppressing the questioner but by giving a reason that explains why he [sic] is moreentitled to the resource than the questioner is" (Ackerman, quoted in Benhabib, 1992, p.5481). To ensure that the reasons offered and the debate itself are carried out in a mannerthat serves the public interests of all, liberals argue certain constraints must exist.Benhabib (1992) explains:The most significant ... constraint in liberalism is neutrality, which rulesthat no reason advanced within a discourse of legitimation can be a goodreason if it requires the power holder to assert that his conception of thegood is better than that asserted by his fellow citizens, or that regardless ofhis conception of the good, he is intrinsically superior to one or more ofhis fellow citizens (p. 81; emphasis in original).This position allows liberals to manage questions of public order through the mechanismof rational debate premised on the weighing of arguments in an unbiased fashion and theexclusion of particularisms. "To be properly public ... [is to] rise above, or set asideone's private interests and expressive nature... [What results is] a vision of freedom asnegative liberty inherent in private persons, and a vision of political life as the restraint ofpower by a critical public" (Warner, 2002, p. 40).This conception of democratic practice has obvious benefits, not the least of whichare checks on state power. In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries concern forequality of opportunity was also conjoined with notions of individual liberty to form thebedrock of political liberalism. This project can be contrasted with contemporary formsof neoliberalism, which in fact represent a return to more classical liberal traditions thatpreceded the extension of the vote to women and the working class, etc., and the onset ofthe welfare state in Western industrialized nations (Warner, 2002; Mitchell, 2004).Knight Abowitz and Harnish (2006) recently observed that politically liberal models ofcitizenship education — as opposed to neoliberal variants — are certainly one of the mostcommon discourses on citizenship taught in North American schools. Here, individualliberty and rights are a central focus with special attention given to developing "the skill55and dispositions of cooperation, deliberation, and decision making" (Knight Abowitz andHarnish, 2006, p. 664). This means teaching students "to think critically, listen withdiscernment, and communicate with power and precision" (Boyer quoted in KnightAbowitz and Harnish, 2006, p. 665).If this work has benefits, at the same time, liberal notions of democratic practice andpublic experience have long been plagued by problems of exclusion (Benhabib, 1992;Knight Abowitz and Harnish, 2006). Because of the urge to protect the private lives ofcitizens, there is a tendency in liberalism to ignore forms of inequity and power thatoperate in what is purported to be private experience (i.e., the domestic sphere or themarket place). Historically, this has been especially problematic for women, the workingclass, people of colour, and gay, lesbian and trans-gendered communities, etc (Warner,2002; Fraser, 1992). On the other hand, the inability to account for the way private life ismediated by structures of power has led liberals to articulate naive notions of democraticpractice. We saw a version of this in the last chapter in regard to arguments about youthmedia production and voice. There it was noted that the celebration of voice isproblematic because it tends to deny how power both inhabits and limits youthexpressions. The upshot of this is liberal conceptions of public life lead to a truncatedversion of democratic practice. Hannah Arendt (1998/1958) argues this is a function ofthe privatization of public experience that results when private persons and rationalsubjectivity are understood as the "proper site of humanity." In response, Arendt offers adifferent framework for conceptualizing the public realm and the nature of democraticacts.56Hannah Arendt and the Public RealmRather than a rational subject whose actions are premised on rights, Arendt conceivesof democratic practice in terms of actions that inscribe one into the course of events inways that change the initial circumstances under which one acts. Arendt focuses on thisform of practice because her concern for the public-political realm begins with "thosedevelopments — philosophical, technological, and political — that [contribute] to anattenuated sense of reality" (Curtis, 1999, p. 23). At the most general level, she argues theworld making aspects of public acts are undone by the way subjectification or private,internal life is privileged in Western culture. She (1998/1958) notes this practice inliberalism but also draws on Nietzsche's critique of subjectivity and contends that thistendency is the result of major historical ruptures: first, Christianity "with its eternalprivate person and devaluation of the public world" (Warner, 2002, p. 59); second, therise of Romantic individualism, which leads to thinking about the private not as theprivation of publicness, but as the real locus of human value; and, third, what Arendt calls"the rise of the social," the development of those practices and institutions in modernsociety — including schooling in its industrialized, mass forms (Levinson, 2002, 1997) —that frame human relations in terms of behaviour and regulation, rather than mutualunderstanding (Arendt, 1998/1958, esp. pp. 38-50; Villa, 1997; Curtis, 1999, pp. 75-85;Benhabib, 1992).Arendt's essential fear is that our capacity to act in concert with each other, to contestthe impersonal and alien quality of contemporary society is under threat. Because of this,"the plural heterogenous quality of experience" is at risk (Curtis, 1999, p. 24). Theprofound danger this poses is most clearly evident in the figure of Adolph Eichmann, the57Nazi architect of the Holocaust, whose trial for crimes against humanity Arendt famouslycovered in Israel in 1963. What Arendt (1963b) observed in Eichmann was an acute"remoteness from reality" (p. 288). He was protected by "clichés, stock phrases,adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct ... against [thereal], that is, against the claim on our thinking attention that all events and facts make byvirtue of their existence" (Arendt, 1978, p. 4). In the face of this kind of thoughtlessness,Arendt thinks public action is a "lost treasure," a form of engagement where we areforced to experience the undeniable presence of others in the world. With public acts,there is "involvement and commitment, ... the hope, not of solving any problems, but ofmaking it possible to live with them without becoming, as Sartre once put it, a salaud, ahypocrite" (Arendt, 1968, p. 8).Arendt is attentive to the fact that our ability to experience the world is alwaysthreatened by the way it is managed, conditioned and shaped to prevent us fromexperiencing the fullness of reality. This concern is noteworthy in relation to youth mediaproduction because, as mentioned in chapter one, youth do not have equal access to orcontrol over the articulation of meaning in the media that is part of their lives(Buckingham, 2007; Kelly, 2006; Kline, 2004, 1993). Moreover, actual public spaces foryoung people, "especially those living in poor, urban communities, are diminishing"(Soep, 2006, p. 36).The 'street' remains a potent symbol ... [that] young people themselvesuse in reference to a whole constellation of styles, circumstances, andmodes of behaviour that are also often related to questions of class andrace. Yet the physical street itself — the paved one young people ... walkalong and across everyday en route to school, home and other places — isincreasingly a site of surveillance and regulation (Soep, 2006, p. 36).58Carmen Luke (2002) has noted the same, arguing that the decline in physical space is onereason why young people have taken so readily to online environments. In certaincircumstances, these spaces may offer less monitored and regulated forms of interaction.That itself is tricky though; while the growing interest in the perspectives of online`citizen journalists' creates "new opportunities for young voices to enter public dialogue[for instance,]..., this ... development ... undeniably raises thorny questions about howcredibility and rigour can be assigned to amateur reporters and documentarians" (Soep,2006, p. 34). In a global media culture, the transnational movement of images, soundsand texts is also a complex and problematic development. Exemplifying this is the factthat young people are the targets of intense marketing programs that sell uniform goodsand services in an aggressive global marketplace. One result is "similarities among theworld's youth [are becoming] more pronounced" (Brown and Larson, 2002, p. 13). Thereare also indications that global brands are having detrimental effects on young people'slifestyles and health. Perhaps the most obvious example of these trends of late have to dowith the impact fast foods and excessive media consumption — especially in relation tovideo games — are having on youth's sedentary lives (Kline et al, 2006; Kline, 2004).These and like processes serve to diminish the richness and breadth of reality youngpeople access. In the face of these developments, Arendt posits plurality as a vitalresource. Arendt doesn't mean by this that we need more things or that young peoplesimply need to be more visible today. Rather, she is concerned with our ability to act inconcert with each other in ways that shape possibilities for a common world.59The Role of PluralityIn Arendt's schema, plurality is "the basic condition of both speech and action"(Arendt, 1998/1958, p. 176). On the one hand, she means we are all inevitably distinct.No two persons are exactly alike. Rather, we all represent a new beginning. "In the birthof each [child], this initial beginning is reaffirmed, because in each instance somethingnew comes into an already existing world which will continue to exist after eachindividual's death" (Arendt, 1968, p. 166). This newness represents the potential for aricher and more robust reality. On the other hand, in attending to plurality, Arendt, alsomeans to signal "the importance of others in both making our lives and understandingourselves" (Coulter and Wiens, 2002, p. 17). Whatever forms of singularity each one ofus represents, we depend on the presence of others for this difference to become manifest.Arendt conceives of the self that exists outside of our encounters with others as anunstable, virtually unrecognizable being. Here "nothing is real" because we depend onour interaction and appearance with others to give substance and unity to ourselves(Gambetti, 2005, p. 433; Villa, 1997, p. 190). Charles Taylor (1991) makes a similarpoint when he says: "My discovering my own identity doesn't mean that I work it out inisolation but that I negotiate it through dialogue ... My own identity crucially depends onmy dialogical relations with others" (pp. 47-48). In a very real sense, others pull us out ofa state of being into a state of becoming. Through this, we produce the meaning andexperience that we then take to be constitutive of ourselves. "Plurality is a blessing in thatthe perspective of the others not only defines and stabilizes one's own perspective, ... [it]also puts it in relation with the world" (Gambetti, 2005, p. 433). Plurality thus acts as abulwark against thoughtlessness because it counters a kind of oblivion that can blind us to60the unique reality of others. In this way, it facilitates the possibility for developing acommon world.Arendt recognizes that many forms of activity allow for aspects of human plurality toarise, but she contends it is through public acts that this condition can flourish (Warner,2002). In the midst of the Cold War, when Arendt originally made this argument (The Human Condition was published in 1958), it struck many as heresy. After all, Arendt ishere confronting not only totalitarian forces that attempt to annihilate plurality, to renderit superflouous, but also liberalism itself, which envisions private life, the life of theindividual as the true expression of humanity's diverse possibilities (Arendt, 1968, p.184). Against both these tendencies, Arendt argues action in public facilitates democratichabits of mind because we are forced to "visit" with others and thereby enlarge ourmentalit6s. Meeting with those we don't know challenges us because the singularity ofothers strips us of "all masks — of those which society assigns to its members as well asthose which the individual fabricates for himself [sic.] in his psychological reactionsagainst society" (Arendt, 1968, p. 4). Again, Arendt means by this that engaging withothers pulls us away from our current situation. As compared to private life, public actsallow for a fuller sense of self to come into view. Used in this way, private and publicoperate differently than they do in liberalism. For Arendt, private and public are"existential categories, not social descriptions. They are different contexts forpersonhood" (Warner, 2002, p. 59). This means, as Warner (2002) goes on to note, thatthe public is "the scene of world making and self-disclosure... It is a political scene ...because the self and the shared world ... emerge in interaction with others" (p. 59).61Conceived in this way, public action is distinguished from labour and work. InArendt's schema, labour refers to the routine ephemeral behaviour necessary to meethuman needs. Work refers to instrumental activity by artists and producers who "build amore permanent artifice within which the world of human affairs can exist and attainrelative durability vis-a-vis the relentless appearing and disappearing that characterizesthe life process" (Curtis, 1999, p. 43). Action, on the other hand, is the way we achievefreedom through our willingness to "begin something new, a new relation or a new set ofcircumstances that other actors need subsequently to take into consideration" (Gambetti,2005, p. 432; Arendt, 1968). Arendt acknowledges that freedom is found in the waylabour addresses necessity and in the way work renders things useful and beautiful(1998/1958, p. 208). But she also suggests each of these activity contexts (i.e., labour,work, and action) allow for different degrees of awareness of the world (Curtis, 1999).Animal laborans (labour), homo faber (work), and actor (action) are not so muchdifferent classes or even whole persons, in other words; they "are competing, conflicting,and interdependent sensibilities or standpoints within the self toward the world" (Curtis,1999, p. 41). For our purposes, I take this to mean the kind of "work" involved inproducing a video can constitute a public act when the process of creation and theoutcome itself produce forms of interaction that bear witness and insert something newinto the world. Through this, such work enters into "the merciless brightness of the publicrealm" (Curtis, 1999, p. 46).Spaces of Appearance and Transformative PracticeArendt (1998/1958) calls those contexts where public experience unfolds, "spaces ofappearance." They are instances where performance in view of others de-privatizes and62de-individualizes our lives (Arendt, 1998/1958, p. 50). In this sense, spaces of appearanceoperate as a primordial, associational form of politics. Meaning-creation is a practice ofmaking the self present in ways that produce the beginning of new relationships.Agonism or the struggle to both be with and assert oneself to others is crucial. WhatArendt means by this and how this relates to democratic practice are perhaps bestexemplified by the way she addresses "what" we are as subjects in the world, as opposedto "who" we are.When Arendt conceives of transformative potential in public acts, her position is notpremised on an idea of an essential human being that underlies actions. Rather, Arendtargues the social forces and conditions we inherit will always shape what we are. Muchlike Marx, Arendt understands that we are all born into conditions not of our ownchoosing. We are all subjected beings, defined by attributes, including: personalities,identities, qualities, talents and failings. These in turn are filtered through the contingentstructures of gender, race, class and ethnicity, which act as organizing forces thatconstitute our lives. In youth video production, Nicole Fleetwood (2005) has helpfullydocumented the challenge posed when the subjected nature of human experience is notadequately addressed. She is especially conscious of this problem in relation to racializedyouth working in urban centres in America. Here, she argues the tendency to encourageyoung people to create "an authentic urban experience" by drawing on their own livescan have unintended consequences (Fleetwood, 2005, p. 156). In particular, this work canstereotype young people, marking racialized youth in ways that entrench forms ofexoticism that are ultimately disempowering. This happens because the quest forauthenticity tends to leave unchallenged the social forces and cultural conditions that63mark what youth are understood to represent in contemporary North American culture(Fleetwood, 2005).In response to situations like this, unlike the more utopian strains in the history ofMarxism, Arendt is under no illusions that we can ever entirely escape the structures andexperiences we inherit. In fact, to do so would be to imagine a condition of subjectivityreleased from both the limiting and the enabling aspects of the past (Levinson, 1997). ForArendt, this would be to exist nowhere, to be nobody. At the same time, Arendt is notimmobilized by the fact that we arrive in the world belatedly. Gambetti (2005) points outthat the same cannot be said of poststructuralism, which has offered rather "desperatepolitical recipes" in response to the fact that we are always socially embedded withinmatrices of power and identity (pp. 426-427).In contrast, Arendt helps us to understand that the very fact of plurality, the fact thatwe are all in a sense distinct from each other, means that natality, or new beginnings, arepossible. "The miracle that saves the world, the realm of human affairs, from its normal,`natural' ruin is ultimately the fact of natality, in which the faculty of action isontologically rooted" (Arendt, 1998/1958, p. 247). In practical terms, in youth mediaproduction this means Arendt's framework suggests the democratic potential of this workis not a function of practices that aim toward something like authentic expression. It is tobe seen in the way such practices that young people out of themselves, into the world.When we act in the world, what we are begins to change because our actions in view ofothers are always addressed to specific others. Our subjected selves, normally dispersedacross the various discourses and practices we inherit, are given a new coherence becausewe "play to" and always address specific communities. This allows who we are to come64into view in a new way. In this way, agonism enacts a form of singularity, a new self"that bursts open meanings" (Gambetti, 2005, p. 432). Importantly, Arendt (1998/1958)contends these "new meanings" or newly constituted versions of who one is, are notimmediately visible to the acting/performing self Rather, the "'who' which appears soclearly and unmistakably to others, remains hidden from the person himself' (Arendt,1998/1958, p. 179). This is the case because in the midst of action, it is impossible tosimultaneously know what one is disclosing about one's world and one's self As a result,we depend on others to witness and make sense of that which is a new beginning. It is infact the possibility of experience with others that brings our selves into view. In this way,Arendt argues public life operates as a form of praxis carried out via struggles to assertoneself in "human togetherness" (Arendt, 1998/1958, p. 180). This is what it means tosay agonism is both the being with and the struggle to assert oneself with others. Throughsuch experiences, a process of becoming is enacted and who as opposed to what we are isrevealed. Plurality thus plays a crucial role in relation to democratic practice. It is thatwhich we encounter in public life and that which preserves the possibility of freedom. Byacknowledging and opening ourselves up to others a fuller sense of humanity is madepossible.In developing this position, at least in part Arendt's model is the Greek polis, whereengagement with others through public action was understood to allow "the collective,common interest" to be revealed (Smith, 2001, p. 71). Contestation and struggle facilitaterecognition, acclaim and the possibility for shared moral and political power.Importantly, agonistic power is used here in distinction from violence or force (Arendt,1998/1958, pp. 200-204). While violence and force occur in private and public realms,65both are essentially privatizing acts. Violence, for instance, operates through "thelanguage of pain" and is essentially related to our physical bodies (Benhabib, 1992, p.78). On the other hand, if force has no language, nature remains its archetypical source."Power, however, is the only force that emanates from action, and it comes from themutual action of a group of human beings; once in action, one can make things happen"(Benhabib, 1992, p. 78). "Power preserves the public realm ... and as such it is also thelifeblood of human artifice.... [W]ithout power, the space of appearance brought forththrough action and speech in public will fade away as rapidly as the living deed and theliving word" (Arendt, 1998/1958, p. 204).Now, by foregrounding this model, Arendt is not yearning for a return to the ancientpast, although she has been interpreted in this light'. Rather, I read her turn to the polis asa thought experiment, occasioned by historically specific concerns about the deteriorationof public life. The polis operates for Arendt very much like fragments of reconciliationand understanding do in Walter Benjamin's (1968/1936) work. "Such thought exercisesdig under the rubble of history to recover those pearls of past experience, with theirsedimented and hidden layers of meaning, so as to cull from them a story that can orientthe mind in the future" (Benhabib, 1992, p. 76). This doesn't mean the polis is thenprivileged as idealized form intended to be redeemed from the past and enacted in thepresent. Rather, in Arendt's work, the polis more closely resembles a genealogicalresource capable of informing the present while suggesting possibilities for the future.Where Arendt's framework does inform our understanding of the present and thefuture, democratic practice is fundamentally conceived in terms of the preservation offreedom, by which Arendt means the freedom to act in the world with others (Arendt,661968). Such acts do not produce sovereignty or autonomy. In fact, Arendt (1968) argues:"If men [sic] wish to be free, it is precisely sovereignty they must renounce" (p. 163). Shemeans by this that freedom cannot be equated with autonomy because in a verysignificant way freedom is relational. "[O]thers [both] constitute the condition ofpossibility of action and have an effect on the outcome" (Gambetti, 2005, p. 433). Forthis reason democratic acts are not about creating conditions in which a romanticallyconceived private self acts autonomously or independently. Rather, democratic acts areabout the way people create new possibilities by acting "in concert." Freedom, in thissense, is not freedom of choice, but "the freedom to call something into being which didnot exist before" (Arendt, 1968, p. 150). Such acts keep the public realm "in existence"because they involve our own becoming in relation with others (Arendt, 1998/1958, p.200). Politics is thus understood as a form of agonistic, associational encounter in whichwe enter into relationships so as to enact something greater in order to produce a vibrantpublic world.Public Acts and the Lure of OblivionIf this is the hope, there are also obvious risks in this conception of democraticpractice. Most importantly, in conceiving of public experience in terms of agonism thereis a sense in which the public realm has become the domain of an aesthetic experience,where action for action's sake is what really matters (Jay, 2005). Because a premium isplaced on the role of agonistic struggle in the context of plurality, Arendt's schema wouldseem to privilege acting or doing as its own reward. Bernstein (1986) argues one dangerthat results from this is it would appear democratic practice has become a kind of asocialcelebration. Action is formalized and given paramount importance, but it also seems to be67emptied of content (Honig, 1995). Because of this, Martin Jay (2005) notes, Arendt's"work is often taken to be a celebration of freedom in the public sphere, a freedomproduced by active political engagement and a concomitant indifference toward the socialor economic results of that engagement" (p. 176).One way to respond to this is to make clear the kinds of public acts Arendt has inmind. Centrally, these practices preserve new beginnings. One helpful interpretation ofthis is to argue that democratic acts have a crucial role in ensuring that individuals orwhole classes of people don't disappear from our social and political radars. Public life isalways made precarious by the threat of human superfluousness — as Arendt knew fromthe devastation unleashed by the Holocaust — and by the threat posed by those forces thatattenuate our sense of reality. As such, Arendt's concern for new beginnings can be readas a demand that we contest forms of oblivion that frustrate our ability to see andunderstand each other's needs. When we take up this demand, we begin to enact thenecessary conditions for sharing a common world. Understood in this way, public actshave an ethical dimension. They support, sustain and stimulate "multiple and conflictingvoices and strivings. [They are]... not governed by forms of retreat and the practices ofoblivion they sustain" (Curtis, 1999, p. 8). Rather, they disrupt the lure of oblivion andcomplacency, creating an upsurge in human responsiveness. Bonnie Honig (1995) arguessuch responsiveness includes attending to the way social, political and economicstructures shape forms of public engagement. Arendt did not develop the sociologicalanalysis of power necessary to frame how these structures operate in relation to herconception of democratic practice; nonetheless, others have begun to fill this void.68Jeffrey Isaac (1994), for instance, has extracted from Arendt's analysis to explorewhat it means in relation to exemplary forms of democratic practice. He suggests thatsuch practices are not limited to institutional spaces; rather, at root, they are anti-authoritarian and are contingent on a willingness to contest conformity, "to care aboutmatters of common concern and to act on this concern in concert with others" (p. 158).Benhabib (1992) interprets this to mean: "a town hall or a city square where people donot act in concert is not a public space in [an] Arendtian sense. But a private dining roomin which people gather to hear a samizdat or in which dissidents meet with foreignersbecome public spaces" (p. 78). What matters are forms of thoughtful and vigilantresistance to the power of ideology, bureaucracy, and artificiality, acts that address "theimpersonality and routine character of mass society" (Isaac, 1994, p. 159). Such acts havean ethical component because they contest practices of normalization that cause certainpeoples to disappear or become marginal actors in social and political life. Arendt herselfidentifies world historical events as exemplary of such acts. Isaac's (1994) summaryincludes: "the French and Danish resistance to the Nazis, the Hungarian workers'councils set up in 1956, the Israeli kibbutzim, and, in America, the Civil Rightsmovement, Students for a Democratic Society, and the whole antiwar movement" (p.163; Arendt, 1968; 1963a). But other, more prosaic actions are also representative. Theyinclude: local civic initiatives; participation in immigrant rights groups; local parent-teacher associations; social action committees at synagogues, mosques and churches; and,certain kinds of youth media production programs (Isaac, 1994). While different in manyways, linking these practices together is a sense of insurgency, a sense that people have arole in their own governance and in the construction and contestation over the socially69contingent nature of meaning. Politically, this implies a call for the pluralization of publicspace through the development of practices and actions that contest a privatized life inwhich individuals participate in only marginal ways in public discourse".Where youth media production is concerned, in chapter one and earlier in this chapterI indicated some of the processes and concerns that diminish the richness and breadth ofreality young people can access today. Below and in the analysis of the pedagogy(chapter four), the videos (chapter five), and the mentors' experiences (chapter six)enacted in the Summer Visions Film Institute, I will take up what democratic initiativelooks like in response to these processes. Here, I note that from an Arendtian perspective,at root, such initiative is characterized by action that allows us to stay involved with eachother, to pay heed to the forces and structures that organize and limit our lives. ForArendt, this crucially means public acts have a dual function in relation to democraticpractice.Because no such acts can represent the breadth of struggle for freedom (but, instead,are conceived as resources for the preservation of freedom), Arendt argues public actionsare always characterized by partiality. The very plurality of the world that supports suchacts in the first place assures this will be the case. But if this is so, Arendt concludes thatpublic actions are ultimately not about the consolidation of new truths (Curtis, 1999).Change and the constitution of new social and political relations are obviously important.Just as important from Arendt's perspective, however, is the way such actssimultaneously preserve natality, the possibility of new beginnings. That is, public actsare related to democracy not only because they challenge the sedimentation of meaningand power in discourses, institutions and visual texts. They are related to democracy70because they simultaneously make evident the fact that meaning is to be contested, thatour dependence on others is the existential condition that allows for transformative powerin action (Gambetti, 2005, p. 433). Another way to say this is such acts make clear thesocial nature of meaning, its relativity and contingency. Of course, as noted earlier, inthose moments where one is in the midst of speech and action that contest sedimentedforms of power, it can be difficult to stay attuned to such contingency. Nonetheless,Arendt's point is that, over time we alternate between being actors in and witnesses topublic acts. As we do, such experiences not only point to the problems and opportunitieswithin the present; they also point to the contingency and possibility that underlines theprospect for change in the future. From Arendt's perspective, plurality is both the basis ofpublic experience and the outcome that serves to sustain future democratic practice.Awareness of the contingency of meaning thus operates as a crucial resource to securethe future of democratic practice. It "sustain[s] and intensif[ies] our awareness ofreality... Without such awareness we can neither belong well to a world of others norcare for them well" (Curtis, 1999, p. 19).Democratic practice is a function of the way one learns to see oneself and one'sbecoming in the world in terms of one's interaction with others. This means never fallingprey to "the temptation to short-circuit public life by asserting absolute truths. Asimportant as mutual understanding is ..., it [remains] crucial that mutual understandingbe achieved through processes of communication that are never complete" (Calhoun andMcGowan, 1997, p. 8). It is in this sense that democratic practice is a function of one'scommitment to an enlarged mentalite. To live and act with such a mentalite is to orientoneself to "the world's particulars..., their pregnancy, their fullness" (Curtis, 1999, p.7111). It is to operate in the realm of thinking, which doesn't mean for Arendt to operate insolitude. Rather, the thinking self is a plural self, one always operating in conversationwith others. This is a self "that-is-not-one" (Curtis, 1999, p. 54). It is a self that isinvolved in the world, a self conceived relationally, "in a space in-between, with othersand among others" (Gambetti, 2005, p. 435). It is a self that takes up Arendt's injunction:to act "on behalf of the shared world."Arendt and HabermasIn an important way this position stands in contrast to Habermas' understanding ofthe public realm and democratic practice. As is well known, Habermas (1992, 1996a,1996b) understands democratic practice in terms of procedures for rational-critical debateoriented toward mutual understanding. In his early work (1989/1962), Habermas tracedthe origins of this discursive form to the structural transformation in conceptions ofpublicity in seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe"'. More recently, he has focusedon the development of a "procedural concept of the public sphere" (Benhabib, 1992).Here, publicness (or democratic practice) is understood in terms of the participatoryconditions implicit to the operation of everyday communication. By framing publicengagement at this level, Habermas' intention is to suggest that the possibility fornormatively regulated communication always exists.At root, his argument is that a structure is apparent in the way actors engage inrelationships oriented toward achieving understanding. This structure amounts to thenecessary conditions implicit in the way we carry out linguistic communication with eachother, or with regard to social and cultural objects constituted through embedded socialrelationships. Such conditions include the validity claims implicitly or explicitly raised72about certain sorts of knowledge that has been exercised and the sort of relationshipsbetween speakers or speakers and cultural texts that arise in this process. Benhabib(1992) nicely defines what these procedural constraints amount to:Each participant must have an equal chance to initiate and to continuecommunication; each must have an equal chance to make assertions,recommendations and explanations; all must have equal chances toexpress their wishes, desires, feelings; and finally, within dialogue,speakers must be free to thematize those power relations that in ordinarycontexts would constrain the wholly free articulation of opinions andpositions (p. 89; also see Habermas, 1990, pp. 87-94).Habermas is of course aware that these conditions may not be retrieved in interpersonalcommunication or in the analysis of cultural texts (such as movies, television oradvertisements, etc.). His point, however, is they are invoked in communication as longas there is the assumption of responsiveness. Warranties underlie the procedural nature ofthis relationship, securing future possibilities for reflexive, democratic communication(Habermas, 1992).As an abstraction generated from the structures underlying the reciprocal circulationof meaning, Habermas is aware that the procedural concept of the public sphere has to belocated historically, in relation to those contexts and associations where meaning isproduced. In his work, this has led to a socio-cultural analysis of system and lifeworld asaction contexts in capitalist societies'. I am not concerned to pursue this line of inquiryhere, except to note that public engagement in this model