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Radio Remington

A community-art project helps kids tell the story of their neighborhood

Photos by Jefferson Jackson Steele
Kira Isbert (left) interviews Alyssa Blankenship about her fears, as radio project intern Katherine Gorman facilitates.

By Chris Landers | Posted 11/11/2009

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A few days after Halloween, Barbush again leads the workshop in the back room of the church. Brittney is a no-show, but that's OK. Barbush says she'll probably end up working with her outside of class.

It's a cacophony of voices as she plays back recordings from the weekend on a laptop computer. Everyone wants to hear one labeled "Michael Jackson"--it's a young child talking about his fear of Jackson, because he's a killer who wears a white mask. There's a sort of confused silence when it's done, then someone figures it out. "Oh, he means Michael Myers," and everyone yells out their agreement--the villain of the Halloween movies fits the bill a lot better than the recently deceased King of Pop. Barbush asks them if that's a good interview to save for the project. Probably not, they agree.

Miss B announces that she's going to divide up the class depending on what they want to do. Some will be sound editors, choosing the best audio clips. Other will go through pictures taken at the event. Still others will draw or write. Barbush finds that if she offers the kids more than one option, they don't revolt as readily. Indeed, as they separate into groups, the noise level diminishes and they get to the task at hand. Wilbur Portillo has his headphones on, listening and taking notes. Darrein starts drawing. A group of girls surround Miss Kelly--Kelly Coleman, a volunteer/GRIA secretary who lives down the street--at the computer to check out the pictures.

Barbush says she tries to start with as many kids as she can get. If they don't like it, they'll stop coming, leaving her with a core group, like Andre, who couldn't make it tonight, but has become a regular she can rely on.

Bruun puts it this way: "Often, we're casting seeds in a field. Some take root, some don't."

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