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Community Partner :

People’s Emergency Center (PEC) provides a wide range of services for members of the West Philadelphia community in order to promote overall success and well-being. PEC’s services including providing housing for the homeless, mainly women and children, educational classes, community revival and advocacy work. As an organization, PEC believes in the empowerment of the neighborhood’s community members through collaboration. Everything they do reflects the needs, desires, hopes and visions of the residents. By giving the community members a direct voice in the services provided, PEC hopes to be the amplifier that the community needs.

PEC’s mission statement reads: “PEC nurtures families, strengthens neighborhoods, and drives change. We are committed to increasing equity and opportunity throughout our entire community. We provide comprehensive supportive services to homeless women and their children, revitalize our West Philadelphia neighborhood, and advocate for social justice.”

Challenge:

Our group was tasked with documenting PECCDC’s 25th Anniversary Block Party with a two-three minute long video. We were asked to create a fun, upbeat video that represents the community-driven values of PEC through showcasing the different people involved with the program and what it is exactly they gained from PEC. The audience of this video was the PEC community and its goal was to commemorate and celebrate the event. Along with the video, we also had to create a social media campaign for Instagram. This campaign needed to effectively tell the success stories of people who had turned their lives around with the help of PEC’s services. The audience of the campaign included people of the community, who are already following the account, as well as people in search of the assistance that PEC provides. These stories needed to be compelling and encouraging, promoting PEC and the work that they do.

Strategic Thinking:

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The first thing we did when presented with our project was research PEC. We looked at their website and social media and read about the issues that they work to combat in the West Philadelphia area, such as homelessness. Then, we met with two workers of PEC, Trish and Meg. They told us all about PEC and the many services that they provide and gave us a tour of their buildings and the neighborhood, which helped us understand the organization and their mission better. Then we prepared for the block party. We tested all the equipment - cameras, video camera, tripods, recorders, microphones - and made sure we knew how to use everything. We decided that we would conduct casual interviews with the people at the event. We looked at Terkel’s characteristics for a good interview when preparing for the block party. We took his advice of not being overly prepared, and so we came up a few open-ended questions that we could ask in order to guide the subject. We took a lot of broll of the space, decorations, kids playing, people dancing, eating and chatting and we filmed the speeches made. Because the event was so informal, we had to be adaptable to the loud music and changing lighting.

For the social media campaign we conducted more formal interviews with three members of the PEC community who benefited greatly from the programs. We again looked at Turkel to prepare, learning how to make the subjects feel comfortable, how pauses are important, how to be a good listener and how to facilitate a conversation. In regards to how we wanted to tell these stories on Instagram, we looked at Instagram users Jedidiah Jenkins and Ruddy Roye. Both men post compelling captions that are authentic and thought-provoking. We wanted to emulate that emotion in our campaign, and so we utilized Lambert’s seven elements of digital storytelling, which include, truthfulness, point-of-view, emotional content, the gift of the voice and dramatic question.

Result:

Our work throughout the semester resulted in a fun, positive video that the PEC community can look back on to remember the event and their 25 years of hard work. The video showcases the attendees having a great time and includes quotes from various members of the community about what PEC means to them and their hopes for the future of the organization. We also created a social media campaign entitled #HumansofPEC, with portraits of individuals who were impacted by PEC, accompanied by a caption that summarizes their stories - where they started, how they found PEC, what they learnt, and where they are now. These images, to be posted on Instagram, will highlight several success stories, encouraging people who are too scared to reach out for help to come forward. People will be able to connect with these stories, bringing awareness to the amazing difference PEC makes everyday.