Our words, our way: A look at two community-based podcasts recently funded by N2N.
By: Aileen Balahadia, N2N Program Consultant and Elaine Chu, Senior Philanthropic Officer
Representation matters. In the mainstream media, we do not see accurate representation of the faces, languages, viewpoints, and lived experiences of diverse communities of color. Negative stereotypes, unbalanced reporting, and competing interests contribute to narratives that can often hurt whole neighborhoods and the people that call them home.
This is not a new phenomenon, but communities are increasingly taking control of their own narratives. We’re excited to see an increase in community-driven journalism and accessible storytelling told from the perspective of those closest to the ground. This winter, N2N funded two such groups. The Inside White Center and UpNUp podcasts both focus on uplifting the unique stories of their respective communities.
“Representation is half the battle, sometimes.” We heard this from Robel Andmicael, Co-Founder of the UpNUp, who began the media organization back in 2018 with Co-Founder Ermias Haile. Once they had the platform developed, they decided that UpNUp would focus on community stories of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) that inspire, uplift, and build the next generation of community visionaries.
Robel and Ermias know listeners are inspired by community members sharing stories of overcoming adversity, systemic racism, and other barriers to find success in their respective fields. “We produce timeless content,” Robel explains, “And it’s always about cultivating culture through an individual’s story or journey. We talked with Nyema Clark from Nurturing Roots on our show. How many people know Black urban farmers? We’ve had a small business owner and we’ve heard from mental health therapists. We want our listeners to be inspired by people in different fields.”
Similarly, young folks who grew up in the White Center neighborhood wanted to fill a representation gap by highlighting genuine stories of grit, culture, and activism. In unincorporated King County, the community battles decades-long negative stereotypes. Podcast host Lisa Nguyen shared, “The Inside White Center podcast proves that we take care of ourselves and our community. Just listen to our stories.”
Through podcasting, Inside White Center has a unique ability to tell stories, preserve history, and involve youth. The latter is especially important as youth continue to lean into — and learn from — their family legacy and community history through this oral medium.
Centering the stories of those most impacted by systemic inequities makes these podcasts special. And inspiring listeners to find purpose, make connections, and get involved is core to both podcasts’ visions. N2N is proud to support such important, community-driven narrative change efforts.
*First time grantee of N2N
**First grant the organization has ever received
For more information about Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N), please contact Program Consultant Aileen Balahadia at 206-250-4299. The quarterly deadlines for N2N are January 30, April 30, July 30, and October 30.