Each afternoon at VOICES Community Stories Past and Present Inc., low-income youth age 14 to 21 from all over Tucson stream into our downtown headquarters to grab laptop computers, digital cameras and recorders—becoming journalists and documentary artists.
During an eight-month mentoring program, youth identify personal and community issues that matter deeply to them. They gain specific skills in writing, research and photography, and learn how to tell their stories.
For the past 10 years, we have offered young people a safe space, positive relationships and the training to document real-life stories. We also provide the platform to share their work with our community, because we consider the powerful stories and photographs they produce to be agents of change. We also know that youth who are creative, resilient, educated and active citizens are youth who benefit themselves, their families and our community. At VOICES, we believe all youth deserve the opportunity to become confident, connected and critical-thinking individuals who decide what their future looks like.
VOICES grew from a 1997 project in Tucson's westside barrios to mentor teenagers to document their neighborhood. The result was a youth-produced magazine called Looking Into the Westside. It was the start of a youth collective to document Tucson's stories. In 1998, Snapped on the Street was published—a community archive of photos and memories from downtown Tucson, 1937-1963—as an extension of the Broadway Boulevard underpass mural project. The overwhelming community response to these efforts prompted a group of parents, neighborhood activists, artists and youth to build a sustainable youth-driven nonprofit and name it VOICES in April 1999.
The following stories and images represent a selection of the final pieces that will appear in VOICES' magazine, 110º: Tucson's Youth Tell Tucson's Stories, an annual publication that features the best of VOICES' youth work. (Other stories from 110º will appear in the Tucson Weekly throughout May.) The magazine showcases the culmination of eight months of great dedication and effort. Youth work everyday after school as paid apprentices and commit to learning and practicing journalism and documentary-arts skills. They engage in training activities, community photo shoots, interviews and countless revisions and critiques, all while working closely with VOICES professional staff and volunteer mentors to complete the story of their choosing.
We will celebrate their voices and hard work at our magazine-release party, a free event at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave., from 5:15 to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 13. Please join us in recognizing and supporting them.
To see more youth stories, visit www.voicesinc.org.
—Rachel K. Villarreal, associate director
Featured VOICES stories in this week's Tucson Weekly:
Authority of Fear
One fateful night, I chose to run from the police. Why?
by Christian Griessel
Connection to Calm
Wicca offered me the answers and the positive energy that were missing from my life
by Cathrine Suddarth
Are we alone in the universe—or do other planets host life?
by Frank Mapatis
Acts of Devotion
On busy Country Club Road, a group of Benedictine Sisters lives as a family
by Jacquelyn Enriquez