Last week, the ¿What’s Good, DC? crew met to iron out post production details. With very little time left, editing must be done and a promo plan had to be designed and executed before our fellowship concluded. We wanted to figure out a strategy for screening a rough cut of at least one show to a group of teenagers. But as the theme of our lives for the last 6 months goes, time was against us. Organizing a screen at a school or a community organization for the following week seemed like a difficult task. Taking in to consideration that exams were scheduled and projects were due in spaces that we would usually tap into for youth voices.
I did remember that in mid-November at an event with another youth media organization, Radio Rootz, that I had connected with Rebecca Renard, Teen Program Coordinator at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library (MLK). She told me about the Teen Space, the programs that they offer, and the library’s new studio that would host a teen radio show produced by youth at the library. Rebecca told me she was interested in collaborations so I contacted her about screening our show at the space. Rebecca was so supportive and helped organize the screening for the following Tuesday.
Fast forward to Tuesday…Khalil, Ivana, Mike, Ariel, and I get there. And I can speak for us all that we were impressed about the space…and I will say that my 15 year old self was a bit jealous. Last year, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library opened the Teen Space designed specifically for teens ages 12 to 19 . It has everything that didn’t exist for me as a loyal teen patron of Arlington’s public library: 24 Macs, 40″ flat screen TV and gaming system, lockers for backpacks, vending machines, a private room for study sessions or gaming until closing time, and over 5,000 books, CDs and DVDs. And what was equally impressive was the amount of teens in the space. The private room was packed with folks playing with gaming cards like Pokemon. Almost every computer had someone on it. People were looking at books. The 2 librarians (Wanda and Jenn) were friendly and supportive. The space was being used.
And when we set up the tv to screen the show. Alot of the youth patrons stayed and gathered around to watch, listen, and fill out the survey even though the library staff had turned off the computers. They engaged with the program by offering suggestions on topics and guests for the show.
I haven’t looked at the surveys yet but these kind of screenings, I hope happen more for WGDC because I think that is what is needed to make it successful and engaging.
The Teen Space is on the second floor of MLK Library, 901 G St. N.W. For more information, call 202-727-5535.