tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Hear Me 2018-01-15T15:47:20Z CREATE Lab tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1217299 2017-12-20T16:25:52Z 2017-12-20T16:25:52Z That's a wrap!

That’s a wrap!

After many wonderful, learning-filled years, CREATE Lab is finally saying goodbye to the Hear Me Project, but it's not goodbye forever. We’ll be watching and supporting our friends and partners who are running Hear Me projects and focusing our energy on how adults can cultivate youth voice while creating authentic pathways to audiences.

Over the last year, we trained and checked in with our partners from CMOA to 412 Youth Zone, Teen Bloc, Carlow University, and Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh Teen Services and The Labs. Now that they’re empowered to try out their own projects and dive into what it means to really hear youth, we won’t be doing outreach from the lab.

Our team will shift its energy to the Fluency Project at CREATE Lab. This project is asking how we build a technology fluent generation of young people, and some of the key ingredients are teacher and youth voice, the cultivation of empathy, and the confidence to tackle new technology.

We began, tasked with the goal of making youth voice a priority in Pittsburgh so that the region became a place recognized for caring about kids. We tried and experimented, and eventually found a few ways that we think did a pretty good job at that, and that also focused on putting young people first.

And now, we leave with our lessons learned:

  • We never saw ourselves as a technology project. We happened to use pretty simple and accessible technology to convince people that youth storytelling could change the world.  For us, the technology came second, every time, after the necessary work of building community, relationships, and safe spaces for youth. The relationships matter so much more than technology.

  • Listening, and learning how to really listen, is powerful. You can do a lot more for people by just listening sometimes, than putting a lot of other resources on something.

  • Adults don’t always know how to listen. This included us too. Our adult ways of thinking, we realized, impeded our ability to get on the ground and collaborate with young people sometimes. We learned a lot about how change that from studying Dana Mitra, Adam Fletcher and the Washington Youth Voice Handbook, Roger Hart, People in Education, and Tom Akiva.

  • Youth work meant showing up as your whole self. That meant that being vulnerable, honest, and human with young people was the only way to show them that it was ok to do the same.

  • Being the steward of someone’s story comes with a lot of responsibility and demands humility. People asked to Hear Me to retell the stories of others, instead of listening to the audio. Why this could get problematic became super clear during the Police-Youth Relations project. It took us to understand that adults wanted context for youth’s stories, and struggled to find the root of what young people were trying to communicate.

  • Creators, not consumers.  We believe that this role be the role of young people when it comes to media. It addresses how youth are excluded from creating narratives, and also how they are positioned to not have the authority to create media. It illuminates some of the concepts of adultism, that society is really structured with a bias for adults, and against youth. This project and our work challenges the ideas that youth should be passive consumers of media, of knowledge. Our experience here proves that to be completely wrong, and yields the lesson that being a producer means that you’re participating, that you’re demonstrating active agency.

For teens who are looking for media and voice services, we point them to our friends at the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Teen Services plans to continue using the Hear Me kiosks to amplify youth voice. Stop by to see how they incorporate interviewing, storytelling and audio recording into programs for teens. Or check out the Hear Me kiosks, featuring teen-created content in library spaces so that teens can not only see and hear their work shared in a busy, public space, but also be inspired by one another.

We want to send love to:

Devontay Eberhardt and Michael Worthy, the original Hear Me interns.

Our founders and former directors, and colleagues at CREATE Lab

Our funders for their faith and guidance

Our founding partners, from whom we learned tricks of the trade and the stakes of the work

Melanie Brown for her mentorship

Our campaign partners:

Education Law Center

Allies for Children

Southwestern Pennsylvania Food Security Partnership

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy


Personal Robotics Lab

Our partners who carry on the Hear Me work:

Grace Enick

412 Youth Zone

Kelly Rottmund, Patrick Coyle, and Rebecca Jacobson at the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh Teen Services, and formerly, Corey Wittig

Carlow University

Teen Bloc at A+ Schools

Magee Womencare International Youth Leadership Project

Dr. Gerlach at Shaler Elementary School


And all of the Hear Me kiosk hosts

The Hear Me 101 student interns

Susan Howard, Molly Deurig, Jess Weichler, and Louis Cappa

Pittsburgh Filmmakers Youth Media Services

Laura Roop and the Western PA Writing Project

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

The Consortium for Public Education

Jessica Harrell

Thanks for everything,

Jessica Kaminsky

Jessica “JP” Pachuta

Ryan Hoffman

Alex Woodring

Paul Dille

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1010319 2016-03-09T18:39:12Z 2016-03-09T18:39:12Z Hear Me - New Zealand edition
Guest Blog from Jess Weichler

When the Gender Bias in STEM campaign was announced on the Hear Me website I was excited by the prospect of collecting stories from kids in New Zealand.  I am originally from the United States and was interested in gathering an international perspective to see how cultural differences might influence ones perceptions on gender as it relates to skill. 

During an Hour of Code event in Wellington, New Zealand I collected stories alongside programmer Seth Kenlon.  We set up a booth where attendees could choose to be interviewed in-between sessions on video game programming and robotics.  

We had no age requirements, but our interviewees ended up being quite young, between the ages of 8 and 11.  I was surprised to hear that many of them didn’t seem to have even entertained the notion that gender might influence a person’s interests and skills.  When we told the kids that statistically, there are more boys who choose to study STEM topics than girls, half of them said they weren’t aware of the statistic, then went silent. 

The only real, strong declaration of gender bias came from a young girl, Paisley, who proudly asserted that boys weren’t good at art.  When probed to expand upon her reasoning she said simply “I’ve seen a lot of boys at school who don’t draw as well as girls.“ The boys we interviewed were incredibly perceptive, most of them stating that they thought boys and girls were equal in regards to skill. However, they expanded on those ideas by questioning whether everyone shared the same set of interests. Each boy supposed that the primary drive to learn something was an interest in the subject, and the opportunity to pursue those interests. They didn’t question where interests originate, but didn’t attribute it to gender, either.
A more general observation of our time collecting interviews was the shyness of many of the kids.  On many questions, they declared that they didn’t have any opinion.  I’ve yet to meet a kid who doesn’t have a favourite subject, even if it is just lunch.  They were all very wiling to participate, but when the microphone was on they were hesitant to speak up.  Though it would be a pain from a recording standpoint, Seth and I wonder if our interviewees might have had more to say in a group setting where they are already accustom to making themselves heard.

As this campaign progresses in many different cities and schools, I am interested to hear how responses might vary throughout the pre-teen and teen years.  As a technology educator, I have witnessed first-hand the drastic drop off of female students through the teen years in technology-based subject.  I feel getting more responses throughout a diverse age range may provide important data.  Do perceptions about the skills sets of boys and girls change? If so, when and why do they change? Data about this is well worth gathering and studying, to understand the trend, and to learn how we educators and mentors might influence this.

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1005592 2016-03-02T22:05:51Z 2016-03-02T22:05:52Z We Live Here Art Show

On October 2, 2015, Homeless Children's Education Fund and its Collaborators, including Art Expression and the GLCC, coordinated an art show with youth from "Service Access for Youth." At the art show, youth exhibited and sold their work, and raised awareness of youth experiencing homelessness in the Pittsburgh region. You can hear the story of the show on the Hear Me Podcast for February 2016. With permission, here are photos of some of the work.

