Access to a community media center may appear easy if you live in San Jose, but in other areas of the state and across the country, you might not even know what a community media center is or does because they no longer exist there. In California alone, 51 Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) centers were closed from 2007 to 2013.
On Monday March 24, CreaTV Executive Director, Suzanne St. John-Crane, City of San Jose Youth Voice Initiative Co-Lead, Rebecca Esparza and myself went up to the Capitol to testify in favor of the Assembly Joint Resolution 39 (AJR39). AJR39 urges Congress to allow states and their municipalities to decide on the best use of public, educational, and governmental (PEG) channel support in serving as a quality resource for community information and dialogue. The Resolution would lift PEG fund restriction for the use of capital expenses (equipment and maintenance), and allow the funds to pay for operational expenses as well (labor and administration).
Sue Buske from Alliance for Community Media, Suzanne St. John-Crane from CreaTV San Jose and Lisa Mastramico from the community media center in Long Beach made their case as witnesses in front of the Utilities and Commerce Committee at the Capitol after Assembly member Roger Hernandez introduced the Resolution.
For CreaTV San Jose, to lift the restriction means growing our staff, therefore expanding our reach and resources in the community. At the moment, there is enough capital money that is restricted and cannot be used to pay for staff. This leaves community media centers in a challenging fundraising race just to maintain operations.
It was a little nerve wracking to speak in front of the committee, but the power and need for advocacy is important. I was the first of 12 other people testifying in favor of the resolution. I spoke from our youth programs perspective. Allowing this resolution to pass would mean having trained staff to engage with community youth through digital media to tell their stories, to express themselves. In the end, that is what most youth wish, a platform on which to have an opinion, to have a say. A lot of the issues around youth violence and crime—as we hear during the Youth Empowering the Streets Show at CreaTV San Jose—come from the lack of self-expression. Youth would not only receive training and job skills, but would have an opportunity to build confidence through the exploration of their ideas and opinions.
In the end, having the flexibility to allocate the funds where we see fit will allow for an expansion of resources and a stronger voice from the community.
The Committee vote was 12-0 in favor of the Resolution. The next step for AJR 39 is going in front of the Assembly for a vote, then to Senate. If Senate approves, Congress will have the final say. Let’s continue to voice our support for this resolution. It is our community voice and the community is entitled to a platform in which to express our opinion.
Rosa is a recent UC Santa Cruz graduate where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Modern Literature. At UCSC, Rosa was also a journalist and layout designer for City on a Hill Press and Third World and Native American Student Press Collective, through which she developed a passion for media. She also wrote for Urbino Now through a study abroad program in Urbino, Italy where she fell in love with la vita italiana. After working in digital media projects with Santa Cruz elementary students, Rosa’s drive for education strengthened. She hopes to serve under resourced and under represented students in developing confidence and skills needed through media and project-based learning in order to succeed and become leaders in their communities. Aside from her love of writing, drawing, and Mexican Folklórico dance, Rosa enjoys traveling and trying new food.