2017 Fellows' Community Stories



Alton M. Jones in collaboration with Kayla Lattimore & Destiny Owens


Reverend Plummer in collaboration with A'Montay Giddings-Watson


Zora Martin Felton, Emerita in collaboration with Diana Eaton

2016: Stories of Strength

One DC

These films were made in partnership with ONE DC, an organization that aims to exercise political strength to create and preserve racial and economic equity in Shaw and the District. It seeks to create a community in DC that is equitable for all.



Elijah Joy in collaboration with Elisha Brown.


Claire Cooke in collaboration with Reagan Kolakowski & Rita Zanin.


Yasmina Mrabet in collaboration with Marek Cabrera & Sophia Myszkowski.


William Merrifield in collaboration with Geniro Dingle & Caroline Hanson.

DC Doors

These films were made in partnership with DC Doors, a grassroots initiative that provides housing to the homeless immigrant population in the District of Columbia. It seeks to accomplish this goal by providing transitional and permanent housing and comprehensive supportive services in a culturally competent and sensitive manner to families and single females.



In collaboration with Hancie Stokes & Annea Hapciu.


In collaboration Shereen Abdel-Nabi & Enrique Huaiquil

2015: Stories of Strength

Twelve Years that Shook and Shaped Washington: 1963-1975

Change was in the air, some of it unsettling and threatening. Against a national background of Lyndon Johnson’s “great society,” anti-war protests, black power, feminism, and emerging gay rights, the Anacostia Community Museum’s exhibition focuses on events, people and challenges that transformed the city between 1963 and 1975. These six films were made in association with the exhibition.



Then a student at Howard University in 1967, Dera Tompkins describes the takeover of Howard University as a life-changing moment when she realized “We could DO something! And we did!” In collaboration with Davis Shoulders & Alexa Johnson.


Calling himself “an engineer who does art,” Uzikee has been creating public art in Washington for over forty years – art that challenges convention, insisting by example that his people “have something to say.” In collaboration with David Reische.


A student leader at the Howard University recalls the transformative moment when students took over the Administration building, “putting everything on the line… When you come out of that… you’re a changed person.” In collaboration with Joe Tamayo & Alex Lacson.


From the March on Washington to the riots following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Rosalind Styles recalls her transformation into a lifelong activist dedicated to progressive change in her neighborhood. In collaboration with Tabria Lee-Noonan.


Roach Brown was sentenced to life for murder at twenty. In solitary confinement, he discovered his inner voice that called him to write a play for, about and performed by prisoners. Roach has carried his message of non-violence to prisons and schools across the country. In collaboration with Kelsey Hasmonek.


Born and raised in Washington, DC, Cecilia’s father, a Master Sargent in the Buffalo Soldier’s Regiment, instilled in her the importance of education, the need for social justice and the right to protest when times demanded it. In collaboration with Holly Wiencek & Kyriakos Iliadis.

Ayuda

A film made in partnership with Ayuda, a local organization that serves immigrants in the Washington, DC area by providing legal, social, and language access services.



Escaping from a life of violence in her native Guatemala was only the beginning of her torturous journey to freedom. In collaboration with Kelci Reiss & Meiqing Guan.

2014: Stories of Struggle and Overcoming

Six films created by parents of students attending M.O.M.I.E’s TLC to share with their children



As her father’s strength and memory wanes in his final years, Marialuz recalls her father’s dream for his daughter and how she weaves his wishes with her own personal and professional calling to become a doula. In collaboration with Kathleen McLaughlin and Evan Mileusnic.


A twenty-five year old woman recounts her ongoing journey to become her ‘best self’ and the strong and loving mother she knows she can be. In collaboration with Lauren Kendrick


Finding music and dance to be a joyful release -- Kim takes her moves to the kitchen, the park and the laundromat! In collaboration with Leah Jones.


Brought up by strong women yet living in a patriarchal culture, Gene rediscovers for himself the lineage of women that shaped his life. In collaboration with Robin Svendsen.