refers to those instances wherecommunicatively-achieved understanding is retrieved through acts that problematizepreviously unquestioned norms, values and ends. Public dialogue thus operates as a formof universalizing communication in which conditions are established for producingconsensus about how a democratic future might be achieved.73This universalizing tendency is where Arendt differs from Habermas. Arendt arguesthat as forms of communication, public actions are never simply an exercise in debateleading toward consensus (Warner, 2002). They are never simply "discourse [that] isunderstood to be propositionally summarizable" (Warner, 2002, p. 115). In Arendt's viewthe place of human plurality in the public realm cannot be accounted for under the aegisof an epistemic of legitimacy because "our ability to experience and constitute a worldshared in common is utterly dependent on that world appearing to us through the eyes ofothers. That is appearance through distinction" (Curtis, 1999, p.16). We respond toparticular others. Difference is thus a constitutive force. Every performance or action inthe world is a manner of showcasing ourselves, but when we do this, we always addressspecific audiences. We never show our whole selves through spaces of appearance, nordoes the full weight of the past appear as part of our engagement with others. Instead,Arendt argues, it is always particular versions or stylizations of our selves that respond tothe stimuli offered by others. As such, it is not warranties which secure the possibility ofnew truths that sustain public life or democratic practice, but an awareness of and anobligation to the socially contingent nature of meaning.Action in concert is crucial for Arendt but she contends such action is sustainedthrough agonistic encounters that lead to a commitment to diversity and complexitythroughout our social, cultural and political lives. If this is so, the question to be explorednow is: what is the relationship between pedagogy and the development of a commitmentto natality or new beginnings? I explore this question in the next section and then suggesthow it can help us to understand the relationship between youth media production and74democratic practice and why the Summer Visions Film Institute offers an interestingexample to assess this relationship.Democratic Practice and a Pedagogy of NatalityOne of the difficulties of drawing on Arendt's public realm theory in relation to youthmedia production is her insistence that politics and education not be conflated'. The mostcommon interpretation of this is to assume Arendt wishes to cordon off education frompolitical concerns, as though politics and learning are unrelated. This interpretation,however, misrepresents her argument.On one level, the idea that education would be entirely distinct from concerns fordemocratic practice makes no sense in Arendt's schema. She conceives of plurality andnatality or the possibility of new beginnings in relation to ontology but she is also awarethat once examples of democratic practice are enacted, there are no guarantees that theywill be assured in the future. It is with this in mind that she says: "the chances thattomorrow will be like yesterday are always overwhelming" (Arendt, 1968, p. 169).Concern for the disappearance of democratic practices is also evident when she remarks:"the modern age — which began with such an unprecedented and promising outburst ofhuman activity — may end in the deadliest, most sterile passivity history has everknown" (p. 322). Given these and other laments, the implication is preparation is requiredto ensure public actions continue. Plurality and natality, the key conditions intrinsic tosuch actions, are, in this sense, political achievements not just "ontological conditionswhose existence is tied to the ... fact of human existence" (Levinson, 2002, p. 201). Butif this is so, how are we to understand Arendt's insistence that politics and education arenot the same?75In response, it is of note that she takes this position not because she wishes to separatepolitics and education into distinct realms, but because she argues it is not helpful to askyoung people "to take responsibility for the world until they have been properly — andcarefully exposed to it" (Levinson, 2002, p. 203). As evidenced in her essay, "The Crisisin Education," the target of this attack is very specifically progressive educators who sowant to establish conditions of equality in the classroom that they ignore or downplay theneed for adult direction. The need for such guidance does not mean teachers should act asauthoritarians who impose their will on students. But it also does not mean theeducator/student relationship is equal. Education — and here Arendt, like this researchstudy, is concerned with learning designed for children and youth — poses a novel relationto the public realm as compared to politics. To engage in politics, in Arendt's view, is "toact freely amongst equals who are equally capable of free action" (Levinson, 1997, p.449). To do this is to assume "equal responsibility for the course of the world" (Arendt,1968, p. 189). Education, on the other hand, is a practice that addresses newcomers."These newcomers ... are not finished but [are] in a state of becoming" (Arendt, 1968, p.182). We need then, to distinguish between the responsibilities and qualities required ofus when we teach from those demanded of us in politics (Levinson, 1997).A similar point was recently made in the context of debates in media education andyouth media production regarding the role educators are to play in challenging students'thinking about the media. Questions about how actively teachers should contest youngpeople's relation to the popular commercial media have been part of media literacydiscussions for some time (Masterman, 1985; Buckingham, 2003; Poyntz, 2006; Kline etal, 2006). I addressed Len Masterman's contribution to these discussions in chapter one.76Here I note that David Buckingham (2003) has worried of late that by challengingstudents to engage in critical discussions of the media, educators risk censoring youthfultastes. The danger is critical media education will become "the land of the hand wringerswho decry pleasure and insist on somber mediations on the ideological workings ofconsumer media" (Stack and Kelly, 2006, p. 13). I think to fall prey to this worry,however, is simplistic. There is no reason why critical analysis need be so disabling.What's more, as Stack and Kelly (2006) go on to argue, educators have a responsibility"to give students the tools to understand both how and why" (p. 13) the media reports onissues in the way they do, and why the latest shows, Internet sites, and computer gamesare pleasurable. Informing a general audience about such practices may or may not beappropriate; but to avoid these kinds of issues in the context of media education or youthmedia production is to misunderstand the responsibilities demanded of one when oneteaches as compared to when one engages in politics.Like Stack and Kelly, Arendt's essential concern about the relationship betweeneducation and politics is not whether such a relationship does or should exist, but how toproperly understand pedagogy in the service of democratic practice. With this in mind,Arendt offers a curious formulation: to teach in the service of democratic agency, shesays, means to "preserve newness" (Arendt, 1968, p. 189). The project of education,Arendt argues, is to teach for a world which appears "out of joint". Essentially, she meansby this that because the world is ultimately a human creation, it wears down, it becomesentrenched in old patterns and ways of being. "To preserve the world against themortality of its creators and inhabitants [requires that it] constantly [be] set right"(Arendt, 1968, p. 189). The work of setting things right falls to each new generation.77"Our hope always hangs on the new which every generation brings; but precisely becausewe can base our hope only on this, we destroy everything if we so try to control the newthat we, the old, [try to] dictate how [the new] will look" (Arendt, 1968, p. 189).What Arendt is getting at here is that a pedagogy that preserves newness must avoidteaching in an attempt to transform the world on behalf of students. Such practicesarticulate a project for students, as though the route toward the resolution of the world'sproblems were already in place. The problem is that to teach in this way is to take fromstudents "their own future role in the body politic" (Arendt, quoted in Levinson, 1997, p.443). Teaching for natality is thus a precarious balancing act between preparing youngpeople for political life or democratic action, as Arendt understands this, withoutabandoning them to this action prematurely. Education for action means: "to teach inways that generate the sorts of insights into the world that might turn students intopolitical actors. Such approaches would have to illuminate both the moral consequencesof our failure to act on behalf of others as well as attending to the moral possibilities —and pitfalls — of political action" (Levinson, 2002, p. 204).Natality is central to Arendt's understanding of life because action is about thepromise of beginnings, the possibility of the improbable in the context of powerformations that might serve to undermine such possibilities. "At the most fundamentallevel [natality] refers to the fact that humans are constantly born into the world, and arecontinually in need of introduction to the world and one another" (Levinson, 1997, p.436). Arendt (1968) uses natality to signal that a sense of belonging to a common worlddepends on "responsiveness to human particularity" (Curtis, 1999, p. 16). Withoutresponding to particular others, we can neither understand our selves nor affect the78conditions that shape our lives. In this sense, the very plurality of the human condition iscause for hope that public action will continue. To ensure it does, however, democraticpractice requires that we learn to visit and carefully listen to the perspectives of those wedon't know and by extension, those situations that are unfamiliar to us. This is anessential task of education; helping young people "[t]o think with an enlarged mentalite[by] ... train[ing] one's imagination to go visiting" (Arendt, quoted in Smith, 2001, p.83).At the same time, Arendt is highly conscious of the fact that merely introducingyoung people to the world is not enough. The "essence of education," as Arendt (1968, p.173) calls it, is in fact the promise of the new. Because of this, teaching for natality, orpreserving newness involves a paradox. It means educators "are asked to facilitate [the]emergence [of the new] even though, as Arendt reminds us, ... we can neither predict norcontrol the forms this newness will take" (Levinson, 1997, p. 438). In this sense, theparadox of natality means: "We are asked to teach the world as it is in such a way that weneither endorse it nor seek to direct the course of its transformation" (Levinson, 1997, p.443).Of course carrying out this work is mediated by at least two conditions, each of whichlimits and enables opportunities for new beginnings. On the one hand, because we neverexperience the world in a wholly new way, belatedness is a characteristic feature to beencountered in any educational setting. We are always inheritors of our identities, ourexperiences and, I would add, the social, political and economic structures that allowspecific subjectivities and experiences to come into being in the first place. "Belatednessorients us to the world that not only precedes us, but constitutes us as particular kinds of79people, positioning us in relation to others, to the past, and to the future in ways we mightnot have chosen, but into which we are nonetheless thrown. Recognizing the ways inwhich we are belated is essential to the development of social and self understandings"(Levinson, 1997, p. 440).In youth media production, it was remarked on earlier what happens when this workis not done in the context of projects designed for urban youth. Given this, the work ofpreserving newness in youth media programs begins by acknowledging how youngpeople have been represented in the past, including the ways race, class, gender andethnicity inform these representations. As media educators (New London Group, 1996;Luke, 2000; Buckingham, 2003; Goodman 2003; Masterman 1985; Stack and Kelly,2006) have long argued, it also includes acknowledging and delineating how particularcodes and conventions of story, sound, lighting, editing and spatial and image designoperate in multimodal texts". Further, it involves acknowledging how the production anddistribution of youth media is changing in new digital environments, and what role theconcentration of mainstream commercial media among fewer and fewer corporationsplays in young people's lives. The purpose of this work is not to undermine youthfultastes; it is to provide young people with a sense of what has come before so they canframe their initiatives in relation to those undertaken in the past. This is a necessary stepnot only to understand the conditions of belatedness under which youth media productionoperates, but also so young people's work might begin contesting forms of oblivion thatthreaten their lives and the lives of others who are in danger of disappearing from social,political and cultural landscapes.80But the past can also be a significant resource that opens up novel experiences not yetencountered by students. In this sense, belatedness can be a profoundly enabling force. Inyouth media production, this is not only apparent when the history of visualrepresentation is sourced for examples of new strategies and new ways youth people canrepresent their stories, but also when past youth media productions are used to exemplifythe potential of young people's work. In chapter four, I note that this is a significantstrategy used in the Summer Visions Film Institute. Previously produced student videosare used to prepare youth mentors for their work and to introduce new student filmmakersto the possibilities youth media offer. Beyond showcasing the promise of adolescent'swork, the purpose of this practice is to foreground the "youthscape" constituted throughthe pedagogy and production work in the program. "Youthscape" is a term increasinglyused in the field of youth popular culture studies to suggest "a site that is not justgeographic or temporal, but social and political as well," a place that is bound up withquestions of power, community and possibility (Maira and Soep, 2005, pp. xv-xvi). Inchapter four I examine how the pedagogy in the Summer Visions program attempts toconstitute such a place. Chapters five and six assess in what ways democratic practice isa characteristic feature of the youthscape produced in the Summer Visions program.If belatedness is a limiting and an enabling condition within a pedagogy of natality,so too is plurality. It was noted earlier in this chapter how plurality operates as aprecondition for the possibility of novel experiences, but plurality can also be a limitingfactor. "(0)ur efforts to initiate the new take place always in the midst of other actingbeings whose very presence makes it unlikely that our initiatives will come to fruition.This is not to say that our initiatives have no effect; rather it reminds us of the ways in81which the effects of particular acts cannot be predicted in advance" (Levinson, 1997, pp.437-438; Arendt, 1998/1958, pp. 221-236). In youth media production, this is a particularproblem young people can encounter when they work in groups to produce media. Aswill be apparent in chapter five, while there are many advantages to working inproduction teams, there are also interesting tensions that arise when compromise andnegotiation mute the richness of the story and the video as a whole (Buckingham et al.,1995).In educational settings, the conditions of belatedness and plurality orient us but alsothreaten to overwhelm our abilities to bring something new into being. Preservingnatality thus depends on a willingness to confront "the social effects of belatedness [andplurality] without resigning ourselves passively to them. Resignation turns away from thepromise of natality: the capacity to establish new relations and to generate new socialrealties through our words and deeds" (Levinson, 1997, p. 437). Natality is action thatresponds to particular circumstances we want to change. It represents those times in ourlives when we take responsibility for our circumstances and refuse to be passive subjectsin relation to social forces. Our actions thereby pull us out of our habitual self-understandings, facilitating new beginnings (Arendt, 1998/1958).The essence of education is thus about constituting productive forms of uncertainty inthe service of future engagement. In youth media production programs this meansteaching young people to understand their work in relation to the world in such a way thatthe door is left open for the world and one's place in it to change. This is the "gapbetween past and future," a gap which "is not the present as we usually understand it butrather a gap in time" kept open by ongoing struggles between the fact of belatedness and82possible futures (Arendt, 1968, pp. 10-14). "To teach in this gap is to commit ourselves toteaching about the past — for understanding and guidance, and for the preservation ofmemory that underlies both — and to motivate students to try to set things right. At thesame time we have to resist the temptation of attempting to determine and control ourstudents' futures" (Levinson, 201, p. 450). This gap is sometimes called a "third space."It is a space where "students encounter themselves as belated, but they also [become]oriented to the future in a way that is neither forgetful of nor fated by the past" (Levinson,1997, p. 449). It is a space that preserves freedom by orienting young people toward"outer-regarding norms and actions" (Trentmann, 2007).To 'preserve newness,' means teaching for the possibility of new beginnings, notbecause one knows what those new beginnings are, but because it is the very possibilitythat young people will contribute to the construction of a new world that ensures theongoing possibility of public life. In this sense, Arendt helps us to understand that therelationship between pedagogy and democratic practice is not specifically aboutdeveloping critically engaged activists. If this happens, that's fine. As importantly,however, pedagogy supports democratic agency when young people come to seethemselves in relation to and as part of what Arendt calls, the "web of humanrelationships." Understanding oneself in this way means conceiving of oneself and one'slife in relation to plurality. As a central marker for assessing the relationship betweenyouth media production and democratic practice this is a different and less utopian visionthan has traditionally characterized critical media pedagogy. It is not about emancipation.Rather, democratic practice here is understood to be a function of the way adolescentsenvision their lives in terms of interaction with others. Of course, it is not enough merely83to embrace any action that involves one in dialogue or work with others becausedemocratic acts also have a vital role in contesting the lure of oblivion that threatens todisempower groups of people and attenuate our sense of reality. So there is afundamentally ethical dimension to the way educational environments like youth mediaprograms produce an investment in action. I believe this means Arendt's frameworksuggests the democratic potential of such programs is a function of the way they leadyouth to think of themselves as plural selves, relational subjects whose lives areconnected to contestation over the social nature of meaning and our obligation to this.This requires one to be attentive "to the wonder of human particularity and to thespecificity of the world to which it gives birth" (Curtis, 1999, p. 10).The Summer Visions Film Institute and Democratic PracticeHannah Arendt offers a powerful theory of the public realm, which leads to aconvincing understanding of democratic practice. Such practice is conceived in terms ofactions that inscribe one into the course of events in ways that change the initialcircumstances under which one acts. This means democratic practice is about acts thatchallenge the sedimentation of meaning and power in discourses, institutions and visualtexts, while simultaneously making evident that our dependence on others is theexistential condition that allows for such transformative acts in the first place. The role ofpedagogy in this project is to preserve newness. This is made possible through learningstrategies that contest and take advantage of the fact that we arrive in the world belatedly.At the same time, such strategies cannot articulate a project for students, as though theroute toward resolution of the world's problems were already in place. Instead, they needto facilitate opportunities for young people to confront the plurality of the world and our84responsibility to this. When this happens natality or the potential for new beginnings canresult.This framework offers a novel model for understanding the relationship betweenyouth media production and democratic practice. I use this model to evaluate thepractices and experiences of youth involved in the Summer Visions Film Institute. Thisprogram offers an important example to assess the relationship between youth mediaproduction and democratic practice as conceived in relation to natality because, unlikethe Educational Video Centre in New York City (discussed in chapter one), SummerVisions is not focused on the production of documentary videos. At the same time,Summer Visions shares many of the aims and objectives of other community-based,institutionally mediated programs. There is currently no summative study of suchinitiatives in Canada, but Charmaraman (2006) quotes from a study by Campbell et al.(2001) in the United States, which notes that the mission of youth media programs tendsto fall into the following areas: (1) youth voice and social change through creativeexpression and/or political and social action; (2) career development; (3) positive youthdevelopment, including increasing young people's sense of competence, usefulness,belonging, and power; (4) media literacy in order to produce critical viewers andproducers; (5) academic improvement by focusing on increasing literacy skills, criticalthinking and reflection, imagination and problem solving; and (6) narrowing thetechnological divide for communities who typically lack access to resources (p. 46).As is evidenced in chapter four, while Summer Visions does not address each of theseareas equally, there are a number of ways the objectives of the program intersect withthese goals. Summer Visions thus affords an interesting example to assess how Arendt's85work can be used to examine the relationship between youth production and democraticaction.To address this relationship, I draw on a pedagogy of natality as outlined above anduse this conceptual framework to examine the teaching practices and mentor trainingprocess in Summer Visions. My intention is to assess the degree to which each of thesecomponents are designed to "preserve newness" for young people. I then turn in chapterfive to assess the way the program provokes agonistic struggles that foster an engagementwith plurality by closely analyzing the development of three youth productions made inthe summer of 2006. Finally, in chapter six, I examine how and the degree to whichyouths' experiences in Summer Visions lead to a conception of the socially contingentnature of meaning and our obligation to this. While it is possible to address this outcomein relation to the experience of Summer Visions students, I focus on the way such aconception develops among youth video production mentors in the program.With this in mind, the questions I address in subsequent chapters are:1. In what ways does Arendt's conception of public action as conceived in relationto a pedagogy of natality help us to understand the relationship betweendemocratic practice and (a) Summer Visions' pedagogical design and mentortraining program, (b) the production of Summer Visions videos, and (c) theexperience of youth production mentors in the program?2. In what ways does the conceptual focus offered by Arendt's framework helpeducators, researchers and young people understand and address the forces andtensions that can undermine the role of democratic practice in youth mediaproduction programs?86■ See for instance, Kateb, 1983. For interpretations more in line with the argument I ammaking, see Villa, 1992, 1997; Curtis, 1999; Benhabib, 1992." To be clear, Arendt does not mean by this that liberal democratic forms ofgovernance should be dissolved — in fact she is deeply suspicious of all revolutionarymovements that imagine a new social order can be produced ex nihilo — but that otherforms of action beyond the institutions of mass democracy are necessary to vitalize andeven protect such governments (Isaac, 1994, pp. 159-161).I" Prior to the development of the bourgeois concept of the public sphere, a form ofrepresentative publicness predominated. The etymological and institutional basis of thisconcept lies in feudal society. Here, to be public is to perform before the people in somefashion, displaying a "status attribute" to represent the country or serfdom as a whole(Habermas, 1989, pp. 5-12).w Within this framework, systemically integrated action contexts are those forms of socialaction set "loose from integration through value consensus and [switched] ... over topurposive rationality steered by media" (Habermas 1984, p. 342). Here, media refer to theinstrumental steering capacities of money and power located most importantly in thecapitalist enterprise and the bureaucratic state. They allow for "utility-maximizingcalculations... [through] the functional interlacing of unintended consequences" (Fraser1989, p. 117). The lifeworld, on the other hand, is organized through socially integratedaction of which two forms can be set out: normatively-secured integration organizedaround an implicit consensus of norms, values and ends; and communicatively-achievedintegration, generated by explicit linguistic interpretation of these norms, values andends.87In particular, see her essay, "The Crisis in Education," reprinted in Arendt (1968).Here she is thinking of the democratic promise represented by both the American andFrench Revolutions.vil The term, multimodal texts is used to highlight the fact that media resources nowintegrate a range of elements, including visual, audio and graphic symbols, alphabetictexts, and patterns of gesture and spatial design that operate in a dynamic process ofmeaning production (New London Group, 1996).88Chapter 3Critical Ethnography and the Summer Visions ProgramThe over-arching research objective in this dissertation is to document how anArendtian framework of public action conceived in terms of a pedagogy of natality canbe used to assess the way democratic practice is and is not fostered through a youthmedia production program. In this chapter I outline the method used in the study, situatethe Summer Visions Film Institute in relation to the community and school where it takesplace, and describe key participants in the research. I also locate myself in relation to thesummer program, indicate my data collection resources and procedures, and describe themethods used for analyzing data.Critical EthnographyMethodologically, this study is located within the tradition of critical ethnography.Historically, ethnography developed as part of the tradition of Verstehen (to use WilhelmDilthey's term), meaning it is concerned with understanding the expressed meanings andlived experiences of those one studies. Epistemologically, this involves a commitment "toexplicit and holistic interpretation from a bottom-up perspective" (Schroeder et al., 2003,p. 64). Media ethnographies, like the one undertaken herein, "focus on media uses as partof people's everyday lives" and as part of their experiences in institutionally mediatedsettings (Schroeder et al., 2003, p. 58). The holistic nature of this research refers to thefact that while my concern is for the way youth media producers and mentors createmeanings and engage in activities through practical work, I am also concerned with therelationship between producers and audiences and, beyond this, with "the larger socio-cultural structures that circumscribe this process" (Schroeder et al., 2003, p. 48). The goal89is to examine how sense-making operates among research participants while, at the sametime, attempting to understand "how and why particular actions and articulations come toattain social meaning and significance" (Schroeder et al., 2003, p. 58).As a method, critical ethnography applies "a subversive world view to moreconventional narratives of cultural inquiry. It does not necessarily stand in opposition toconventional ethnography... Rather, it offers a more reflective style of thinking about therelationship between knowledge, society and freedom from unnecessary socialdomination" (Thomas, 2003, p. 45). Inevitably, the goal is to understand how "thedemocratic redistribution of power through culture" might be enacted (Brown, 2004, p.303). For this reason, critical ethnography is ideally suited to a study which examineshow a youth media production program nurtures democratic practice by helping youngpeople to think with an enlarged mentalite, "to care about matters of common concernand to act on this concern with others" (Isaac, 1994, p. 158).Beginning with Paul Willis' groundbreaking text, Learning to Labour (1977),typically, three assumptions have underwritten the critical ethnographer's work. First, itis assumed all cultural groups produce an "intersubjective reality which is both`inherited' and continually constructed and reconstructed as it is lived or practiced"(Foley, 2002, p. 472). In relation to terms introduced in chapter two, this is to say ourexperience is always belated. It is shaped by a past that orients us to the world "that notonly precedes us, but constitutes us as particular kinds of people" (Levinson, 1997, p.440). Of course, because the past is always susceptible to change, critical ethnography isalso attentive to the ways our intersubjective reality is reconstructed through newexperiences. Critical ethnographers are engaged in mapping how "life environments,90institutional and organizational structures, and the social relations of economicproduction and consumption shape modes of social reproduction;" but they are alsoattentive to the way culture "emerges in new forms through human activity" (Carspecken,2002, p. 61). In this study, a similar dynamic form of analysis is taken up through anexamination of the way experiences of natality or new beginnings are fostered for youththrough an engagement with the plural and belated conditions that shape their mediaproduction work.Second, critical ethnographers also assume that "a well-trained, reflexive, investigator... [is capable of knowing a] historical, socially constructed reality in a partial,provisional sense through an intensive, experiential encounter with people" (Foley, 2002,p. 472). To be sure, as noted below, this assumption is much debated today, but at root, asignificant locus of work in critical ethnography remains committed to the real, to theidea that it is possible to know something meaningful about people's social lives and theirpossible futures.Third, and in fact an extension of the second presumption, it is assumed "a reflexiveinvestigator, who has experienced [the] ... cultural space [of a group] and has dialoguedwith its practitioners, can portray this cultural space and its people in a provisionallyaccurate manner" (Foley, 2002, pp. 473). The goal of this work is to find alternativemeanings and to challenge the structures of power as practiced within various institutionsby producing knowledge that preserves freedom (Carspecken, 2002).Of course drawing on any ethnographic tradition today is complicated. Ethnographersmay say we write about the world from "a bottom-up perspective" (Schroeder et al.,2003, p. 64), but over the course of its history ethnography has betrayed the trust or91erased the experience of those being studied and as a result, positivist ethnography hasbeen tarnished if not discredited entirely (Brown, 2004). Particular problems within thistradition have included: a tendency to subsume participants' voices in the ethnographer'swork; a tendency to hierarchize the interests of the ethnographer over those under study,meaning career aspirations trump ethical and political considerations about participants; apropensity to reinforce negative stereotypes of the exotic Other and through this toreplicate "the oppressive effects, if not the material conditions of colonization;" and, atendency to claim objectivity for one's findings "through the habitual practice of puttingthe ethnographic Self under erasure" (Brown, 2004, p. 300; but also see, Clifford andMarcus, 1986; Marcus and Fisher, 1986; Marcus, 1994). In addition, because of theethnographer's need to find order, ethnographic work has tended to present the socialworld as a far tidier place than what actually exists (Herbert, 2000). Because of this,suspicion has arisen that the whole ethnographic project may be wanting (Horner, 2004;Carspecken, 2002).In response, awareness of these failures must necessarily inform ethnographicpractice today. At the same time, this does not mean ethnography should abandon itscommitment to understanding reality (Marcus, 1999; Carspecken, 2002). In fact, criticalethnographers have reclaimed this orientation in their work, following a decade and a halfof uncertainty born in large part from engagements with poststructuralist theory (Brown,2004, Foley, 2002). Early on this engagement seemed to suggest that ethnographies couldno longer speak about the real, but perhaps only about the experience of the ethnographerin relation to those under study or in relation to a handful of other cases. Of late,however, a number of researchers (Brown, 2004; Horner, 2004; Schroeder et al., 2003;92Foley 2002; Carspecken, 2002; van Loon, 2001; Gordon et al., 2001; Burowoy, 1998)have argued that this conclusion may be premature.In particular, what has productively emerged from ethnography's engagement withpostmodern and poststructuralist theory is a clearer sense of the role of language andpolitics in the work ethnographers do. The legacy of postmodern encounters, in otherwords, would seem to be a keener understanding today of the fact that all knowledge isnegotiated and constructed through language, which is to say all knowledge is relationaland political. "Knowledge is not only the shadow of a sign, but also dwells in theshadows between signs, dwells in and between and beyond the signifying chains that canonly always and forever represent it in its partiality" (Brown, 2004, p. 301). Concludingthus, however, does not discredit the three assumptions central to critical ethnographicpractice noted above, as much as it introduces a necessary modesty and attention to ethicsand politics in regard to these assumptions (Herbert, 2000).This really means that epistemologically and ontologically, critical ethnography isless concerned today to arrive at definitive and absolute statements about cultural groups.More valuable is the ability to offer "truthlike" statements in one's research. What makesone's descriptions and analyses "truthlike" has less to do with their mirror-likecorrespondence to the world, than with "the credibility and usefulness of [one's] findings... [as] ... decided [on] discursively by the community of scholars and