Villa Victoria Committee Meeting (5/18/12)

Today I met the newest addition to the Villa Victoria Documentary committee member. She works in the VV Center for the Arts and has film-making experience. It is exciting to bring her on to the project.

Below is the general agenda of the meeting:

  • I gave our newest member a brief overview of the genesis of the project, myself, and current status of the project.
  • We reviewed the edited MOU
  • We discussed the total cameras that IBA has in its possession that we can use for the project
  • We discussed what to do with the taped recordings of all channel 6 footage (the station that IBA used to run for the community)
  • I informed them of the tapes I collected from the Colab interviews conducted in 2006, but now I have to find a video player to see them.
  • We discussed the fellowship I have to fund the project this summer with the end goal of the trailer
  • We identified where I can work in the office during the summer months
  • We set the next few meeting dates and the expected goals for the next meeting (e.g. watch a couple of sample documentaries, finish the MOU, and confirm the date of the next workshop)

Obviously this project will continue and so will my blog postings. However I have created a blog specifically for the project. If you are interested in this project and would like to stay connected please refer to this site: Villa Victoria- Documentary Project

I can’t wait for the summer. It will be a great time to get to know the people and community even more, while getting some good work done on the project. Wish us luck! 🙂 

Multi-media Interview

So this is my 3rd attempt to imbed the image of the multimedia. Below is blogger post where I was able to imbed the interviews and video. This is the link to the blog:

I was able to take the video from my phone and email it to myself. From there I uploaded it to Youtube so I could imbed it in the blog.

The voice and photos, I wanted to merge into one medium. As a result, I uploaded the photos to Picasa. Picasa has a function where you can create a video of photos and text slides with audio. Since I had more audio than photos I simply set the photos on repeat until the audio interview was completed. Please click on the link above to open a new tab to see and hear the interviews.


Final Class Presentation

Final class deliverables:

  • Villa Victoria Wikipedia Entry, below is an image of the entry I am working on with the community.


  • Digitized Timeline


  • Final Presentation



  • Project Reflection
    I am continually engaged and energized by the project and the people I meet at Villa Victoria. Although, I wish we were farther along with the workshops, I am excited about this summer because I think we will be able to accomplish a lot. I have a fellowship to continue the work and hope to have the trailer done by the end of this summer. There is a lot of great archived footage, but I also plan to engage the community to produce new material that they can contribute to the project and perhaps feel an even stronger sense of ownership.
    I am constantly learning about codesign and what that means in the context of a documentary. I think this pattern will continue throughout the process.
    When we went through the fail hard process there are still a few issues that I think about. For example, what is the impact, who is the audience, and will anyone care. As I work with the committee to answer these questions I think we get closer and closer to a core audience for which we can create a targeted message that is also a call to action for greater involvement in grassroots movements for community members who are seeking an identity within the American culture that marry’s the past (heritage from the place of origin) with the present (US assimilation). This is not an easy task and often there is the feeling of betrayal that we may have to contend with.
    All in all I have enjoyed the project so far. So long as it stays a collaboration with clear and understandable expectations it will be a fruitful partnership. I look forward to what we accomplish in the coming months and years.
  • Next Steps
    • Committee Mtgs
    • MOU
    • Review archived material
    • Complete workshops
    • Edit trailer
    • Community screening and support
    • Continue to the next round of funding
    • Feature length
    • Distribution

Digitized Timeline

This is the first attempt to publish the timeline created in the first workshop held in partnership with residents of Villa Victoria.

Villa Victoria Timeline

var timeline_config = {maptype: ‘toner’,source: ‘’}

Downloading media onto the web

Rogelio and I partnered to do an interview of codesign. Hope you enjoy.

The video I created a youtube, but for the pictures and audio I did something a little different. I utilized picasa to turn the audio and visuals into a mini video.

Unfortunately I am not able to add any of those media pieces here due to technical issues… So, I created a blogger account and was able to post them there.