A single mother raised in the South reflects upon some of her life's many lessons. Discovering the secret to life, she turns inward, healing herself through exercise, nutrition, and spiritual practice. In collaboration with Delana Listman. In collaboration with Delana Listman


It was at Morehouse College where Ayize had a watershed moment: He realized he had come from a long line of black folk involved in the struggle for justice. So began his work to build schools like M.O.M.I.E.S. TLC which has reached 10,000 kids over ten years. In collaboration with Mandy Cooper.

Four films created by cancer survivors associated with the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts



“I don’t hate cancer… even if it blew up the life I knew,” says Jacque. “…Because under all of the rubble of vulnerability, pain, loss, and uncertainty, I found the most beautiful little gems.” Faced with one medical crisis and then another, this remarkable young woman tells her story of continuing transformation. In collaboration with Samantha Adamson.


When his wife of fifty years was diagnosed with cancer, Sam “knew how it was going to end.” He threw himself into writing a play about this “dance” with his wife. For the first time in this digital story, Susan talks about Sam and their cancer journey together, calling it “our” story. In collaboration with Allie Gardner, Geet Jeswani and Chantel Romero Hernandez.


Diagnosed with breast cancer at 27, Erin determined not to let cancer take anything from her and to use the experience when she was done. Devoting herself to working with others with cancer, her life took an unexpected turn, when her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In collaboration with with Elaina Kimes.


“How much suffering is enough?" asks Ben Hartman, a 33-year-old doctor who contracted cancer at the age of 28. The question runs deep for Ben who grew up in a family where members had perished in the Holocaust. In collaboration with Lizzy Lees.

2012: Community Artists

In the fall of 2012 students worked with musicians, photographers, and dancers – all who are called to give back to their community.



Growing up listening to Go Go music, John teaches and practices his own “Beat Your Feet” dance moves to young people.
Fusing dance with other types of knowledge to teach life skills – like geometry! In collaboration with Nicole Wisler.


Moving from one war zone (Nicaragua) to another (14th and Park Road in the 1980’s,) Luis first used his talent as a street artist to reflect the battles for turf around him. Now, he creates messages of love and beauty so that young people are not overwhelmed by their still-harsh surroundings. In collaboration with Efrain Ramirez.


Kristen turned from her work as a successful book designer, to create a color transformation project, using art to heal anyone in need of help – from young children to community elders. In collaboration with Natalie Hill.


A choreographer and minister, Pastor Void uses music and dance to spread the gospel and help people express themselves, teaching people -- especially women -- life skills, and confidence. In collaboration with Alisa Morse & Jenny Harper.


Throughout public school, Tendani escaped the world of guns, drugs and girls by absorbing himself in building things. Today as a multi-media artist, musician and teacher, he uses all that he has to build his community. In collaboration with Jacqui Langer and Matt Sutton.


Surrounded by art his entire life and now a musician, writer, actor, and painter, Jay is dedicated to teaching arts to children with autism and other special conditions.
In collaboration with Anedra Edwards.


Questioning everything since she was a child, Jennifer uses photography to shake and wake people to think for themselves. In collaboration with Sara Gama.

2011: River Stories

In Fall 2011, a new group of students partnered with the Anacostia Community Museum, which wanted to document the stories of people of southeast Washington who engage with the Anacostia river.



A story by Gabe Horchler, commuting to work by boat, his love for the Anacostia River, and the pollution of the river. Written by Gabe Horchler. Edited by John Napolitano. Produced by Gabe Horchler, Nina Shapiro-Perl, and John Napolitano. Video and Photography by John Napolitano.


A story by Kalin William, her journey from a childhood in Senegal to a young adult in Anacostia, her rediscovery of nature and her life as a conservationist. In collaboration with Laura Franco Velasco.


A story by Bob "Coach" Day, a lifetime rower, his love for the Anacostia and his after school rowing program. In collaboration with River Finlay.


A story by Brenda Richardson, her life as an eco-feminist, and her link to the Anacostia. In collaboration with Erika Baumann and Allison Arlotta.


A story by Rodney Stotts, an ex-drug dealer, falconer and environmentalist, about the trials and tribulations involved in cleaning the dirtiest places. In collaboration with Kady Buchanan.