other potentialusers" of one's research (Schroeder, 2003, p. 47). But if this is so, it is more importantthan ever that ethnographers now also address the ethics of their practice and the politicsit serves. Past errors and exclusions are not to be reproduced. Moreover, if knowledge isalways partial and necessarily involved with power, how we interact with and affect those93we study and how our research is construed to serve particular political ends becomelegitimate questions.In practice, one way to accommodate this reflexive turn is through what Foley (2002)calls, a theoretically reflexive critical ethnography. Here, our theoretical constructs areunderstood to evolve in relation to the cultural practices of our subjects. Thus "abstractarmchair theorizing about everyday life" is replaced "with an experiential, abductive wayof knowing [where the] ethnographer must tack back and forth mentally between herconcrete field experience and her abstract theoretical explanations of that experience(Foley, 2002, p. 476). Through this, practitioners question and analyze field experienceswhile also critically analyzing the disciplinary framework "that shapes them and theirinterpretations" (Foley, 2002, p. 477). Unlike empirical testing where the goal is toevaluate seemingly 'universal' laws of human behaviour through inductive method,abduction moves "from a conception of something to a different, possibly moredeveloped or deeper conception of it. This happens through our placing and interpretingthe original ideas about the phenomenon in the frame of a new set of ideas" (Danermarket al. quoted in Shroeder et al., 2003, p. 46). Multiple dialogues are thus employed "toreach explanations of empirical phenomena ... [We start] out from dialogue ... betweenobserver and participants, [embed] such dialogue within a second dialogue between localprocesses and extralocal forces that in turn can only be comprehended through a third,expanding dialogue of theory with itself' (Burowoy, 1998, p. 5). In this way, "insightcomes from immersion in the data, a sifting and resifting of the evidence until a patternmakes itself known" (MacLeod, 1995, p. 270). This method lends itself to holistic mediaethnographies because we begin with the meanings and activities media users (including94youth media producers and mentors) generate. We then attempt to illuminate these bydrawing linkages between media users and the discursive practices set in both theorganizational contexts of the media and the everyday lives of young people. Finally, in athird dimension, the communication process that leads to the creation of a concretecommunication product — i.e., a video — is "understood as being inscribed in largermedia-specific as well as socio-cultural processes of ... globalization, commercialization,[and] democratization ..., etc." (Schroeder et al., 2003, p. 48-49). The result is a dialecticanalysis meant to produce increasingly helpful maps of the world.In this study, such a dialectic analysis operates through a socialization of the methodsfor data collection, a politicization of the study's objectives, and a personalization of theresearcher's voice. In regard to a socialization of methods, this means rather thanpositioning myself as the so-called Lone Ethnographer at work in a field of foreignrelations (Brown, 2004), I worked in a collaborative relationship with youth participants,educators, and community members involved with the Summer Visions Film Institute.The collaboration included inviting students to act as co-designers of the semi-structuredinterviews held with them beginning in January, 2006. I also asked participating youth tokeep personal journals that reflect their understanding of how participation in theprogram has affected their conceptions of the media (both youth media and mainstreampopular culture), their communities and themselves. As it turned out, most youth did notmaintain journal reflections, but they did communicate their concerns and points of viewto me through email communication, short informal conversations, and longer talks hadthroughout the summer of 2006. In addition, in the fall of the same year, participatingyouth were invited to review and critique the researcher's evolving conceptions of young95people's experiences in Summer Visions. This proved to be very helpful and in fact wasformative in shaping my understanding of the video production process and the role ofboth students and peer-to-peer mentors in the program.The voices of educators and program instructors — both school and community-based— involved in Summer Visions were also solicited throughout the study via semi-structured formal interviews and informal conversations. Where possible, the same groupof adults were invited to review, critique and contribute to the researcher's understandingof youths' experiences through interview sessions held near the end of the project'sresearch term. Finally, a wide range of participants — including former mentors andcommunity members who have been involved in Summer Visions over six years — weresolicited in order to gain a broad array of spatial and temporal perspectives on theprogram. As evidenced in subsequent chapters, the views of these people played asustantive role in shaping my understanding of Summer Visions and my assessment ofhow the program has impacted young people.Regarding a politicization of the study's objectives, while this dissertation is clearlylocated in relation to the history of media literacy and youth media productionpedagogies, it is also designed to document how democratic practice is enabled throughyouth work. As I argued in chapter one, the current media education literature stillcontains an underdeveloped theorization of this process. In particular, we lack anunderstanding of how youth media production — beyond documentary programs explicitlygeared toward "in-depth documentation, research and public discussion of a communityproblem" (Goodman, 2003, p. 105) — relates to democracy. In response to this, I havefound Hannah Arendt's conception of public action understood in terms of a pedagogy of96natality to be a powerful and novel framework for assessing how democratic practice isnurtured through creative youth work. In line with a reflexive critical ethnographicpractice, in chapter four, I use an Arendtian framework to make sense of the mentortraining and pedagogical practices characteristic of the Summer Visions program. Inchapters five and six, I then address how this framework can be usefully deployed toexamine the development of Summer Visions films and to assess peer-to-peer mentors'experiences in the program. Throughout, while beginning from the experiences of youthand adult participants in the program, I embed these experiences in a dialogue aboutmedia production practice and young people's everyday lives. I also situate thisdiscussion in relation to socio-cultural processes related to race, class, gender, andpractices of commercialization. The purpose of this is to indicate where discursivepractices related to these forces undermine the work of natality and democracy in youthmedia. Through this, I argue this study is designed in a way that supports and extends thepolitical concerns of the critical ethnographic tradition.Finally, if one purpose of post-structuralist critiques of ethnography was to move thepractice away from objective ethnographic accounts, I draw lessons from this critique intwo ways. First, in what follows, I note my long history of involvement with the SummerVisions program. In an older positivist ethnographic tradition this might be considered aweakness. Here, however, I draw on my familiarity with the program's history, as well asthe histories of the organizations involved to offer the kind of intimate yet rigorousperspective that might not be possible for someone less familiar with this setting.Through this, to use the terms of the day, I "write myself into the story," noting how myown conceptions of each program and of youth media production, more generally, have97taken shape. Second, by drawing on the network of young people, educators andcommunity members involved in these initiatives, I offer a tapestry of voices andexperiences representative of the real resources necessary to ensure these programsoperate. By this, it is hoped that "situated, embodied, historical selves/characters" emergein the text, thereby producing a study based in praxis, "one in which the ethnographer is... reflexive, the process ... dialogic, and the outcomes ... political" (Brown, 2004, p.302).Program SettingThe Summer Visions Film Institute is a partnership between Cityschool, a local inner-city high school, and Pacific Cinemathêque, a not-for-profit film centre in Vancouver.During the summer, the program operates out of a converted automotive studio inCityschool. Pacific Cinémathêque administers the program from its downtown officesduring the off-season and recruits interested young people through information sessionsheld in secondary schools, alternative education programs and community centres. BothCityschool and the surrounding community are considered part of the inner city inVancouver, although both are undergoing a process of transition and gentrification (Ley,1996; Danyluk and Ley, 2007).Historically, the area known as East Vancouver has been a major working classdistrict in the city. Over the course of the past decade and a half, however, the migrationof artists, culture and helping-industry workers, and professionals into the neighbourhoodhas led to rising real estate values and some out-migration of working-class, lowerincome peoples (Phillips-Watts et al., 2005; Danyluk and Ley, 2007). Theneighbourhood's large stock of cooperative housing has ameliorated this process to an98extent, as revealed in the most recently available census data, which indicates that 37.5%of the population is low-income, as compared to 27% of the population in the City ofVancouver as a whole (Statistics Canada, Census 2001). Nonetheless, the number offamilies with university degrees in the community increased by more than 25% between1991 and 2001 (Phillips-Watts et al., 2005). David Ley (1996) argues this is an importantsign of gentrification because the arrival of university-educated professionals tends toprecede a significant increase in property values and income levels. In the yearsfollowing 2001, this in fact came to pass as a dramatic increase in the cost of homes inEast Vancouver has been evident. Between 2002 and 2007, for instance, the average pricefor a detached home in the area increased by 104.4% (Multiple Listing Services, October2007). It is of note that housing costs throughout the region increased at a rate of 102.6%over the same period (Multiple Listing Services, October 2007). This suggests that whilea process of gentrification has been underway in East Vancouver over the past five years,at least in part the rising cost of living associated with this development has beensymptomatic of the region as a whole.Perhaps for this reason, cultural, ethnic and even economic diversity continue to becommon characteristics of East Vancouver. The area continues to have one of the highestconcentrations of non-English speaking communities in the region, with significantrepresentation among people who speak Chinese, Vietnamese and Italian at home (Cityof Vancouver, 2005). In addition, the average household income continues to beapproximately twenty percent less than the average for Vancouver as a whole (City ofVancouver, 2005). There is also a significantly higher percentage of single parentfamilies (26.4%) in the area as compared to the City of Vancouver (17%), and rental99accommodations and apartment-living are much more common features of thecommunity (City of Vancouver, 2005). If these figures indicate the continuing diversityevident in the community, this characteristic is also represented among the student bodyat Cityschool as well as among young people involved in the Summer Program.In many ways Cityschool exemplifies a typical high school in East Vancouver. As of2005, 58% of the students came from homes where English is not the primary language.Of these students, two-thirds speak Chinese or Cantonese with their families (BritishColumbia Ministry of Education, 2007). Overall, students at Cityschool speak more than40 languages and one-third are bilingual. First Nations students make up nearly fivepercent of the student population, while ten percent of the students are designated asSpecial Needs (British Columbia Ministry of Education, 2007). The graduation rate is93%, which is slightly lower than the provincial average. Even with the recent migrationof university-educated professionals into East Vancouver, the educational attainmentlevels of students' families remain lower than district and provincial averages for bothhigh school graduation and attainment of university degrees (British Columbia Ministryof Education, 2007).In 2006, more than 20% of the students attending Summer Visions came from EastVancouver high schools. These youth were part of a group of 135 students who took partin the program through a needs-based scholarship initiative. Scholarships are fundedthrough a partnership with the local insurance brokers association and a district youth-infilm program. This ensures that a cross-section of youth from throughout the LowerMainland are able to access the program. In 2006, there were a total of 162 youthparticipants in Summer Visions, of which 85 were female and 77 were male.100Approximately, 40% were visible minorities. Three youth self-identified as First Nations,while four students were physically and/or mentally challenged.Study ParticipantsThe main participants in this study included the Director of the Summer Visionsprogram (Caitlin), the Education Director at Pacific Cinemathêque (Julia), the Head ofCityschool's Film and Theatre Department (Tony), a community artist and SummerVisions script supervisor (Lucy), and a community member and former programinstructor (Ryan). Of this group, Tony is a professional film and television actor and acertified teacher with the provincial College of Teachers. He grew up in East Vancouverand has worked at Cityschool since 1981. He is widely regarded as a dynamic and much-loved educator. Caitlin lives in East Vancouver and has worked as a community mediaproducer and a youth media educator with the Cinemathêque since 1999. At the time ofthe study, Julia had worked with the Cinemathêque for a little more than two years. Shehas a background in social work and has taught community college courses on lightingfor photography. Lucy has a history of more than twenty five years as a communityeducator, working largely in the area of theatre activism for social change. Early in hercareer she was heavily influenced by Augusto Boal's (1979) work, Theatre of theOppressed. In 2000, she began working on youth media education and productionprojects with the Cinematheque and, as noted in chapter four, was influential indeveloping the storytelling strategies used in the Summer Visions program. Ryan alsolives in East Vancouver and is now a professional television editor working on aregionally-based TV show about urban environments. He worked with Summer Visions101as an instructor between 2002 and 2004 and also assisted Pacific Cinemathêque andCityschool's Film and Theatre Department with various projects during this period.In addition to these people, I observed most of the 162 students taking part inSummer Visions throughout July and August. During this period and in the months priorto and following the summer, however, much of my attention was focused onunderstanding the work and experience of peer-to-peer mentors involved in the program.I chose to focus on the insights and experiences of these youth for two reasons.First, unlike student participants who take part in Summer Visions for nine or tendays, the mentors are involved in production work in the program on a daily basis over aseven-week period. Most are also former students and so they offer a more robust andcomplex example to evaluate how creative media practices impact young people'srelationship with democratic practice.Second, while peer education has had a central role in liberal and progressiveeducation reforms since the 1960s (Goldfarb, 2002), it is surprising to note the dearth ofresearch about peer-to-peer mentorship in media production settings (Charmaraman,2006). The Summer Visions youth mentor program is an example of peer-to-peer trainingdesigned to support student work throughout the production process. This approach isbased on the notion that education and young people's engagement and power isdeepened when youth take on pedagogical roles among their peers. Through this, modelsof learning which position the teacher as master of the discipline are "replaced by aprocess that emphasizes the development of the students' own collective and individualcritical thinking skills and of the students' own rhetorical skills of discussion, groupcollaboration, and debate" (Goldfarb, 2002, p. 111). In media-based learning, peer102education is facilitated through a process which tends to promote student-to-studentexchange and interactivity among and within groups. Kids talk to kids and, ideally, whenthis works well, "peer education provides a safe community and develops a usefulvocabulary in which youths can publicly articulate and analyze their life experiences"(Goldfarb, 2002, p. 112).In the Summer Visions program, mentors are hired from among the studentpopulation at Cityschool. They range in age from fifteen-to-twenty-one years old and arehired following an interview process led by Caitlin. Most of the mentors also haveexperience in Cityschool's film and theatre classes, although as evidenced in subsequentchapters, they typically have minimal regard for what they learn in these classes. Thisstudy is largely concerned with the experience of eight of the eleven mentors hired as partof the 2006 staff'. The eight youth have differing technical and script writing abilities andhave been involved with the summer program for varying lengths of time. They representa cross-section of educational levels, socio-economic backgrounds, and cultural andethnic diversity. As with the names of the program instructors, pseudonyms have beenused in each case.Dominic is a seventeen-year-old African Canadian student who graduated fromCityschool in 2006. In the same year, he worked as a peer mentor in Summer Visions forthe first time. Previously, he did not attend the program as a student, although he didcomplete three film and television production classes during his career at Cityschool. Helives with his father who is a truck driver for Canada Post and he wants to be a film actorin the future. As noted in chapter six, Dominic worked hard but also struggled in his firstyear as a peer educator.103Justine is an eighteen-year-old Chinese Canadian student who was entering her firstyear of post-secondary education at the time of this study. She attended Summer Visionsas a student in 2003 and then was hired as a mentor in 2005 and 2006. Her family speaksCantonese at home and her father is retired. During her career at Cityschool, Justine wasactively involved in the theatre program and is wonderful with children.Kira is a seventeen-year-old Chilean-Canadian student who graduated fromCityschool in 2006. She is fluent in Spanish and was a student in Summer Visions in2003 and then was hired as a mentor the following year. Her father is an independenttelevision producer and a bus driver and her mother is an employee of the local TenantsRights Action Coalition. Kira is often thought of as the best mentor to work with studentgroups interested in making personal or highly emotional stories.Macie is an eighteen-year old Italian-Canadian student entering her first year ofuniversity at the time of this study. She began attending Summer Visions as a student in2002 and then was hired as a peer mentor the following year. Throughout subsequentchapters she is described as a senior mentor in the program. While one of her parentscompleted a college education, her mother is now a clerk and her father is retired. Amongthe group, Macie is considered to be especially strong at story editing. She is also veryconcerned about the way women are portrayed in student videos.Rachel is a sixteen year-old Italian Canadian student who was entering her senioryear of high school at the time of this study. She attended Summer Visions as a student in2003, 2004 and 2005, and then was hired as a mentor in 2006. She is an academicallysuccessful student whose mother is a college educator and whose father is a mail carrier.104Rachel struggled in her first year as a peer educator although she worked very hard atlearning from the more experienced mentors.Rohan is an eighteen-year-old Caucasian student who was entering his second year ofpost-secondary education at the time of this study. He was a student in Summer Visionsin 2003 and then was hired as a mentor the following year. In 2006, as in previoussummers, he only worked in the program for four weeks, and then left to attend areligious summer camp in Ontario for the remainder of the season. Rohan is a trainedsinger and his parents are both highly educated. Among the group, he is often asked towork with groups that have the most challenging stories.Terrence is an eighteen-year-old Japanese Canadian student entering his third year ofpost-secondary education at the time of this study. He began attending Summer Visionsas a student in 2002 and then was hired as a peer mentor the following year. He is one ofthe senior mentors in the program. His family is middle class and highly educated and, asnoted in chapter six, they are largely disdainful of popular commercial media. Among thegroup of mentors, Terrence is highly regarded for his intelligence and his ironic sense ofhumour. He is also kind, easy to work with, and is often very helpful to younger mentors.Zac is a twenty-year-old Caucasian student who was entering his third year of post-secondary education at the time of this study. He began attending the program as astudent in 2001 and then was hired as a mentor the following year. He is one of the seniormentors in the program and has also become an accomplished independent filmmaker.His family is middle class and both parents have completed post-secondary degrees. Asnoted in chapter four, Zac is a formative presence in the summer program and hasbecome a leader among his peers.105Besides these participants, I also interviewed four former peer mentors in SummerVisions in order to gain insight into the way the program has impacted young people overtime. All four of these youth continue to live in East Vancouver.Position of the ResearcherBeginning with my Master's degree in the early 1990s, I have long been interested inthe role of popular media and youth media production as resources for fostering youngpeople's critical understanding and engagement with the issues and relationships thatshape their lives. While pursuing these concerns, in 1995, I was hired as PacificCinemathêque's inaugural Education Director, a position I held until 2004. During thisperiod, besides leading the development and implementation of film and media educationprograms and youth media production projects, I was also part of the team that initiatedthe Summer Visions Film Institute. Largely working with Tony and Caitlin, I helpeddevelop the funding partnerships and institutional arrangements to support the program,and also assisted in the early development of the program's structure and pedagogicalpractices. As noted in chapter four, many of these initial pedagogical strategies eventuallychanged over the course of the program's first half decade. Summer Visions alsoexpanded significantly during this period, growing from fifty student video makers andthree youth mentors in 2000 and 2001 to a much larger program that included more than150 students and between ten and fifteen peer educators by 2005.During my early involvement with Summer Visions, as a member of the seniormanagement group with Pacific Cin6mathêque, while always interested in the work andexperiences generated in the program, I often spent much of my time addressingadministrative, funding and personnel issues. I paid close attention to the operation of106Summer Visions and took a leading role in shaping and fostering its growth throughoutthe off-season. Between 2000 and 2004, however, I rarely had the opportunity to spendmore than several hours each week at the Institute. Instead, I dropped in and out ofCityschool over the course of each summer, talking with the major players involved inthe program and getting to know the youth and the peer mentors during video screenings,production meetings, program reviews, and day-to-day conversations. From this vantagepoint, I developed a close relationship with some of the young people involved inSummer Visions and also developed a specific interest that eventually led to the currentresearch project.Having worked with youth in a variety of media production projects over the pastdecade, I came to be interested in the way such initiatives lead young people to becomeinvolved with or concerned about the forces and relationships that shape their lives, evenwhen these projects are not specifically designed to politicize youth. As evidenced inchapter four, the Summer Visions program is driven by a series of interrelated objectives,including aiding young people's career development, fostering youth expression andempowerment, bridging digital divides, and nurturing positive youth development andmedia literacy. These objectives are common for many youth media programs. Inobserving the experience of youth involved in Summer Visions, it became apparent to methat participating in programs like this can alter young people's relationship with theirlives and communities in dramatic and powerful ways. Participating youth did notnecessarily become overt political activists, but their sense of concern for andinvolvement in the world around them changed. I came to be interested in the way thischange marked a new relationship with democratic practice for young people.107As noted above, the current media education literature still contains anunderdeveloped theorization of this process and so I turned to Hannah Arendt'sconception of public action to assess how democratic practice is nurtured throughcreative youth work. I chose to explore this question through the Summer Visionsprogram in large part because I am familiar with the project and it offered a dynamic casestudy for my research questions.The current coordinators and directors of the program welcomed my participation in2006. So too did the more senior mentors who had been involved in the program forsome time. My research project was also introduced to and welcomed by new peermentors as well as student participants in Summer Visions. All instructors and youthwere told that I would be observing their work and their production experiences and that Iwould be taking notes and interviewing and talking with people throughout the summer.This seemed to cause little difficulty, which was gratifying and significant for myresearch. At the same time, my past experience with Summer Visions presented certainchallenges.In ethnographic work, one's position in relation to one's research obviously affectsone's knowledge. The result is one must always work toward what Katz (1994) describesas conscious reflection on "the situatedness of our knowledge" (p. 498; also see Haraway,1988). In many ways, ethnographies are as much about the ethnographer as they areabout those being studied because the researcher is a social animal. We both play a rolein shaping the kind of data collected and also have "needs that must be met in somedegree if [we are] to function successfully" (Whyte quoted in MacLeod, 1995, p. 270). Inessence, this means, as an ethnographer, I was never entirely outside of my academic108culture or the culture of Summer Visions during this study. Rather, "ethnographiceffectiveness [is about] creating a space between [these] cultures where similarity anddifference can be explored and explained in an ongoing reflexive process" (Herbert,2000, p. 563).In order to create such a space, I began by immersing myself in the 2006 program. Todo this, I largely took the role of a passive participant observer, attempting to understandthe subjective meanings constructed by participants in all aspects of Summer Visions(Schutz, 1954; 1967; as cited in Robson, 1993). Throughout this immersion, I engaged ina process of tacking back and forth between the meanings and experiences of peopleinvolved in the summer program and my own theoretical assumptions about the meaningof democratic practice and its relationship with production work. At times this provedchallenging because research subjects were also my colleagues and friends. This tendedto make it easier to gain access to people's experiences, but it also proved awkward attimes. Specifically, I felt some conflict over which details revealed by my informantswere meant to enlighten my study and what information was offered out of friendship. Toaddress this problem I found myself constantly checking in with research participantsabout the conclusions I was reaching and the sources of information on which they werebased.Because my past experience in Summer Visions was largely sporadic, in order togain as much detail and understanding about day-to-day experiences in the program, Iattended the week-long mentor training pre-camp in the last week of June, 2006, and thenspent all but a few days at Cityschool throughout July and August. While there, I tookpart in all training workshops, followed specific video groups throughout their production109cycle, attended mentor meetings held at the end of each day, took part in mentorevaluation sessions conducted by Caitlin and others, and attended all public screenings,including those held at Pacific Cinemathêque in September. On a number of occasions Ialso participated in student productions as an actor or crew member and was asked toprovide feedback on creative projects. In the spring and fall of 2006, I interviewed seniorpeer mentors and youth who were formerly mentors in the program. I also interviewedcommunity members during these periods as well as teachers at Cityschool andcoordinators of the summer program.Data Collection and ProceduresTo collect data prior to, during and after the 2006 program, in keeping withethnographic method, I drew on a range of data collection resources (Kusenbach, 2003;Schroeder et al., 2003). To begin with, I constructed a short questionnaire (see AppendixA) which youth participants in the study completed prior to the start of the 2006 program.This tool was designed to provide basic demographic information about students, theirfamilies, students' media production experiences beyond Summer Visions, their access tomedia production equipment, and their media consumption habits. To construct thequestionnaire, I drew heavily from a similar questionnaire developed as part of Kline'sMedia Risk Reduction Project (2003; also see Kline et al, 2006). All focal youthparticipants completed this questionnaire once, although some did not provide full anddetailed responses to each question. These data were used to gain an overview of youths'portrayal of their media uses and experiences and was largely a supplement to datagathered in field note observations and interviews.110Observations Much of my data collection involved direct observation, discussion and both formaland informal interviews. In my approach to observation, I did not immerse myself in theclassic participant observer model where one lives with a group of people for two to threeyears (Malinowski, 1927; as cited in Robson, 1993). Rather, I used a more practicalmethod of condensed fieldwork common across educational research (Stenhouse, 1982).As an observer with considerable experience in this field, my interests and theoreticalframes impacted what I selectively focused on and addressed in this study. As notedabove, this is customary in critical ethnographic work.With my background and experience with Pacific Cinemathêque, the SummerVisions program and youth media production more generally, I entered the research siteand the key relationships involved in this project with certain assumptions. I imaginedthat this project offered a revealing instance of how institutionally mediated productionprograms impact young people's relationship with democracy. I was not clear how thisoperated in relation to the specific youth involved, nor the videos examined in chapterfive. After framing the foci for my study, I began by interviewing current senior andformer peer educators from Summer Visions in January 2006. I followed this with aseries of extended interviews with program coordinators and community membersthroughout March, April, May and June. I attended the summer program daily from thelast week in June until the end of August, taking part in all activities including threepublic video screenings, four staff meetings, and twenty five mentor meetings. In the fallof 2006, I conducted follow-up interviews with all focal youth in the study as well aswith key program coordinators between September and November.111While I attempted to operate as a casual observer throughout my time in the program,I regularly took advantage of opportunities to interact with youth video makers, mentorsand program instructors. I did not hesitate from taking advantage of impromptuconversations or instances where I could clarify my understanding of youth experiencesand program intentions. Of course this open-ended process of observation and interactionwas always framed by my overarching research questions and by my effort to understandhow youth were interacting together and with peer educators, and what skills youth weredeveloping through both student and mentorship experiences.Field Notes Descriptive. I kept detailed descriptive field notes recording my observations,informal conversations and other interactions had throughout the research term(LeCompte and Schensul, 1999, pp. 32-33). Prior to and following each formal interview,I recorded my own perceptions and background with the person involved in theinterview. Subsequent to each interview I wrote my reflections and observations aboutany surprising details and issues that arose between the interviewee and myself.Throughout my time attending the summer program, I recorded macro observations,including the number of students and mentors in attendance, the interaction between thementors, instructors and the students, workshop procedures and interaction, and therelationship between work and play throughout the production cycle. Where possible, Ifocused on the minutia of production work, including which students were doing whatkind of work, how collaboration versus individual work operated, how the mentorsencouraged group interaction and a sharing of roles, and the way mentors and instructorsaddressed and resolved problems with students. I also paid close attention to the way112"strangers" treated the student video makers and mentors when youth filmed outside ofCityschool.Because I thought using a tape recorder during my day-to-day participation inSummer Visions would be obtrusive, I chose to write all my field notes in a note bookwhich was visible to all but was not especially conspicuous. At times, this attractedattention from youth and visitors to the program, often leading to helpful and interestingdiscussions about why I was interested in the daily conversations and interactions ofyoung people and what I would do with this information. Over the course of any givenday, there were often multiple conversations or events taking place and so I developed ashort hand for my notes. Periodically, I also