Home arrow Our Work arrow Common Boston - Youth Media Walks


The Common Boston Festival is an annual celebration of Boston's people, architecture, and distinct neighborhoods. Untravel's core philosophy of urban experience and storytelling is a great fit with the festival goals. In 2009 Untravel developed a walkable video series on the Big Dig and in 2010 the festival directors asked for Untravel's help in developing a video storytelling project for youth across the city, culminating in a mobile film festival during Common Boston 2010. Many teens had to work on short timelines and with limited equipment to develop their stories.

Untravel worked with local video and teen training experts to develop a lesson-based curriculum for youth after school programs. Untravel producers also worked closely with a dozen teens at the Maverick Landing Community Center in East Boston to develop a series of interconnected historical fiction pieces.

The fesival and community center directors were astounded at the speed and quality of the media developed. The students really dug the idea of building stories around spaces they were intimately familiar with. Untravel's students won the video competition and festival directors plan to make Youth Media Walks an ongoing feature of the festival.

About the Client

Common Boston is annual week-long festival that gives locals and visitors intimate access to less-visited Boston neighborhoods. Sponsored in part by the Boston Society of Architects, the festival sparks imaginative engagement with the past, current and future construction of Boston. The festival initially approached Untravel because they wanted to develop some exhibits that lasted the entire year, making our podcasts available year round on their website. They also found a strong afinity with our vision of social engagment through site-based storytelling.

Our Process

Storytelling Solution
Given limited time (8 weeks, meeting 4 hours per week) to develop four 3-minute vides and limited resources (still cameras and audio recoring only), Untravel initiated the production with walks through the neighborhood, identifying  potential storypoints and evocative spaces. From these key geographies, students defined the stories they wanted to tell and wrote scripts.  These individual scripts resolved into four interconnected narratives that played out over a mile walking path in the neighborhood. Students then recorded ambient sound and voiceover to go with their images. In an multi-track video editing program they combined these levels of media with music from the Creative Commons Free Music Archive and produced their final videos. The entire project was completed in 8 weeks and could be boiled down to a two-day workshop for future iterations.
Technical Solution
Common Boston wanted the videos available to a wide range of mobile devices and didn't want to charge for application download. Untravel helped them customize a YouTube playlist so that the videos would play back on a range of devices and include information on the geography and producers of the videos. For desktop browsers a Google Map was tagged with youth videos that could be played back directly on the map.
Marketing Solution
Common Boston used its existing relationship with the MBTA to get discount pricing to post ads for the walks in the subway cars over the summer. This brought city-wide exposure to the project and its development partners. The project was also promoted on the Common Boston web page and through Untravel's network of producers.


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