October 26, 2007

Telling the Streets: True Urban Legends

San Diego’s Homeless Youth to Tell Their Urban Legends

San Diego Public Library has received a California Council for the Humanities Story Fund Grant. The project entitled, Telling the Streets: True Urban Legends, will gather contemporary urban legends told by homeless youth. The project is a joint effort of the San Diego Public Library and the Toussaint Academy of the Arts and Sciences, a licensed group home serving homeless youth in San Diego County. The Media Arts Center San Diego will lend support to the project.

Telling the Streets: True Urban Legends will collect stories that epitomize the current experiences of San Diego’s homeless youth. Stories of individual personal experiences become legends when they are of value to the community. These narratives often communicate essential information on how to survive, and even thrive, on the streets: what dangers to avoid, what services are available; what works and what does not.

The program will consist of three parts: a writing workshop, a filmmaking project, and a screening and public discussion. In the writing workshop component, the teens will discuss interesting or strange happenings from their lives, the legendary narratives of significance to them. As a group they will choose the best and / or most interesting stories, narrate them on camera in relevant Downtown locations, producing a short documentary on “the real urban legends.” Dr. Antone Minard will provide a short commentary relating these legends to the larger body of American legendry and analyzing their significance within the homeless community and to the larger community of urban Southern California.

Participants will be drawn from the Toussaint Academy as well as from the Monarch School, one of the few schools allowing homeless youth to attend without a valid address. The teen-produced mini-documentary will be screened the San Diego Downtown Public Library, the University of San Diego and during a school assembly at a downtown high school. After each screening, Antone Minard, a visiting professor of English at the University of San Diego and the project’s humanities advisor, will give a short talk on the significance of legendary narrative. Once the documentary is produced and screened, it will give a voice to a largely voiceless community and give the general population a window into the homeless teens’ world.

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