had to rely on my recollection of events andinteractions after the fact. I recorded these whenever time was available and certainly atthe conclusion of each day of intensive research. In the end, my field notes werestructured according to the day of the week.Reflective Throughout the research term, I reviewed my field notes every few daysduring intensive data gathering periods and more infrequently during other periods. Iused these opportunities to reflect on the processes and experiences I witnessed. My mainpurpose here was to assess how participation in the summer program brought aboutchange or transition for young people. In particular, I tracked how youth and otherstalked about skills development, changes in youths' understanding of themselves, shiftsin youths' conceptions of commercial and youth-created media, and changes in youngpeople's understanding of the neighbourhood and people they interacted with. I assessedthese practices and experiences in terms of the way they reflected youth engagement withstruggles over the social and ethical nature of meaning in relation to their work and the113work of other young people. I was looking for instances where youths's work andexperiences in the program fostered an engagement with plurality and new beginnings. Ipaid special attention to those actions and instances that seemed to "set something inmotion" that involved youth with matters of social, cultural or political concern (Wilson,2003, p. 208). I also tracked those forces and practices that undermined these kinds ofdevelopments. These reflections had a crucial role in shaping my analysis of youth videoproduction practices discussed in chapter five and peer mentors' experiences examined inchapter six.Informal Interviews Where they were presented, I took advantage of the opportunity to engage in informalinterviews with program coordinators and youth involved in all stages of the summerprogram. I used these instances to clarify my understanding of program and workshopintentions, as well as to gain background details on the experience of youth and theprogress of specific video projects. Because of my history with many of the peopleinvolved in Summer Visions, I also thought this a more "natural" way to interact and todiscuss the linkages between the 2006 program and previous iterations. Further, thisensured for some level of comfort and acceptance of me by youth and adults nowinvolved with Summer Visions. Had I attempted to maintain a more formal relationshipwith these people, it would have come across as highly unusual, if not suspicious. Manyof these people knew me prior to this research project and had we not engaged in regularconversation and interaction, my involvement in Summer Visions would have becomehighly disruptive.114Formal InterviewsTo gather ex situ accounts, I conducted formal interviews with focal participants inthis research project prior to and following the 2006 program. Many of these interviewslasted ninety minutes or more and were voice recorded and transcribed prior to coding.During these sessions, I asked youth to reflect on their history in the program, the way ithas altered various aspects of their experience as teenagers and how it has impacted theirorientation toward the future. Youth were invited to suggest questions that should beasked of new mentors coming into the program in 2006 and to evaluate changes theyperceived in Summer Visions over the course of their involvement.Throughout these and subsequent interviews, I was impressed with the passion anddetail youth and program coordinators offered in their commentaries. In their secondinterviews held in the fall of 2006, many youth noted that having the opportunity toreflect on what they have done and learned in Summer Visions brought to mind ideasthey had not really considered in the past. When asked what that meant, more than oneyouth noted that when they are working in a project like Summer Visions it is oftendifficult to make sense of how it has affected them. Because there had not been a realoccasion to reflect on this prior to this research study, I found many youth quite excitedand interested in assessing their own and others' relationships with the program. Whilenot incorporating all the questions asked during the interview process, the protocols forall formal interviews held for this research project are included in Appendix B.ArtifactsData collection also included an analysis of the Summer Visions website and programbrochures, as well as an evaluation of all videos and related materials — including scripts,115treatments, and editing notes, etc. — produced during the 2006 program. Where relevant, Ialso looked at videos produced in previous iterations of the program and also examinedall videos used as part of the mentor training week and student workshops.Data AnalysisIn the larger scheme, the analysis of my data centred on identifying the kinds andqualities of youth learning that take place in the Summer Visions program. Within thisbroader focus, I paid particular attention to how an Arendtian framework of public actionconceived in terms of a pedagogy of natality could be used to assess the way democraticpractice is and is not fostered through this program. I coded data sources inductively, byattending to the practices and events that evolved from within the data, and deductively,by applying codes drawn more specifically from my theoretical frame. Where possible, Iendeavoured to triangulate findings through multiple references in the data.Analysis of Field Observations and Interview TranscriptsWhile I revised my initial field notes throughout the research term, I did not begincoding until after my data collection was complete. Some methodologists (i.e., Miles andHuberman, 1984) suggest that coding should be done as soon as data is collected.Following LeCompte and Schensul (1999), however, I found it much more useful todevelop my coding strategies and categories after gathering all sources together andspending time reading and re-reading field notes, interview transcripts, and other data togain an "insiders" perspective on the material.To begin the first phase of coding, I used Atlas Ti qualitative data software anddeveloped a codebook that I used throughout the coding process to keep track of andrefine definitions I developed. Many of these definitions changed as my understanding of116the data developed and as the boundaries and relationships between codes becameclearer. The main "chunks of data" I coded were made up of utterances or whatLeCompte calls "verbal episodes" within field notes and transcripts (LeCompte andSchensul, 1999, p. 58). Such utterances ranged in length from a phrase or a sentence to afull paragraph recounting an event or experience.While coding my field notes and transcriptions of informal interviews, Isimultaneously coded all formal interview transcripts and developed an integrated codingscheme for all materials. I did this because, together, all these data sources necessarilyseemed inter-related in ways that offered insight about the larger research objectives. Asinstances of narrative, I interpreted interview statements as representing "anunderstanding of the meanings people themselves give to themselves, to their lives and totheir contexts" (Cortazzi, 2001, p. 388). Of course interviews cannot be assumed torepresent the "truth" nor can views obtained through interviews be taken at face value, asthough they represent an objective accounting of a situation or self. Accordingly,following Charmaraman (2006), I conceived of these interviews as "personal tales toldfrom a particular perspective during a particular time at a particular place" (p. 81).Interview answers are "notorious for discrepancies between what people say that they haddone, or will do, and what they actually did or will do" (Hanson, 1980; Oskamp, 1977; ascited in Robson, 1993). This problem was exacerbated in this study because I have aprevious history with Summer Visions, Pacific Cinemathêque, Cityschool, and many ofthe youth and adults involved in this research. This no doubt afforded a degree of trustregarding the intentions and outcomes of this study; but it also likely shaped how youthand adults portrayed their own and others' experiences. To compensate for this, I tried to117retain a skeptical perspective regarding overly optimistic or pessimistic interpretations ofpeople's experiences and also attempted to triangulate data sources as much as possibleto add credibility to my findings. Having done this, I acknowledge that it is impossible toentirely account for the impact context and previous relationships have on the analysisand research outcomes addressed in subsequent chapters.In developing my initial coding, I employed a mixture of inductive and deductivepractice. To begin with, while reading my field notes and interview transcripts Ideveloped a series of descriptive codes meant to break the data out into frames thatseemed to represented basic elements in the summer program. For instance, I developed acode to identify statements having to do with the program's "mandate," or statementsdescribing the technical abilities or demographics of "participating students." I developedanother category to capture utterances about the "program's structure," by which I meantthe basic ordering of workshops and activities throughout the production cycle. At thesame time, I also developed a series of more deductive codes that originated from withinmy theoretical frame. For instance, I created a code called "natality, pedagogicalstrategies to introduce..." By this I noted all those utterances and experiences having todo with the way a struggle over meaning in relation to audience, storytelling strategiesand processes, and media representations are introduced to students and mentors in thesummer program.As I began to apply these and other codes, I also developed a higher order set of"super codes" or patterns (LeCompte and Schensul, 1999) to designate the experiences ofdifferent groups of people involved in the summer program, or to designate differentmajor phases of practice within the summer program. So, for instance, I developed one118"super-code" for Summer Visions' "Pedagogical framework." I developed another suchsuper-code for "Mentors understanding of the program and their role in it," and a furthersuper-code for "The impact of the program on mentors," etc. Within each of these super-codes I tracked a whole set of sub-codes. Table 3.1 below offers a graphic illustrationwhich exemplifies how this process worked.Coding Table 3.1Super-Code Codes within Super-CodesA. Pedagogical framework inthe Summer Visions programAlA2A3A4A5A6A7Learning EnvironmentRole of Media LiteracyNatality, pedagogical strategies to introduceStorytelling, role of in the production processTechnical skills developmentVisiting filmmakers, role of in teaching...Sequence of workshopsB. Mentors understanding ofthe Summer Visions programand their role in itB1B2B3B4Preparation for the programUnderstanding of pedagogical processConceptions of media literacy in the programUnderstanding of storytelling in the programC. Mentors' performances ClC2C3C4C5C6C7C8C9Cl 0C 11C 12Roles in the production processProblems and difficulties encountered in workUnderstanding of differences between SummerVisions and film classesWorking relationship with instructors/managementIndividual Performances — ZacIndividual Performances — TerrenceIndividual Performances — MacieIndividual Performances — RohanIndividual Performances — KiraIndividual Performances — JustineIndividual Performances — DominicIndividual Performances — Rachel Once the first phase of coding was complete, I then entered a second phase of codingwherein I created a master "interpretation book" that included my reflections andassessments about the key patterns and relationships I saw emerging between each code.119At this stage, I employed the analytic frame offered by Arendt's understanding of publicaction and a pedagogy of natality to make sense of youths's and adults' experiences andconceptions of the summer program and also developed a range of ideas about thepractices and discourses evident within Summer Visions which appeared to underminedemocratic acts.Analysis of Artifacts Once I gathered all available artifacts of youth work, including script treatments,various drafts of scripts, production schedules and notes, and video projects, I evolved acoding scheme to analyze their content and form. I transcribed the plot and any dialoguein each video and coded these along with the other artifacts on several levels, including:character development; themes and overarching plots; genre; and, students' decisionsabout their use of image and audio conventions. I also coded for mentors' interventionsthroughout the production cycle and noted whether videos were screened in public and, tothe extent that I knew, whether videos were submitted by Summer Visions' personnel tocity, provincial or national student film festivals. I did not pay particular attention towhether audiences responded favourably or otherwise to students' work because this didnot seem especially germane to the focus of this study.As it turned out, all the videos produced in the 2006 Summer Visions program werefictional narratives, ranging in length from one to seven minutes. Of the thirty videoscompleted, eight were fictionalized social commentaries, four were docudramas, ninewere dramas, four were horror or fantasy films, three were comedies, and two wereexperimental films.120The study of young people's experiences is a process laden with possibility andpotential risk. In many ways, youth represent our culture's sense of anxiety and promiseabout the future. Because of this, the weight of these discursive frames can result inmisleading and unhelpful descriptions of young people's lives. I have tried to avoid thisoutcome by engaging in a rigorous and methodical analysis of youth experiences in theSummer Visions program. Errors are of course unavoidable, but perhaps in the midst ofsuch missteps, hope and understanding are to be found.' Practically, this meant, both youth and adult participants were invited to shape anddetermine the questions used to prompt them to reflect on their understanding of andexperience in the Summer Visions program.11 An additional four youth — beyond the eleven noted here — were hired to work asproduction mentors for a satellite version of the Summer Visions program targeted atelementary-age children. The satellite program takes place on the campus of a localuniversity, and is produced in conjunction with the Summer Camp program hosted by theuniversity's physical education department. This location was not part of the research forthis study because the elementary program is one-week in length and is designed toachieve a different set of objectives with participating children.121Chapter 4The Summer Visions Program — Natality and Pedagogical DesignIn this chapter, I begin my examination of how Arendt's conception of public actionas conceived in relation to a pedagogy of natality can be used to understand therelationship between democratic practice and youth media work. I do this by drawing onArendt to assess the role of democratic practice in relation to Summer Visions'pedagogical design and mentor training. I begin by providing an overview of the programand an introduction to the coordinators' beliefs about Summer Visions' mission andgoals. I also note where differences and tensions exist regarding these beliefs. I indicatethat Summer Visions shares elements in common with other popular youth mediaproduction pedagogies widely available on the Web and also note where it differs fromthese "informant sources."Using Arendt's conception of public action as defined in relation to a pedagogy ofnatality, I then examine the mentors' preparation and training process and assess thepedagogical practices used throughout the program. I note how forms of democraticpractice are designed into the process both for student filmmakers and for productionmentors, and include examples of such practices from the summer of 2006. I also notewhere tensions in relation to practices of natality are evident at the level of design andaddress how these tensions reflect different conceptions of the program's mandate, asunderstood by the program's designers. Finally, I indicate where these tensions reflectlarger debates in youth media production about the purpose of creative practice.122Summer Visions Film Institute — Program CharacteristicsThrough a partnership between Cityschool's media production program and theEducation Department at Pacific Cinèmathêque, Summer Visions offers digital mediaproduction courses for youth aged 14-19. As noted in chapter one, Pacific Cin6mathêquebegan developing film and media education programs in the mid-1990s. This was part ofan effort to expand operations beyond film screenings and archival programs in ways thatwould draw on the organization's tradition of work with community media artists andfilm cooperatives. In 1999, the Cinematheque's Education Department began workingwith the Theatre and Art Department at Cityschool to develop classroom-based filmcourses and curricula for senior students. A year later, the two organizations expandedtheir partnership with the creation of the Summer Visions program.Targeted at low income, at-risk youth, participants in Summer Visions spend twoweeks working in production teams to write, shoot, edit and screen original short digitalvideos during July and August. The program's website (www.summervisions.ca)describes Summer Visions as "a mix of urban sensibilities (funky east-side location),respectful and challenging instructors, and intense and creative youth from across thecity." It is neither a summer camp nor a school in a traditional sense; rather, the intentionis to develop a creative atmosphere where youth are challenged to tell stories about theirlives. Workshops include: visual storytelling, script writing, production planning, actingand directing, camera, lighting, sound, editing and credit design. Training is provided inIMovie, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Photoshop, and GarageBand. Ostensibly, there are bothintroductory and advanced programs, but the differences between these were negligible in2006.123Approximately 160 youth take part in Summer Visions each year. Of these, 135participate through needs-based scholarships. The level of experience youth participantsbring to the program ranges across the spectrum, from students who have made two orthree videos on their own or in school, to students who have never used a camera. Asnoted in chapter three, ten to fifteen young people (16-21 years old) are hired eachsummer to act as peer-to-peer production mentors for student participants. Funding tosupport these positions is provided by a grant from a local private foundation and afederal government summer employment program. The local school board provides in-kind support by charging no rental fees for the use of school space.Program instructors are drawn from Pacific Cinematheque's Education Departmentand from among community artists and independent filmmakers who live in and aroundthe school community. Tony, the Head of Cityschool's Film and Theatre Departmentdescribes why it is important to have these artists participate in the program.These are people who have succeeded in life outside of high school andoutside of college and university and [they] are excelling in theirrespective field. And so not only do they care about the kid[s], not only dothey care about what's going on in his or her life presently or what's goingto happen with their life in the future, but they are extremely talented intheir abilities as artists. And it's important for our kids ... [to have] greatrole models (Interview, May 9, 2006).Summer Visions is managed and led by a collective that includes Tony, Julia, theDirector of Education at Pacific Cinemathêque, and, Caitlin, the Summer VisionsDirector (and former head of Pacific Cinematheque's video production programs). Lucy,a community artist and Summer Visions script supervisor, and past production mentorsare involved in revising the program's curriculum throughout the year.124As with other youth media initiatives (Charmaraman, 2006), one of the major issuesimpacting the future of Summer Visions continues to be funding and the instability offoundation and short-term federal, provincial and municipal project-based grants. As inthe United States, in British Columbia most community-based youth media programs aresupported with soft, transitory funds. "The long-term institutionalization of theseprograms remains a constant concern from [one] grant cycle to the next, which ultimatelyaffects the quality and sustainability of the programs" (Charmaraman, 2006, p. 45). It ispossible that creating networks of like-minded organizations could help to consolidateresources and increase dialogue in support of best practices among these initiatives. InVancouver, arts and culture coordinators from the Parks Board initiated an umbrella"Youth-in-Film" meeting group for just this purpose in 2004. As is often the case,however, the demands of day-to-day organization and fundraising requirements onprogram managers has minimized the effectiveness of this group to date. Nonetheless,this is an important initiative to build on the capacity and services offered by differentyouth media programs in the region.Program Coordinators' Beliefs about the Mission and Goals of the ProgramYouth media programs are normally granted their youth media status when youngpeople are allowed to be creative while taking responsibility and ownership over the finalresults of their work (Charmaraman, 2006, pp. 108-109). It is not just a question of youthparticipation, in other words, but of youth empowerment. This objective underliesSummer Visions' mandate, but it is also complicated in important ways that begin toindicate how a pedagogy of natality as defined in chapter two operates in the program.125On the one hand, Julia, Pacific Cinemathêque's Director of Education, describes theprogram mandate as helping "youth learn the means of digital video production frombeginning to end, [so] they [can] create their own videos in a collaborative process andcan express ... their stories in ways that are meaningful to them, in their own words"(Interview, June 7, 2006). This aim coincides with the ambitions of many youth mediaprograms, which is to provide opportunities for youthful creative expression. Addressinghow the program serves its target audience, Tony from Cityschool, suggests the mandateis also to provide for positive youth development, especially for kids who come fromdisadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. This means:To provide [for] kids that are on the bubble, [who are] ... standing at afork in the road and not knowing whether to go ... the right or the wrongway ... [O]ne of the reasons why I felt a big need to help start [SummerVisions] was that we found that we were losing some at-risk kids in thecourse of the summer, after we had worked with them so long and so hardover the course of the year... They either wouldn't come back to school oreverything that we had taught them about respect, courtesy and dignityand about believing in themselves, was gone. So [Summer Visions] wasalmost like a kid putting his finger inside the dike and stopping theoverflow (Interview, May 9, 2006).Tony argues that by targeting disadvantaged youth, stories that might otherwise not betold are brought to light. This "starts to empower young people, when they tell storiesabout their family, about hurts in their lives, disappointments, as well as, you know, thetrials and tribulations ... [From this,] what we started to find out was self-esteem, self-confidence started to blossom in those kids that everybody thought, 'Well, has this guyreally got anything going on or that girl' (Interview, May 9, 2006)?Tony goes on to say the program helps young people who want to pursue a career infilm and television production. Where possible, he says: "we want to help kids if theywant to go into this industry, to be ready when they go to post-secondary ... institutions,"126to know which institutions and programs to pursue, and what to do to get there(Interview, May 9, 2006). Additionally, providing access to digital media equipment isimportant, although the urgency of this goal has shifted over the short history of SummerVisions. Bridging the "digital divide," particularly as this is related to gender, race, class,and/or sexuality remains important, but Caitlin, the Director of Summer Visions, notesthat more and more young people have access to media production experiences today.They take pictures with their cell phones, "explore the Internet in different ways," andoften have access to video production equipment in schools or at home (Interview, March14, 2006). Because of this, the focus of the program has changed over time. Now, theemphasis is less about providing young people with access to gear and more aboutchallenging how they produce work.For Julia, this is really the unwritten mission of the program. Where developingyoung people's creative voice is important, on the other hand, the goal of SummerVisions is to challenge students' stories, forms of representation and production practices.Julia notes: "there's a secondary perspective on the part of many of the people who ...frame the content of the programme ..., which is [about] hoping we can impart messagesabout reading media and [producing character] portrayals" that don't simply reproducestereotypes of youth or other people (Interview, June 7, 2006). She goes on to note "thatthe way this programme is conducted is very different from one that would say, ... mirrora Hollywood approach to filmmaking, or ... a mainstream approach to filmmaking It'snot about learning how to replicate genres as we know them now" (Interview, June 7,2006). Instead, as Caitlin suggests, it's "about giving young people a way to respond to127what they see in the media ... It's about developing [their] critical skills as mediaproducers" (Interview, March 14, 2006).Media literacy thus plays a role in Summer Visions, as it often does in youthproduction projects. At the same time, critical media analysis operates in a very specificway in the program. Caitlin's remarks on this recall observations made in chapter oneregarding the changing nature of youth production cultures. She observes that:[T]wenty years ago it was, like, make sure kids are [equipped] with criticalideas so that when they produce their own media, they're not justreplicating the movies and television shows they watch ... [But] the waykids come to media production is so very different today, having lots ofexperience and the ability to manipulate it, that the notion that you'regoing to load them up with a critical consciousness before they go into theproduction process ... [is not helpful] because they're already inside theproduction process (Interview, March 14, 2006).In the past, Caitlin suggests media education, including her own university education, hasbeen hamstrung by the urge to situate media analysis as distinct from production practice.In contrast, she argues now media literacy needs to be linked into "a learning process andnot made separate or distinct, ... [something] youth need to take on to get into theproduction experience" (Interview, March 14, 2006).The most important part in becoming media literate is having ... theopportunity to produce your own work ... [I]t forces you to look at mediaconstruction in a way that you absolutely cannot without producing[media]. You put yourself in the place of the producer, which you don'thave to [when you're just watching TV or movies.] So you have toinvestigate your sort of objectivity when you're looking at your [own]video. And it gives you the steps, 'Oh, I understand now how they did this.I understand how bias and framing and all those things work,' becauseyou're doing it (Interview, March 14, 2006).One may agree or disagree with this analysis but the upshot is there is no single medialiteracy workshop in Summer Visions. Instead, as evidenced later in the chapter, theattempt is made to teach multiple literacy practices across a number of student workshops128and as part of the training process for youth production mentors (New London Group,1996; Goodman, 2005). This helps develop the youth mentors own critical mediapractice, while also enabling them to integrate a discussion of such issues as the politicsof representation related to gender, race and ethnicity at various stages in the productionprocess. The idea here, as Caitlin argues, is media literacy "has to be built into all parts ofthe process so that you are trying to create opportunities for [youth] to be creative andengage with the media. But at the same time, [you want them to] step back and go,`Okay, I see what's going on, I can be critical. I can think about this from a differentpoint of view" (Interview, March 14, 2006).Drawing on concepts discussed in chapter two, the intention here is thus to aideyoung people in producing their own stories, but in ways that create forms of agonisticencounter for students and mentors. Videomakers are encouraged to draw from their ownexperiences and speak "in their own words," but there is also a desire to challenge andcontest how young people do this work. At least in part, Summer Visions is intent oncreating productive uncertainty for participating youth, uncertainty intended to incite "adifferent point of view."At the same time, I note important differences in the program coordinators' beliefsabout the aims of Summer Visions. To begin with, while concern for how young peopleengage with the politics of representation in their work is generally shared among thecoordinators, underlying tensions affect what this means in relation to the program.Caitlin, for instance, suggests that "having come from a women's studies background"she sees herself as having "pretty clear politics when it comes to talking about socialjustice issues" (Interview, March 14, 2006). In regard to the aims of Summer Visions, she129says this means we don't "censor things but [students are] going to get a debate if theycome up with something that is racist or sexist." Debating students on these issues is partof challenging how youth understand themselves and their work as part of a social world.Julia, on the other hand, is concerned about this practice. She worries that it involvesunspoken forms of censorship. In a sense, students are told that they "have the freedom tocreate what [they] want" but the truth is "there's some really solid censorship in there thatisn't presented as such. So if someone goes, 'I'm going to do ... something that involvesracism, sexism, homophobia,' that isn't going to be allowed to happen" (Interview, June7, 2006). Julia agrees that it shouldn't happen, but she is concerned that the program'saims are not always explicit in this regard.A more contentious divide surrounds the representation of sexuality. The issue here isthat while Caitlin, Julia and others believe the program should create a space where thelives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-gendered youth can be explored, Tony resiststhis. This is confusing because Tony and his teaching colleagues in the CityschoolTheatre Department have a track record of welcoming queer youth into their classes andtheatrical productions. At the same time, it is a shared understanding among SummerVisions' program coordinators and senior youth mentors that stories about queersexuality are likely to be questioned and even censored. Publicly, Tony argues that this isdone for fear of alienating and losing program funders who may find youth explorationsof queer culture problematic. Whether or not this is true, questions around whetherSummer Visions should create an open space for such explorations remains a key point oftension. In chapter five, I suggest how this tension shapes student work.130The issue of censorship over language is also a point of difference among programcoordinators. Again here the division falls between those who come to Summer Visionsfrom the non-profit film world and those who work as classroom teachers. At issue isreally what language youth should use in their videos. Tony argues that Summer Visionsneeds to challenge young people's use of coarse language. Such language merely reflectswhat kids already hear in popular media and in daily life, and, because of this, itsinclusion in students' videos tends to reinforce stereotypes that can be especiallydisadvantageous to young people who come from the inner city. Caitlin and more seniormentors agree in general, but also note that over time this casts a moralizing tone overSummer Visions that limits the stories youth tell.Finally, another tension surrounds the degree to which the program should beweighted toward developing accomplished filmmakers or whether it should focus ondeveloping empowered youth. These goals are not necessarily distinct, but differences ofemphasis shape how the mission of Summer Visions is understood. For Caitlin and Lucy,the program's script supervisor, the key objective is to establish a process of mediaproduction where youth begin to see themselves as part of a social world. This means,over her time with the program, Caitlin has come to envision it as "a collaborative,creative, democratic exercise in education. That's what it is, and we're using video as themedium" to support this work (Interview, November 16, 2007). On the other hand, forJulia and Tony, the aim of Summer Visions is to help youth become better filmmakers, todevelop their aesthetic and technical competencies in ways that might lead students andmentors to jobs in the film and television or related industries. Macie, one of the senioryouth production mentors captures this tension nicely when she says, for Julia and Tony131"the agenda [is] 'let's improve the videos. Let's make them look better, let's make themscreen better, let's make people more interested in our videos.' Whereas ... [for] Caitlinand Lucy [the purpose of] Summer Visions ... is, 'let's empower kids to talk about theirpositions and express themselves and engage in some really important discussions"(Interview, October 27, 2007). This divide is a version of the process versus productquestion that has been part of youth media production pedagogies since at least the 1960s(Sefton-Green, 1995; Buckingham et al., 1995). Of course, process and product do notneed to be conceived as distinct goals, but as dialectically related moments in the creationprocess. At the level of program aims, however, a clear tension remains as to which partof this dialectic relationship should be given the greater emphasis in Summer Visions.It was noted in chapter two that the mission of youth media programs tends to fallinto six areas. The aims of Summer Visions, as conceived by the program's coordinators,intersect with at least five, including: (1) youth voice/social change through creativeexpression; (2) career development; (3) positive youth development; (4) media literacyand the development of critical viewers and producers; and, (5) bridging thetechnological divide for communities who typically lack access to resources(Charmaraman, 2006; Campbell et al, 2001). In this sense, it is a combination of variousmedia production program types. Among the program coordinators there is a high degreeof agreement, but also important areas of difference about how Summer Visions' missionis understood. In this and subsequent chapters, these areas of tension will impact thepedagogical design of the program, as well as the way this pedagogy shapes student workand youth mentors' experiences.132Summer Visions and A Pedagogy of NatalityA pedagogy of natality supports democratic practice