Check out the entry: 

Villa Victoria 2nd Committee Meeting

On Monday, April 16th (Patriot’s Day) I have my 2nd committee meeting with Omar, Rafael, and Alex. Unfortunately Carmen was not able to attend, but I will be connecting with her before week’s end to give her a brief. Below is the agenda:

  • Welcome. below are the two new additions to the team
    *Rafael moved to the area in 1981. He is an artist who had his first exhibit at Villa Victoria’s art gallery
    *Alex moved to the area in the late ’70s. He first got involved with IBA when he was 19 in the youth group. He is now about 38 and is still working with IBA.
  • Review Mtg Min from the previous cmte mtg. you can find the link to the note by going to this link
  • Update on the Fellowship application
    *I have submitted an application and I am waiting to see if I will have summer funding for the summer.
  • Recap of workshop 1
    *We had about 12-15 participants
    *We were able to do mini interviews with various people and collect footage about people’s experience and memories of the time they moved to the Villa, how they got involved with IBA, how they understand the past of the community, and how they see the future of the neighborhood
    *It’s time to look at some of the footage and at a very rough level edit it a bit to show at the next workshop
  • Documentary discussion (audience, purpose, impact)
    *We kicked off an important conversation about who our audience is for the documentary so that we can identify the story we want to tell. This will help guide the characters need to elevate and highlight the story.
    *We identified two: 1-the Youth to understand their identity as Latinos in the US and 2-the community leaders interested in mobilizing their communities.
    *We also agreed that once we have our audience it is important to have a purpose to produce an impact that will also serve as a call to action. Having these elements worked out will make the project that much stronger and tighter.
  • MOU review
    *We reviewed the vozmob MOU and ID’ed componenets that will be useful for our MOU
  • Next workshop
    *We agreed to schedule early May
  • Next steps
    *We are having another cmte mtg in two weeks from Apr 16
    *Complete MOU
    *Prepare for Worshop 2

Villa Victoria/Parcel 19-Workshop 1

On April 4th we hosted the first workshop of this project. It was awesome! I was so glad that we were able to get to this point. It was a positive and fun experience.

The day started with my going to a Mexican/Salvadorian restaurant to pick-up some pupusas for the event. Then we went to meet with the Beth and the camera crew. And finally we made our way to the community center for the social hour, where we were running the event.

We did the timeline exercise. Its not until we actually got started that I realized some members of the community can’t write, and for some storytelling is more fun. However we managed to get a few photos from Carmen who came to the event and we were able to populate the personal and Villa Victoria timelines, but nothing about Boston specific except for the period of urban renewal. As we discussed people’s history I began to appreciate the community sense that people hold so dear and the feeling of being back home in Puerto Rico. At the same time I noticed that few people really knew the dates and milestone of the making of Villa Victoria. At some point we decided to stop having individual conversations and reconvene as a large group. It was then that I reviewed the dates of the history that I was aware of:

  • 1954, Puerto Rican immigrants begin to come to the area
  • Late 1950s, early 1960s the West End is redeveloped, which served as a catalyst of organizing again urban renewal in Boston
  • Early 1960s the S. End is earmarked for urban renewal with parcel 19 in the plan for redevelopment
  • Around 1964 the community begins to meet and discuss what they will do to stay in their homes, community organizing at an area church begins which leads to the founding of the ETC (emergency tenets committee)
  • 1968 the community gets development rights for the area, but they must raise the funds to develop
  • 1974 Villa Victoria opens and people begin to move to the area

After I reviewed the basic timeline we started asking people to tell us in a large group when they moved to the Villa, what are their memories of the area, what community initiatives has they been a part of since they moved to the area, and what do they foresee for the communities future. As we did this we met people like Irma, Crecencio, and Carmen who moved to the area in the 1950s and had varying levels of involvement in the movement, which they talked about. I think a few of these individuals would be great candidates for further interviews. It would be cool if we can get the younger generation of residents to do the interviews. Hopefully this can connect the older and younger generations of the community.

