Project #57: Community-Sourced Mixtape Project

Imagine that you’re listening to a podcast full of stories from everyone in a neighborhood, now imagine that those stories are set to dope beats, and now imagine that they’re full of poetry, singing, and rapping. Plus, it comes along with a zine full of lyrics, artwork, and pictures. Something like Storycorps, but you can jam to it. That’s the Community Sourced Mixtape Project, an effort to harness the power of media and technology-based arts education to amplify the individual and collective stories of marginalized communities.


For the past two years, professional educators Jess Gold and Amos Levy have piloted this project at the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, working with youth (and sometimes moms) who have experienced domestic violence in their homes. The project was so successful that they wanted to bring their media-making workshops to other communities, creating a larger platform for others to share their stories. The workshops consist of poetry writing, beat making, zine creation, song recording, blogging, and podcasting. All of the writing and zine making, facilitated by Jess Gold, centers around personal narrative storytelling. Beatmaking and recording are facilitated by Amos Levy, who helps craft the stories into finished songs. The Awesome Pittsburgh grant will help create a mobile music production lab and allow the pair to reach more communities. Levy explains the purpose of these workshops:

Our goals are empowerment through creative expression and the development of media technology communication skills. We help communities realize the potential of 21st-century music making and DIY publishing technologies to create their own content.

In addition, to the workshops, Levy and Gold are also planning to present all of this work as an art show that features work from sites all over the city. Although we focus on youth, we’re excited about the potential for bringing this program to other marginalized communities. This summer, we’ll be leading a mixtape camp for youth at Assemble, a community space for art and technology in Garfield, Pittsburgh.