by challenging the sedimentationof meaning and power (i.e., its "belatedness") in discourses, institutions and visual textsin ways that make clear how dependent we are on others to secure future possibilities forchange. This requires one to teach in ways that "preserve newness" or the possibility ofnew beginnings, not so that one determines what those new beginnings are, but so thatpedagogical practice helps young people to imagine how they might contribute to a worldthat is "out of joint," entrenched in old patterns and ways of being. As argued in chaptertwo, this means the relationship between pedagogy and democratic practice is notconceived in terms of the development of critically engaged activists. Rather, pedagogysupports democratic agency when young people are enabled to see themselves as part ofwhat Hannah Arendt calls, the "web of human relationships." Understanding oneself inthis way means envisioning one's life in relation to plurality. This is different thanimagining oneself in relation to autonomy or emancipation. Rather, democratic practice isabout how adolescents come to envision their lives in terms of interaction with others. Ofcourse, it is not enough merely to embrace just any action that involves one in speech andaction with others because democratic acts have a vital role in contesting the lure ofoblivion that threatens to disempower people and limit our sense of reality. If this is sothen from an Arendtian perspective youth media production pedagogies facilitatedemocratic practice when they preserve natality by helping youth imagine themselves asrelational subjects whose lives are connected to and ethically obliged to engage incontestation over the social nature of meaning.133Given this, in what follows, I examine how the youth production mentors' trainingprocess and the Summer Visions' pedagogy are designed to preserve natality. I alsoexamine what tensions and forces shape how natality is fostered at the level of design andsuggest how these tensions reflect different conceptions of the program's mandate andlarger debates within youth media production regarding the purposes of creative practice.Summer Visions involves young people as both students and peer-to-peer mentors.This allows for learning processes to unfold in a number of ways. For students, thisgenerally takes place over a two-week production program, while for mentors learningoccurs during their training and work with students throughout the summer. Accordingly,to frame the Summer Visions pedagogy, it is necessary to first describe the mentortraining process and then turn more specifically to the Summer Visions pedagogy.Mentor Preparation and Training for NatalityIn Summer Visions, youth production mentors support, challenge and guide studentparticipants over the course of the two-week creation process. Zac, a senior mentor,offers a broad summary of their role:The mentors are high school students or recent graduates, [who] areusually previous students of the program, hired by Summer Visions fortheir experience with video production. Each group of four to five[student] participants has their own mentor who works ... with them[throughout] the two-week program. The mentors act asadvisors/producers for their group, imparting their knowledge about allaspects of video production. They also fulfill the authoritative role ofprotecting the participants as well as the equipment (Writtencorrespondence, July 15, 2006).Julia's observations concur with Zac: "the mentors are kind of the first line ofinstructional staff ... They have the most involvement with [the students, ensuring] ...there's never a point at which a group is without support" (Interview, June 7, 2006).134As noted in chapter three, the mentors are a socio-economic, ethno-cultural mix ofyoung people from East Vancouver, all of whom are current or former students ofCityschool with some past video production experience. All but two of the elevenmentors' hired in 2006 also participated in Summer Visions as students. Mentor trainingtakes place during the last week of June, prior to the start of the first program. In the earlyyears of Summer Visions, mentor training was erratic. Intentions were good, but theprogram's tenuous funding structure meant that it was not always clear how many youthwould be hired each summer. More senior mentors like Macie talk about learning herresponsibilities "on the fly" (Interview, January 16, 2006). Zac talks about being "throwninto the fire in a big way" in his first year (Interview, January 11, 2006). To survive inthese circumstances, some mentors talk of drawing on their experience from theCityschool classroom film program, while others suggest they learned how to work asmentors simply by being involved with Summer Visions for a number of years and bytaking other film production classes where this was possible. It is also worth noting thatCaitlin, the Director of Summer Visions and Lucy, the Summer Visions ScriptSupervisor, work with the Cityschool classroom film program and so most of the mentorsknow them and have a sense of Caitlin's and Lucy's expectations for the summerprogram. At the same time, in 2006 a concerted effort was made to create a more focusedtraining process, largely because funding for the summer was secured earlier than in thepast and five mentors were new or relatively inexperienced in 2006".Consequently, over the course of the training week in June 2006, a series ofworkshops and technical reviews were designed to prepare mentors for their roles. Theseincluded:135An introduction to Summer Visions Julia delivered this workshop and offered an overview of the organizational structure ofSummer Visions, including the history and purpose of Pacific Cinemathêque, the fundingstructure and its influence on the program, the work of administration, and the reasonswhy Summer Visions is designed to serve "at-risk" youth.The role of production mentorsCaitlin delivered this surprisingly brief workshop outlining the responsibilities of thementors in relation to their groups. Further detail on these responsibilities is provided inthe second half of this chapter in the section on Summer Visions pedagogy.Technical review sessionsFour technical review workshops were offered on sound and sound design, cameratechniques and framing, lighting, and editing and Final Cut Pro software.A session on safety in the neighbourhoodZac and Terrence, another senior mentor, delivered this workshop, which reviewed basicresponsibilities for care of students while shooting video in the neighbourhood.Trends in youth filmmakingJulia delivered this workshop, which examined aesthetic, technical and ethical questionsand goals related to student video production in 2006. A series of youth videos producedin 2005 and 2006 in the Vancouver-area were screened and discussed.Leadership and working with youthTony delivered this workshop and discussed concerns about the emotional and physicalsafety of students as well as the role of communication and openness when working withpeers.136Script writingLucy delivered this workshop. She emphasized that while the goal of Summer Visions isto have students produce stories drawn from their own lives, it is also to challenge howstudents explore these stories. The mentors have a crucial role in this process, which is tolisten and provoke the thinking and understanding of student video makers, withouttrying to provide specific answers about how scripts should proceed. This pedagogicalstrategy and the role of the mentors in it are discussed in detail in the section on SummerVisions pedagogy.The mentors also spent time setting up the school for the program, doing equipmentinventories, organizing equipment packs, and determining mentor responsibilities (i.e.,supervising production studios during breaks, cleaning up lunch rooms, etc.). Throughoutthe week, the learning and planning sessions were conducted with a constant mix of inputand exchange between junior and senior mentors and program directors. For the purposesof this study, it is useful to look closely at three workshops to assess how they can beunderstood in relation to the preservation of natality.Workshop I — The Language of Cinematography (90 minutes)This session provides a review of the visual language of cinematography. As leadersand senior mentors in the program, Zac and Terrence created and presented it, along witha series of other workshops on the technical language of video production. As noted inchapter two, such workshops are common in media education and youth productionprograms. Here, the purpose is to review the conventions of camera shots and framing todevelop a common language among the mentors and highlight the impact these137conventions have on the production of meaning in student videos. Zac and Terrence usean especially effective strategy.The workshop is designed around the screening and discussion of two DVD videosmade for the session. Herb and Jeff s Complete Movie Magic Instructional Kit. Volumes 1 and 2 deliberately parody the educational video genre. They are made with a campysensibility and shot in bright sunlight with Zac and Terrence — now introduced to us asJeff and Herb — wearing light pink and blue short sleeve dress shirts and plaid sportsjackets, with ties knotted too high. Each video is a little over seven minutes and is brokenup with intentional breaks between topics so the audience can clarify and ask questions ofZac and Terrence. The workshop itself is sixty minutes, with an additional thirty minutesfor a cinematography exercise.Volume 1 begins with an introduction to four basic shots: the wide shot, the close-up,the extreme close-up, and the medium shot. After reviewing these, Jeff and Herb give theaudience a chance to use these categories to identify shots in a series of images andscenes. These images are terrific and the soundtrack is a fabulous and exaggerated dancebeat that accentuates Jeff and Herb's campy style. Following this sequence, the DVDstops for audience discussion. When the DVD resumes, Jeff and Herb add shot variationsto the list of conventions, including: the two-shot, the three-shot, the Western (which isdone using a parody of a scene from the film, Brokeback Mountain [2005]), the bird'seye view, the worm's eye view, and an over-the-shoulder shot. Again, the DVD stopsfollowing this sequence to allow time for questions and discussion. Two more sequencesfollow in which audiences are introduced to: the pan, the tilt, a pan/tilt deviance (which isshot with Jeff standing on the roof of a house using a camera to spy on Herb as he138changes his shirt in the bedroom next door), wheeled tracking shots, and handheldtracking shots. Volume 1 ends here and Jeff and Herb tell the audience to go off andcomplete a ten-shot cinematography exercise to practice what has been demonstrated.Volume 2 is done in much the same way as Volume 1, only here audiences areintroduced to more sophisticated conventions of image composition, including the rule ofthirds, depth of field, leading lines, planes of focus, and forced perspective. They are alsointroduced to some basic editing strategies and the 180-degree rule. Throughout, the styleof the DVD is endlessly campy while also being clear, effective and funny.I draw attention to this workshop because if it is designed to introduce mentors to aset of visual affordances in media production, there is also an important way theseaffordances or conventions are simultaneously shown to be open to change. Using thelanguage of a pedagogy of natality, on the one hand, Herb and Jeff ... demonstrates theenabling work of belatedness in video production. It shows how certain shots createspecific effects and how shots can be sequenced together to produce meaningful scenes.In this way, Zac and Terrence highlight the social nature of camera work, the fact thatimages are produced through specific formulas that are anything but "natural." At thesame time, the campy tone has the effect of putting quotation marks around these veryconventions. If this point was not clear, it was brought out during breaks in the videoswhen Terrence said: "the reason we're spending all this time going through shots andformulas some of you know already is, first, so that you're clear about the rules ofcinematography, but also so that you'll know how to break those rules" (Field notes, June27, 2006). Irony in the workshop is not only meant to be amusing then, it is also intendedto let the mentors know that visual conventions can be changed, that it is possible and139even worthwhile to think beyond what Terrence calls the "common vocabulary" of visualrepresentation, to contest the social understanding of visual imagery (Writtencorrespondence, August 30, 2006). Of course it is crucial to know what one is changing,and for the mentors to be able to discuss these alterations with student groups; but, newbeginnings are possible through conscious, playful work with the conventionalaffordances of media practice.Workshop II — Trends in youth filmmaking (120 minutes) The work of preserving natality in the mentor training process is layered into thissession in a different way. Here, the purpose is to review tendencies in recent studentvideo and in one instance, to locate these trends in relation to popular commercial media.Five youth-produced videos are screened and each is used to feed a conversation aboutaesthetic, technical and ethical goals in Summer Visions. Of the five videos used in theworkshop, I discuss three"' here.The first film is called Karma Café (7 minutes) and it was produced at a local highschool. It is an ensemble piece that moves among a series of conversations that include:two teenage girls talking about their future as actors; a young woman who is about to beleft by her cheating boyfriend; and a teenage boy who is still learning the ropes as a newemployee of the café. Each sequence takes place in English, except for the conversationbetween the two teenage girls, which is shot in Spanish with English subtitles. The videois well done and Julia uses it to establish aesthetic and technical standards for whatSummer Visions might achieve. Julia doesn't point out what makes the video successful;she hopes the mentors will describe elements that work well and those that do not. This infact happens. The older mentors lead but the younger mentors contribute and over a140fifteen-minute discussion, shot construction, blocking shots, editing, characterdevelopment and acting are all addressed. In particular, a mentor named Kira notes thatthe video has a kind of unity, by which she means the credits, the camera work, the musicand the dialogue all seem of a piece (Field notes, June 27, 2006). She thinks this isunusual and also commendable in a student production. The conversation doesn't gomuch beyond this, but what's said suggests something noted in chapter two: markedlycompetent youth videos can operate as examples of the enabling possibilities ofbelatedness, by demonstrating the surprising potential of young people. This in turn tendsto feed young people's interest in each other's work, which establishes youth media as areference point for community building.Julia follows this video with The Truth, a short (30 seconds) film also made in a localhigh school. It is a montage of a street scene. People walk toward a stationary camera andas they move closer their faces react with a sense of confusion or anger or amusement.The background sound is a street scene but it is not synchronized with the images.Instead, the people in the image move in slow motion. After the fourth person walkstoward the camera, the image resumes normal speed and synchronizes with the sound asthe camera turns 180 degrees. A young man's face painted with an American flag appearsin a medium-close up shot, looking directly at the audience. The video ends here.Julia screens this video because while there is no time in a two-week program forstudents to research and complete issue-based documentaries, they can and do make workthat engages social and political issues (Field notes, June, 27, 2006). This video does thisin an effective way. It creates a powerful reaction as we watch strangers respond tosomething off-screen that clearly confuses or irritates them. When the viewer sees what141creates the confusion we are left with a sense of discomfort. However one responds to theimage of a young man with an American flag painted on his face, it is the uneasiness thiscreates among the people walking toward the camera that stands out. When asked whyshe chose to use this video, Julia said she did not want to offer any answers about"politics" or contemporary issues; instead, she wanted to raise questions for the mentors(Field notes, June 27, 2006). Recalling terms used in chapter two, she hoped to show howa video can create a sense of uncertainty for an audience by raising an issue withoutresolving it in anything like a straightforward way. Interestingly, the response to thisvideo was muted. It was discussed for five minutes and one mentor said it was "simplebut effective", a bit "obvious" but also eerie because "painting your face with anAmerican flag is just weird" (Field notes, June 27, 2006). Perhaps Julia's point wasmade.The third video may have been the most interesting in the workshop. Oulin (3minutes) was made at a local high school in 2006 and it is used to provoke a discussionabout popular media, youth production and the politics of representation. The video isderivative of horror/slasher genre movies like Hostel (2005) and Hostel: Part II (2007),Wolf Creek (2005) and Grindhouse  (2007). In Oulin, a young woman (with no context orback story in the video) arrives at an abandoned rail yard. As she looks at an address on atorn piece of paper, she is tackled from behind, kidnapped and brutally assaulted. Fromethe rail yard, the scene cuts to a dark and dank workshop where the girl is tied to a chairShe is wearing a white tank top and jeans and blood is running down her face and side. Abare-chested young man with a shirt tied around his head is in the room with her and istorturing her. He is going mad as he experiences flashbacks that show the abuse he142received from his father as a young boy. He hits the young woman, screams at her, andfinally picks up a weapon and swings it at her head. In the middle of the swing, theweapon turns into an axe which appears to hit her head just as the final shot cuts. As thecredits roll, the production company for the video reads, "Picton Films," an apparentreference to Robert Picton, the man arrested and put on trial in 2006 for the mass murderof more than fifty women in Vancouver.Julia uses this video for a number of reasons. She wants to talk about the influence ofpopular commercial media and recent news events on young people's work. She asks thementors what media seem to influence Oulin? To this, Zac says, "It's a slasher movie. Itlooks like Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (2003) or Kill Bill, Vol. 2 (2004) or Hostel. They're allincredibly violent" (Field notes, June 27, 2006). Julia asks if there are any otherinfluences in the video, expecting, I think, to hear someone comment on the Pictonreference. No one does.Julia also uses Oulin to open a conversation about the role of gender andobjectification in youth media and popular Hollywood film. She tells the mentors that thevideo was screened at a city-wide student film festival in 2006 and that it elicited stronglycritical reactions. Rather than explaining why, she asks the mentors why they think thishappened. In response, Kira says the video is well made — the sound design is polished,the acting is convincing and the images are even beautiful in instances — but it is alsoexploitative and awful to watch, especially if you're female. Other mentors — both maleand female — agree. In fact, because a number of the mentors are returnees and are awarethat images of young women in duress made simply for pleasure are not part of theSummer Visions mandate, the conversation feels scripted. At the same time, when Julia143asks Kira to talk about the images in Oulin, Kira says the problem is the girl is trappedand the "white tank top is just [being used] to make her look sexy... even though she'sbeing tortured and is about to die" (Field notes, June 27, 2006). Another mentor, Justine,talks about the flashbacks, which suggest that the murderer was abused as a child. Shedoesn't think these sequences are convincing; they seem "put in there" to justify what wesee (Field notes, June 27, 2006). When asked to explain further, Justine says she does notwatch horror movies much, but this video and others always seem to "excuse" themurderer for his actions (Field notes, June 27, 2006). It's like a convention. Julia addsthat it is a convention that has to do with gender. The stalker is suffering, so somehow it'sappropriate for the girl to suffer. Feminists have noted the inequity in this logic for sometime. They have also shown that gender in popular media is not about fairness. It is aboutpower — who gets to tell what sorts of stories about whom. Julia goes on to say the videowas disturbing to people at the student film festival because the three young filmmakersonly seemed to care about the "look" of the images and not what they might mean toaudiences (Field notes, June 27, 2006). The conversation continues for another tenminutes and Terrence says that Oulin reminds him of a music video a group of studentswanted to make in Summer Visions in 2005. He notes the video never did get made.If this is not surprising, screening Oulin serves a greater purpose than to suggestwhere restrictions will be placed on youth work in the program. It also seems designed toshow the social nature of imagery at the level of both production and reception. Thechoices students make in regard to visual language and storytelling forms are not natural,as evidenced by Zac's comments about the images in Oulin; they are belated, they have ahistory and are involved with the way meaning and gender relationships sediment in144specific genres, images, and sounds, etc. How this history is read depends on who isoffering the interpretation, which is not the same as saying that all interpretations areequal. It means that both production and reception are social processes and are involvedwith contestation over meaning. Screening Oulin seems designed to make this process ofcontestation evident and, in particular, to highlight how gender operates as a form ofpower in youth work. Kira's and Justine's analyses of the video served to suggest theethical implications of the choices youth make as producers. In this way, the mentors'work with Oulin involves them in the "web of human relationships." Alongside thescreening of Karma Café and The Truth, this workshop exemplifies how an orientationtoward natality can be read as part of the mentor training process.Workshop III — Leadership and working with youth (60 minutes) In this session, the job of preserving newness is laced with a tension. In theworkshop, Cityschool teacher, Tony, addresses how mentors can act as leaders, workingin a collaborative environment, taking care and ensuring the safety of their peers. He saysthis positions mentors as "teacher-like" figures (Field notes, June 30, 2006). He interpretsthis to mean working well includes caring for the emotional and physical health of others.It involves thinking about how one communicates and observes others. It also includeslearning to "read the body language and unspoken communication of those we'reworking with and mentoring" (Field notes, June 30, 2006). Through this, Tonyemphasizes that by establishing emotional connections mentors can help draw studentsinto an educational process, creating willingness on the part of students to openthemselves up to learning. Mentors are told to show warmth and even "love" to studentpeers, in other words, in order to successfully lead them through the production process145(Field notes, June 30, 2006). This is vital, Tony says, to build confidence and self-esteemin the people one works with. If you do this, Tony says, your students "will engage thewhole learning/production process so much more willingly. The filmmaking processitself will become secondary to the personal dynamic you establish in your mentoringrelationships" (Field notes, June 30, 2006).In this way, Tony defines leadership as what is often called "emotional intelligence"in mentoring literature (Miller, 2002). This refers to one's "emotional self-awareness"and one's interpersonal skills, including "empathy for the feelings of others [and an]ability to establish a mutually beneficial personal relationship" (Miller, 2002, p. 38). Italso includes the ability "to maintain hope in adverse situations and to generate happinessin oneself and others" (Miller, 2002, p. 39). This requires openness to others, which, asnoted in chapter two, is a crucial aspect of democratic practice in an Arendtian schema.In this sense, Tony's session contributes to the preservation of natality by emphasizingthe fact that mentoring requires one to "show each other respect, show each human beingthat you come into contact with ... that you treat them with courtesy and that you treatthem with dignity" (Interview, May 9, 2006).If this is laudable, at the same time, there is a tension in how Tony defines opennesshere. Acting in a manner that is open to others in Arendt's framework is not simply amatter of learning to "read the body language and unspoken communication" of others.Establishing a feeling of warmth with those one works with isn't enough becausedeveloping a relationship on these terms risks privatizing our communication. This inturn opens our interaction with others to possibilities for manipulation.146Using the current example, one party — i.e., the mentor — is encouraged to draw theother party — i.e., students — into an educational process, instead of engaging with thespecific concerns and experiences of the other party. In contrast, Arendt's frameworksuggests democratic practice requires that we learn to "visit" with others, which meanslearning to "go into a plural public world and engage with other actors ... [on their terms.Through this, we learn that] respecting diverse standpoints requires dialogue with otherpeople, listening to their stories, and relating to their uniqueness without collapsing thesedivergent views" to fit our own agenda (Coulter and Wiens, 2002, p. 18). Being open toothers is thus not merely a tool used to pull others into a learning experience becausewhen we think of openness in these terms it becomes instrumentalized, it risks becominga form of manipulation that is not intended to respect others because of who they are, butbecause of where you want them to go. Openness to others that serves democraticpractice, on the other hand, requires one to accept "responsibility for traveling to allrelevant viewpoints," to listen to others and especially those people whose viewpoints aretypically excluded or ignored in the public world (Coulter and Wiens, 2002, p. 19). Thisis what it means to envision one's life in relation to plurality. In Tony's workshop,mentors are encouraged to respect others, but, respect is set up as a tool, a means forbuilding a "personal dynamic" so that students will trust mentors to lead them throughoutthe "whole learning/production process." In the end, this creates a tension in the way thementors see their work in relation to plurality because plurality is now framed as adifference to be overcome through emotional bonding rather than as a resource to beencountered in a successful learning experience.147Throughout the Summer Visions mentor training process there are a number of wayspreserving newness can be understood to operate as part of the experience. Of course thisprocess is laden with tensions. Workshops are designed to introduce mentors to the socialnature of imagery, including how visual conventions operate as productive affordances inmedia production. It is also made evident that these conventions are open to change.Where this and the screening of youth videos such as Karma Café and The Truth suggestthe enabling possibilities of belatedness, workshops are also designed to indicate howgender representations and popular media culture can become forms of power that shapeand limit youth work. Tony's session on youth leadership suggests the need for opennessif mentors are to work well with students, yet this workshop also serves to limit the workof natality by instrumentalizing mentors' relationships with others. It is far from clearthen that the preservation of new beginnings is a straightforward process within mentortraining. This is also true in the Summer Visions pedagogy, and yet, again, there are anumber of ways in which this pedagogy seems designed to preserve natality. In whatfollows, this dynamic is examined and further detail is offered on the role of peer-to-peermentors as they work throughout the production cycle.Media Production and a Pedagogy of NatalityRyan, a former instructor says the Summer Visions pedagogy encourages students to"step outside of themselves" (Interview, May 25, 2006). It encourages what Arendtwould call, thoughtfulness. Young people are invited to tell their own stories, butthroughout the production process their decisions and choices are questioned andcontested. Dialogue is central as students move between a series of different roles — as148writers, directors, camera people, actors, etc. — while developing an understanding of theproduction cycle and the decisions made along the way.A typical list of the pre-production stages in video-making as detailed on several"informant" websites, include: (1) the development of a workable screenplay bybrainstorming ideas, conceiving of a target audience for the script, writing a pitch orsynopsis, then a treatment, finishing the scrip with setting, dialogue (if any), backgroundsound (if any), and visuals; (2) possibly storyboarding individual shots to create a visualmap of the storyline, (3) announcing auditions and casting actors; (4) finding a goodproduction crew; (4) buying or borrowing props and costumes; (5) scouting locations,getting permissions and release forms (when needed); (6) holding rehearsals; and, (7)managing crew and talent time for the production process (Charmaraman, 2006). BecauseSummer Visions is a short, two-week program, some of these stages are condensed andothers are expanded or altered. In 2006, the pre-production process included:■ Program introduction■ Visual storytelling workshop■ Introduction to the camera■ Brainstorming a story idea■ Learning the technical language of production, including workshops oncinematography, sound, lighting, editing, acting and directing for video■ Story development — from story outlines through first draft, second draft and finalscript revisionsIn what follows I outline the major stages in this process, paying particular attention tothe way opportunities are afforded to develop an orientation toward natality.149Summer Visions begins with an opening speech delivered by Caitlin, the ProgramDirector, which sets the stage for the two-week session. She explains that students willwork together in groups of three to five people, creating a new one-to-five minute video.Because youth come from all over the region, she also lets students know that this is anopportunity to work with new people, who share similar interests. She says that while theprogram takes place in a high school, it is not intended to be "a school or a summercamp." It is meant to be a place for "experimentation" (Field notes, July 4, 2006). Shesays this "isn't the best program to come to with a fully formed script ... [because you're]going to be asked to work through a specific production process ... [that is designed tochallenge how] you understand your stories, what images you use and how you worktogether" (Field notes, July 4, 2006). Caitlin tells the students they will be encouraged todevelop scripts that have a connection and a relationship to their lives. They will also beasked to defend their choices with each other, with their mentors and with the instructors.It is difficult to qualify how deeply this talk resonates with students, but it is intended toset up Summer Visions as a program based on learning through dialogue andexperimentation. It is not craft-driven, but is meant to afford students opportunities tothink about the possibilities of new beginnings.Following this introduction, students move into a workshop on visual storytellingdelivered by Lucy, the script supervisor. The purpose of the workshop is to introducestudents to the conventions of the basic three-act storytelling structure, including the roleof an inciting incident and its relationship to story climax, and the nature of sceneconstruction, or "how scenes are broken up into shots" (Field notes, July 4, 2006).Learning these elements is necessary for the practical work of video production and is150also understood in media education to be a crucial resource for learning how storytellingcodes and conventions operate in popular television and movies (Goodman, 2005).Over Summer Visions' short history a number of changes have been made to thissession. Most importantly, it used to follow workshops on camera, sound and lighting,and was largely designed around a series of media clips drawn from television andcurrent popular cinema. The workshop now takes place near the start of the program,however, and is entirely designed around the screening and discussion of youth-madevideos. I quote Caitlin at some length explaining why the timing of the session haschanged and why it is centred on student work:It is profoundly important that ... over the years we have shifted tostarting the program [with] an exploration of what [youth work] is alreadyout there ... [It means we don't] start the conversation about what[students] are going to do during the next two weeks by looking at howthey're represented in television, ... at how adults are writing for them, ...at what's missing, what's not there ... [That] conversation comes in, forsure, ... that's the media educational interventions that we have withgroups. But we don't have that conversation until they've had a chance tograpple with their own abilities to tell stories ... [In this way, we start] thewhole conversation from a point of imagining the alternative instead offrom critiquing what's wrong (Interview, November 16, 2006).By "imagining the alternative," Caitlin seems to have in mind the fact that SummerVisions does not exist in isolation. There is a growing body of youth-created media andby drawing attention to it, this workshop — like Julia's mentor training session on "Trendsin youth film" — opens a door to a burgeoning youth media-scape. As noted in chaptertwo, youthscapes are geographic, temporal, social, and political spaces where youngpeople are constituted through a whole range of practices (Maira and Soep, 2005). Power,community and possibilities for contributing to novel forms of change are enacted here.In this workshop, Lucy contributes to the development of such a space within Summer151Visions by establishing a community of young people's work as the reference point forstudent productions.Lucy screens four videos, including People (7 minutes), which was made atCityschool and won the 2006 Canadian International Development Agency Butterfly 208Award'. The film asks why youth should care about the grotesque number of people whocontinue to die of HIV/AIDS in Africa. This is followed by a video called, I Love Betsy(5 minutes), which was made in Summer Visions in 2005 and is a funny and lovingfiction about a shopping cart that is at the centre of a homeless man's life. Locked (3minutes) was made at a local high school and is used to show point of view in videoproduction. It fictionalizes a day in the life of a young black man who is new to his