Trinity "Untitled"
Niecey "The Collision" Niecey "Love"
Niecey "Take Me Away"
Naya "Untitled"
Maimor "New Beginnings"
Miamor "Changes"
Kyle "Untitled"
Brenna "Untitled"
Arrow and Naya "Collaboration Six"
Arrow "Five"
Aiden "Untitled"

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/999568 2016-02-23T15:55:55Z 2016-03-09T18:40:04Z Financial Literacy for High School

Guest blog from Moneythink CMU

Moneythink CMU is the Carnegie Mellon chapter of a national organization oriented at educating today’s youth in financial literacy. Our chapter of over 40 CMU students goes in weekly to mentor high school students in various underprivileged high schools around the greater Pittsburgh area. In partnership with Hear Me, our chapter interviewed a handful of our mentees to garner their feedback on how not only the material we teach, but also our mentorship impacted them.

We interviewed them in person, to increase receptivity, using voice recordings to allow us to get to know the students more personally and for them to have a more meaningful impact to those who listen to these testimonials – as opposed to having the students respond through a more detached written form of evaluation of their thoughts. The feedback we received narrated how the students lacked basic personal finance skills from their past education. But we were humbled by how they soon revealed both how thankful they were to learn the skills we taught them and how it changed their habits in their everyday lives. These changes impacted their personal spending and saving habits in a positive way as they recognized the value in utilizing institutionalized financial services instead of managing it all themselves – a financially sound choice.

The clips we highlight here illustrate the impact Moneythink has had on three students from Taylor Alderdice High School. One of these students, Henry, shared how our program forged an interest in alternative money-saving techniques, not the least of which includes stockbroking. His newfound understanding of the concept of risk and return, a concept to which not many Americans today have been exposed, once again, highlights the unique impact Moneythink has had, and continues to have, on students at such a tender age. Personally, I found Henry’s precocity in his knowledge of financial markets to be unbelievably amazing considering the fact that he attends a secondary school where most of his peers have trouble understanding basic financial literacy, let alone financial markets. If I were in his shoes, and grew up in his environment, I am not sure whether I would have been able to achieve the level of understanding he has procured, which further underscores Henry’s altogether remarkable skill set. Listen to Henry's interview here.

Another student, Seti, has expressed how Moneythink has enabled him to become far more informed on topics ranging from credit cards, debt, and loans, to saving by differentiating between his needs and wants. His poignant accounts of taking loans from his family indicate that our curriculum has allowed him to graduate from many of his peers, who simply are given grants, in the form of allowance, from their parents. Furthermore, through his job and prudent spending, which is curtailed by his cognizance of when he is spending on something essential or superfluous, Seti is able to maintain a clean balance sheet with his finances. I was particularly impressed by the manner in which Seti was able to articulate the method by which he acquired his loans. From this impression, I must say that it is reasonably foreseeable that Seti will look into pursuing opportunities in the financial sector. Listen to Seti's interview here.

Our third student, Tess, demonstrated a rather sophisticated understanding of interest rates. Like Henry, Tess has also striven to procure a future in stockbroking as she expressed a keen gravitas for the topics discussed by Moneythink. Armed with this nascent appreciation for personal finance, Tess distinguishes herself in an affirming way from her peers which will carry her above and beyond the competition as she enters into this brave new world, for which she is sure to thank Moneythink. Tess surprised me with her analytical understanding of interest rates, a highly quantitative skill. Because interest rates are concept which not many people at such a young age understand, Tess’ acumen in this subject firmly makes me believe that she will be able to capitalize on her knowledge at a much faster rate when she enters the workforce, a competitive advantage which I find empowering. Listen to Tess's interview here.

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/994591 2016-02-16T15:27:16Z 2016-02-16T15:27:16Z A trip to ALEC

Guest blog from Shushman Choudhury

An interesting aspect of communicating with children is the refreshing forthrightness of it. Whether they are articulate about some topic or not, they usually do not hesitate to tell you what they think, if you establish a good rapport with them. I was pleasantly reminded of that fact when I went to conduct my first set of interviews as a volunteer for the Hear Me initiative. We visited the Allentown Learning and Engagement Center, an after-school center for primary school children in the Allentown area.

It was a chilly Thursday afternoon when we arrived, but the place warmed my heart instantly. We were graciously welcomed by one of the people in charge, Amber. Inside was a joyous cacophony of children - running around, sneaking a tidbit here and there, creatively expressing themselves, and just being happy. I was immediately approached by this bright and assertive young lady, Kaylee, who wanted to sell us ice-cream (colourful cups of wool). Jess agreed to buy some, but not having any money at the time, she offered to teach Kaylee how to use one of our recorders. Needless to say, that brief exchange was already enough to make my day, because it captured the essence of why we were there.

The interviews were quite intriguing. I spoke with a few boys aged between 7 and 9. I tried to avoid patronizing them while speaking with them. I explained to them why their views were important for people to hear, and why it was important they not hold back. In general, I was rewarded with their candour. The audio clips on the website will have the actual content that people can listen to, so I won’t try to paraphrase what they were saying too much.

Some particular anecdotes stand out in my memory. When asked whether boys were better at girls in math and science, seven-year-old Liam emphatically stated that they were both people, and so there was no reason to think they would be any different at the same thing. Nine-year-old David seemed a bit skeptical of the whole thing. He disapproved of my choice of sneakers, justifiably so I think (being a graduate student, I have no illusions about my taste in apparel). Initially, he was reluctant to open up, finding it weird to have a recorder thrust in his face. Eventually, his interview went on to be the longest, so I am glad he overcame his awkwardness. Kejuan began by asserting that boys and girls were pretty much the same at everything, but after some more specific questions, started to appear more convinced of the superiority of boys in some domains, and of girls in some other. It’s interesting that at all of eight years of age, he had already started thinking about the way his opinions would be perceived by others.

The opinions seemed to either be that boys and girls are equal at science and math, or that boys are better. That does not dishearten me necessarily though. These boys are still very young, and issues of gender are perhaps not too high in their list of priorities. If anything, this highlights the fact that kids are forming opinions at young ages, based on what they observe around them. Therefore, putting more emphasis on inculcating the right ideas from an early stage could be very beneficial.

I finished up the interviews with a great sense of satisfaction. I was even more delighted to see that Kaylee had mastered the use of Jess’ recorder by then, and was expertly going around asking people questions. It made me reflect on how important it was to hear what schoolchildren have to say, so that adults can do better for children like Kaylee, and the boys I interviewed, and so many others, in creating a harmonious, mutually respectful environment for boys and girls.

As a graduate student, I often fall into the trap of having an inflated sense of self-importance about the work I do. Experiences like the one at ALEC help to keep me aware of the bigger picture, and of the myriad other issues outside research. All of us have a role to play, in whatever way, to help balance the scales between the sexes in education, after centuries of oppression and injustice had dented them. I hope hearing these young, honest voices can help in that regard.

