A multimedia storytelling project by SJDC Digital Media students curated during fall 2018.
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By Almendra Carpizo
Record Staff Writer
Posted Dec 26, 2018 at 3:36 PM
STOCKTON — How would an additional $500 a month affect you?
That’s the question more than a dozen San Joaquin County Delta College students were tasked with asking 120 Stocktonians as part of a storytelling project through the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) initiative.
The StoryTillers — as the cohort named itself — are students from Delta College Associate Professor Adriana Brogger’s radio and television-multimedia program. The students who participated spent their fall semester documenting people’s thoughts on their financial situations and how an additional $500 a month would impact their lives.
Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs and the city are testing an initiative to provide guaranteed income to residents. SEED, which is expected to start in 2019, will make monthly $500 payments to a minimum of 100 people in Stockton for 18 months.
“Over the past year Stockton has become the center of not only the state, but the center of the nation for its initiative to discuss how to help working class families and families that are struggling financially,” Tubbs recently said. “This brings us one step closer to providing a little bit of help they may need.”
Brogger said she saw a letter from SEED with a callout for storytelling Stocktonians who are interested in talking about economic inequality and it “spoke to my soul.”
Despite being sick, Brogger met the deadline to apply for the grant and pitched the idea that Delta College is a vital player in the community and to gather authentic stories about Stocktonians they needed to engage Stocktonians. The students, she wrote, would offer a unique insight that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.
“I said, ‘What you’re asking for is what I do,’ ” she said. “This is my curriculum.”
But it also goes beyond the classroom for Brogger, a Costa Rica native who grew up in south Stockton.
She said she remembers her experience growing up in an immigrant household and learning to speak English and adapt.
“So my sensitivities to south Stockton are huge,” Brogger said. ”... I believe so much in Stockton.
“I believe Stocktonians are resilient and I am compelled to look for ways to get the narrative of authentic, organic people.”
The students, which included 20-year-old Ileana Salcedo, interviewed their parents, friends, classmates, neighbors and strangers. During events like the Stockmarket and Family Day at the Park, the group set up a station to draw people in.
Salcedo said the topics brought up during interviews touched on homelessness, student debt, drug abuse and mounting medical bills.
Salcedo, who along with some classmates is working on a side project creating a film about immigrants, also conducted several interviews focused on single fathers and the financial stability of single parents.
Aside from the work-based learning and exposure her students gained through the project, Brogger said the StoryTillers have grown more optimistic about Stockton’s future.
Among the themes Brogger said she picked up in listening to the 120 recordings on how people want to spend the money: paying medical bills, getting out of debt, and car repairs. Few people said they wanted to go on a shopping spree or on vacation, she added.
“Overwhelmingly, people wanted to do really good things with this money,” she said. “That points to the idea that this is a program that would really benefit Stockton.”
To listen to the Storytillers’ stories, visit https://www.kwdc.fm/seed.
The interviews, which are podcast-style recordings, include some in Spanish and one in Hmong. People can also download the phone app or search #StoryTillers in social media.
To donate to the Delta College student-created film about immigration and to learn more about the project, visit https://www.gofundme.com/send-storytillers-to-tijuana.