highschool and is isolated from people and the physical space itself. Finally, 337 was made in2005 at Summer Visions. It tells the story of a man caught in an underground parking lot,trying to open his car door. Lucy uses it to talk about "choosing a rhythm to contain anaudience through what is otherwise a fairly mundane story" (Field notes, July 4, 2006).Beyond pointing to an evolving youth media-scape, Lucy uses these videos to addressthe work of stereotyping in youth media. She says stereotypes have a place in videosbecause they offer an efficient means of developing secondary characters. It's also noted,however, that: "how you are defined as a storyteller depends on how you resolve thepredictable moments" (Field notes, July 4, 2006). Lucy uses I Love Betsy to illustrate thispoint.Stories about homeless people have a curious popularity in Summer Visions. Perhapsthis is because the program operates in a historically low-income community that borderson an area known as "Canada's poorest postal code." When youth come to the152neighbourhood from outside communities, they seem interested in exploring a theme thatmight otherwise remain dormant if the program took place in another area of the city.This has both positive and negative consequences. Encouraging students to name andtake action regarding conditions of marginalization in their communities is important, ButZac notes students first attempts at portraying the lives of homeless people often show alack of "experience with the subject. [The videos are] ... emotionally charged," buttypically laced with simple stereotypes (Written correspondence, July 15, 2006). I LoveBetsy is an exception.By depicting the satisfaction and pleasure one man takes in finding and caring for ashopping cart that makes his life much easier, the video humanizes a figure who is sooften pathologized as sick and or a threat to the rest of society. Through this, the videocontests a very real kind of oblivion that increasingly causes those on the social marginsto disappear from popular conceptions about who belongs and who is part of our city. Inthis way, I Love Betsy offers a counterpoint, which simultaneously underscores anagonistic dimension in Summer Visions' pedagogy. Students are told again and again touse their own lives as resources for their videos, but it is made clear that they will beasked to explain and defend their choices of imagery and character, etc.As in other media production and media education programs (Charmaraman, 2006;Goodman, 2005; Buckingham, 2003), Lucy also encourages students to think about theiraudience in the workshop. She says: "Your audience can be a lot of people so think aboutwhat you want to say to them and what you want them to take away" (Field notes, July 4,2006). In noting this, students are invited to begin a dialogue with imagined viewers. Thisdoes not always happen, but students are urged to think about the social nature of media153production, including the way their work will be read differently by friends, family,educators, and other members of the community. By using a series of youth films tohighlight the codes and conventions of storytelling, including the way stereotypes canoperate as productive and limiting resources, and by encouraging a dialogue with one'saudience, plurality operates in this session in an interesting way. Students are urged toundertake action in dialogue with a social field of relationships and possibilities. Pluralitythus operates as a force to provoke students becoming as video makers.Following this workshop, students have lunch and then move into a session wherethey are introduced to the camera. They divide into groups of five-to-six students andwork for the first time with individual mentors who review safety procedures and basicoperation of the technology. Caitlin says this workshop is also designed "to make thetechnology as non-intimidating as possible ... [T]hat's something we work on all the time... [so students can] figure out an aesthetic or an idea ... and let the technology be justyour tool for that" (Interview, March 14, 2006). Beyond essential skills building andlearning the technical limitations and possibilities of equipment, this is really the firstinstance where students begin to see the mentors as people with and from whom they willlearn. Students also shoot a five-shot sequence and review the footage with their mentorsbefore day one comes to a close.Over the next four days, students brainstorm story ideas, participate in a series ofsessions on cinematography, sound, lighting, editing, acting, and directing for video, andwork through a story development process. The brainstorming session is led by Lucy andis designed to allow students to express their story ideas, not as fully formed scripts, butin a sentence or so about a scene, a key character or an issue.154In 2006, more than twenty ideas came forward in each two-week brainstormingsession. Lucy writes the ideas on the board and from this group, a list of five or six storyconcepts are selected by students to go forward. Once this list is made, a kind oforganized chaos unfolds as students find groups that want to work on similar topics.Because students come from across the region there is a surprising amount of movementhere. Friends don't always stay with friends, as Zac notes, but instead, choose to workwith those who share "creativity rather than social status" (Written Correspondence, July15, 2006). Rohan, another mentor, concurs and says the brainstorming session often leadsstudents to "work with groups ... they weren't necessarily comfortable with ... [Thiscreates] a good kind of creative pressure ... [because] people ... expect you to comethrough" (Interview, October 27, 2006).The mentors are largely in the background throughout this process but Terrenceobserves an interesting lesson. He says when the students are calling out their thoughts,[Lucy will] put circles around ideas that seem the same and [link] themtogether ... [T]hen the kids get together and they realize, 'Wow, it's likethat part of [the movie] Waking Life where Ethan Hawke talks about thecrossword puzzle ... in his collective subconscious. How odd [that] wewere thinking about the same movie even though we've never met' ...[From experiences like this,] these kids — while some of them anyways —realize, ... 'Gosh, this must be an awfully powerful medium if it cangovern my creative process, if it can actually concretely influence whatI'm capable of thinking as an idea for an art piece or a video' (Interview,January 9, 2006).Within media literacy, it is generally agreed that our media saturated culture teaches "aparticular set of ideas, values, and representations about the world and our place in it"(Goodman, 2005, p. 210). Something like this idea is made evident for students duringthis session and as such brainstorming inadvertently underscores the belated and socialnature of our ideas and the creative process itself. Brainstorming also highlights the155difficulty posed when one encounters plurality, an idea referred to in chapter two and onewe will return to below in discussing the rest of the story development process. Here Inote that moving from story ideas written on the board to work in small groups entails aseries of difficult conversations that inevitably involve compromise. Students are placedin a situation where they are trying to figure each other out, while also trying to findcommon ground with ill-defined stories they will work on together. This producestensions and compromise, even while new and fruitful directions are revealed.Following this session, students move to the cinematography workshop, which isfollowed by other skill-building sessions over the next three days. During the course ofthese other sessions students learn the basics of three-point lighting and the way to usenatural light in a video shoot, as well as how to record actors and location sound andwhere to find copy-right cleared music. There is a short discussion in the sound workshopabout the use of music and actors' voices to support themes and central issues in a video.In the directing workshop, students are introduced to the role and responsibilities of thedirector. Besides providing creative leadership, it is emphasized that the director shouldbe conscious of the central image or metaphor in the story. Where possible, this metaphorshould be used to inform how language, dress, sound, images, set design, and lighting areused in the video. For our purposes, this reinforces the social nature of all signs and codesused in videos and the way in which they communicate with audiences.This point is underlined in the cinematography workshop, which, as in the mentortraining program, is delivered by Zac and Terrence. Again, Herb and Jeff s Complete Movie Magic Instructional Kit Volumes 1 and 2 are used to introduce students to a seriesof shots, the role of framing, the rule of thirds, and the use of space in relation to depth of156field and image composition. Zac says the purpose here to make students aware of whyshots, camera angles and certain framing techniques "cause them to react in the way theydo" (Written correspondence, July 15, 2006). This helps students develop a "clear intent[in selecting] shots ... [because] when participants learn ... why a technique creates a[certain] effect, it makes them more conscious creators/viewers ... [L]earning the intentassociated with a method of production [also] allows for future deconstruction of variousmedia products" (Written correspondence, July 15, 2006). Zac means by this thatlearning to read the technical language of video production is not only about buildingskills. It is also a crucial feature of media education, a way in which the socialdimensions of production work are reinforced for students and mentors.The social and agonistic nature of production work is evidenced most clearlyhowever, during the Summer Visions story development process. As it happens, thisprocess is a central strategy through which natality is introduced in the program. Zac infact argues: "[t]he conceptualizing/scripting stage is ... the battleground of SummerVisions. During this period, ideas are colliding, groups are starting to form ... [and]stories constantly change" (Written correspondence, July 15, 2006). Using storytelling asthe context to fuel new beginnings, including those having to do with social and politicaldialogue is hardly new. In fact, a number of scholarly traditions, including psychology(Bruner, 1987, 1994), sociology (Bourdieu, 1991), literacy studies (Fairclough, 1989;Dyson and Genishi, 1994), and literary studies (Bakhtin, 1981) have marked the waysstory development lends itself to a reconceptualization of self and one's understanding ofthe meaning structures through which we live (Paull, 2002). The "phenomenon of157storytelling" can create shared spaces, in other words, which become instances of publicappearance (Greene, 2000, p. 302).Throughout the script development process in Summer Visions, the mentors workwith the script supervisor to challenge students about their stories and forms ofrepresentation and to help students with production planning. The goal is to fuel whatArendt would call thoughtfulness. A mentor named Caleb describes what happens. Hesays:just because [students] come up with an idea, a lot of times people thinkthat it's the best idea because you've come up with it ... [I]t's the first one[and it] tantalizes you ... [But it's] never the [best one]. It needs to beworked with. And so story wise we really push them and make them go,`Okay, let's look at other things ... Where are you going with this? How isit visually going to translate?' (Interview, January 11, 2006).As Terrence notes, the point is not to put "boundaries on the subject matter, it's just thatwe're putting boundaries on certain familiar, over-familiar treatments of over-familiarsubject matter" (Interview, January 9, 2006). In part, this is to challenge students andmentors to think about what is being represented, to avoid "token" or stereotypicalimages and stories (Oscar, Interview, January 14, 2006).The script supervisor plays the central role here. She reviews the story outlines and asCaitlin notes, engages in a critical dialogue "on aesthetics, on story quality, on narrativestructure" following first and second drafts of the script (Interview, March 14, 2006).She's looking for a degree of competency in the story, but Lucy says she is really lookingfor "evidence in the script that students have entered into a dialogue" (Field notes, June30, 2006). This objective recalls Paulo Freire's (1970) dictum: "Dialogue is the encounterbetween men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world" (p. 69). Evidence thatthis work is underway can come in many forms — as we will see in chapter five — but it158amounts to scripting details that suggest students are thinking about their experience andthe conditions of action that make it possible. Of course students need a good deal ofpractice to engage in dialogue about the aesthetic, social, and political nature of theirwork, and so lots of opportunity is given for students to talk through their stories, toconsider what they want to achieve, and what forms of representation they will use to dothis. Production mentors are crucial to this process.Peer to peer mentors are assigned to specific groups on day three, once story outlinesare complete. During the story development phase, the mentor's role is to keep the groupmoving forward, but it is also to support the work of the script supervisor by posingstory-based questions to students. It takes time to learn how to do this well, not leastbecause the urge to provide script solutions to problem sequences is strong. Moreover, in2006 there was only a short workshop for the mentors during their training week wheretheir role in posing questions to student groups about script and production decisions wasexplained. Specific examples of how this might work were not provided. Still, thementors make a concerted effort to support and challenge their groups.Throughout the scripting of a video called Drafted, for instance, Rohan tried to queryhis group about most sequences. The video eventually told the story of a young man whorefuses to respond to the military draft notices sent to his home. During pre-production,Rohan situated his questions in relation to the audience students envisioned for the videoand then asked them to explain: "Why do we have this shot? What is the point of thisscene? What is the purpose of this sound?" (Interview, October 27, 2006). Thisdiscussion can become overwhelming at times, but it positions both the students and thementor in an agonistic relation with the production. For students, this process encourages159them to enter into a dialogue with each other, their mentor and an imagined audience — inthis case an audience of peers. For the mentor, the process forces him or her to imaginethe trajectory, as well as the social, political, and aesthetic implications of the choicesbeing make. Because the goal is, as much as possible, to avoid the reproduction of "over-familiar treatments of over-familiar subject matter," this process lends itself to apedagogy of natality. Students and mentors are encouraged to "visit" with new ideas, toencounter the belated nature of their work, and to imagine new possibilities without beingtold what these possibilities ought to be. Through this, a space is opened to take initiativeand act on those initiatives "in light of a vision of a better state of things" (Greene, 2000,p. 297; but also see Arendt, 1968, p 4).Of course this process is not without tensions. Working in collaborative processes canturn plurality into a debilitating force. This has been observed in youth video work in thepast (Sefton-Green, 1995; Buckingham et al., 1995) and was also noted in discussing theSummer Visions brainstorming process. The problem here is that when a group workstogether, inevitably multiple voices with differing points of view force compromises tobe made. Kira suggests why this is a problem. She says: "the whole group has to agree onan idea before it really goes forward. So I guess ... that means the ideas kind of getwatered down, because they ... have to go through so many people and ... people [have]to agree. ... [As a result,] it's not ever — in theory — one person's film, because there areso many ideas that contribute" (Interview, November 3, 2006). Rohan concurs and addsthe short timeframe for writing and editing scripts means "no one can fully articulate theirproject" (Interview, October 27, 2006). Recalling an observation made in chapter two, thetension here is about the limiting conditions of plurality, the fact that too much difference160can undermine youth's opportunities to articulate and produce rich and novel stories.Where this is a problem, it intersects with a conflict in the program directors' beliefsabout the aims of Summer Visions.As noted earlier, Caitlin and Lucy envision the program and the story creation processas important opportunities to engage and empower youth through discussion and analysisof their ideas and their condition in contemporary society. On the other hand, Julia andTony believe Summer Visions is primarily intended to help youth become betterfilmmakers. To facilitate this, Julia has proposed that the mentors play a much less activerole in the story development process so that students can focus on creating better stories,rather than analyzing and discussing those stories (Interview, June 7, 2006). In 2006, thischange was not made, but it was a point of tension and discussion throughout thesummer.In chapter five this tension and the story development process in Summer Visionswill be explored further through detailed examinations of three videos made in theprogram. Here I note that across Summer Visions' pre-production process, a number ofopportunities are designed to draw young people into a shared space, one that stands-infor the often private spaces where youth live (Greene, 2000). Creating a video is theframework for doing this work, but the aim is to facilitate what Dewey talked about as "afunding of meaning" (quoted in Greene, 2000, p. 298). Drawing attention to a communityof youth media work suggests the plurality of other young people's practices, whichSummer Visions students and mentors will contribute to. Brainstorming stories andlearning the language of media production teaches the belated and social nature ofmeaning production. The story development process evidences both the powerful161agonistic dimensions of creative practice and the difficulties to be encountered in thiswork. New beginnings for students and mentors come into being through this process,even if these developments are far from straightforward. Action and speech facilitateappearance before others and, in this way, possibilities for democratic practice are openedbecause natality is designed into the learning process.In a lesser way, this is also the case during production. Shooting videos generallytakes place over three days in Summer Visions, often either at Cityschool or within athree-kilometre radius of the school. The mentors work closely with their groupsthroughout the process. They help students secure equipment, locations and actors, andalso help set up shots, protect tapes, and rehearse on set. In certain instances, visitingindependent filmmakers also work with groups.During shooting, ideally there is again a potent and ongoing dialogue betweenmentors and students. The mentors are not only a resource, in other words, they engagestudents in a work-based conversation. It takes time and confidence to develop the abilityto do this, but Caitlin says the goal is that "each shot set up, every time the director doessomething, there's ... questions ... being asked and [a] kind of negotiation ... going onbetween the mentor and the students. That's part of the mentors' and the students'learning process" (Interview, March 14, 2006). The production of Drafted again offers anilluminating instance of how this works.The video was shot in a converted back-stage area in Cityschool's theatre. Wherepossible, Rohan provoked a series of agonistic encounters largely by challenging studentsin the group about how audiences would understand shot choices and scene sequences.To do this, he took advantage of a television monitor, which was linked to the students'162camera, showing the group what different sequences would look like "as TV." Using amonitor to test and evaluate shots is hardly unusual in student productions, but it is oftennot noted how this affords an opportunity to develop a richer dialogue with one'saudience. By seeing images and hearing sounds on TV, student media work is positionedin a dialectic relationship with popular media because, more than a camera on its own,the television monitor recalls the belated expectations students, mentors and many of ushave about what TV images should look like. In making Drafted, Rohan took advantageof this fact and turned the production of the video into a public dialogue about themeaning and nature of specific images and sounds. A student in the group commented onthe value of this process. She said Rohan pushed the group to think about and "talk to" animagined audience as they made decisions about shots, lighting and acting performances(Interview, July 14, 2006). "He'd ask: 'What would you say if you saw that on TV?Would it make sense?' She went on to say: "It was cool watching our stuff on themonitor because we could see what it was going to look like" and thus imagine thedialogue with the audience. "We were trying to make it look ... like something anaudience would watch" (Interview, July 14, 2006). This did not always work out, but thepoint is with the mentor asking questions and the monitor affording a view of the shotsand scenes as texts, the production process became a site wherein an agonistic encounteraround the nature and dimensions of meaning could unfold.Caitlin notes that the kind of interventions exemplified by Rohan's work on Drafted "doesn't happen with all the mentors" because it is difficult for new peer educators to feelcomfortable doing this work (Interview, March 14, 2006). But it does happen, and in this163way, the production process is designed to afford further opportunities for students toexperience a struggle over the social nature of meaning.The involvement of visiting artists with some film groups also contributes to thisprocess. In 2006, an effort was made to bring in more independent filmmakers than inprevious years to work with student groups and mentors during production. Caitlin saysin most instances, the filmmakers worked alongside the mentors, asking studentsquestions about their shot selection, sound preparation, and scene readiness, etc.(Interview, November 16, 2006). They also provided advice on how to get the most fromone's resources and actors and where students might find help from the local filmmakingcommunity. Julia, Pacific Cinematheque's Education Director, also hoped the presence ofthe visiting artists would bring in "a little bit of fresh air ..., fresh eyes and differentapproaches" (Interview, June 6, 2006). Whether or not this happened in difficult toassess. As will be made clear in chapter six, however, it does seem the presence ofindependent filmmakers in the program offered the production mentors a link to abroader filmmaking community in the city and province.Because of time constraints, the Summer Visions post-production process is largelydesigned to allow students and mentors to edit and complete their videos. Considerableeffort is made to ensure everyone has an ongoing opportunity to contribute to andphysically edit projects. Caitlin says this is consciously done to support young women inthe program (Interview, March 14, 2006). Because technology continues to be thought ofin relation to young male interests and activities, it has become clear over the history ofthe program that concerted effort is necessary to ensure male and female students haveequal opportunity to edit images and design sound scapes. Mentors are responsible for164ensuring this happens, which, importantly, helps to sustain a sensibility toward issues ofgender throughout the program. Students and mentors participate in one critical reviewsession of their rough cut on the final day of the program. This discussion affords one lastopportunity to review footage choices, story structure, character development, and so on.Generally, program instructors and senior mentors lead the discussion, which is intendedto help students make final revisions of their work.The public screening of youth films is the concluding stage of the production processin Summer Visions. Many researchers have noted the significance of this stage in thedevelopment of youth work (Buckingham, 2003, 2000; Buckingham and Harvey, 2001;Goodman, 2005, 2003; Goldfarb, 2002; Zsalov and Butler, 2002). Screening one's workbefore an audience constitutes entrance into a public realm and a public dialogue in amost obvious way. In a very real way, it is here where young people come into beingthrough display of their efforts with others. An imaginary youthscape that has beenacknowledged through the screening and discussion of older youth media in SummerVisions is re-constituted in the actual space where youth, their friends, families, and otheradults watch the videos. In Summer Visions this event takes place early in the fall whenall student films are screened as part of a gala evening at Pacific Cin6matheque'sdowntown theatre. Ryan, a former instructor in the program captures the significance ofthis event. He says: "when you do a screening in a movie theatre, ... you formalize[student work. This is the place] where people sit down and have popcorn and they cango and see King Kong or they can go and see a night of Summer Visions films ... I'm notsaying those are the same crowds. But ... there's the same sort of feeling, you're stillgoing into a movie theatre and ... it's still the same experience that we all love"165(Interview, May 25, 2006). In part, this is about completion, the final presentation ofvideos which concludes a long summer. In part, however, it is also about arrival, theappearance of a new public of youth whose agonistic encounters with the world areevidenced through their work. In these instances, freedom is preserved not only becauseof what is visible on screen, but because a new space is made in which young people acttogether in ways that contribute to securing a better future.ConclusionSummer Visions' aims, training processes and pedagogical design are intended togenerate a form of thoughtfulness among participating students and mentors.Unquestionably, there are tensions in the way this goal is understood and in how it isexecuted, and these tensions impact students' work and mentors' experiences, asevidenced in this chapter and subsequent discussions. Teaching young people the skillsnecessary to produce new media and affording them opportunities to express themselvesare central goals in the program. So too are providing resources to support media literacy,career development and access to technology. Mediating these objectives, however, is adesire to help young people come into being as social actors capable of reflecting on theconditions that shape their experiences and actions in ways that will affect change foryoung people, their communities and our social futures (New London Group, 2000). Ibelieve this goal underlies many youth media programs and, in an important way, itunderscores the democratic ambitions of these practices.In Summer Visions, a pedagogy of natality, as conceived by Levinson (2002, 1997) isnot consciously designed into the program. At the same time, a number of trainingprocesses and pedagogical strategies can be read in such a way that they appear to166acknowledge the limiting and enabling possibilities afforded by our condition ofbelatedness and the fact of plurality. Where possible and where it seems productive,students and mentors are invited to engage in agonistic struggle to reflect on why andhow they are producing particular stories and in what ways these videos will beunderstood by others. Through this, instances of productive uncertainty are designed intothe program in ways that allow youth to reflect on the social nature of meaning and ourobligation to this. Whether and how such an orientation develops in youth work and aspart of the experiences of the peer-to-peer mentors in the program are the subjects ofchapters five and six.1 An additional four youth — beyond the eleven noted in this study — were hired to work asproduction mentors for a satellite version of the Summer Visions program targeted atelementary-age children. The satellite program takes place on the campus of a localuniversity, and is produced in conjunction with the Summer Camp program hosted by theuniversity's physical education department. This location was not part of the research forthis study because the elementary program is one-week in length and is designed toachieve a different set of objectives with participating children.Three youth were first time mentors in 2006, while two mentors had worked part timeas production trainers in 2005.ill Julia selected two videos — Karma Café  (2006) and Cash Money Gangsters  (2005) — todiscuss questions about the aesthetic possibilities of youth production, and two videos —Turbulence  (2006) and Oulin (2006) — to discuss issues of representation in student work.I have chosen to analyze one video in each of these categories.167The award is now in its sixth year and is intended to make young people aware ofinternational issues. Butterfly 208 is based on the theory that, by flapping its wings, asingle butterfly can shift the wind enough to cause a storm a month later elsewhere in theworld. It symbolizes the interdependence that connects some 208 countries in the worldand the fact that even the smallest action can have a significant impact.168Chapter 5The Struggle Over Meaning and the Production of Plurality inYouth Media WorkIn chapter four I located Summer Visions in relation to other youth media programsand examined the program's pedagogical design and mentor training process in relationto the conceptual framework offered by a pedagogy of natality. The purpose of this wasto assess how Summer Visions can be understood to encourage agonistic struggles amongyouth video makers and mentors. Within Hannah Arendt's public realm theory, asdiscussed in chapter two, such struggles nurture democratic practice by preservingnewness and fostering plurality through acts that contest meaning, especially in regard tothe sedimentation of power in discourses, institutions and visual texts. In this chapter, Iexamine how such struggles are enacted in the production of three Summer Visions films.The objective is to assess in what sense such struggles de-privatize young people'screative experience by involving them with others, ideally in ways that pay heed to theforces and structures that organize and limit our lives. In chapter six, I then offer adifferent assessment of the way Summer Visions furthers plurality by examining howexperience in the program has fostered a sense of the social nature of meaning and ourobligation to this among a group of peer-to-peer production mentors.I situate the analysis of student artifacts in this chapter by summarizing the array ofvideos produced in the program in 2006, noting common characteristics and features andalso pointing out that some have very little, if anything to do with acts that contestmeaning, especially in regard to the way power operates belatedly in discourses andpractices. I quote from a senior youth mentor and examine the challenges faced by young169mentors in the program to explain why this is the case. I follow this discussion with anextended analysis of three films — In-Between, No Regrets and NE1  — made in 2006, eachof which demonstrates how a struggle over meaning is produced in Summer Visions. Notall these productions successfully carrying through on this work and so I also use thesevideos to indicate how practices of sedimentation and belatedness can limit andundermine agonistic struggles in youth media production. To conclude, I revisit thenotion of youthscapes referred to in chapters two and four and suggest that while thesevideos and Summer Visions more generally are complicated instances of democraticpractice, they also demonstrate how youth working in new and mixed media forms arenot just producing isolated works of personal expression, they are creating new publicspaces.Summer Visions 2006Over the three (two-week) video production programs I witnessed during my fieldobservations, students and youth production mentors worked together to complete thirtyvideos, which were distributed at public screenings and, in some instances, submitted tostudent film festivals. All the pieces were fictional narratives of one sort or another,ranging in length from one to seven minutes.Eight of the videos were fictionalized social commentaries. I mean by this that thevideos combined a sense of "social analysis and dramatic conflict within a coherentnarrative structure" (Roffman and Purdy, 1981, p. viii; Neale, 2000). Examples of suchwork include Drafted, a video discussed in chapter four that tells the story of a youngman who refuses to respond to draft notices sent to him by the military. Paper Bag Boy isabout a young man who feels alienated from the world around him until a young woman170befriends him and together they realize that however much unhappiness there is, "theworld is more beautiful than [we] think, and it needs people" like these characters to seethe potential that is out there. Another piece (Gossip Speaks) is about the impact ofrumors at school, while Lakewood Drive portrays the cultural and ethnic diversity thatlies inside four houses on a neighbourhood street. NE1 is an internet stalker story, whichwill be discussed in greater detail below. Transparency is about fitting in at school, andNegative Space and The Neighbourhood are both about the way communicationtechnologies appear to haunt people in their homes.Four videos were docudramas, which is to say, they used a mix of documentary andfiction formats to tell socially relevant stories. John Grierson aptly described thedocumentary as "the creative treatment of reality" (quoted in Druick, 2007). Drama, onthe other hand, is the about the imitation of life, it is a contrived story (Lipkin et al.,2006). The docudrama is a hybrid of these forms. It often — but not always — mixesfootage of "real events and the talent of actors and actresses in performance to act outwritten stories, thereby gaining leeway to take dramatic liberty with events" (Ogunleye,2005, p. 480). At Summer Visions 2006, Look Around told the story of different forms ofexclusion — based on age, sex, sexuality, and race — that can happen in school. Quarantinereturns to a story from the days and weeks immediately following the attacks on theWorld Trade Centre in New York on September 11, 2001. In the video, office workersare trapped in a building after a mysterious white power is found on the floor. The Pointis ... is about how to help take care of others, especially those we don't know. In-Between, which will be discussed in greater detail below, is about teen suicide.171Nine of the videos were dramas, which addressed a range of themes and topicsincluding the difference between dream worlds and reality (Entre Reyes), one's desire toscript and control one's life (Cliché), a missed birthday (A Birthday Forgotten), survivinga natural disaster (Earthquake), a missing briefcase caper (The Briefcase), a now-distantrelationship between two young women (Wake-up), and a late-night party two youngwomen try to attend (Escape). There was also a story (Between 