I was first introduced to Make the Road in 2009 during an ‘Urbanization and Citizenship’ class at NYU. My professor cited the organization as an example of why we need activists working at a policy level and at a grassroots level to create change.
Throughout my academic and professional career, I find myself constantly returning to the power of this concept:
When we engage our community at the top to collaborate with authority and policy work, and organize our people on the ground to incite action among our peers…we are unstoppable.
So when I had the chance to meet with activists from Make the Road’s Flushing, Queens site this past October, I was eager to collaborate and offer them a way to add filmmaking and storytelling as another set of tools for their organizing work.
Along with my coteacher, Paola Piers-Torres, we ran a six month guerilla style youth filmmaking workshop with three creative, committed and intelligent young ladies: Perla Lopez, Beblin Pereira and Sara Ladino.
We worked in any spaces we could find (hallways, shared offices, restaurants, outside in the bitter New York winter), and spent weekends and weeknights filming all over the city.
From that process, our students created three short films that allow you into their homes, their hearts and their incredibly beautiful and complicated stories.
Make the Road will be using our films to educate New York City public school students on immigration policy and reform, and help humanize their organizing work.
I have learned so much from these three young ladies.
Perla reaffirmed for me just how resilient the human spirit is, Beblin taught me the importance of self care and sillyness :), and Sara reminded me that as long as you have your purpose, you have everything.
I am so proud to call these ladies my friends, and I can’t wait to work together again this summer to create more meaningful work.
No matter what our status is, papers or no papers, we stick together.
Please check out their work and visit The Babel Project’s website to learn more about how you can help us continue our Project.