Posts

Gratitude Through BAYCAT Selfies Part 1

Social media and digital technology have accelerated the speed in which we receive news, good and bad. My mornings often start with a jolt of anxiety as I watch the headlines roll across my phone screen. The barrage of recent bad news – natural disasters, violent tragedies and violations of human rights, makes me grieve for human suffering and lives lost. I fear, “what’s next?”

But instead of scrolling through the bad news, I can also scroll through my photo album of selfies. If you’ve been to BAYCAT, you know that nobody walks out our doors without a Villy selfie. Honestly, it’s not about vanity, it’s about collecting memories. My Dad had severe dementia and Alzheimer’s, and I witnessed the pain of his fading memories. I don’t ever want to forget this feeling of gratitude that I carry not just on Thanksgiving, but every day at BAYCAT.

Here are some of my favorite moments of 2017 captured in selfies:

Our new storytellers give me hope!

Jamahl, age 15 says, “I do this because I know my voice matters.” He blew my mind when he told me that innovation wasn’t just about technology, it was about finding new ways of being together and forming community. His film, Safe Spaces, along with Jovani’s film on Prison Labor were selected for the 2017 RYSE Film Festival Truth Be Told: Justice Through My Eyes.

 

Besides being a fellow Snoopy fan, 12 year old Kaliyah couldn’t believe that she and Chevy won 1st Prize at the same festival with their first animation ever that tackles the issue of gun violence, “The Decision!

 

Our youth also keep me young and teach me how to take time to play as we did this Summer at our annual Fun in the Sun day! We had a scavenger hunt, water balloon toss, face paint, color dust and more. I’m grateful 17 year old filmmaker Terrence FINALLY (and begrudgingly) let me take a selfie with him.

We are changing the face(s) of the creative industry. Literally!

It’s always exhilarating when we receive news of our BAYCAT intern graduates getting their dream jobs! From Aisha Davis, a Reporter at Fusion Media Group to Brasilia Morales a Production Assistant at The Relish, it gives me a sense of hope to know these talented young women of color are not only growing in creative careers, but also acting as role models for our youth. 

It was an extra special surprise when I saw them working on the other side of the camera to film us! Here’s Latajh Weaver and Melissa Perez filming the BAYCAT story for the SF Foundation’s Community Leadership Award in Innovation! Small world joys!

 

Our young people inspire me every single day. It’s taken a village of supporters to create daily doses of hopeful news here at BAYCAT. Stay tuned for Part 2 to see all the faces who make BAYCAT possible.

We couldn’t do this without you.

Love,

Villy

PS. Here’s Part 2!

Inside BAYCAT: Carla Orendorff, BAYCAT Media Producer & Mentor

Getting to Know our Newest Team Member & Youth Media Instructor

Meet Carla! Carla joins BAYCAT as a Media Producer and Mentor, working with the youth and young adults teaching filmmaking skills. A documentary filmmaker, artist and educator, Carla has taught filmmaking classes with hundreds of young people in collaboration with organizations throughout Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and is excited to use her skills to inspire a new group of students.

Where are you from? 

I was born in Hollywood and raised in Los Angeles. I mostly grew up in Reseda- which is in the San Fernando Valley, 30 miles northwest of LA. The Valley is where the term “Valley Girl” comes from, so I guess that makes me one! The neighborhood I grew up in is a diverse, working-class Latino, Asian, and Eastern European immigrant community with lots of families and many languages spoken. The landscape consists of auto body shops and horse stalls and the subject of the Tom Petty song, “Free Fallin.”  Reseda is also where the movie Karate Kid takes place.

Why the Bay Area? 

The Bay Area has always been this place of possibility- there is a spirit of challenging the status quo through art and politics that is very inspiring to me. I have always been drawn to the legacies of radical activism here in the Bay Area- from the Black Panthers, to the student activism for Ethnic Studies at SF State, to queer activism of ACT UP during the AIDS crisis. What I love most are the people here- the many faces that I see become familiar in a city full of neighborhoods, each with their own histories.
The reality of living in the Bay Area, specifically in San Francisco, has been harsh. The cost of living, the struggle for housing, and the fight to remain in the city affects all of us- whether you are a teacher, a businessman, a mother, a city worker, or a young person just trying to get by. We are all connected and have a real impact on each others’ lives, and we need to make it right for all the families, the elders, and young people who call San Francisco their home.

What made you want to work with youth?

Growing up as a queer mixed-race girl, I didn’t see myself in the movies or TV shows I watched, or the books I read. Thankfully, I had some amazing teachers in high school who encouraged me to develop my own perspective as an artist and an activist- it was the first time I began to take my own ideas seriously. My hope, as an educator, is to challenge this dominant culture of profit and level the playing field where young people recognize their power as creators, decision makers, and full and complete human beings with something important and valuable to share with the world.

What is your favorite part of working with youth?

