Last month, we released our second Freddie and Co collection: a series of limited edition enamel pins inspired by some of our favorite artists in the Atlanta rap scene. We’ve already introduced you to Pintrill, the Brooklyn-based company who helped us make these pins a reality. Now, we’d like to introduce you to re:imagine/ATL, our nonprofit partner for the Freddie and Co x Pintrill collection.
re:imagine/ATL is an Atlanta-based nonprofit that empowers young people from all walks of life to share their stories through creative technologies. They bridge social, economic, and geographic borders to give Atlanta’s youth an outlet where they can cultivate their creative passions and impact their community through film and music production. We recently spoke with Susanna Spiccia, the Founder and Executive Director of re:imagine/ATL, to learn more about the organization’s origin, mission, and plans for the future.
FAC: What inspired you to start re:imagine/ATL?
SS: I grew up near Alpharetta, GA [a suburb of Atlanta], and had very little opportunity to get to know kids from different socioeconomic backgrounds than myself. When I was older, I started an after-school program in Section 8 housing (which I ran for 6 years), and in the summers I would teach at a more affluent day camp. Throughout the year, I’d encounter kids from completely different worlds. All of these kids co-existed, but didn’t really know anything about each other, so I wanted to connect them and find out what they had in common. And then it hit me: entertainment! All kids like to be entertained, and, for the most part, they all watch the same shows and listen to a lot of the same music. So, in March of 2014, I formed a team to start a nonprofit, and we began brainstorming how we could leverage the entertainment industry in Atlanta to help mentor kids to create their own original video and music productions. Once I started exploring this field, I began to realize how much the media world was lacking diversity in its voice. There are so many voices that need to be heard in media and entertainment, and so many untold stories that may be lost forever if someone doesn’t tell them. re:imagine gives those voices an opportunity to be heard, and our kids are the ones who make it all happen. Not only are they able to tell their stories, but they can also share the stories of others in their communities.
FAC: How many young people have participated in re:imagine/ATL events? Have you found that many of the kids participate in multiple projects or do you see a lot of new faces at each event?
SS: More than 500 kids have participated since our launch in 2014. As we’ve grown, we’ve been able to offer new (and more consistent) programming, and while we do tend to see a lot of the same kids, each project brings in new faces, too.
FAC: What type of programs does the organization offer?
SS: Mostly film production, but, depending on the project, we also teach music production as well. Every July, we have a music video camp called The Green Room. We also have a web series that teens are producing alongside professionals, a podcast, monthly hands-on networking workshops with professionals in the film industry, and in-school programming that help existing video programs connect further with their community.
FAC: Freddie and Co. recently volunteered at the Green Room Summer Camp; what kind of projects did the volunteers work on with the kids?
SS: All kinds. They designed some really, really cool hip-hop pins as a fundraiser for us, they helped design our artists media lounge, they played games with us during our “commercial breaks,” participated as “Creative Technologists,” and filmed with the campers.
FAC: How has re:imagine/ATL grown since its launch? What’s your vision for its future?
SS: We plan to expand nationally. We want anyone to have the opportunity to create their own film and music productions with very limited resources. Our curriculums aim to help teachers and students learn how to be resourceful and connect to their communities. We have had a small budget, which has forced all of our projects to be dependent on our community. We have made a lot of our own equipment and props. It’s been tough, but I am so grateful that we learned this way. Next year, we will expand our in-school curriculum to school districts nationwide. We will make this curriculum available to existing video programs on the high school level. The curriculum will teach school districts and students how to connect to local corporate funders, tap professional talent, and how to create content that empowers their communities with actual clients.
FAC: What is your proudest re:imagine/ATL moment?
SS: Oh gosh, there’ve been so many. It’s always great when a kid has a personal breakthrough or finds friends in our re:imagine/FAMILY. Sometimes the kids start off disconnected or angry, and once they get in the mix, we’ll see a light come out from them as they begin rapping, filming, or get to watch their finished product. It’s always the reactions that a kid has to what they’re creating or doing with the other kids that makes me emotional.