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/964522 2016-01-07T20:37:56Z 2016-01-07T20:37:56Z Hear Me Kiosks at CMU start conversations about Gender & STEM

Hear Me is two months into its Gender Bias and STEM campaign. So far we have interviewed two groups of students (middle school girls in a STEM program at CMU and elementary and middle school students in an after-school program at Assemble), and their stories are on the website here (www.hear-me.net/stem). We have also trained two groups of CMU volunteers on Hear Me interviewing techniques and best practices, and will be training another group of volunteers at Penn State New Kensington in January 2016.

But we didn't want to wait to start sharing what the students are saying! We have installed Hear Me kiosks in 3 locations on CMU’s campus - one in a high-traffic corridor and two next to communal kitchens. We intentionally installed these kiosks in places people congregate, and where passers-by will be intrigued enough by the kiosks to listen and respond to the students’ stories. These kiosks will remain up at CMU through Spring 2016, and we will update the featured stories.

The following stories were featured in the kiosks in November and December -

Between November 30, 2015 and January 5, 2016, the three kiosks had a total of 963 play, and within the first week of putting up these kiosks we had about 20 handwritten responses! This has surpassed the interactions of all of the previous records for responses in a week (except maybe the kiosk outside of Square Café).

Listeners of the kiosks are prompted with the question displayed on the kiosk, “Has gender bias impacted your learning or career opportunities?” The majority of individuals have responded with personal stories of the discrimination they have faced or seen related to gender. Some of the longer responses are below. As an interesting aside, this is the first time response writers have self-identified their gender in a response.

We plan to put more kiosks up at CMU, and to transition our current kiosks displayed around Pittsburgh to feature these campaign stories in Spring 2016. If you aren’t near a kiosk, you can always write responses to the stories on our website (although you do need an account to comment). Additionally, you can sponsor a kiosks featuring stories from this project for $150.

We will be visiting more schools and organizations in January and February 2016. If you are interested in having Hear Me and the CMU volunteers visit your students, please contact Jess Kaminsky (jess@cmucreatelab.org).

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/955233 2015-12-22T18:04:23Z 2015-12-22T18:04:23Z Gender Bias and STEM Campaign Does gender bias impact students’ attitudes and successes in STEM education?

Current trends and research in education emphasize science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and STEM career training. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that there will be more than 1.4 million job openings in computing-related fields by 2020. As STEM training becomes more essential, it is important to recognize the gender gap in both STEM careers and education. For example, girls make up 56% of total AP test-takers but only 19% of AP computer science test-takers. At the university level, women earn 57% percent of all undergraduate degrees, but only 19% of all undergraduate computer and information sciences degrees.1 

Hopefully by now you have heard about Hear Me’s current campaign where we are asking students about the impact gender bias does or doesn’t have on STEM education and careers. As part of this campaign, Hear Me will be interviewing around 150 students from schools and community organizations, of all ages.

For this campaign, we are adding a new partnership – Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science. We are welcoming volunteers from SCS to interview alongside us; ten staff, faculty, and students have already trained with Hear Me to understand our equipment and best practices.

After the winter break, they will be visiting schools and organizations with us to interview students. Stories gathered through this campaign will be shared with the CMU SCS community, superintendents, and other interested audiences.

This is new for us in several big ways:

1) We have never worked this closely with the CMU community, because it is drastically different from the research and robots surrounding us. This has been a disconnect for Hear Me since its start, and we are happy to be intentionally connecting Hear Me’s work with CMU community.

2) We have never trained adults to join us in the interviewing process! Typically, we train 1-2 adults to do interviews with students they work with. This time, a bunch of adults will be interviewing students on one topic, and visiting schools and organizations together.

3) We have never had an audience also be part of the interviewing work. For most of our work, we have an audience that only receives information at the end of the project, and commits to connecting voices to decisions. These volunteers will be much more integrated through the whole process - helping to capture students’ experiences related to STEM and gender bias, sharing their experiences as interviewers back with their peers at CMU, and hearing the final products as presented to the CMU SCS audience.

By working more closely with SCS, we are hoping that these stories will build bridges between K-12 youth in Greater Pittsburgh and the CMU SCS community.  We are also asking how adults can help young people recognize and close gender gaps, and we want your participation. 

If your school or organization is in the Greater Pittsburgh region and is interested in having Hear Me visit to interview students, please contact Jessica Kaminsky. We will be conducting do the majority of the interview visits in January and February, but it’s never too early to schedule a visit! If you are outside of this region but want to contribute, students can respond to the questions listed on our website and upload their media to the Hear Me website.

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/941220 2015-12-01T16:45:05Z 2015-12-01T16:45:05Z Including student voices in PPS Superintendent search In the Fall of 2015, Dr. Linda Lane, the Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent announced that she would retire at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

Since then, community members have openly debated about the appropriate methodology for choosing the next superintendent, who has a myriad of administrative issues and changes to face at the district in the coming years. 

However, many of these same community groups agree on one thing – that student voices can’t be excluded from the selection decision.  To do this, Hear Me was asked to partner with Great Public Schools and also with the youth empowerment champions at TeenBloc (a program of A+Schools) to capture students’ experiences and perspectives on what their next superintendent should prioritize and care about.   Great Public Schools is recruiting teachers on the ground to record their students’ stories.  Teachers are using available technology and are eligible to borrow from Hear Me’s lending library of audio recorders.  Meanwhile, TeenBloc students went through Hear Me ‘s audio recording training and created their own set of student-oriented questions, and are pursuing interviews with peers.

A sampling of the questions we are asking include:  

  • What are the qualities you want the new superintendent to have?
  • What are the most important issues facing your school or What issues should the superintendent focus on?
  • What should the superintendent know about students?

Some of the early stories talk about focusing on career training, small student to teacher ratios, representative history curricula in the classroom, and increasing teacher diversity.  You can find the collection here, and look forward to a Hear Me podcast about this in early 2016.

As always, anyone is able to submit media (www.hear-me.net/take_part) although content is moderated before it is live on the website.  Media can be written, picture, audio, or video.  For more information, contact us at info@hear-me.net.

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/914485 2015-10-09T14:52:25Z 2015-10-09T15:00:01Z Kiosk Responses from the Thomas Merton Center

On Friday October 2, The Thomas Merton Center hosted 10 Hear Me Kiosks as part of their gallery for Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn. 

Merton Center staff encouraged listeners to respond to 5 different questions posted on the kiosks and on the Merton Center Walls.

In his story, 19-year-old Jamal discusses how law enforcement targets juveniles. Listeners then answered the question,"How can we foster a positive relationship between police and youth?"

13-year-old Quinton's "Kids are Struggling" had 82 listens throughout the night and asked listeners, "How does having access to tutors affect academic performance?"

Responses included: 

After hearing stories on school climate, listeners were asked, "What makes our school community a positive and safe place for learning?" Kristen's "Security Guards and Teachers with Guns" had 80 plays and elicited the following responses:

Two kiosks featured stories from Somali-Bantu refugees on identity. Stories from Sangab and Saraji totaled 77 plays and asked listeners, "How do our personal experiences influence our identities?"

Overall the night was a success - the Kiosks totaled nearly 500 plays and elicited thoughtful responses from listeners.  Thanks to the Thomas Merton Center for hosting the kiosks and everyone who participated! 

To host your own Hear Me Kiosk, email kiosk@hear-me.net.