Then, after we had people speak in large group with thanked everyone and called it a day for the workshop, which lasted about an hour and just in time for the next event…It just so happened that after the social hour there was a surprise birthday party planned for the CEO of IBA at the same place where we were. Luckily we were able to be a part of that and share in a unique and special community event.

We took plenty of stills and footage, but no pictures, which is why you don’t see any on this post, but we are going to post our footage so that residents can see it. Once I have that, which I hope to be before the next committee meeting on April 12, I will post the URL in the next blog.

At the end of the event the community members clapped and of the approximately 10-12 participants a few of them said they enjoyed the event, like the idea of the project, and thanked us for being there. Before we closed though I thanked them for their participation because nothing is possible without them. In fact, codesign is not possible without complete transparency and collaboration of all parties. As we start this process I am very mindful of that and hope that all involved keep to the goals of codesign so that at the end of the project we truly have something that everyone is proud of!

Also Sasha introduced me to Becky, and it’s just wonderful to have some one with codesign experience on the project. Thanks for that!


Documentary Project- 1st Committee Meeting

We met at the Villa Victoria Community Classroom on April 2nd.

The agenda for the meeting:

  • Welcome/Introductions
  • Project Description (Codesign)
  • Role of Committee
  • Governance Structure
  • Financing
  • Memorandum of Understanding
  • Programs in the Community
  • Next Steps

So far there are 4 committee members confirmed:

  • Jenny (myself)
  • Omar (IBA staff)
  • Carmen (resident)
  • Rafael (resident)

It was a great discussion where we talked about the goal of the project to be a retrospective documentary on the history of the community as retold by the community residents (young and old alike). At the same time I tried to manage expectation describing the various the project and the need for time and grants. We all agreed that the role of the committee was to function as the decision making body of the project, and that the governance structure would be through a consensus building model. Since Carmen is also a member of the IBA board she is very familiar and comfortable with the process. In order to have a complete committee we agreed that we needed a few more members to complete a 10 person team. The additional members would be- 1 more from the documentary team, 3 staff (gallery curator, youth director, and arts director), and 2 more residents (male and female).

In order to continue to move forward we agreed that we would hold another committee meeting on April 12th to have more of the members present and to review a draft MOU, provide a recap of the 1st workshop (held April 4), provide an update on the fellowship application (summer financing), and determine the schedule for future workshops (good news: we learned that IBA has some extra cameras that we could use to give to community members for the film making workshop coming soon).

We also discussed non residents that we may want to interview for the project because of their knowledge of the S. End or Villa Victoria history, such as:

  • Mario Small
  • Mel King
  • Langley Keyes
  • John Sharratt

Just a few words on the financing. Carmen asked me how much I thought the project could cost, I gave her a rough estimate of $30,000 since we have a lot of volunteers on the project, but that we would have a clearer picture if and when we can get summer financing to complete the trailer and apply for grants. We also discussed using the Center for Independent Documentary Fiscal Sponsorship support to help with the managing of project funds if and when we get them ( Omar also suggested we look into the Instituto de Cultura de Puerto Rico as another potential financing source. We will certainly have to keep our eyes and options open.

The meeting was about 1.5 hrs but it felt much shorter. The time flew by as we discussed the project, got to know each other, and planned for next steps.

Ok so that’s pretty much it on our first committee meeting 🙂

What’s new in the Villa

So here is an update on the project:

  • March 23rd I went to the Villa’s Social Friday and in a group of about 12-15 people I introduced the documentary and April 4th’s timeline workshop. I asked them to please bring pictures, videos, or tokens that are special memories of their time in the community
  • March 23rd I submitted a fellowship application to obtain funding for the project
  • March ~26th Rogelio helped me gain access to the filming material in the media studies group. We now know was is available and we are looking to determine when they will be needed.
  • April 2nd I am meeting with the community committee who will serve as the quasi board for the documentary project. It is composed of IBA staff, community residents, and myself
  • April 4th we are having our first workshop: timeline event. We will be shooting with the community as we go through the exercise of chronicling the history of villa victoria, the history of boston, and each person’s own moments that they want to share. this will allow us to start talking about the origin and direction that the community has taken
  • Next steps: determine schedule for remaining workshops, confirm that smart phone recorders are enough for first round interviews, gather archive material, and being to reach out to area historians for potential interviews