I love the way young people breathe life into a room, into your lesson plans, take the theme and the concepts we’re working with and make it their own. Young people will always surprise you. They keep it real too. I’m grateful to always be learning from the experiences of young people. Oh! They also make me laugh and tend to find the humor in all things.

Have you had and fun or memorable experiences with youth in your career so far?

So many! I will never forget shutting down the 2nd Street tunnel in Los Angeles with 40 young people to film an opening scene on Halloween a few years back. Working on the set of a Margaret Cho music video with a team of teen girls was amazing. Seeing young people off to college or writing recommendations for jobs in their dream field has been extremely rewarding as well.

What has working with young people taught you?

Working with youth has reminded me to never give up on the 15 year-old girl that resides in me and to tell her to never give up on her dreams.

Why is youth media important?

Seeing the world through the eyes of young people will change the way you look at the world. Young people hold vision and they have really solid ideas about how to make the world a better and more inclusive place for all people. I have seen youth media inform curriculum, affect policy, and remind us of what it means to bring out our best for our communities and ourselves.

What do you do when you’re not at BAYCAT?

You can find me swimming, climbing trees, reading books, watching movies in old theaters, going for long walks through the city, and working on my own documentary projects.

Quickies:

Last book read? Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band by Michelle Cruz Gonzales

On Your iPod? Kendrick Lamar’s good kid m.A.A.D city forever, on repeat.

Favorite movie: Shadows by John Cassavetes

Favorite restaurant: The Old Clam House in Bayview

Favorite meal of all time: Sopa de Mani is a potato and peanut based stew from Bolivia, where my mom is from. It’s cooked slowly over hours with beef ribs and garnished with parsley fries on top- so delicious!

BAYCAT San Francisco Nonprofit Social Enterprise Internship and Youth Programs

Not Quite Goodbye: Music Producer Jason Valerio Makes His Move

Member of BAYCAT’s Music Program Pursuing Music Full-Time

After an AMAZING 4 years at BAYCAT, Jason “Trackademicks” Valerio will be pursuing his music career full-time. Jason, a Bay Area native, will be splitting his time between the Bay and LA. Here’s a little insight into his future plans, plus what he will miss, and why this isn’t goodbye.

Where are you from? 

Alameda, CA.

So Bay *and* LA? Why keep both?

There’s nowhere with the Bay Area’s specific flavor. A true cultural Melting pot. A Lot of ethnically/culturally mixed folks, with equally diverse neighborhoods make for an awesome living experience. Never boring. Aside from the people, the nature here is amazing. The microclimates make it so that you can experience whatever weather you want, whenever you want. The mountains, trees, water, beaches, are all so picturesque. As a Bay Area resident, you pretty much have it all.

What will you miss most about working with youth?

The Youth keep you Young. I cherish the fact that I’ve gotten to see my students at that moment of epiphany where something “clicks”… It’s a constant reminder of my own journey and how those very same things happened for me. It’s a very rewarding thing to be able to demystify certain concepts and processes for youth. They’ll always remember how you helped their development. What I’ll miss most is the daily exchange of knowledge and ideas, as I’ve learned so much from them as well.

What is your most fun or memorable experiences with youth in your career?

There’s are too many to name. In general, the most memorable moments are when the students’ questions start to subside, and they shift from needing assistance with the music making process to being self sufficient. Aside from that, I remember working with one of my students, Thomas, and him saying that he’d never be able to do a beat in one day. Next thing you know he was producing 3-5 in one class sitting.

What has working with youth taught you?

I’ve learned that you can’t just explain something just one way. You have to convey the material you teach from almost every possible perspective/method, as each student learns differently. Also, I’ve learned that they’ll absorb as much as you throw at them. They’ll surprise you with how much they’re able to accomplish. They’ve also reminded me to always communicate.

What’s next for you?

Music, Music, Music. I’m going to continue to develop my company, HNRL Music, producing and collaborating for a range of different musicians. I’d love to get into film scoring too. I’ll definitely be DJ’ing out more, hoping to throw some great events in the near future. Also, hopefully exploring more of the Southern California “Fresh Coast”, as I’ve mostly been a NorCal person. And just more traveling in general. I’m definitely not planning it out… just going to go with the flow.

Is this the end of Jason and BAYCAT?

Definitely not! I love BAYCAT. It will forever be family. I’d love to come back and share what I learn during my time away with the interns and the youth!

Any last words?

My time at BAYCAT has been on of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I’m thankful to have had the chance to know everyone here! I’ll miss everyone deeply!

Always Our Way, All Bay, All Bay All Day. Forever Fresh Coastin’. Yeee!