A story about Vaughn Perry and his path to becoming an environmentalist, his desire to share the environment with all people, and his quest to build bridges between different social groups. Written and edited by Vaughn Perry. Produced in association with Robin Brown.


A story by Francis Wheeler focusing on growing up in south-eastern Washington DC near the Anacostia River in collaboration with Ted Samuel.

2010: Community Artists

In Fall 2010, film and anthropology students from American University’s School of Communication and College of Arts and Sciences, working with the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, assisted community artists in Southeast Washington to create their own original digital stories.



Wanda Aikens reflects on the lessons and gifts she was given by her family as a young girl, and talks about why those lessons are important to pass down to her children. by Wanda Aikens, in collaboration with Emmett McGregor.


Bruce McNeil attributes his affinity for Fort Dupont Park to his former residency in Montreal. For McNeil, his world travels have influenced how he sees his neighborhood in Ward Seven, east of the Anacostia River. By Bruce McNeil, in collaboration with Lysette Urus.


The love that Rev. Ivy Hylton’s great grandmother passed down to her provided the architecture for a fulfilling life. Through that love, Hylton acquired certain skills that continue to guide her every day. By Rev. Ivy Hilton in collaboration with Dana Reinert and Sarah Silvert.


The arts have always been a part of Saleem Hylton’s life. He talks about how music has carried him from a passion as a young boy, through a record deal with Motown, and into a career in youth development as an adult. by Saleem Hylton, in collaboration with Laura Triana Saenz.


Melani Douglass revisits a tragic incident in her past, which threatened to seize her ability to feel whole. Through her art, Douglass found the strength to become at peace with her life. by Melani Douglass, in collaboration with Akele Coffey and Olivia Robinson.


For Mike Peay, family isn’t just who you’re related to. They’re the people with whom you feel most comfortable. By Mike Peay, in collaboration with You-yuen Lee and Mike Sahl.


An exploration of Charles “Coco” Bayron’s work, as he grew from a graffiti artist in the Bronx to a tattoo artist, who eventually transplanted to D.C. By Charles “Coco” Bayron, in collaboration with Liz Calka.


Toni Ford says that as a young girl, the stories she collected empowered her.
By Toni Ford, in collaboration with Sarah Albanawi and Viviana Martinez-Gonzalez.


Sheila Crider, co-founder of Free DC (The Writers’ Workshop), talks about her contributions to art history and literature by coining the term, “Blackstraction,” and its variants. by Sheila Crider, in collaboration with Rachel Lynne Smith.


Amber Robles-Gordon received some blunt criticism during her graduate studies when she was told she couldn’t seem to separate herself from her artwork. By Amber Robles-Gordon, in collaboration with Lena Shareef.

Work from the Course "Documentary Storytelling for Social Change"



“Every war has its after-war” writes Pulitzer Prize-winner David Finkel in Thank You For Your Service. And so it is with war medic, Chris Giddinge, who movingly tells of his journey to heal himself and other service members through the practice of yoga nidra. Filmmakers: Samantha Adamson, Geet Jeswani, Keenan Holmes.


A high school student with stellar grades, Alexis gives up his dreams of becoming an architect to help support his family by taking on two fast-food jobs. Faced with low pay and no benefits, he joins his coworkers in the fight for a livable wage, and finds his voice in the process. Filmmakers: Curt Devine,Edeny Tran, Tori Vogel.


Historical piece on the east coast's oldest African American boating club: the Seafarers' Yacht Club. Produced by Amy Falkow, Jordan Oeste, and Sarah Otto.


A deaf homeless man in DC tells us how he survives. Produced by Bridget Klein in conjunction with the Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place.


"The DC Youth Orchestra Program accepts all students and provides them with music classes and ensemble training for those who wish to participate." Produced by Kimberly Byden, Shayna Cohen, and Ted Samuel.


A Wider Circle tells the story of this organization whose mission is simple: to help children and adults lift themselves out of poverty. It focuses on the volunteers providing furniture, bedding, linen, non-perishable foods and personal items to needy families free of charge, in an atmosphere of dignity and respect. Produced by Khan & Milenkovic.