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/887854 2015-07-29T15:25:47Z 2015-08-04T22:20:50Z My Hear Me 101 Internship

By guest blogger and Hear Me 101 Intern, Abbey Caspar. 

Well, This is my last week at my Hear Me 101 Internship. For those who don't know about it, let me explain...

Last year, Steel Valley's Hear Me 101 group produced a short film about Stereotypes. There were 10 students who worked on it. We chose the topic and interviewed students, teachers and professionals. We then edited the film for two weeks. During the whole process, we learned so much. 

(pictured above: Abbey brainstorming ideas during early stages of film production)

Some people in our group had no idea what a stereotype was, others shared their story about being stereotyped. We learned that stereotyping goes both ways. When someone stereotypes, they make an assumption about a person or group of people and miss an opportunity to get to know them. Throughout the process of making the film, we worked with students who told us how they had been personally stereotyped and talked to experts about how stereotyping affects people.

Before we knew it, we finished the film, which was screened at Pittsburgh Filmmakers on May 14th. Our families got to come out and watch all of our hard work. We also learned about the Hear Me 101 internship at the CREATE lab at CMU. I applied and wrote an essay on why student voice is important. I got the internship. I wasn't the only one. Two other students are interns, Kyle and Antonio, from McKeesport.

During the internship, we had to market our film and get it out there for the world to watch. We also were able to help with a camp at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and we traveled to Harrisburg to speak at a rally for Fair Education Funding.

(pictured above: interns Abbey and Kyle hold fair funding signs in Harrisburg)

My capstone project was to connect my film with a specific audience to raise awareness about stereotyping. So my plan is to screen the film to the incoming 9th graders on their transition day at Steel Valley High School. I think this will get them to understand that just because someone doesn't look like you, doesn't mean they don't like the same things as you. I am excited to have them watch the film. 

(pictured above: Abbey and Kyle share their campaigns with the CREATE Lab at CMU)

So, that is what I did during my internship and I could not have asked for a better way to spend my summer. If you have not watched the short film, watch it here


Share the film with #notmytypefilm.

For more information, email abbeycaspar@gmail.com.



tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/875312 2015-06-30T16:34:56Z 2015-06-30T20:55:16Z Kiosk Host Spotlight: Anchor and Anvil

Anchor and Anvil Coffee Bar

Meet Hear Me’s latest kiosk host: Andrew Theobald of Anchor and Anvil Coffee Bar

(Andrew Theobald)

Since buying the former “Fire Escape” coffeehouse in 2014, Owners Andrew Theobald and his wife Tracy designed Anchor and Anvil as a community gathering space with handmade food, responsibly sourced coffee and unique flavors.

“That’s the whole idea behind the name,” Theobald says. “A blacksmith makes everything by hand using an Anvil; and the shop is meant to be an Anchor in the community. Corporate businesses are all about creating mass-produced scales. And you just don’t get the individual flavor and community that you do in local shops."

Anchor and Anvil employs a local staff, buys local products when possible and otherwise supports small businesses. Their staff consists of students from the nearby Avonworth and Northgate School Districts; meat products come from Parma Sausage, and bread from Breadworks. In the winter, Anchor and Anvil serves chili from a Beaver County farm.

As for the coffee, it comes from Mad Cap Coffee, a small, high-quality roaster in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

"Mad Cap works with directly with farm and mill owners and the company is transparent about the whole process. Their product is a good as anybody's in the industry," Theobald says.

Prior to starting Anchor and Anvil, Theobald worked 10 years in real estate settlement. "When I looked at what I enjoyed doing, it was interacting with people -- not being in an office.  I had recently gotten into high-end coffee and my wife suggested I do this,” he says. Within the first few months of buying the coffee house, the couple changed almost everything; from the “Fire Escape” coffee house name, to menu items, seating arrangements, vendors and aesthetics. 

The shop now serves as a coffeehouse and community gathering space. Activities include a Friday morning knitting group, sports team meetings, environmental groups, and the coffee bar is even set to host a wedding next year.

The Hear Me Kiosk is the latest addition to Anchor and Anvil, receiving 280 plays in just the first 2 months. It features stories from Hear Me's Fair Funding Campaign and is sponsored by the statewide Campaign for Fair Education Funding.

Listen to Anchor and Anvil's featured stories:

12-year-old Allie "Why art funding is important"

13-year-Taelyn "Music program at Lingelbach"

For more information about Anchor and Anvil, visit anchoranvilcoffee.com

For more information about the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, visit fairfundingpa.org

To listen to stories from Hear Me's Fair Funding Campaign, visit hear-me.net/portfolios/233.

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/861678 2015-05-27T17:59:45Z 2015-05-27T17:59:45Z Hear Me 101 Fourth Annual Screening and Panel

On Thursday May 14, the Hear Me 101 Project hosted its fourth annual exhibition of student-produced documentaries at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Melwood Screening Room. Students from Steel Valley High School's Hear Me 101 Club, Clairton High School's Media Class and McKeesport Technology Center's Commercial and Graphic Arts Program gathered with school administrators, family and community members for the debut of the short documentaries.

This year's theme was “Framing Forward," because the films framed youth voice conversations in a proactive way. 

(pictured above: students from the three high schools gather before the screening)

Students from McKeesport High School focused their films on topics like "Power in School," which examined student choice in curriculum, availability of clubs, messages in music, access to post-secondary resources, and celebrated the School's vo-tech center. One McKeesport film group, Yellow Notebook Productions, told school administrators, “..we need an organized student voice, but we need you to listen.”

Clairton High School explored the lack of activities for young people in Clairton, and highlighted the potential problems that arise when young people don't have access to positive resources.

Students from Steel Valley explored the effects of stereotyping in high schools and asked their peers to initiate change by "... acknowledging that sometimes you do stereotype." The film urges students admit that stereotyping is part of school culture.  

The documentaries were a result of a collaboration of schools and local organizations. For 15 weeks, the students worked on media production techniques, writing, storytelling, and critical thinking skills with Pittsburgh Filmmakers and the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project. The process allowed students to discover their voices through media, in addition to learning a valuable skillset.

Following the exhibition, a panel of experts gathered to discuss the relevancy and timeliness of the stories told in the films and to offer the first critiques of the students’ work.  Moderator Michelle King began by asking the panel whether Pittsburgh is living up to its label as a most livable city. All three panelists agreed that while Pittsburgh is a most livable city for some; others are left out, which prompted a discussion on resources and inequality.

Panelist Halle Stockton of PublicSource stressed to young people the need to further question existing structures. “Don’t be afraid to ask hard and uncomfortable questions. Those are usually the ones you really have to ask.” 

Nico Slate, history professor at Carnegie Mellon, and Professional Filmmaker Gabe Columbo closed the discussion by reminding young people that society should treat them as contributing members, and embrace their ideas.

(pictured below: the three panelists address the audience)

Four of the student filmmakers will be working with Hear Me over the summer 2015 to continue exploring the issues that they raised in their films. Stayed tuned to Hear Me’s newsletter and social media for updates!

Watch all of the films here.

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/848446 2015-04-28T21:01:20Z 2018-01-15T15:47:20Z Hear Me 101 Screens Student Films on Ed Issues May 14th

Join students, teachers, and the Hear Me 101 partners on Thursday May 14th at 6pm.  Admission is free!

