We are the Power!

That’s how it began.

Not, “we are powerless,” “we need power,” and certainly NOT, “please empower us.”

We are the Power!

Tila, this was the simple statement of Tila Coleman, then nearly ten years ago, a student at Seattle Urban Academy, whose name I should repeat several times to stack the deck for a Google search to associate “Tila Coleman” with the declaration she sketched out in a pencil doodle during an early meeting at the birthing of SE Seattle FreedomNet, the citizen journalism program of the Rainier Beach Community Empowerment Coalition (RBCEC, now RBAC, the Rainier Beach Action Coalition).

We are the Power!

I had been contracted to help RBCEC establish its “new media” infrastructure to be deployed by the emerging Board of Directors, RBCEC staff, partners and volunteers to change the public narrative of Rainier Beach.

And there it was, thanks to Tila, the foundation of the public narrative to be enriched and disseminated across the full spectrum of RBAC activities, increasingly at the leadership of the youth.

My specific responsibility was largely technical, to set up and train local staff and volunteers to manage the various Web, social media, and photo/video assets that would embody this evolving narrative.

And perhaps more importantly, as I came to discover over time, I was being granted the opportunity to be a witness from outside the community, to be present to the healing and hope these stories represent as directly expressed and embodied by the community and documented by the youth.

Over the next series of posts, I hope to share some small portion of what I have directly seen and experienced to be the true public narrative of Rainier Beach, beginning with Tila Coleman’s simple, uncompromising declaration, We are the Power!