This video was created by students as part of the course UNSEEN AND UNHEARD: Documentary Storytelling in the Other Washington. Produced by Debralyn Andres, Edwin Mah, Julie Maldonado and Andrew Merrill.


The Anacostia Rollers & Friends is a roller skating group made up of seniors who have been performing for the Anacostia community and beyond for over twenty years to improve community relations while showing their stuff. Produced by Peggy Fleming and Mike Sahl.


As one of the 500,00 American veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Laura Pratt tells her story of slow but promising recovery through the practice of yoga and meditation. Filmmakers: Jazmin Garcia, Victoria Ivanova, Andrew Watman, Amanda Zimmerman.


Arriving from Guatemala with the dream of bringing his wife and children to the United States, Wilfredo tells his story of loss, struggle, sacrifice …. and stubborn hope, as he joins his fellow workers to raise their meager earnings to livable wages. “Es Este El Sueno Americano? Is This the American Dream?” Filmmakers: Sabrina Naimark, Marissa Deutsch.


By Emma Boorboor, Danny Peters, and Rasheda Khan.



"[The film] tells the story about our organization that we can share with future students, potential volunteers, funders and board members." Organization: Brainfood. Filmmakers: Sarah Farhat, Connor Krone, Amy Pavlik.


The Alexandria Seaport Foundation offers paid work-based apprentice programs in boatbuilding to help disadvantaged youths develop the discipline, self confidence, workshop and social skills necessary to compete their GED and find a job. Produced by Ryan Baker, Lois Lipman, and Mira-Sophie Potten.


A story of a community activist that faces social alienation as he speaks out against racism and other civil ills. Produced by Charlene Shovic and Jenny Grubbs.


A local non-profit, Community Bridges, runs programs that aim to empower young girls in the area. Produced by Katy Daily, Michelle Nelson, and Stephanie Vann.


Two boys' experience at the Sitar Arts Center in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. Organization: Sitar Arts Center | Filmmakers: Christina Cole, Adomas Lapinskas, Carolina Sandoval.


A profile piece on one DC non-profit that is fighting the AIDS epidemic among transgender citizens.
Produced by Elijah Edelman, and Allison Girres.


"The film validates the significant educational work completed in and out of the classroom by the students and instructor."
Organization: Anacostia Community Museum. Filmmakers: Dana Fleitman, Keisey Dickey, Tony Gualtieri, Ouida Maedel


Students in the Unseen Unheard course produced a documentary on the historic hospital. Filmmakers: Hilary Crowe, Dustin Harrison-Atlas, Chris Hulick, Brad Allgood, Lauren Goldstein, John Malis and Amanda Yerby.


In this short profile, Carloyn Darley tells the story of her journey from a home and family, to homelessness, and then to a home of her own, through her own perseverance and the help of a very special organization-- the Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place. Produced by Binnie Katti and Bisma Rahman.


By Kelly Mertens, Rob Peavy, Rebekah Moore, William Theaker. From the Digital Storytelling class.


Working for years as a short-order cook at a Pentagon fast food outlet and barely getting a raise, Jerome Hardy joined his union’s letter-writing campaign to raise the minimum wage for workers in federal buildings like himself. Filmmakers: Lauren Kendrick, Jacquelyn Dolezal, Lexie Vaughn.


Story of a DC neighborhood that has seen both good times and bad. Produced by Kayt Jonsson, and Casey Nitsch in conjunction with Unity in the Community.


This short film highlights the work of Carecen (the Central American Resource Center) to empower Latino families through tenant organizing, education and advocacy, and access to affordable housing and home ownership. Produced by You-yeon Lee, Norma Rejas and Kathryn Schoenberger.


Phillip Black found himself homeless when he was down on his luck. After falling into depression trying to cope with this realization, he eventually found Friendship Place.
Produced by Kait Meadows in conjunction with the Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place.


Martha's Table, a DC community center that runs youth and food programs, explores new ways to help the needy.
Produced by Emily Booth and Alex Morrison.