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/795491 2015-01-14T21:18:31Z 2015-01-14T21:44:57Z Hear Me in Philadelphia for Fair Education Funding

On December 2nd and 3rd the Hear Me team traveled to Philadelphia to interview students for the Campaign for School Funding. This campaign is in partnership with the Education Law Center, and is part of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding, a statewide effort of 40 organizations to ensure students’ access to quality education.

The team’s first stop was the Education Law Center's Philadelphia office, where Hear Me interviewed nine young people from various Philadelphia High Schools.

(Photo credit: Jay Frye)

The students discussed closing schools, adjusting to school mergers, budget cuts, class size, and the benefits of well-funded schools. Listen to these stories here. The night concluded with a group conversation over pizza, where students talked about empty classrooms, transportation, and school administration. 

19-year-old filmmaker Jay Frye, who visited Pittsburgh for last year’s Hear Me 101 screening to showcase his own documentary, photographed the visit and shared his stories.

(Photo credit: Jay Frye)

The following morning, the team split up to go to Palumbo High School and Lingelbach Elementary. At Palumbo, Ryan met with Eileen Duffy, a school nurse and a member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools. Eileen shared Media Mobilizing Project's video, "Our Schools Are Not For Sale," which documents the schools funding crisis in Philly. 

The three students interviewed at Palumbo echoed the view of the documentary - Something must be done to save public education in Philadelphia. 

Jess and Alex interviewed eight students at Lingelbach Elementary about the effects of budget cuts on their education.  Lingelbach had recently been in the news for having an annual discretionary budget of only $160 for the 2014-2015 school year, which equals about 40 cents per student.

The Hear Me team regrouped in the afternoon at South Philadelphia High School to interview 11 students about resources and funding at their school.  Throughout the interviews, many students talked about the importance of their guidance counselor and stressed the need for additional counselors. At SPHS, there is only one guidance counselor appointed to both the junior and senior classes. 

In total, Hear Me covered over 600 miles and visited four collection sites in just over 36 hours.  Look for all of the stories to be on the Hear Me website soon.

We would like to extend a big thanks to our partners at the Education Law Center and Philadelphia Public Schools for making the trip possible and a special thank you to all of the young people who shared their stories in an effort to ensure fair funding in education.

To sponsor a kiosk on Fair Education Funding, email kiosk@hear-me.net and help support these young people.

- Ryan

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/780349 2014-12-09T01:44:36Z 2014-12-09T20:11:05Z Students Talk Empowerment and Action at M.E.S.S. on November 8

On Sat Nov 8, Hear Me and CREATE Lab hosted the Media Empowerment Student Summit at Carnegie Mellon University to connect youth-serving organizations and youth using media for empowerment and education.

Over 100 people attended the event, including artists, media artists, youth organizers, student councils, youth-adult allies, teachers, parents and 70 students from Pittsburgh Public School District, McKeesport, Quaker Valley, Propel Andrew Street, North Hills, and Steel Valley, among other districts. 

Tad Wissel from Saturday Light Brigade broadcasted live from MESS on SLB’s on-air broadcast during breakfast and registration. 

The day kicked off with an icebreaker from Learning Instigator Michelle King @LrningInstigatr, who asked participants to use their “superpowers” to connect with each other, both in-person and on social media. Check out https://twitter.com/hashtag/messpgh.

(pictured above: one group spells "YOUTH" for a superpowers challenge)

Participants then broke off into individual sessions.

Students packed the room for the Saturday Light Brigade’s Audio Production workshop, which included radio broadcasting and podcasting. (Listen to their work here!) Afterward, Pittsburgh Filmmakers hosted a skill-based workshop on Animation.

As the day continued, participants learned about youth leaders in civil and educational movements and listened to stories from peer student leaders, like TeenBloc youth or first-time-filmmaker Alexis Werner. In a series of 10-minute talks hosted by Teen Change-Makers, students learned how to organize themselves to challenge school board policies, promote innovative idea-sharing and collaborate with the mayor of Pittsburgh.

During the resource fair at lunch, youth connected with resources providers from:

Attendees also contributed self-portraits to Color Me Pittsburgh’s Race Map (@INCLUDEpgh).  

Afternoon sessions gave students the opportunity to have safe, in-depth conversations about youth issues like the transition to college, ISM's and hidden prejudices, and bullying. Professional filmmakers wrapped up the day with a two-hour panel discussion on using documentary filmmaking for a cause, featuring Julie Sokolow, Kirsi Jansa, and Chris Ivey. 

(pictured above: The Urban League’s workshop,“Combatting the ISM's” posed critical questions about hidden prejudices and challenged youth to create their own media plan)

(pictured above: 1Hood Media performs at the end of MESS)

The Summit served to empower youth in SWPA to have a voice on big issues, and to build friendships across geographical and institutional borders. Ultimately, building media skills is crucial to teens who see media as a strategy that they can use to create community and school change.

“I have a lot of ideas now (on) how I am going to start making changes in my school,” said Nadirah and Nayelle from McKeesport High School.  “I was motivated to make a change to my community. I now know that through media and effective strategies, I can have my voice heard."

Watch some highlights from the MESS here!

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/765755 2014-11-05T20:53:57Z 2018-01-15T14:42:29Z M.E.S.S. Schedule and Program Descriptions

*Schedule may be subject to changes.

M.E.S.S. Workshop Descriptions

SLB Audio Workshop

Podcasts and Internet radio are on the rise as effective, artful, and inexpensive way to share stories, opinions, and more. In fact, it may be the best way. Learn the skills to create professional audio pieces from the world around you. Hone your skills using microphones and digital recorders, as well as the software used to create.

Teen Bloc: Addressing Educational Inequities

TeenBloc's organizers will discuss about how they identified educational injustice in Pittsburgh and how they begin to address some of these inequities through their We Deserve to Be Served Campaign.  The workshop facilitators will challenge their peers to engage in social justice work through becoming an ally of TeenBloc or seeding their own work. 

Learn how to make an impact in the world through film!

Student filmmaker and Temple University student, Alexis Werner will teach you the process of filmmaking she learned while producing her documentary, "Our Way Home.” During the hour long presentation you will learn the steps in coming up with an idea, interviewing skills, how to find funding, and what to do when your project is complete. This innovative workshop will leave you with the knowledge and resources to create a film about a cause you are passionate about!

PFYM Animation Workshop

Learn how to use animation to make your voice heard. Pittsburgh Filmmakers Youth Media Teaching Artist Jayla Patton will present a variety of techniques for making short animations using tablets and apps. Animations using drawings, photographs, found objects and people will be screened and demonstrated in this hands-on workshop. Free apps, strategies for creating soundtracks, and sharing to the web will be covered.

Student-Led Change in the Civil Rights Movement

Be inspired by the students who have led the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Every successful social justice and civil rights movement in the United States has included strong student voices and legal action. Learn about Barbara Johns, a high school student who led a walk out protesting segregation in 1951, and the students who came before her and those who follow in her footsteps.