4-1) about a young mantrapped in an elevator who is prompted by a stranger to think about where his life isheaded and why, and a video (No Regrets) about a young man given a second chance tobe with his now-deceased girlfriend through the aide of a secret military technology. Thisvideo will also be discussed in greater detail below.In addition to these works, four videos were horror or fantasy films (A Ghost Story,Tales of Applegate, Voyage to Norselandic Land, and Cookie Editorial), which aredifficult to create in a two-week production program because they rely on more elaboratesets and costumes. Three comedies were made, all of which worked with satire. DimitryValdez is about a television dating show, while Normak the Untamed  lampoons aspiringsuperheroes, and The Dishwasher loosely satirizes a television show that takes a behind-the-scenes look into the world of restaurants. Two other videos (Fiction  and White Out)were closer to experimental productions. Avante-garde or experimental films are diverseand notoriously difficult to define (Rees, 1999). Nonetheless, I use this term to refer tovideos that explore loosely interwoven narratives through visual experimentationintended to create highly symbolic images and sound environments (Buckingham et al.,2003 p. 466). In Fiction, the video makers explore how three people are linked together172through a single idea, while White Out explores the difficulty a young man has trying tohold on to a disappearing memory.Most of the students' productions were serious in tone, although some includedsarcasm or irony even when they dealt with more sober topics like the damage caused bygossip in schools, the change wrought by communications technologies in people'shomes, or the fear caused by unidentified white powder in an office. Certainly not all ofthe videos preserve newness by expanding a sense of the real, as these ideas are used inthis study. Even if Summer Visions' pedagogical practices open up possibilities for thisto happen, not all students are interested in being drawn into production experiences thatencourage them to "step outside of themselves," to become involved with others in waysthat fuel experimentation and thinking about the possibilities of new beginnings (Ryan,Interview, May 25, 2006). Terrence, a senior mentor, suggests why: "sometimes studentsjust don't want to learn ... [W]e have kids" who come to Summer Visions and they "arejust there for the summer camp experience and if they want to make a movie about Elvisand his pelvic thrusts or whatever, then they're going to do that no matter what"(Interview, January 9, 2006). As indicated in chapter four, various stages in the videoproduction cycle are intended to challenge how students undertake their work, but, ofcourse, these challenges are not taken up by everyone.Further complicating how student video production experiences preserve newnessand engage in democratic practice is the role of novice or relatively inexperienced peer-to-peer mentors in the program. As evidenced in the previous chapter, mentors play avital role throughout the production cycle. Because of this, the creation process andresulting videos are deeply affected by mentors' level of experience. Terrence notes as173much when he says, "the same script with five different mentors, would be five differentmovies" (Interview, January 9, 2006). One reason for this is learning how to conteststudents' story ideas and decisions about images, sound and performance requiresexperience and confidence. The mentor training process offers some support, but again,as noted in chapter four, the training process has not always provided clear direction inthis regard. Rohan, another senior mentor, says, for instance, that even after working inthe program for three years, he does not "feel like [the mentors'] relationship with kids istalked about nearly as much in Summer Visions" as it needs to be (Interview, October 27,2006). Because of this, he says he is not always sure how to respond to the differentchallenges posed by students' needs throughout the production process. For youngermentors this problem is magnified.Following a truncated training process, new mentors are placed in situations wherethey need to attend carefully to students' stories and representational decisions in order tointervene productively in response to these decisions. Rachel, a new mentor in 2006, saysthe difficulty this poses is in learning to be "inside the stories of others [and not] ...simply [take] over those stories" (Field notes, August 1, 2006). It is hard, she says,because "the weight of your creative thoughts" is so overwhelming, as the story developsit is difficult to ask critical questions and not simply try to take over the productionprocess (Field notes, August 1, 2006). Drawing on an Arendtian concept used in chapterfour, we might say this is a problem of learning how to "visit" with the work of others, tocontest their decisions in ways that foster agonistic struggle without simply tellingstudents how their stories should develop. Terrence says this difficulty means newmentors shy away from creating "too much tension" by posing questions to students174during the production cycle (October 30, 2007). One result is videos made by studentgroups and novice mentors tend to be more visually and narratively conventional.With this backdrop, in the rest of this chapter I closely analyze three videos producedby different student and mentor groups: one is a docudrama that draws on a real lifeexperience, a second is a drama, and the third is a fictionalized social commentary. Thesevideos were selected because they offer differing examples of the struggle to preservenatality through creative work. Each video can be read as revealing examples of howdemocratic practice operates in Summer Visions' creative process and video artifacts.Here, democratic practice is conceived in terms of agonistic struggles through whichstudents and mentors address and respond to the social nature of meaning in concertedactions related to a common purpose (i.e., the production of a video artifact). This isevidenced through a willingness to engage and open oneself up to others, particularlythrough actions that challenge the sedimentation of meaning and the belatedness of powerin discourses, institutions and visual texts. Not all the videos are successful at this work.In fact No Regrets is instructive as a counter-example that shows how complicatingtensions having to do with issues of race and popular media can undermine the wayconditions of belatedness and plurality are addressed in youth media work. At the sametime, each video affords a revealing example of how an Arendtian conception ofdemocratic practice can be used to understand Summer Visions' creative processes andthe artifacts that result.In interpreting each video, I transcribed the plot and any dialogue in each piece andcoded each on several levels, including: character development; themes and overarchingplots; students' decisions about their use of image and audio conventions; and mentor175interventions throughout the production process. In turn, I framed these in relation to howthey do or do not exemplify acts of initiation, acts that "set something in motion" whichcontend with the social nature of meaning production and our ethical relation to this(Wilson, 2003, p. 208).In-Between and AudienceIn-Between is about teen suicide, a theme frequently explored in institutionallymediated youth video programs (Goldfarb, 2002; Buckingham et al., 2003). There areseveral reasons for this. Suicide remains an all too common problem among youngpeople, particularly young men and youth from marginalized communities in Canada andthe United States (Leenaars et al., 1998). In addition, autobiographical and testimonialobjectives often inform video programs, even when such initiatives aim to criticallychallenge how students engage their work. Opportunities are thus available for youth toexplore traumatic life experiences. There is also a long history to the idea of using videoproduction as therapy. Brian Goldfarb (2002) explains why: "Video has proven to be wellsuited to various local amateur contexts where the medium is used to foster self-analysisand interpersonal relationship building" (p. 115). Finally, video's therapeutic function isreinforced by the popularity of reality television and a wider televisual therapeutic ethos.Mimi White (1992) noted this relationship some time ago, explaining that in recountinghis or her story, the confessional subject of reality television experiences "the processesof repetition and recovery" (p. 182). Through this, an odd form of public celebrity results.Confessional subjects tell their stories on national television, "and they get to participateas actresses and expert witnesses. In such instances, the successful therapeutic trajectoryis signified by the patient's accession to celebrity status via an appearance on television"176(White, 1992, p. 182). This public status then encourages the idea that video testimonycan offer a means for overcoming traumatic experience.If a confessional televisual culture leads to instances of trauma celebrity-hood, InBetween and the Summer Vision's ethos are bound up with a different conception ofpublic engagement. In Between was made by five young people who were mentoredthroughout the creation process by Kira, a recent high school graduate who has beeninvolved with Summer Visions as both a student and mentor for four years. It is largelyher words I draw on in telling this story. The video is an interesting mix of forms,combining fictionalized and documentary footage.It opens in the private space of a boy's bedroom. The soundtrack is a single piano,which grows with intensity as the scene unfolds. The image is a long shot, showing a boyasleep in bed in an otherwise non-descript room. As tension in the music increases, thecamera remains stationary and a dream-like image of the boy sits up in the corner of thebed over his sleeping body. The boy in the dream image begins to wrench and strugglewith anxiety. Over this shot, a boy's voice says,"You're an accident."There is then a cut to a bleach white image of the same boy now wrestling with a rope.He is clearly in deep trauma. From here, the video cuts between images of a clock, a handshown in close-up hanging over the corner of a bed, more bleach white images of the boystruggling, then the clock again, and finally, the dream-like image of the boy returning tosit in the corner of the bed. At this point, a boy's voice-over says:"Little freak."The scene stops here and, as it does, the boy looks directly at the camera.177Following a noticeable cut, which is intended to denote a shift from the dreamsequence, we again see the boy sleeping, only now he wakes up, looks at the clock, andknows he is late for school. He quickly gets up and walks out of his room, passinganother door, which he opens to say good-bye to his mom. She's sitting on a bed,smoking and reading the paper. She doesn't acknowledge him when he says:"Going to school..."In response to her, he says:"Whatever..."He walks out the front door, mumbling,"Great, so much for not being late this year."The scene then cuts to a young woman walking to school. The boy runs up to her frombehind. She's a friend and he says,"Amy, you're late too huh ... I had the craziest dream last night..."As he says this, Amy doesn't acknowledge him and so in response, he says,"What's wrong? What did I do? Amy, what did I do wrong?"She turns and walks away. The boy looks down and we cut to a shot of his wrist and thenback to a shot of him looking down the street at Amy. He ends up walking on alone toschool. When he arrives, he finds Amy sitting outside a counselor's office. He sits downbeside her and says,"Amy, I didn't ... I didn't think about what I was doing, I just wanted to..."The door to the office opens and Amy walks in to talk with the counselor. The boy is leftoutside looking in, trying in vain to talk to his friend. He leaves and as he's walking out178of the school, we see a montage of students walking all around the boy. No one can seehim and he can't talk to anyone.From here, we return to his home. As he walks back into his bedroom, the pianomusic returns and the shot cuts again to a close-up of a hand — his hand, presumably —hanging off the corner of his bed. The camera cuts to the boy in close-up and a montageof images seen in the opening of the video — including shots of a clock, the boy strugglingin a white room, etc. — finally conclude with a black screen. From here, the tone andmood of the video take a dramatic shift.We cut to a series of interviews, which constitute the second half of the video. Theinterviews include a range of young people talking about the meaning, causes and impactof suicide. The youth seem to be in conversation with each other. They talk about theirunderstanding of suicide, whether or not it is a selfish act, how it impacts those who areleft behind, its relationship to families and religion, how it relates to our obligation toothers, and the way other painful experiences influence adolescents' actions. The youthrepresent a range of cultures and ethnicities, and where they don't all agree, their talkbegins to redefine the terms of the private trauma the audience has just seen. Theirconversations explore suicide through the lens of multiple relationships. No conclusionsare firmly drawn, but the private experience seen in the first half of In Between isreconstituted through a form of engagement that represents a struggle over suicide'smeaning, causes and effects.In this way, In-Between exemplifies how youth videos that explore "personal issuesin peer groups settings" can also simultaneously translate these issues into social andpolitical relationships (Goldfarb, 2002, p. 112). The project did not begin this way, but179importantly, ongoing discussions about the relationship of the story to its intendedaudience throughout the production cycle altered how suicide was explored in the text.By asking the filmmakers to think seriously about who their audience is, what they wantto say to them, and how this message will be produced and received, Kira and SummerVisions' instructors helped the filmmakers explore a personal story and examine itsmeaning in relation to the larger social and cultural contexts where it operates. Throughthis, Kira and the instructors not only demonstrated how talk about audiences in thecontext of video production can help students improve the aesthetic quality of their work,but also how thinking about one's audience can introduce forms of public, democraticdialogue into students' work.For some time, asking young people to think about audiences has been typical ofpedagogical practices in both media education and media production (Buckingham, 2003;Buckingham and Harvey, 2001; Buckingham and Sefton-Green, 1994). As noted inchapter four, this is also true of Summer Visions. Early on in the production cycle,students are invited to begin a dialogue with viewers, to consider how their videos will beread differently by friends, family, educators, and other members of the community.Thinking about one's audience has most often been understood as a way to help studentsrefine how they understand their own intentions, construct their stories and use visual andaudio resources. Buckingham and Harvey (2001) note as much in their report onVideoCulture, an international media production project involving young people fromGermany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and the United States.They (2001) explain that when youth took audiences seriously in the project, "a kind of`decentering'" occurred (p. 181). Students were led "to consider the relationship between180intentions and results; to recognize that some of their intentions were not clear, or hadchanged as the work progressed; and that some of the outcomes did not correspond withtheir initial intentions, and may have even led them to be misinterpreted" (Buckinghamand Harvey, 2001, p. 181).This is helpful but left unarticulated here and evidenced in the making of In Betweenis the way consideration of audiences can also introduce forms of democratic dialogueinto students' practices. This happens because thinking about one's audience never justinvolves aesthetic considerations; rather, taste is always related to socio-culturalrelationships and questions of cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1984). A fully developedarticulation of these dynamics may not result during production work, but thinking aboutone's viewers positions one in a dialogue with collectivities that are belated and plural,formed "out of independently existing social forces" (McQuail, quoted in Livingstone,2005, p. 24). We can't talk about a youth audience or any other kind of audience, in otherwords, without simultaneously thinking about who these people are both as mediaconsumers and social beings. As a result, there is always the potential when thinkingabout audiences to open up consideration of the social, cultural and political relationshipsthrough which meaning operates. This may only happen in small ways, but imaginingone's audience doesn't only help students improve the coherence and aesthetic quality oftheir work. It is also a way democratic considerations come to be inserted into productionexperiences. This really means that by engaging with their audiences, the active work ofcreation encourages and allows students to enter into a dialogue, one that "constitute[s] aform of cultural engagement that matters to the public sphere" (Livingstone, 2005, p. 36).181This dimension of creative media work is exemplified in the production of In-Between. The project began with a story based around a singular image of a youngperson in the midst of committing suicide. A friend of a student in the production teamhad recently taken her own life, and the student wanted to tell his friend's story byshowing the final moments he imagined she must have experienced. He saw this as a wayto warn other young people.After an initial meeting together, the group explained to Caitlin that they wanted toshow a young woman hanging herself (Kira, Interview, August 30, 2006). They had anidea they would also show something about her alienation from her family, but reallythey wanted to concentrate on the moment when she takes her own life. The boy whoproposed the story idea compared the power of this scene to the sequence inShakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, when the lovers take their lives (Field Notes, July 18,2006). He thought the video could have a similar force, but as a warning to other youngpeople. Caitlin was sympathetic but suspicious. Besides the difficulty of showing a youngwoman dying, she also worried the scene had no context, little explanation and riskedfetishizing the suffering and "gore" of the moment (Field notes, July 18, 2006). Inresponse, rather than tell the production team they could not make the video, Caitlinasked them to pitch the story idea to other students, to find out whether they respondedthe way the production team hoped.The team did this, explaining that they wanted to show a young woman's suicide todemonstrate how the victim suffers. The student audience responded with sympathy.Some liked the idea. Others, however, said they would be left numb by the sequence. Asa result, it would be hard to take any message away from the story. They would have no182idea why the character died. Caitlin picked up on this point — in part, for fear the groupwould continue to defend the need for "gory details" — and asked the students to thinkabout how they could warn their audience by exploring why suicides happen (Field notes,July 19, 2006).This direction proved to be both useful and challenging. Kira was brought in tomentor the group and she says Caitlin's direction helped create a larger canvas to thinkabout the film, the students' intentions and where the story was headed. By focusing onwhy a young person might take his or her life the students could work morecollaboratively because the story no longer depended quite to the same degree on oneboy's experience with his friend, and so space was created for the other participants'ideas. Kira pursued these directions with the group and emphasized to the students thatwhile "'we're trying to help you make the best story you can[, ...] you [need to] realize... people are going to respond in a certain way, so think about your audience'(Interview, August 30, 2006).Thinking about their script and video in terms of a dialogue with future audiences wasnot easy. Kira says this is something students struggle with. She remembers asking thegroup many times: "what do you want your audience to feel and to think" (Interview,August 30, 2006)? These questions locate students in agonistic relationships with theirwork, with their mentors, and with the larger context in which their videos are made andseen. Kira says these questions produce uncertainty among the students "that's goodbecause it pushes them to create something they believe in, but don't necessarily knowthe answers to yet" (Interview, November 3, 2006). These questions "set something inmotion," in other words, encouraging students to engage and open themselves up to new183considerations and relationships (Wilson, 2003, p. 208). Thereby, natality might bepreserved.With In-Between, the effect of this strategy was twofold. On the one hand, as inBuckingham's and Harvey's (2001) study, the students used an ongoing dialogue with animagined youth audience to refine their script and clarify shot decisions. They wrote outthe central character's lines and then rehearsed them aloud to check whether theysounded "realistic" as teen argot. Kira says this led to three stages of script revision(Interview, August 30, 2006). The students also revised the opening scene. In an earlydraft of the script, it read:A Boy lies in his bed thinkingFlash to WHITE ROOMThe Boy sits tied up. He struggles to get out.VOICEOVERYou are worth nothing....(Going back and forth from white room to the Boy's bedroom, he's imitating the samemoves as he does in the white room.)(Car noises are heard in the background. As the car accelerates the phrases that you hearare growing more and more tense. Louder and louder, the phrases are now screamed.Then, silence.)(A car crashes in the background. Silence)VOICEOVERHe's gone...184Ultimately, this scene was simplified because when the group talked it through in relationto their audience, Kira says "they agreed it felt too angsty. So they tightened it up and itdidn't turn out a lot like this" (Interview, August 30, 2006). Imagining how audienceswould respond to their work thus helped the students to refine their intentions andevaluate their visual and audio decisions.On the other hand, asking the students to think about an imagined youth audiencepositioned the videomakers in the kind of meaningful dialogue which represents "a formof cultural engagement that matters to the public sphere" (Livingstone, 2005, p. 36). Thatthe students undertook something like this is evidenced most clearly by the peculiarmixing of media languages in In Between.Early on in the production process the screenplay focused on the opening half of thevideo. Here, we see the boy in his bedroom, then at school, then returning to his house.The style here is highly personalized, using a visual language that includes montage,treated images and some fairly sophisticated editing techniques. Kira explained that whilethe students were developing this part, she continued to ask them to think about why ayoung person might take their own life and how to make such a decision "real" for otherteenagers. She says, quite honestly, she did this because "I didn't want [the video] to becheesy ... [O]ther kids would write it off right away and maybe laugh" (Interview,August 30, 2006). No one wanted this to happen so Kira and Caitlin talked about thevideo's audience quite a bit.In response, the students slowly began to develop the idea of a documentary piece, aconversation that would follow the opening of the film. Kira says, "[T]hey were thinkingmore about who's going to watch this ... [and] when the group thought about the185audience more, ... they decided to come up with the documentary idea ... [It] wasdirected to other young people" (Interview, August, 30, 2006). Of course documentaryforms of representation need not always be defined as public modes of communication.In relation to the more personalized representational strategies apparent in the opening ofIn Between, however, the shift to a documentary interview format shows the videomakersentering into a different kind of discourse with their audience. The interviews allowed thevideomakers to have conversations with other young people. They constitute a change instyle and orientation, in other words, from the personal and the private to talk among acommunity of youth. In this way, the shift in form can be read as an instance of de-privatization that leads to entry into communication practices that have democraticconsequence.As evidence, when this change happened the young people interviewed in In Betweenimmediately expanded the social complexity through which youth suicide is explored.Their remarks shifted the discussion from an exploration of a personal story to adiscussion about the social, cultural and even political relationships that shape howsuicide impacts young people. One young person spoke about how such acts raisequestions about our obligation to others, including our families and parents. He says,If I were to commit suicide today, my parents would have to deal with thefact that someone younger died before them, ... and everything they'veworked for was to help me have a better life.Another youth raises questions about the relationship of suicide to religious discourses.He says,I don't see that it would be considered a sin, [especially because] it is in away up to the people who are around [a young person] to ... try and help.186A different person suggests there are often other circumstances that impact kids' lives,circumstances that don't justify someone's actions, but place them in a broader context.He then went on to tell a story about a young woman whose experience at home wasn'tknown to those around her. He says,It was kind of shocking because she had no one to talk to and [something]was happening at home, and you would really think that whatever wasdone ... she would try to tell her side of the story and let people in theschool know what she was going through.From the young man's comments, it is difficult to know what was happening to hisfriend. However, suggesting how secretive and painful acts in private can impact a youngperson's life reminds us of the complicated and difficult circumstances young people canface today. It also suggests that suicide is not only a personal or private experience but aphenomenon set within a social matrix of people and resources charged with helpingyoung people.In the end, In-Between does not fully explain why a young person might take theirown life, but this shouldn't be expected. What's more interesting for our purposes is theway producing this work allowed both the students and their mentor to enter into formsof agonistic struggle that engage with the complex social nature of meaning. Kira'srequest that the students think about their audience can be understood as a way ofencouraging them to imagine the belatedness of the people they are addressing, the factthat a teen audience represents a collectivity formed "out of independently existing socialforces" (McQuail, quoted in Livingstone, 2005, p. 24). At the same time, Kira's requestsalso helped the students to engage with the enabling possibilities of plurality. Thishappened in the second half of the video when the students turned to discuss the meaningand nature of suicide with other adolescents. Here, In-Between offers "a view of youth187culture that demonstrates the varieties of emotional, political, and aesthetic agency thatcan be enacted by young people engaged in media culture" (Goldfarb, 2002, p. 138). Inthis way, the video and the process through which it was made suggest how natality ornew beginnings open up through youth media practice.No Regrets and the Belatedness of RacePreserving freedom through practical youth work is about creating instances that "callsomething into being which did not exist before" (Arendt, 1968, p. 150). Such acts helpsustain public experience when they involve becoming in relation with others in waysthat expand a sense of the real. Making In Between offers an instance of such action. Thevideo, No Regrets, on the other hand, is an instructive example of the tensions that canshape and sometimes undermine how freedom is preserved in youth work. Ultimately, NoRegrets turned into a dramatic short, but it did not begin this way, and it is really theprocess through which it changed from one story idea to a very different kind ofproduction that is of interest.The project began with four youth producers — three of whom are Caucasian and fromthe Lower Mainland and one of whom is African American and a visitor to Vancouverfrom Los Angeles in 2006 — who were interested in making a comedy set around a seriesof racially charged skits. The title for the video wasn't to be No Regrets but The `Nigga' Moment and it was meant to be derivative of the comedic style popularized on The DaveChappelle Show, which is broadcast on The Comedy Channel in Canada.By way of background it is important to know that Dave Chappelle is black and hishumour is complex and often harsh. It includes racial caricatures about variouscommunities but black-white relations in America come in for special attention.188Chappelle may or may not be politically significant; it is difficult to tell. Writer MathewFeeney suggests he is not. Feeney (2004) argues: "Chappelle doesn't 'subvert' [racism,sexism, and other clichés,] he exploits them ... [He] extracts laughs from America'sracial hang-ups, not necessarily from a solemn underlying commitment to racial justice,but often with an unfettered and indiscriminate comic malice" (para 2). Stylistically,Chappelle is less "reminiscent ... of the politically circumscribed satire of Lenny Bruceor Dick Gregory than of the gleeful, cruel, slapstick of the Three Stooges — the jarring,unwarranted violence of poked eyes and conked heads." (Feeney, 2004, para 3).Other commentators have read Chappelle differently, suggesting note that in themidst of his antics a powerful socio-political critique can be glimpsed. Writing in theBritish quarterly Sight and Sound, for instance, Ali Jaafar observes that in Chappelle'srecent concert film, Dave Chappelle's Block Party  (2006), "a socio-political subtext canbe seen with both the choice of artists — all part of the 'conscious rap' school of hip hopas opposed to its bling wing — and the inclusion of an unedited speech by Fred HamptonJr. ... [that] excoriates the lack of political radicalism among contemporary US youth" (p.67). If this complicates how Chappelle's comedy is read, at the same time, his televisionshow is impolite, often callous and quite ruthless. He seems especially adept at targeting"the underbelly of black" America and does not shy away from often malicious satires,including a skit that ridicules the "materialism" of black crack addicts (Feeney, 2004). Heexploits stereotypes — about Native Americans and others — in ways that areindiscriminate and because of this it is hard to know if he is a satirist or someone simplyusing the "incomprehension, anger, guilt, [and] fear" that haunts America's race relationsfor laughs (Feeney, para 10).189Given this, it will be no surprise that the students' turn to Chappelle for inspirationraised concerns. The impetus for a Chappelle-like video largely came from Thomas, theyoung man visiting Summer Visions from California (Field notes, July 18, 2006). Hewanted to make a piece about racial stereotypes in America, and in keeping withChappelle, he wanted to use a host of stereotypes as part of the send up. He and the otheryouth explained this idea to Caitlin and Lucy and immediately the instructors had anumber of worries. While not completely familiar with the Chappelle television show,they were concerned that playing with racial caricatures had the potential to offend andhurt, rather than amuse or enlighten audiences (Field notes, July 18, 2006). As with InBetween, however, rather than censor the story, they asked Thomas and the other youthto explain their idea to other Summer Visions students to see what the reaction would be.The four youth videomakers did so, and while many in the audience knew and liked someparts of the Dave Chappelle Show, questions arose.At least initially, the video centred on a set of (admittedly) underdeveloped skit ideasthat included caricatures of African American youth who act as gun-toting, misogynistic"gangstas" as well as crude stereotypes about "yellow" Asians. The skits also madeliberal use of the N-word, something common in Chappelle's humour. This part of theskits appeared to shock the audience (Field notes, July 19, 2006). They becamenoticeably uncomfortable and when the presentation was finished, one studentcommented that people don't say "nigger" here — meaning Vancouver — at least notpublicly (Field notes, July 19, 2006). Thomas explained that in America and within hiphop culture, the word is used as both an insult and a kind of vernacular, depending onwho is using it (Field notes, July 19, 2006). Another student in the audience responded190that she understood this, but she felt it important to say that "people don't use the N-wordhere" (Field notes, July 19, 2006). When asked by Caitlin to elaborate further, the studentsuggested the word is too harsh and anyone who uses it publicly would immediately berebuked. Moreover, as a Chinese-Canadian youth she said racism is not just a black-whiteissue in Vancouver, nor are people of Asian decent targeted with simple and crudestereotypes like being identified as "yellow." Rather, racism is more subtle here. It cutsacross relationships between various groups, affecting how ethnic and racial communitiessee each other. People are not as explicit or openly racist, however, as compared with theway the young woman imagined racism to exist in the United States (Field notes, July 19,2006).As the discussion concluded, what resulted from it proved interesting. In a sense, thevideomakers' desire to explore racial caricatures fit with the media literacy intentionsunderlying Summer Visions' mandate. These intentions were noted in chapter four,where it was remarked that at least in part the program aims to help young people addressthe belated nature of images, including stereotypes that serve to marginalize people onthe basis of gender, race and class. The students' interest in working with the difficult andsometimes troubling style of humour made popular by Dave Chappelle also afforded animportant opportunity to address how the commercial media shapes young people'stastes. Additionally, the objections raised by the student audience brought up animportant issue about the way race as a social and political phenomenon operatesdifferently depending on local and national contexts (Nayak, 2003). In articulating theirpoint of view, the students in the audience seemed to be taking a position commonlyheard in Canada. Frances Henry and Carol Tutor (2006) summarize this stance when they191note, "Many Canadians see themselves as egalitarian and have little difficulty in rejectingthe more overt expressions of racism" (p. 29). This perspective can lead to a discourse ofdenial about the presence of racism in Canada, or arguments which posit racism as "anisolated phenomenon relating to a limited number of social deviants, economicinstability, or the consequence of 'undemocratic' traditions