Everybody’s got a story. About a week into living on planet earth, you can count yourself among the many who have a past. And definitely by the time you learn to talk, think, eat and sleep on your own watch, you’ve got a perspective.

My friend Amy Hendrick, a talented photographer, cool person, and someone who knows how to rally youth into doing something creative, started a new media project titled “Our Storieswww.ourstoriesdc.com. Amy’s day job is managing photographic services at American University School of Communications where she also lectures.

On the website, you can click on the photo portrait for every storyteller. I click on Shaylah. The title of her story is “Patience.” She talks about growing up with a brother who has autism. Visitors share their comments below the video.

Click on Luis who’s kicked out by his father, a religious man, whom Luis has lost personal connection in an efficiency apartment. Luis can only can refer to his father by a pronoun – “el.” (spanish)

You can click on Brittney, Keagoe, Darren, Gordon, Amauta, and Kelly.

I asked Amy to indulge Eclectique|916 with a short interview about the “Our Stories” project.

Why did you do it?

Having worked for six years as co-founder of Facilitating Leadership in Youth, an organization that works with youth East of the Anacostia River, I have seen the ill effects of a consumer-based media first-hand. The lack of accessibility (both in terms of content and distribution) has prevented young people, particularly young people of color, from engaging in public media. I wanted to create a project that worked to change this, while at the same time giving youth a chance to interact with peers outside of their own backgrounds, an opportunity that is crucial during developmental years.

I believe that contemporary media has the potential to bring us closer to a true democracy. Our current media landscape is framed by consumerism. Our own creativity, ideas, and identities are packaged and sold back to us. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said almost 40 years ago, through technology we’ve been able to make this world a neighborhood. It’s now up to us to make it a brotherhood. We can begin by producing the content we consume.

Who was recruited for the project and what was the process?

I spent approximately three months in 2007 recruiting & interviewing DC youth to participate in the project. I was looking for young people that were from different parts of the city, had an interest in learning filmmaking, and were excited about the project.

Why did you select the films that are on the site? What was your criteria?

The site hosts all eight of the films that were made by the young people that I worked with.

What makes a DC story vs. a NYC, LA story or a Chicago story?

This city lacks the strong youth media network that is found in other major cities so I believed that doing a project here was important. DC is a city that is dramatically segregated by class. I was interested in bringing young people from different backgrounds together to share their personal stories.