10-minute talks: Teen Changemakers

In these 10-min talks from teens, they will show you how they took control over student issues, demonstrate leadership, or stand up for their rights. Come with questions on how you can make your own change!
1. Teens for Change: Funding for Youth-led Social Change Projects

2. "Breaking school policy": Passive Resistance

3. Organizing TEDxYouth@HMB

4. Pittsburgh Student Activist Coalition: Mayor Peduto and Youth Policy

Media Literacy: Media Breaker

Does the news reflect your point of view?  In this session, we’ll use the LAMP’s Media Breaker to deconstruct what media is and put our own spin on it.

Bullying: real stories, real hope

In the last decade, students have become more educated about the many facets of bullying and schools have adopted anti-bullying policies and programs. However, for those who have experienced bullying firsthand, an educational program can never quite convey how bullying can change the thoughts, emotions, actions and the very being of those affected. This session will give students the chance to share their stories, both how they hurt and how they healed. They will also engage in discussion about what they believe are the root causes of bullying in their communities and how they can affect change in the future.

Combatting the ISMs:

Do you feel frustrated with society’s perception of youth?  Are you tired of the negative, stereotypical images of youth that are many times projected by the media or portrayed in the movies?  While most youth are positive, contributing members of their community, this is not what’s always seen.  In this two part workshop we will explore how you can use your voice to combat the distorted images fueled by stereotypes, discrimination and isms (ageism, racism, sexism, and heterosexism). We will:

·      Define the isms

·      Share our own experiences

·      Discover how other youth across the nation are using their voice

·      Develop some strategies for counteracting these ISM

·      and connect you to local resources (people, organizations) to help you get your voice heard

Beyond the Museum: Teen Voices on Race & Identity

Hear from Pittsburgh teens who produced media projects in poetry, film and journalism to document youth experiences of race in Pittsburgh in response to the exhibit "RACE: Are We So Different?" at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Come check out our projects, share your story and discuss ideas for creative media as a tool to bring teen voices to the public and explore tough conversations in our communities.

Filmmaker Panel

Join professional filmmakers for this two-hour session to learn about documentary filmmaking and social causes.  Following presentations on their work, the filmmakers will engage in discussions about youth media-making and take questions in a Q&A.  The panel will be moderated by Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ Will Zavala.

Kirsi Jansa is an independent filmmaker and broadcast journalist who has shot all over the world. She will show an excerpt of most recent project, “Gas Rush Stories.”

Julie Sokolow is an award-winning independent filmmaker whose work has appeared at TIME, Huffington Post, and Boing Boing. Currently, Sokolow is directing her first documentary feature, Aspie Seeks Love.

1Hood Media (tentative)

Real College

A panel of college students will give the real scoop about transitioning to college, what no one really tells you about financial aid, and navigating new academic models and social groups.  This is a youth-only session, sorry!

Who is tabling at the MESS?

TeenBloc, Homeless Children's Education Fund, Port Authority, Outreach & Teen Services, August Wilson Education Project, Jefferson Awards, Center for Victims, PCTV21, Steeltown Entertainment Project, JustHarvest, Center for Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine Center of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, PNC Bank, Amachi Pittsburgh, The LABS at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Color Me Pittsburgh

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/743629 2014-09-18T20:03:58Z 2014-12-03T20:53:59Z Youth Voice Summit on November 8!

Celebrate youth voice at the Media Empowerment Student Summit on Saturday November 8, 2014.

Register here!

What is it?

A day long event to celebrate, learn new skills and meet with youth, artists, and experts.  Teens can connect with youth from Greater Pittsburgh to celebrate youth voice and learn about youth action, specifically to:

1) make/create media/art, 2) create community 3) participate in youth justice and rights conversations


Who should come?

Teens – Artists – Media Artists – Youth Organizers – Student Councils – Youth adult allies – Teacher, parents, and more


Saturday November 8, 2014  9a – 6p, Registration and breakfast start at 8a

Carnegie Mellon University in Oakland – Newell-Simon Hall Atrium, 3rd Floor: link to Google Maps

Over 10 workshops on media production, art, or information on student rights!

Resource fair at lunch featuring information on college, employment, health services, and more!


Most 61/71/54 buses stop by CMU. Stops on Forbes Ave near the Carnegie Museum or at Hamburg Hall.  Newell-Simon Hall is behind Hamburg Hall.

Parking is available on the lot at Forbes and Morewood, free on weekends.

Need transportation? We can help!  Email info@hear-me.net

Want to run a session?   Volunteer?  Table at the fair?  Email info@hear-me.net

Pre-register here!

Don't forget to spread the word and invite your friends. 
Who is running this thing?
The MESS is a collaborative vision of the team at Hear Me at the CREATE Lab, Michelle King, Tom Akiva (University of Pittsburgh), Sydney Olberg (Teens4Change), Heather Harr (Student Voices), students at ECS, students at univiersities, and more.  But its really for YOU.  Want to be involved in planning?  Think your voice or POV isn't represented?  Hear Me is the point of contact. info@hear-me.net

Why is this happening?
Why not?  Young people have a unique and crucial voice that needs to be heard, and have the potential to make a big impact. Our organizers believe that giving youth permission to ask questions and create can lead to important answers. The Southwestern PA region is ripe with youth creating media, partnering with adults to create change, and using their voices to create agency.

What are some of the sessions?
All sessions are 1 hour long.  Teens, experts, and activists in SWPA are presenting on topics like "Real Talk on Bullying,"  "Race and Responsibility,"  "Filmmaking,"  "Audio storytelling," "Stereotypes and -ISMs," and sessions on radio, hip-hop, and writing are in the works. 

What's a resource fair?
When teens ask us things like, "How do I take the bus without getting lost?" or "How can I find a job?" adults don't always have the answers. This fair is designed to tap volunteer experts to give free, no-strings-attached tips on survival skills that young adults need. 

How much is this thing?
It's free! 

I live far away and don't know how to get there.  Can you help?
Probably!  Email info@hear-me.net with details!

MESS is supported in part by the Hive Fund for Connected Learning at The Sprout Fund.
tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/733744 2014-08-29T16:07:51Z 2015-12-02T04:43:15Z Teens speak out on mental health

Hear Me 101 Intern aims to share her story with mental health practitioners

Hear Me 101 Intern (Su' 2014) Juanita Suber created a presentation to facilitate discussion around Mental Health supports for teens in high school, specifically depression. Her presentation uses a film, "Teens, Depression, & Peer Pressure," that she produced with a group of her peers at the McKeesport Technology Center at McKeesport High School, in McKeesport, PA, to begin to show teen depression from their point of view. Juanita's moving presentation walks through her own personal experience and asks for caregivers to consider effective ways of aiding students and de-stigmatizing teen depression in schools. 

View Juanita's presentation (opens in new window)

To request Juanita to present at your event, please contact info@hear-me.net.

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/730523 2014-08-21T15:07:14Z 2014-08-21T15:24:07Z Hear Me is Hiring a Project Assistant

Hear Me is looking for a new team member! This is a great opportunity for the right person to work with students, promote youth voice in the region and work at the CREATE Lab.

View and apply for the position here.

Please share this posting with any qualified candidates.  The application period will end on August 29.