Quickies:

Favorite album: N*E*R*D ‘In Search of…’

On Your iPod: Sade, Kaytranada, Prince, King, Trackademicks

Favorite movie: The Secret of My Succe$s

Favorite restaurant: La Penca Azul in Alameda… mostly because of the time had there

Favorite meal of all time: Too many to name… probably

Inside BAYCAT: Meet Alessandra Carter, Our Academy Manager

Getting to Know our Newest Team Member on Youth Education, Media + More

Meet Alessandra Carter, aka “Ms. C!”  An Oakland native, she recently returned to the Bay Area and brings a huge enthusiasm for youth, education and social justice.  Jumping right into the role of Academy Manager, she’s already on board leading our Academy for our first Summer Media Camp focusing on music.

Why the Bay Area? 

In late 2015, I was living in Harlem New York. I had been there for 6 years and decided that I wanted to return to the Bay. Now that I’m home, I look forward to contributing to the educational space, specifically educational program design and college access and career readiness efforts for low-income and underserved populations.

What made you want to work with youth?

I’ve been in the educational field for 6+ years. I enjoy their energy, honesty and am constantly inspired by their resiliency.

What is your favorite part of working with youth?

Building relationships and creating opportunities for them to learn more about career and college options.

Have you had and fun or memorable experiences with youth in your career so far?

I’ve had quite a few. While working at a start-up in Manhattan, NY, I managed a 6-week Computer Science and leadership intensive for Black and Latino boys. My work included recruiting the students, reviewing applications, planning exposure trips and supporting the lead Computer Science teacher. It was a whirlwind experience!

My favorite parts were getting to know the boys and taking them on the career exposure trips to awesome companies like Google.

What has working with youth taught you?

That students can be learners as well as teachers.

Why is youth media important?

Well, I think it’s important for two reasons.

1-  It’s important to empower the traditionally disempowered and disenfranchised because their experiences are valuable.

2- Youth media, especially in the current social and political climate, has value because they tell stories from a viewpoint that can be overlooked by adults.

What do you do when you’re not at BAYCAT?

Spend time with family, dabble in digital photography and (re)explore my hometown, Oakland.

Quickies:

Last book read? Soka Education, By Daisaku Ikeda.

On Your iPod? I’m more of a Spotify/Google Play kinda girl.

Jill Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Anita Baker, Anderson Paak and Frankie Beverly and Maze are usually in rotation 🙂

Favorite movie: That’s hard! Top 3: The Lion King, Sister Act and Steel Magnolias.

Favorite restaurant: I just moved back to the Bay. I don’t have a favorite just yet. Recommendations?

Favorite meal of all time: Southern style smothered chicken over rice and collard greens. Sweet potato pie and vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.

BAYCAT, BAYCAT Academy, youth media education, San Francisco, Bayview Hunters Point, mental health

Zoom In 31: State of Our Minds!
Got any media or stories to share?

Crazy. Isolated. Dependent.

Happiness. Depression. Self-esteem. Stress.

Needs to be addressed.

How can we help._MG_0640

These are some of the words and phrases that came to mind when BAYCAT ACADEMY’s latest cohort of youth film and music producers were asked to respond to the question, “What does mental health mean to you?” The youth media producers brainstormed ideas to commence preparation for their upcoming collaborative project, the newest episode of their award-winning TV show: “Zoom In”.

_MG_0617

This 31st addition to the series, to be titled “State of Our Minds,” will explore a variety of issues and perspectives orbiting the topic of mental health & wellness, and addressing stigma created by the media revolving mental health issues. BAYCAT’s Youth Media Producers will film documentaries, write songs, and produce music videos to tell these stories through the art of digital media.

Mark your calendars for 6pm on Thursday December 4, 2014 when BAYCAT will hold our next open house and our Youth Media Producers will premiere “Zoom In 31: State of Our Minds”.  You can also follow the show online at BAYCAT live.

 

Are there videos, songs, blogs, and other media about mental health that have inspired you? Do you have a story you’d like to share with us? If so, become a part of the conversation and share in our comments section


Turning 10

Earlier this year, BAYCAT celebrated it’s 10th anniversary, a decade of empowering underserved youth and young adults in the San Francisco Bay Area through education and employment in the creative digital media industry. BAYCAT believes that every story matters, and by providing youth with access to education and resources in filmmaking and music production, we encourage and aid young people to create media that positively impacts themselves, their communities, and the world. If you dig what we’re doing, we encourage you to get involved. There are so many ways that you can make an impact, and we can always use your help!

Youth Media, BAYCAT, BAYCAT Academy, Zoom In 31: State of Our Minds, mental health, San Francisco, Bayview Hunters Point, education, filmmaking, music production

BAYCAT Youth Media Producers in the House!

Although the signs of Fall may not be so obvious to us Bay Area residents, it’s clearly the first day of Fall for us at BAYCAT! Our first youth group are in our Studio, and we have many new and returning media producers, who are here to produce music, music videos and films for the next episode of ZOOM IN.

Quiet on the set. Action. #selfie
IMG_1100-1.JPG

IMG_1106-1.JPG