Right now I am trying to get a hold of the Director of social events so that we are all coordinated for Wednesday. I will be bringing some pupusas so that we can all break bread, enjoy each other’s company, and hopefully learn about our community in the process. Wish us luck!

Documentary Fail Hard…

After thinking about all of the ways that the project could go wrong I was left with one thought: It’s the risk that I am going to have to and am willing to take.

Of course that doesn’t mean that I am not going to attempt to address and/or solve for the various issues raised. But hey nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I split the sticky-notes into the following categories (in no particular order):

  • Film quality: reaction- I have partnered with Beth B. who is a film-maker and producer. She has committed to provide the technical expertise for the project. Also 1 have one camera man and 1 cinematographer. Beth Murphy (, who Beth B. works has shown interest in the project. These people are great resources and will help the project have professional quality.
  • Narrative issues: reaction- this is a codesign process. all participants should have a say in how they tell their story. So long as we have a clear vision and goal we will be able to work toward a narrative that explains them.
  • Community participation: reaction- Working with IBA they are allowing me to take part in community events thus facilitating community participation. However, it is important that the community feel that they can trust me and the others outside of their community to make a positive contribution to the Villa. If we can’t do that then all goodwill will be lost.
  • Disruptive participants: reaction- Strong facilitation that ensuring all people speak will be important. Some strategies for avoiding this: asking probing questions to different people to encourage dialogue, quite exercises that people have to explain afterward, speaking to disruptive individuals before/after events to ensure their interest in what other have to say. It is not an easy issue to eliminate, but one that is workable.
  • Collaboration/Codesign methodology: reaction- We will have to continually check ourselves on this point. I know once we start the workshops I will be seeking coaching from Prof. Sasha, which I will then take and teach the team. The way I see it is if we can provide useful solutions to the following questions then we will have made the project in a codesign framework: how can we continually educate the community about the project, empower the community with tools they can use after the project is completed, and how can they participate in the production itself.
  • Resources: reaction- I am currently looking for old footage. There are archives at Northeastern University. Also, at MIT through the co-lab which has some recorded interviews that I am trying to get from Lee Farrow (previous Director). As part of the project we will also be doing exercises where people can bring their home videos of the community, which will be a great resource as well.
  • Communication: reaction- I speak Spanish, so that will help some. Transparency is another component that will make this issue less of a concern.
  • Time management: reaction- Because I am getting support from IBA and industry professionals as well as creating footage in a way that the community members can participate I think I will be able to get footage. If we can get some source material that we can take and work on a trailer this summer, then continually sharing the process and the final product will keep the community engaged. Additionally, once we have the trailer we move on to the next phase of the project, which is putting the full feature together. My plan is that the trailer will help re-ignite support and provide the enthusiasm to complete the feature. Also these projects take time, but the more trust I can build with the community the stronger the support will be.
  • Schedule of workshops: reaction- Most workshops will be about 1-1.5hrs where we will be teaching storytelling, filming, and digital animation. The goal will be to use some of the funding for the film as seed money to continue to programs we introduce. Once we can schedule it through the leaders of IBA it will give me to time and my team to prepare.
  • Lack of impact: reaction- this is contingent on the final product, the distribution, and marketing. I cannot say the impact it will have at this time except that I am aiming to have a major impact on the existing dialogue of Latino immigrants in the US as positive community change agents.
  • Communication response: reaction- if the people can get something out of the process then it will still be a success. And they will be part of the entire process such that they will know what is being produced and what is the final product. In fact it I don’t think we would be able to finish the product without overall community support.