Hear Me and the CREATE Lab

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/727403 2014-08-14T17:03:19Z 2014-08-28T16:34:59Z More than a Number

An Open Essay by 16-year-old Denis McCormick

“People like to say we need to prepare students for real life, and what I counter that with is why don’t we make schools like real life itself-bring experiences outside of school into the school environment.”

This is a powerful quote from young education activist Nikhil Goyal (pictured above),who inspired me to further question standardized testing. As a student, I understand the importance of tests to track the progress of schools and individuals, but students shouldn’t be ranked based on test scores. The multiple-choice format of testing is a simplistic and inefficient way of assessment. It doesn’t show who the students are.

For example, students shouldn’t be labeled as “advanced,” “proficient” or “basic,” based on their answers to test questions. Coming from a low ranked school, I’ve seen students score poorly on these tests; meanwhile they have valuable real-life problem solving skills. I know that some of the things we learn are useful, but when will I be challenged in real life to fill in bubbles?

Schools put so much emphasis on the multiple choice section of standardized tests, but in the real world nothing will be given to us on a Scantron sheet with a packet full of multiple choice questions. As students, we struggle to find value in the state assessment system.

When I found out that our school district ranking was 437 out of 500, I felt that the Pittsburgh Business Times article was wrong and other students had mixed emotions. Some people agreed with the ranking, while others were mad, hurt and disappointed. We took action to make people realize that we are more than a number ranked by a system that fails to measure our real qualities. We all asked, ”Does this really define us? Are we really this bad?” We quickly shot down this thought and said, “We are more complex than what a test says about us. We are more than a number.” Then we decided as a collective group (The Future is Mine) to interview people on this topic and see how they felt about being labeled as “437”

Watch my documentary "437" here.

The state should provide more than just numbers about the students and the school district. The writers at the Pittsburgh Business Times were given the statistics and they were doing what they were supposed to do.  The numbers don’t show anything about the students’ character or their community.

It is difficult to measure creativity and social involvement, but we should be ranked and defined by more than our test scores. We never get a chance to tell the true stories about our community and the quality of the people who live there. We are all held back by the statistics and we need to break the shackles of the “standardization” of our community and tell the real stories.

Denis McCormick is a junior at Steel Valley High School
tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/720746 2014-07-30T16:48:52Z 2014-08-14T17:06:15Z More than a Number

This post has moved!  It can now be seen here.

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/695419 2014-05-23T17:40:10Z 2014-06-05T14:53:53Z Hear Me 101 Screening May 22, 2014

About 70 students, educators, parents, administrators and community members filled Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ Melwood Screening Room on May 22 for the 3rd annual Hear Me 101 Screening. 

The evening kicked off with light refreshments, food, and music from Professor ASAP of Tracksploitation.  The atmosphere was lively, as students were proud to share their work and others excited to watch.   The audience took their seats at 6:30 for documentaries from Clairton High School, McKeesport Technology Center, Steel Valley High School, the F.U.S.E. after school program, which includes students from Wilkinsburg High School and Imani Christian Academy and special guest, Jay Fyre from Philadelphia.

 Click here to watch the documentaries! (youtube link)

Topic Selection:

Students from McKeesport brainstormed and discussed a variety of topics before settling on three.  The focused on "Hip-hop in Education," "Video Gaming for Learning", and "Depression."  Students at Clairton selected two topics:  "Access to Technology Education," and "Girls Bullying."  The students gave a fresh perspective to bullying by focusing on bullying among middle schools girls.  The Steel Valley TFIM club wanted to explore ways that students are affected by "success" and "failure."  After wrestling with these ideas, they settled on tackling the school ratings systems by pointing out how it affects students, and adding more complex layers to the story of the 437-ranked school. 

A panel discussion followed the films and included panelists Emmai Alaquiva of Hip Hop on L.O.C.K., Amma Ababio, a student member of TeenBloc, and Patrick Dowd from Allies for Children.  Each panelist was given an opportunity to respond to the thought-provoking media, education and social questions posed by moderator, teacher and publisher Michelle King.  The discussion continued with participation and questions from the audience.

Alaquiva focused on building professional relationships, encouraging students to “make more deposits than withdrawals;” as he compared relationships to bank accounts.  He shared his story from homelessness to becoming and Emmy Award Winning producer, entrepreneur and mentor; and told students, “When you think outside the box, you change what’s in it.”

The youngest panelist, Amma Ababio reassured the students that their videos will make a difference and hailed the documentaries as part of a new civil rights movement.  She complemented the filmmakers on their dedication and critical thinking to address, and take steps to make positive change in their schools and communities.

(source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

As a former City-Councilman, Patrick Dowd was able to frame the conversation in a policy-driven manner.  He addressed how the PA ranking system, which ranked Steel Valley at 437, was most likely intended to help schools by addressing needs, but instead hurt the image lower ranking schools.  He noted that the documentaries are important because they can show policy makers the real impact of their policies and become a catalyst for change.

At the end of the night, the Hear Me 101 interns were announced.  The interns were chosen out of those who submitted applications to earn a spot as paid staff members of Hear Me to work on building awareness and support for their films.  The interns are as follows: 

Denis McCormick from Steel Valley, Juanita Suber from McKeesport, and Jeffrey McDonald from Clairton.  

Look for more from the interns this summer.  Hear Me and our partners would like to thank everyone who came out to the screening and everyone who helped make the videos possible!  

Share your pictures and thoughts on the screening:  @hear_me_project #hearme101 

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/691119 2014-05-14T18:12:46Z 2014-05-19T14:17:57Z Hear Me Goes to ALEC to Record Student Interviews

This blog was reposted from The Brashear Kids Association Blog, which can be found here:  http://www.brashearkids.com/2014/05/hear-me-comes-to-alec-to-record-student.html

Hear Me Comes to ALEC to Record Student Interviews

Hear Me, an initiative of the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, came to the Allentown Learning and Engagement Center (ALEC) to record our students' thoughts about the Pittsburgh Police.  ALEC is located next door to the Zone 3 Police Station. Interactions with the police are part of our students' daily lives. 

Through this collaborative campaign with Allies for Children, students from all over the city of Pittsburgh had the opportunity to record their responses to such questions as, "What is the job of a police officer?" and "How would you describe your relationship with police officers?"  Once all the responses are recorded and edited, Hear Me will present them to Mayor William Peduto to help inform the selection of the new Chief of Police.  

Students at ALEC listened to their interviews  and then interviewed one another.  They had such a great time sharing their stories with Jess and Ryan of Hear Me, and we can't wait to share the final edit. 

Hear Me is a collaborative network of community organizations, institutions, businesses and foundations working together to provide a better future for our kids. Through this project, our students have had a chance to share their voice with a wider audience and participate in the democratic process.  To learn more, check out their website.

- Renee
tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/271281 2012-12-07T18:17:00Z 2013-10-08T16:19:05Z Community Responses to the Hear Me Display at Square Café

The Hear Me display at Square Café has evoked over 60 unique responses from community members since we installed it in May.

The display features rotating stories from a group of passionate students who are committed to improving their education through the F.U.S.E. program, which was started by a Wilkinsburg high school teacher to give students additional learning opportunities outside the classroom. 

F.U.S.E. worked with Hear Me to record the students’ stories and partnered us with Square Café, a local restaurant who is committed to serving the community. The powerful stories and the display have become a topic of discussion in the café.

