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A digital-short video series of vignettes about politically engaged voters that
invites dialogue and deconstructs stereotypes
Thank you for your interest in Humanizing America. This discussion guide provides
information about the series, as well as tools for planning your own screening or civic
engagement event and ways to take action in your community.
The Futuro Media Group creates multimedia content for and about the new American
mainstream in the service of empowering people to navigate the complexities of an
increasingly diverse and connected world. Humanizing America is one such product –
a series of documentary shorts presenting underreported human stories from the
Led by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa and her editorial team, Humanizing
America investigates how the nation’s changing demographics are impacting the 2016
election with character-driven storytelling, cutting-edge info-graphics, a strong sense of
community and the immersive first-person reporting style of Maria Hinojosa.
Every episode of Humanizing America uses the power of an individual voice and a
personal story as a vehicle for positive action – making our republic more responsive to
public interests. Through Humanizing America, we hope to engage diverse
communities and perspectives across America – informing audiences about people
coming together to effect change.
In addition to making these stories available through multiple distribution sources and
online, the Futuro Media Group is also deeply committed to community engagement
and using our programs and content to foster dialogue. This Humanizing America
discussion guide, is intended to inspire greater political participation by providing a
space to share ideas, experiences and perspectives for change making and by
highlighting what individuals and communities can do to help reinvent our civic reality,
and create a more representative and responsive democracy.
ACCESS THE EPISODE
Watch our Humanizing America episode about La Machine:
THE BEGINNING: MEETING NEED WITH TALENT
La Machine was founded by Antonio Valdovinos.
Valdovinos is a 25-year old undocumented DREAMer born in Mexico who grew up in
Arizona. This is his story about how he discovered the power of youth engagement in
his own words.
I was born in Mexico but as I developed I truly felt my identity was with the United
States. You pledge allegiance to the flag since you’re in kindergarten. So I think that
is truly embedded into someone’s identity growing up. This country is where my
loyalty is. I had been doing construction with my dad since the age of 12. I was 17
when I wanted to join the armed forces. When I tried, I found out that I wasn’t
documented. I couldn’t join because I didn’t have a social security number. I
eventually signed up to go to college instead.
A teacher of mine had mentioned in a class, “I might lose my job because they’re
thinking of increasing tuition costs for out of state.” I saw other students shrug their
shoulders because they felt, that doesn’t matter to me. I showed up to a meeting to
find out what was going on and discovered that my school, a community college in
Phoenix, was governed by a right wing republican who decided that out of state
students should pay 300% more for classes. That meant for me, one class was no
longer $300, it was going to cost $900. There was a lot of anger from students and
confusion because we didn’t even know we had a board or an elected community
college system. And I just thought it was so unfair that somebody who got elected by
less than 200 votes was representing about 100,000 people.
I showed up to canvas, to do a community walk. And ultimately I saw that I was
really good at it. I would go out there and knock on a ton of doors and I would get a
ton of signatures. And I realized that it was a team effort that was going to help us
win versus a person working alone. I didn’t go into politics, politics found me.
1. How were you impacted by Antonio’s story?
2. Please describe any similar experiences you may have had where an adverse
situation propelled you to seek more information and to take action.
3. What are the issues or conditions in your community that you think have the greatest
impact on youth that you would like to change? Please share examples of how you
are getting involved to be a part of that change.
4. Please describe the youth training and engagement programs in your community
that you think are effective.
5. Are young people in your community engaged in addressing local problems by
taking action themselves? Please describe what are you doing to help.
LEARN MORE: LA MACHINE
La Machine is a non-partisan youth founded and led organization located in
Phoenix, Arizona. The organization describes itself this way:
We're grassroots, nonpartisan and all about organizing Arizonans, face-to-face. We
people their first taste of delicious democracy, develop new leaders and use
person-to-person politics to move the Grand Canyon State forward. Not just left or
right, but forward.
La Machine says it’s changing the math – by getting more young people of color
voting, advocating, and getting elected. La Machine is helping youth gain a
collective political voice across the state of Arizona by making democracy cool.
And they are spreading their impact beyond Arizona – this year they are
supporting campaigns in Las Vegas, Nevada.
THE BLUEPRINT: HOW LA MACHINE WORKS
La Machine trains and empowers youth leaders:
La Machine provides high school and college students the chance to become a
leader in their communities.
La Machine runs a year-round hands-on leadership development program - a
boot camp for grassroots politics.
Young people learn how to be citizen lobbyists, how to run a field campaign, and
how to engage their peers in the democratic process.
La Machine teaches youth how democracy works and how to use it:
La Machine holds elected officials accountable on issues that matter to youth.
La Machine stages forums for youth to identify the issues that are top-of-mind for
them followed by peer training on how to interact with their locally elected officials
and how to draft, lobby, and pass legislation that impacts the issues of their
TOOLS FOR YOU: SUCCESSFUL IDEAS FROM LA MACHINE
Recruiting through word-of-mouth, social media, social events and presentations
at schools, boys and girls clubs and community organizations
Training an army of volunteers to register voters and turn out voters to the polls
Conducting a voter registration pub crawl
Staging a phone-bank fiesta
Going to concerts to distribute and collect pledge-to-vote postcards
Collective decision-making on what projects, campaigns and candidates to
Meeting regularly with stakeholder partners and community leaders
MORE TOOLS TO HELP YOU TAKE ACTION:
Phone banking tips: http://rtvote.com/2d5WIK6
Guide for organizing a voter registration drive: http://rtvote.com/2d5Wgf2
How to find volunteers: http://bit.ly/2d5WQJL
Creating volunteer superstars: http://bit.ly/2d5XAhR
Promoting a culture of voting: http://bit.ly/2d5XcQI
To find out more about the work of La Machine Contact:
2401 N Central Ave #2.
Phoenix, AZ 85004 602-300-5308
Humanizing America is part of The Pluribus Project's Narrative Collaboratory.
The Narrative Collaboratory is providing witness to the reality that many Americans in
communities across the country are finding ways to come together to create real
change. The Narrative Collaboratory is a platform for generating and propagating new
narratives of citizen voice and efficacy, coupled with the tools of power and action that
others can use. This Humanizing America discussion guide is one such tool for citizen
empowerment, so that Americans can envision that change is possible and how to
become a part of it.
To find out more about the work of the Narrative Collaboratory:
Questions About the Humanizing America
Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Futuro Media Group
361 West 125th Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10027
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