that are disappearing from theCanadian scene" (Henry and Tutor, 2006, p. 24). Interestingly, the student audience didnot seem to take this latter position. Rather, she suggested that racism is a more nuancedset of social and political relationships in Vancouver, which cut across ethniccommunities, affecting groups in different and unequal ways.This collection of issues offered fertile ground for the students to investigate thepolitics of representation and the dynamics of race, and yet, it also complicated Thomas'and his group's original intentions. Caitlin hoped this would happen because she worriedthat if not done well, a Chappelle-inspired video could deeply offend audiences. She alsocontended that the video would mostly be screened in Vancouver and so, echoing thestudent audience, she argued the racial stereotypes and caricatures present in it needed toaccount for the way local audiences experience these issues. Zac, a senior productionmentor, said otherwise Vancouver audiences would feel "like someone intentionallywalked across the street for no particular reason but to kick [them] in the [b#@*s]"(Fieldnotes, July 21, 2006). The N-word and other stereotypes didn't have to disappearfrom the skits, but other, more subtle forms of caricature also needed to be addressed.The hope was this would also encourage the students to work collaboratively, somethingthat is central to Summer Visions' aims. Caitlin trusted the end result would be aninteresting dialogue among the student video makers and their mentors about how race as192a social and political phenomenon operates across different local and national contextsand among diverse communities (Field notes, July 19, 2006).Knowing the challenge producing this work posed, Caitlin asked Zac and Rohan towork with the group. This proved helpful, but in the end an intersection of forcesmilitated against the students' meaningful engagement with the politics surrounding therepresentation of race. These forces were twofold.To begin, it turned out the other three students working in the group with Thomaswere drawn to the project largely out of a desire to work with him. Thomas is a verycharismatic, intelligent and exciting young man and his interest in making a Chappelle-inspired video had what might best be described as an exotic appeal for the collaboratingstudents (Field notes, July 21, 2006). Scholars have argued for some time that race is asocial construction constituted through a range of practices that involve social andpolitical power (Baker, 1999; Gilroy, 1987). One way these practices are mediated isthrough an economy of the exotic, which delineates how the "desirable, [the] out of theordinary, and [the] potentially dangerous" operates to position people of colour inrelation to mainstream culture and authority (Ali, 2005, p. 157). Within an economy ofthe exotic, people of colour or their experiences are situated in terms of an eroticforeignness that at once elevates their status as racialized subjects because they representnovelty and risk, while simultaneously rendering them at an objectified distance. As thestudents turned to rework The `Nigga' Moment to account for both "hardcore and sweptunder the rug" racial caricatures, it became clear that a dynamic like this was at workhere (Field notes, July 21, 2006).193Zac and Rohan supported the students in the script development process, workingwith the group through three attempts at revising the original storylines. During thisprocess, the group abandoned obvious caricatures about people from Asia, but, with onlyminor revisions, they continued to return to their original focus on skits about hip hop-infused gangsters who freely deploy the N-word. The students agreed these storylineswere not complex enough to address questions about racism with local audiences, andyet, they nonetheless could not move beyond them. As this became apparent, it alsobecame clear that the three Lower Mainland youth, all of who are white, were offeringfew ideas about the kinds of racial and ethnic stereotypes typically experienced in Canada(Field notes, July 21, 2006). Whether or not they could have put forward such ideas is notclear. It is apparent, however, that they were not altogether interested in doing so becausewhat drew them to the project was not an interest in comedic explorations of the conceptof race as much as Thomas himselfThomas is middle class and well educated, but as an American youth who is black,charismatic, from L.A., and willing to talk about and even lampoon the character-typesthat are common within hip hop culture, he was also exciting. More than this, heembodied a kind of romanticized ideal for the Lower Mainland youth. Caitlin alludes tothis when she notes the other students thought he was "so L.A." (Interview, November10, 2006). I understand her to mean by this that Thomas came to signify access to theworld of "urban America," a place often thought to be "violent, tough and harsh"(Caitlin, Interview, November 10, 2006). As an African American youth, in other words,Thomas personified an ideal of proximity and access to a place and a culture of "cool"that is associated with the images, sounds and iconography of hip hop.194Since the emergence of rap in the mid-1970s and certainly since the appearance ofgangsta rap within mainstream popular culture in the 1990s and 2000s, hip hopiconography and sound, including the figure of the gangster, has been at the centre ofglobalized youth cultures (Kitwana, 2005). In assuming this position, as a black musicalform like rock and roll, jazz and the blues before it, rap has risen to prominence at least inpart because it is associated with a kind of street credibility among youth that is linked tonotions of danger, sexuality and violence (Kitwana, 2005; Quinn, 2000; Dimitriadis,1996). Thomas may not be dangerous or violent, but he signified a different degree ofaccess to such a world. His interest in exploring and playing with stereotypes about blackgangsters thus came with a sheen of authenticity. Caitlin captures this when she explainsthe local youth were drawn to Thomas because they wanted to create a video that was"edgy and would raise people's eyebrows" (Interview, November 10, 2006). Theseremarks also highlight how a sense of danger and perhaps sexuality played a role in theyouths' interest in the project.The relationship that developed here is best described as a form of exoticism then,because Thomas and a video about the signs and symbols common to hip hop culturecame to be positioned as desirable and enticingly out of the ordinary. Located in this way,it proved remarkably difficult to explore more subtle caricatures and practices reflectiveof the way race operates in a local context. Thomas offered little help in moving thevideo in this direction not only because he lacked familiarity with Canada and the LowerMainland; but also, Caitlin says, because he had little interest in learning about this place(Interview, November 10, 2006). At least in part this is to be explained by the fact thatonce put on a pedestal, Thomas was positioned at a symbolic distance from the local area.195He in fact came to be admired because he offered access to another place. The veryexoticism that drew other youth to him thus, in turn, pushed him away from engagingwith local cultures and experiences. The upshot of this is the group continued to return toa Dave Chappelle-inspired rant about gangsters that liberally deployed the N-word, evenafter agreeing that these representations were not complex enough to address stereotypesabout race and ethnicity for local audiences.Overcoming this problem was all the more difficult because there was no sustainedfocus on the complex issues surrounding the representation of race in Summer Visions'pedagogical design or training process. This gap is really the second force thatundermined the students' meaningful engagement with the politics of race. The mentortraining process in the program is intended to help peer-to-peer assistants question andchallenge students' choices about images and the way popular commercial cultureinfluences their story ideas and characters. However, the social and political dynamics ofrace, including the way these dynamics are shaped by popular culture forms like the DaveChappelle Show, are addressed superficially and largely through workshops on youthfilmmaking practice and visual storytelling, which were discussed in chapter four. Theseworkshops are helpful for mentors, but Macie, a senior mentor notes, the lack ofpreparation on issues like the politics of race and representation leads mentors to "shyaway from controversial" themes (Interview, October 27, 2006). She says there is theimpression that "we like ... politically controversial and interesting ... [stories. But] canwe really deal with this in a sensitive enough manner? ... I think that we absolutely needto try to tell these stories and live up to our ideal of openness" (Interview, October 27,2006) But this is difficult as the making The `Nigga' Moment demonstrated.196Zac and Rohan tried to work with the group to help them add complexity to theirskits. When this did not work, rather than, for instance, attempting to tastefully exploreDave Chappelle's appeal to youth or African American communities, or why youthwould satirize the hip hop culture they know and often love, the video team wasencouraged to abandon the project. They were persuaded their topic was too complex fora short video program and they needed to move on to a new idea (Field notes, July 21,2006). Caitlin, Zac and Rohan did this for fear the final project would offend audiences.But this decision had the effect of all but eliminating the discussion of race and ethnicityfrom the final project, which became No Regrets.This video is a dramatic short about two lovers — one black and one white — separatedby the woman's early death, who are given one last opportunity to visit with each otherthrough the aide of a mysterious new time travel device. While well-made, it isinteresting to note how different No Regrets is from the group's original story idea.Beyond the inter-racial relationship, which was only part of the video because of arbitrarycasting decisions, there is no real hint about the discussion of race and ethnicity thatoccurred prior to making this video. In a sense, all speech and action that aimed toexplore and contest how belated discourses and practices of racism limit and organize ourlives are gone. This does not mean the videomakers and their production mentors learnednothing through the creation process. The students in fact ended up making a technicallyaccomplished video with a clear and satisfying storyline. Even more, the struggle to workwith this group to address the social, cultural and political meanings of race suggestedhow volatile and contested the boundaries are around such discourses. Macie noted thiswhen she said the struggle to make The `Nigga' Moment/No Regrets "was a really good197opportunity to solidly discuss and figure out what we were willing to show and what weweren't. What we wanted Summer Visions to be and whether or not what [that group]was suggesting could fit under those guidelines. In the end, we [decided], 'no,' itcouldn't" (Interview, October 27, 2006).At the same time, producing these works also demonstrated how belated powerstructures — here exemplified by practices of exoticism — and underdevelopedpedagogical practices can undermine natality and thereby limit the way youth mediawork supports the preservation of freedom. In the end, a form of exoticism underminedthe videomakers' willingness to explore the plurality represented by cultural and ethnicdifferences in the Lower Mainland area. Just as importantly, when this happened Caitlin,Zac and Rohan were equally ineffective. They failed to see how belated images —including those on the Dave Chappelle Show — could be used in novel ways that mighthave offered a new route to explore the students' interest in racial caricatures. The endresult was to shut down the project, which only serves to highlight how tensions arisingdue to the plurality and belatedness of meaning can mitigate how democratic practiceoperates in youth work.NE1 and the Production of ThoughtfulnessAs the title is meant to suggest, NE 1 is about an experience not uncommon amongyoung people. The video tells the story of an Internet stalking incident. An older mansexually assaults a teenager he meets online. Stories like this are common in newspaperheadlines and television news reports and are an ongoing focus of concern for parents,young people, media educators, and criminal justice advocates, among others. In manyways predators who victimize children and youth through online chat rooms, social198networking websites like Nexopia, Myspace or Facebook, and other online forums are thenewest nightmare haunting adolescent development and young people's media use(Buckingham, 2006b; Steeves, 2005). Alongside worries about the increasing ease withwhich children can access violent and sexually explicit material as well as websites thatpromote hate, drug use or computer hacking, stalking is at the centre of public safetyconcerns about how digital media is changing young people's lives (Clark, 2001) 1 .NE1 strays into the midst of these concerns and in a way that ultimately contributes tothe preservation of freedom. It does this by promoting thoughtfulness among SummerVisions' mentors — and likely others — regarding the plurality of meaning and thediversity of experience. In this way, it expands a sense of the real. At the same time, theprocess through which the video was made demonstrates how difficult it can be toachieve this result. From an Arendtian perspective, preserving freedom or the possibilityof new beginnings depends on a willingness to engage in agonistic struggles that addressand respond to the social nature of meaning in concerted actions related to a commonpurpose. As evidenced with The `Nigga' Moment/No Regrets, such struggles can beundermined by belated practices and discourses that entrench relations of power. Asimilar process nearly derailed NE1. With this video, however, key interventions by aSummer Visions' instructor and a mentor helped the student video makers work togetherin ways that ended up confronting belated practices that limit how youth media develops.What resulted is a video that produces a sense of natality or new beginnings, particularlyin relation to the culture of Summer Visions itself.NE1 began during the program's brainstorming session when two students — both ofChinese-Canadian descent — proposed a video on Internet stalking (Field notes, July 18,1992006). Eventually, another student — a young Cambodian-Canadian woman — joined thegroup and following the cinematography, sound and lighting workshops, the three youthbegan developing their story outline. Initially, as is often the case at this stage, whatresulted was confused if still focused on the central topic. The outline read as follows:NE1CharactersVulnerable girl — SaraParents — Sara's momMiddle aged workingman - Dave SCENE Description1 Dave picks up Sara and asks her where she'd like to go2 Sara skips school to go online to talk to Dave3 Dave asks Sara online if she'd like to go out for coffee.4 Sara sneaks around late at night to talk to Dave so parents won't know5 Sara walks home alone from school.6 Dave and Sara have an uncomfortable sex conversation online. Dave suggestsSara to take off her top.7 Sara comes home to her parents arguing. Seeks Dave's support online.8 Split scene to Dave's emotionless reaction to Sara's problems.9 Sara is walking on the street while Dave drives to his drive way10 Dave returns home from work, parks car and enters home to wife.11 Dave goes online talking to multiple girls online.12 Wife asks him when will he be going to bed because it's late. Dave tells her togo to bed first13 Dave is in the chat room and sees a victim and messages her, Sara.14 Sara receives message from stranger and begins talking to her15 Sara is crying and turns to mom.After reading this through, Caitlin" sat down with the group and explained that elementsin the basic story idea seemed to be in place, but there also appeared to be someconfusion. The scene sequence did not make obvious sense and this left gaps in the story.To unpack this confusion and to develop an understanding of where the group wanted thestory to go, Caitlin began by asking them why they wanted to make the video. Theresponse to this surprised her.200It turned out the group was interested in the story because one of the youth hadexperienced something like what is depicted in their outline. There was however animportant difference. Unlike in the story the students were proposing, it was a 17-year oldboy in the group who had met a man online. A short and increasingly affectionaterelationship had developed (Field notes, July 19, 2006). The boy eventually agreed tomeet the man in person and when he did, a sexual assault had occurred. While sensitiveto the difficulty of talking about this experience, Caitlin asked the students why theydidn't frame the story around a teenage boy and a man (Field notes, July 19, 2006). Shehad no intention of compelling the group to change the script, but she wanted to knowwhy they made the decision they did. In response, the students offered a complicatedexplanation.They were interested in making a fictionalized social commentary which expressedclearly that when stalking incidents happen, it is not the fault or responsibility of youngpeople. In these circumstances, youth are victims of adults who disempower them,leaving young people hurt and vulnerable. (Field notes, July 19, 2006; Caitlin, Interview,November 10, 2006). The group wanted this message to reach the largest possibleaudience, and in their minds, this meant making the video "tasteful," as they explained(Field notes, July 19, 2006). To do this, they decided to focus the story on a male/femaleexperience. To be clear, this was not done specifically because the young man who hadbeen assaulted wanted to avoid any reference to his experience. He in fact was willing totalk about this event and had also begun to talk about his sexuality with his friends,although he had not "come out" as of yet to his family (Field notes, July 19, 2006).Because the group wanted to make a video that would trouble or cause offence to the201fewest possible people, however, it was decided the story should be centred on a man anda young woman.Now, of course, what's interesting and complicated here is the way tastefulness andaudience appeal operate as instances of normalization that result in the marginalizationand exclusion of youth experiences associated with non-dominant forms of sexuality. Thevideo makers may not have explicitly intended this outcome but their decisioninadvertently privileged a kind of heteronormativity in a time when research continues todemonstrate that queer youth face "an especially hard time getting social recognitionwithin their local families, neighbourhoods, or schools" (Driver, 2006, p. 230; but alsosee Owens, 1998). Caitlin was aware of this, and at the same time, she felt uncomfortablepressuring the young man and the other students to create a video about a teenage boyand an older predator. Had the male student been more obviously open about hissexuality, perhaps this would not have been a concern for Caitlin. But the students'apparent uncertainty left her hesitant.Caitlin did, however, want to challenge how the students were using a notion oftastefulness in their script. She worried that thinking about the video in these terms couldlead to a generic project that resembled what she in private called, an "After-SchoolSpecial" (Interview, November 10, 2006). What she meant by this and what sheexplained to the students is that the difficulty to be avoided when trying to make a"tasteful" video is this can produce a paradox. By attempting to appeal to the largestpossible audience, the video inadvertently ends up becoming so broad, non-specific andmundane that it speaks to no one in particular. As a result, its effectiveness is undermined(Interview, November 10, 2006). Ultimately, it becomes so "cleaned-up" that its impact202on audiences, especially teen audiences, is nullified. From an Arendtian perspective,another way to frame the challenge Caitlin put to students is she urged them to considerthe way "tastefulness" acts to neutralize struggle over the social, political and culturaldimensions of meaning. Essentially, concern for tastefulness reproduces plurality as alimiting force. The urge to address too many groups simultaneously ends up underminingthe specificity of meaning and results in an act of representation that affects no one.The group responded to this challenge in an interesting way. On the one hand,following Caitlin's provocations they decided to redevelop their story outline by drawingmore specifically on the experiences of the young man in the group who had beensexually assaulted. They did this, Caitlin explained, because while the young man wasnot "out" or entirely certain about his sexuality, he and the other youth wanted toacknowledge that stalking can happen to "anyone" (Interview, November 10, 2006). Withthis in mind, the students re-drafted the story and set it around a teenager named Eric anda stalker who meets Eric online (Field notes, July 20, 2006). To protect the identity of theyouth whose experiences influenced the story, the students decided that an actor who isnot Chinese Canadian play Eric. In making this and other decisions, the group wasassisted by Michelle, an older mentor who had worked in Summer Visions for four yearsand who was brought in to help the group for the remainder of the production process.On the other hand, having made the decision to change the focus of their story, thestudents were then faced with a series of challenges. These arose because when youngpeople produce work, they are inevitably faced with a set of decisions throughout eachstage of the production cycle that involve struggles with the belated nature of meaning Inthis case, the content of the film meant these struggles had to do with the way power203operates through sedimented discourses and practices associated with sexuality. At leastinitially, however, when the students ran up against these struggles they responded bydrawing back from confrontation. The work of the group's mentor, Michelle, thus provedto be especially important. She helped the students to stay involved with each other andto engage with rather than withdraw from agonistic struggle that involved discourses ofsexuality which can shape and limit acts of representation. Two examples, both of whichtook place during the shooting of the video, exemplify this point.In the final version of NE1, Eric is a complicated character in the last year of highschool who becomes the victim of a sexual assault. His parents appear to be too busy totake any real interest in his life and while it is not made explicit, the video hints at the factthat he is struggling with his sexuality. This is alluded to in the opening scene when wemeet Eric walking home from school with his friend Sara. In the midst of small talk, Ericinterrupts the conversation and in a serious tone says:"Sara, I need to tell you something..."He hesitates and after a long pause says:"Never mind..."Sara is confused, but she doesn't push the issue. Instead, the two friends part and Ericgoes into his house where we learn that he has developed an online relationship with aman who calls himself "bloodlust." The audience is not told how long "bloodlust" andEric have been chatting together, but it is evident in the first online communication wesee between them that they have developed a friendship and a sense of trust. They talkabout Eric's family and his homework and then "bloodlust" — whose offline name is204Dave — asks if he can meet Eric in person. Eric is hesitant but ultimately, he agrees and sothey meet.The "coffee shop" scene that follows is crucial to the story. The scene is intended toportray a sense of trust and affection between Eric and Dave, but also a note ofapprehension on Eric's part. This complicated conjunction of reactions is highlighted inone instance where Dave quite intentionally tries to rest his hand on Eric's arm. Ericbacks away from this public display of affection, but he doesn't leave. He stays withDave and they have lunch together. In the context of the film, this scene is importantbecause it highlights emerging warmth between the characters. Eric does not appear to bealtogether certain about how he wants the relationship to proceed. In contrast, Dave ismore intentional with his actions, for reasons we learn about later in the film.In terms of production, shooting a complicated sequence like this is difficult fornovice video makers. Not only must they contend with the emotional subtly of thecharacter's interactions, but the scene foregrounds a homoerotic tension. The videomakers and the actors are thus compelled to engage with a form of agonistic struggle thatinvolves the politics of sexuality and the sedimented force of a heteronormative bias inour culture. This is unavoidable because creating this scene involves the production teamin crafting meaning; that is, they need to decide how the scene will proceed in a way thatcaptures the affection between a teenage boy and a older man; they then need to assessthrough rehearsals and re-shoots whether in fact the dynamics of intimacy between Ericand Dave have been adequately represented on tape. To do this requires that the videomakers think about and entertain the legitimacy of intimacy and affection between twomale characters.205If this is the challenge posed by shooting this scene, however, at least initially thevideo makers responded to it by pulling back from actively pursuing the representation ofnon-dominant forms of sexuality. This was evidenced in a number of ways. At first, thevideo makers quite literally did not want to speak about the scene during the shoot (Fieldnotes, July 25, 2006). At the café where the sequence was shot, I observed the studentsengaging in small talk with each other and the actors but they very intentionally seemedto resist providing the actors with directions about how to perform in the scene. Michelle,the group's mentor, thought the students didn't want to talk with the actors about theirroles because they feared this would make the actors feel uncomfortable with theintimacy the scene required (Field notes, July 25, 2006). Concerns like this made thevideo makers unwilling to rehearse or to provide specific directions to "Dave" about howhe should caress "Eric's" hand. It was as though they did not want to talk about thesequence for fear this would bring attention to its homoerotic undertones, which in turnmight make people feel uneasy.Because of these difficulties, Michelle thought the first shoot of the scene wasunusable (Field notes, July 25, 2006). The performances were stilted and the camerawork was unfocused. In response, Michelle intervened. She talked with the studentsabout needing to provide the actors and the camera crew with direction. She spoke aboutengaging with the scene so that everybody is aware of the intimacy and confusion thatshould be depicted (Field notes, July 25, 2006). As a result of these provocations, thestudents became more involved with actions that legitimize non-dominant forms ofsexuality. Maybe the best evidence that this occurred is apparent in the final cut of thefilm.206Following Michelle's comments, the students re-shot the sequence three times.Ultimately, there is still a sense of awkwardness and uncertainty in the footage, as thoughneither the actors nor the video makers fully embraced the challenge posed by shootingthe scene. But the sequence is also believable. It contains a note of realism. Eric is shownto be confused about how to respond to Dave's acts of affection. He also appears to bedrawn to Dave and does not flinch when the older character talks about being on a "firstdate." He is hesitant about Dave's public displays of affection, but when Dave talks aboutmeeting someone "really exciting online" and couches this in a rather obvious tone ofintimacy, Eric doesn't leave; instead, he blushes, shows no offence but says they shouldorder lunch. In the context of the film, creating a sense that Eric might be both attractedto and yet surprised by Dave's forwardness is important. It highlights how a young manwhose sexuality happens to be in question can become the unwilling and undeservingvictim of an online predator. It highlights how Internet stalking can affect "anyone," inother words, including a young man who is trying to come to terms with his sexuality.That the video makers were able to convey this sense of realism was not only crucial forthe success of the project, but from an Arendtian perspective, it also indicates thatMichelle's interventions helped the students to re-engage with the struggle to representnon-dominant forms of sexuality.Later in the production process, Michelle's assistance would again prove necessary toassist the video makers in staying focused on this task. In the video, following the "coffeeshop" scene, Dave finds out what school Eric attends and he inadvertently shows up oneday and offers Eric a ride home. Eric is surprised that Dave has come to meet him, but hegets in the car and when Dave says:207"So, where do you want to go?Eric responds:"Anywhere."The scene that follows is the assault sequence. It takes place in a parked car in a non-descript lot.Crafting this scene would be difficult in any circumstance, but again, what proved tobe especially challenging was that the video makers were hesitant to represent intimacybetween two male characters. Initially, in fact, when they went to shoot the scene, thestudents quite literally placed the camera so far from the car that it was impossible to seeanyone inside, or to distinguish the designated car from others in the parking lot (Fieldnotes, July 25, 2006). In a sense, the meaning of the scene literally disappeared. Michellereported that the video makers did this because they worried the sight of any kind ofphysical closeness between a same-sex pairing would trouble and even offend audiences(Field notes, July 25, 2006). That is to say, it was not the potential voyeurism of the scenethat worried the students; rather, it was specifically the visibility of physical proximitybetween two male characters that concerned them. Caitlin said that this worry was afunction of the students' desire to make a "tasteful" video that wouldn't cause offense toaudiences (Interview, November 10, 2006). Again, however, in thinking about the videoin these terms, the students drew back from representing any kind of physical contactbetween Eric and Dave. They quite literally addressed this contact by making it invisible.In response to this, Michelle posed a challenge to the students. She asked them toconsider how to show this sequence so audiences would understand what was happeningwithout making it voyeuristic or in any sense salacious. The students took on this208challenge and re-shot the scene in such a way that audiences remain distant from the car,but we see Dave as a shadow clearly moving into a position of physical contact with Eric.There is nothing gratuitous about the sequence; instead, it acts as a powerful turning pointin the story.Following this scene, Dave abandons Eric. Eric is shown to be experiencing a waveof complicated emotions and reactions. He writes to Dave online, asking:"Where are you?"Dave doesn't respond; instead, we see quick cuts to him going online to meet otherpeople. Eric finally writes a long email to Dave, which audiences can only read if theyfreeze the frame that shows the note. It importantly explains Eric's confusion, his desireto meet with Dave, his anger at being abandoned, his sense of sadness about losing afriend, and his confusion "and disgust" about what happened. In the final scene, wereturn to Eric's home where he and his friend Sara are shown in a medium long-shotsitting together doing homework. Eric is distracted. He wants to talk with Sara aboutwhat has happened to him. After a moment of hesitation, he turns to her and in a hushedtone, says:"Sara .... I need to tell you something."Sara looks at him and waits a moment before saying,"Eric, are you okay?"The camera then cuts to a close up on Eric who very quietly says:"No."At this point the image slowly fades from view and the credits appear.209At seven minutes long, NE 1 ended up being a powerful video that depicts the wayyoung people can become victims of abusive and exploitive acts perpetrated by adults.By telling this story through a teenage character who appears to be questioning andnegotiating his sexual identity, the video both engages with a contemporary public safetyissue and also challenges the way queer youth experiences are often excluded andmarginalized from social recognition in the public realm (Driver, 2006; Owens, 1998). Inthis way, from an Arendtian perspective the project helps to preserve freedom byexpanding a sense of the real. In opening up new beginnings, it is of note that NE1 wasespecially significant in relation to the Summer Visions program itself.As noted in chapter four, there has been a history of tension in the program aroundthe representation of sexuality. On the one hand, a number of program coordinatorsbelieve Summer Visions should create a space where the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual,and trans-gendered youth can be explored. On the other hand, key program coordinatorshave resisted this idea. As a result, a shared belief has developed among SummerVisions' instructors and senior youth mentors that stories about queer sexuality are offlimits. Ultimately, of course this form of marginalization and exclusion undermines theway plurality is represented, encouraged and promoted through the program. In the faceof this, NE1 helped to enlarge Summer Vision's culture. This was noted by a number ofmentors, but especially by those who have been involved with the program for sometime. Kira, for instance, argued that NE1 "pushed the boundaries of Summer Visions. It'sa story that might have been censored in the past but wasn't this time" (Interview,November 3, 2006). Macie noted the same, as did Justine (Field notes, July 24, 2006).Terrence suggested NE1 is the "kind of film that [has] not been made here in the past. It210worked the 'heart strings,' he suggested, "but the video also [brought] complexity to the[kind of] stories made in Summer Visions" (Interview, October 30, 2006). Terrencecompared the making of NE1 to a film about heterosexual dating (Dimitry Valdez) madeat Summer Visions in 2006. He said, no one "protested this video and yet if it hadincluded a gay kid on a date," he says "this would have been protested" (Interview,October 30, 2006). In this context, NE1 thus represented an opening up of the culture ofSummer Visions. In an Arendtian sense, the work done by Caitlin, Michelle and thestudent video makers acted to preserve freedom by promoting thoughtfulness about theexperience of young people who are beginning to question and perhaps negotiate theirsexuality identity. Through this, the video helped to produce a sense of natality or newbeginnings, most crucially in relation to the culture of Summer Visions itself.Conclusion — Youthscape and Summer VisionsThroughout the formal and informal interviews and field notes gathered for thisstudy, a common observation made by many spoke to the day-to-day environmentcreated during the Summer Visions program. It is best characterized as a culture ofgenerosity. The program offers a space where, Zac, a senior youth mentor says, "fairnessand openness [dominate;]... no one is afraid to put forth their ideas" (Writtencorrespondence,