It currently features a story form Ashley, a 17-year-old Wilkinsburg High School Student, and asks the question: “How can we help students and administrators better understand each other?”


Safety at Wilkinsburg High School  By Ashley, 17

Community responses to Ashley's story:



We update the story and the question every 2 months.  

Previous stories include Sophia's, accompanied by the same question:

(“How can we help students and administrators better understand each other?”)


My neighborhood  By Sophia , 16

Community responses:



and Tatiyana's, along with the question "Who is responsible for the learning environment in schools?" 

My School  By Tatiyana , 17

Community Responses:




To stay up-to-date with Hear Me displays and community responses, follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HearMeProject.

For more information or to learn how you can host a display, please email Hoffman.ryan8@gmail.com.


Ryan Hoffman Project Coordinator, Hear Me 

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/271287 2012-07-18T21:48:00Z 2013-10-08T16:19:05Z Hear Me 101 films premiere!

The first ever Hear Me 101 youth advocacy videos premiered its videos to a crowd of approximately 75 on Sunday July 15 at CCAC. 


Students, friends and families gathered for hors d’oeuvres and conversation to celebrate their achievements.   Guests had a chance to listen to Hear Me 101 stories in CanEx and read up on the projects’ treatments in the lobby and meet some of the young filmmakers from Clairton City High School, McKeesport Area High School, Steel Valley Senior High School, and Woodland Hills High School.


Representatives from the Hear Me project talked about the students’ journey making short documentaries from concept to final cut.  We shared that we learned how warm and hospitable their schools and communities really are and that through the whole Hear Me 101 program, we hope that these students can begin the process of fighting negative stereotypes of their schools.


Steel Valley student Katie Miller introduced her group's topic:  Does where you grow up determine your chances of success?  "This question led to more questions and more questions."  Clairton student Marcaysia Dawkins' group wanted everyone to see that "Clairton always comes together as a big family."




Congratulations to all these young filmmakers!  Films can be seen at http://www.hear-me.net/ hearme_101.

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/271291 2012-04-10T20:38:00Z 2013-10-08T16:19:05Z What's new with F.U.S.E??
Meeting the FUSE students was a great experience. They showed me that some people actually care for their neighborhood & schools. In this particular case, the neighborhood was Wilkinsburg. FUSE had a lot of things to bring to the table that I would of never guessed. The individual students are your everyday teens. They speak up for what they feel is right and Hear Me admires that about them. Wilkinsburg High School and neighborhood is really not the best area for most people, but FUSE will not tolerate the feeling of being swept under the rug. They're proud of where they live, and it's not always about moving away from the problem; there's always an alternitive to that. In the eyes of FUSE, they want to stay in Wilkinsburg & work hard to improve their current situation. FUSE shows us that you can always try and make a difference where you live. School budget cuts really wasn't helping the situation of Wilkinsburg High School. The students need something to look forward to, such as extra-curricular activities & field trips. We at Hear Me have always been a stepping stool for voices to be heard, and we have recorded strong stories from the these students. FUSE has been at this for 6 months and already making a major point. The Hear Me crew supports FUSE and everyone in it.

For more information about FUSE, go to www.fusepgh.org

Hear what these students have to say about Wilkinsburg School District at http://www.hear-me.net/portfolios/23


"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."


tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/271292 2011-12-28T19:41:00Z 2013-10-08T16:19:05Z Wilkinsburg Holiday Event

In response to the students from Wilkinsburg who came to Carnegie Mellon last spring, Hear Me hosted a holiday decoration ceremony in Wilkinsburg on December 1st.   About 25 middle and high school students from the Wilkinsburg School district decorated the Wilkinsburg Municipal Building and tree at the historic Wilkinsburg train station.  Each of the students contributed to a 6-foot-wide “Wilkinsburg Wishes” banner that included their hopes for positive change in their community.  The banner is hanging in front of the Municipal Building for the holiday season.  The event is part of an ongoing community service project through Hear Me, the Wilkinsburg Borough Council and the Wilkinsburg School District.

Here are the stories that inspired the event: 


tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/271294 2011-11-14T20:14:00Z 2013-10-08T16:19:05Z Hear Me 101

CREATE LAb launched Hear Me 101 in Fall 2011 by partnering with Consortium for Public Education, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh Filmmakers and The Western Pennsylvania Writing Project.

Hear Me 101 is a year-long social advocacy video program piloted with 4 regional school districts. 

Read more at:





We’ve partnered up with the Consortium for Public Education, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh Filmmakers and The Western Pennsylvania Writing Project to launch the pilot program of Hear Me 101!

Through the program, we work directly with students through a series of hands-on workshops that teach writing, technical, communication and media skills to youth.  The kids voice their thoughts and opinions on current social issues centered on community and education.   Workshops focus on:

Student groups will produce video pieces to voice their messages publicly to help promote and inspire social change.

The Hear Me 101 team has already met with schools in Clairton, Mckeesport, Steel Valley and Woodland Hills.  The students are enthralled by the idea of creating positive change in their communities!

Below are a couple pictures from Clairton! 

HearMe 101 is a sponsored program of The Heinz Endowments.

Check back for more updates on Hear Me 101.  For more information about the program, visit www.hear-me.net or email hear.me.info@gmail.com.  


tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/271295 2011-10-07T16:52:00Z 2013-10-08T16:19:06Z Fall Activities

There is a lot going on at Hear Me this fall.

 We are preparing to launch Hear Me 101, which is exciting for us, our partners and participating schools.  

On Monday, we met with Children's hospital to talk about a potential partnership.  Jess and Ryan toured the hospital.  It was a wonderful facility filled with art and activities for kids and adults.  We talked about displays, recording and Can Pals in the hospital.  We hope to hear back from them within the month.

We are currently finishing our display for Big Dog Coffee in the south side.  It will feature 4 CanEx boxes along with large Can Pals artwork.  We will encourage participants to give us feedback with response cards.  The owners of Big Dog fully support the project and we anticipate a great partnership!

In the social media realm, Hear Me is giving away free T-Shirts on Facebook.  Please "like" our page and register to win a free T-Shirt ( they're actually really nice!)

tag:hearme.posthaven.com,2013:Post/271297 2011-08-26T20:34:00Z 2013-10-08T16:19:06Z Seven Springs' Story Walk

We had a great time at Seven Springs’ Story Walk last weekend!

The weather was fantastic, the turnout was high and everyone we met was excited about the project.

We gave away about 15 personalized CanPals cans to kids.  We recorded their stories, transferred them to audio chips and put them in cans within minutes.  The kids made their own labels for the cans and we gave them free Hear Me T-shirts for participating.  We even had one group of siblings make a Hear Me video!

We worked in collaboration with David Pribish from PAEYC, who generously directed spectators towards the Hear Me tent.

We also the enjoyed the other groups and activities at Story Walk.

Children's books like "Where the Wild Things Are," and "Who's Shoes?" were read out loud at different stations around event.  There were giant cutouts of characters from the books as well as activities for kids.

Afterwards, we all got to experience Seven Springs’ alpine slide, which was a terrifying ride up for some but a fun ride down for everyone!