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Community-Based Multiliteracies and Digital Media Projects

Questioning Assumptions and Exploring Realities

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Heather M. Pleasants and Dana E. Salter

Within community-based digital literacies work, a fundamental question remains unanswered: Where are the stories and reflections of the researchers, scholars, and community workers themselves? We have learned much about contexts, discourses, and the multimodal nature of meaning making in literacy and digital media experiences. However, we have learned very little about those who initiate, facilitate, and direct these community-based multiliteracies and digital media projects. In Community-Based Multiliteracies & Digital Media Projects: Questioning Assumptions and Exploring Realities, contributors discuss exemplary work in the field of community-based digital literacies, while providing an insightful and critical perspective on how we begin to write ourselves into the stories of our work. In doing so, the book makes a powerful contribution to digital literacies praxis and pedagogy – within and outside of community-based contexts.
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Foreword: The Complicated Work of “Making the Familiar Strange” in Community-Based Literacies Research and Practice

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← viii | ix → Foreword

The Complicated Work of “Making the Familiar Strange” in Community-Based Literacies Research and Practice

Lalitha Vasudevan

For nearly a decade, I have spent time as a volunteer, mentor, tutor, and researcher involved with a community-based alternative to incarceration program in New York City. This organization provides a range of educational, social service, and therapeutic programming for youth who have been arrested and mandated by a judge to attend. I first met Vicki (pseudonym) when she was a case manager with the organization; she has since taken on the role of senior education specialist within an affiliated afterschool program for younger youth under the auspices of the same organization. In her current role, Vicki must advocate on behalf of the adolescent participants in their school settings and must likewise work with the same adolescents to create connections to school while they are in the charge of the mandated afterschool program. Advocacy, in this vein, requires Vicki to engage in multiple layers of everyday inquiry, data gathering and analysis, interpretation and diverse forms of representation for equally diverse audiences about the meaning making, communicative, and expressive practices of the youth with whom she works. Although she does not identify as a literacy or media expert, Vicki has had to become fluent in the multiliterate discourses of the youth in her charge in order to better represent them in school settings in support of their educational trajectories. This is work that requires translation of...

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