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Youth on the Move: Re-Storying Urban Communities with Public Art and Digital Media

Raised of $1,500 Goal
Funded on 1/22/17
Successfully Funded
  • $1,505
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 1/22/17

About This Project

Amplified by news and social media, stories of urban youth are often negative, portraying urban communities in decline. Contrary to this portrayal, youth are thriving in these communities and working through inequities and injustices that shape major cities in our country. This project sets out to support youth in the "re-storying" of their communities through public art installations and online media used to create youth-led guided tours of their urban communities.

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What is the context of this research?

The youth involved in this study attend an International School in the Buffalo Public Schools. The school is attended by students across the city (some taking as many as 3 public buses each school day). The school is designed to provide ELL support for a majority of the student body who are recent immigrants and/or refugees new to the city of Buffalo. Many of these students bring to the study the perspective of having lived in multiple neighborhoods within the city and/or a transnational perspective, having been displaced from their home countries and having lived temporarily in a series of cities and countries. We consider the experiences of the youth who attend the International School to be rich assets for re-storying the urban communities of Buffalo, NY.

What is the significance of this project?

The overall objective of this project is to understand youth perspectives of place in ways that complicate the single, deficit stories often told of urban communities. Our goal is to support youth in the sharing of their perspectives and stories as a significant part of the public conversation about the changing identity of the city. We are framing the project intentionally to position the youth as agentive civic leaders who use media tools to have a powerful voice that can potentially help re-story a community and communicate youth perspectives to community stakeholders (e.g., planning boards, local community organizations), as well as current residents and immigrant and refugee families who are considering to move to the city.

What are the goals of the project?

As a descriptive study of the youth’s experiences, this study will address the question: Given their complex histories and mobilities, how do youth represent their community through online media and public art?

With this research, we hope to support the youth in the creation of their digital media and public arts installation with materials, technology, and transportation. We will share the digital media and public art produced by the youth with community stakeholders, school administration, families of the students, and local community organizations focused on the needs of immigrants and refugees. Also, we plan to spread the word further by disseminating the findings of the study in academic journals focused on education, youth studies, critical geography, and digital media.


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This budget includes technology for recording, editing, and sharing the online media that make up the youth stories. The tablets and headphones/headphone splitters will be used for audio recording and editing. The digital media will be stored on an external hard drive and an online server for hosting and sharing. Additionally, we will purchase data access for a mobile hotspot for recording audio in the community. A large printed map of the city will be purchased for the planning of the project with the youth. Art supplies will be purchased for the public art installations. Lastly, funds are allocated for a substitute teacher and school transportation for the days the teacher (and project leaders) will be working with the youth in their neighborhoods. If we exceed our goal, we will use the additional funds to purchase more tablets (working toward a class set of 25), more days outside of school with the students in their neighborhoods, and/or additional travel expenses.

Endorsed by

I am really excited about this project. I believe the researchers are the best people to answer the critical questions being asked in this study. I look forward to seeing what comes out of this work.
I am excited to see Dr. Goss expand his work connecting students with their local communities. Youth perspectives on social issues are sorely needed in conversations about our nation’s urban centers. What better way than an arts-based approach to critical inquiry that puts students in conversation with people from their community. Dr. Rish, too, has focused his recent work on youth and community. Quite a dynamic duo.

Meet the Team

Stephen Goss
Stephen Goss
English Teacher, Professor


University at Buffalo
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Ryan Rish
Ryan Rish
Assistant Professor


University at Buffalo (SUNY)
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Damiana Pyles
Damiana Pyles
Assistant Professor


Appalachian State University
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Team Bio

This research project will be a collaboration among three educational researchers who focus on new literacies, mobile technology, and critical considerations of place. We have pooled our teaching and research expertise to develop a community inquiry opportunity for youth enrolled in an urban school in Buffalo, NY.

Stephen Goss

I am a 9th and 10th grade classroom teacher in a Buffalo Public School. My students are from all over the world. Iraq, Somalia, Myanmar, Congo-Brazzaville and lots of other places including local neighborhoods. As a teacher, I try to work with students to create space in the classroom where they can explore their worlds, experiences, and interests, as well as to develop and implement ‘big-idea’ projects, working together as an intellectual collective. This school year, my students have been documenting important stories of place, and they want to publish those stories through a public, interactive art installation.

Ryan Rish

My research interests involve the literacy practices of adolescents, especially in regard to how those practices relate to the institutions, social spaces, and geographic places in which they are enacted. This research involves investigations within and across classrooms, online spaces, and communities guided by concerns for learning with participants how to make learning opportunities more equitable for marginalized youth and how to engage students with critical considerations of their social worlds and local communities.

Damiana Pyles

As a researcher, I have always been fascinated by how people tell their own stories using media and how where they are from can shape and re-shape those stories and the people’s sense of themselves. In particular, I have focused on how young people tell stories about their lives and communities through youth video in non-profit youth media arts organizations across the United States in both rural and urban settings. Through this work, I’m focused on both developing an ethics of youth media and a way to analyze the works they youth make called multimodal microanalysis. I currently work with preservice and practicing teachers as they learn to use media and technology in their own teaching to meet the needs of their rural and urban students.

Additional Information

UB Now’s profile: Stephen Goss, Education Reformer

Ryan Rish's Research Profile and Publications

Damiana Pyles’ Research Profile and Publications

Project Backers

  • 32Backers
  • 100%Funded
  • $1,505Total Donations
  • $45.61Average Donation
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