Working with youth involved with my community partner, Puentes New Orleans, I conducted a series of personal storytelling and filmmaking workshops, integrating therapeutic practices from collective narrative therapy to provide a healing experience for participants. Collective narrative therapy is a post-structuralist, non-pathologizing approach to working with communities to author their own stories, highlighting their resilience and resistance to the oppressive structures that impact their lives (Denborough, 2008, 2012). Using collective narrative therapy practices throughout the workshops, Latinx youth engaged in collective meaning-making processes by sharing and documenting stories of the challenges they’ve faced as Latinx young people in New Orleans, and the ways in which they’ve coped with, responded to, or overcome those challenges. Through a group-based, collaborative, and participatory process, participants shared their own stories, and listened to and documented the stories of their peers, recognizing similarities and differences amongst their stories, and drawing connections to the broader systemic systems and structures that impact their lives. After recording each participant’s story through an intensive story-circle process, youth worked individually or in teams to create a narrative using digital media (video, photos, music, narration, and animation). Two individual short films and one collaborative short film were produced by the youth through this process. The project fostered self-expression, agency, and voice, allowing youth to explore issues of race, ethnicity, cultural identity, and the Latinx experience in New Orleans.
This project has been featured in 64 Parishes Magazine, in an article published by Jenn titled Making Connections: A Reflection on Narrative Group Work with Latinx Youth, and in several conference presentations. See pictures from Jenn’s project below.