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Maegan Ortiz's picture

There are more than 11 Million undocumented people living, working, and dreaming in the USA. We need to hear their voices and stories loud and clear during the debates over immigration policy reform. Those voices, reflections of lived experiences, should be centered and uplifted.

On October 5th and 6th, in Los Angeles, Boston and everywhere where immigrants and their allies want to share their stories, there will be an event focusing on connecting those stories with tech and media tools.

Immigrants, their children, and allies already have the stories. They exist in lived experiences often left out of the immigration reform conversation. These stories about mothers, sisters, brothers, students, and laborers humanize the conversation about immigration reform and that is why amplifying those stories is critical.

During the two-day #11MillionDreams Storython, we will gather together to learn how to record, edit, and share immigration stories across the internet, in the alternative media, in the mass media, and among organizations and individuals, using the hashtag #11MillionDreams.

All too often, organizations and the mass media narratives on immigration are built around talking points and neat categories. Immigrants are model minority Ivy leaguers who are “just like us”, assimilated entrepreneurs poised to make the United States exceptional financially and technologically. They are the soldiers who fight in other countries or who want to. Immigrants are narrowly racialized and ethnicized. They are painted as overwhelmingly heterosexual and cisgender. Those who do not fit into boxes or whose stories intersect across issues are often siloed or silenced.

We want to tell stories that include all 11 million undocumented folks: Dreamers, their parents, their children, in order to challenge narratives that attack, divide, and conquer. We also plan to gather media makers of various kinds, including journalists, filmmakers, artists, designers, technologists, musicians, and more to collaborate and share their skills with others via formal and informal workshops. Some of the workshops scheduled include using your cell phone to create and share stories, intro to blogging, and creating visual and audio stories.

The work will not end at the end of the storython weekend. If participants agree, we are going to create a storybase where people will be able to search by keywords, topics, themes, and geographic location. These stories can also be shared with legislators and with a broader audience via email, social media and traditional media.  Some stories could be incorporated into campaigns. The possibilities are endless and demonstrate that connecting media and tech skills with storytelling can be an organizing and activist tool.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and want to participate, visit us on October 5th and 6th at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center. If you are in the Boston area, visit us on October 5th and 6th at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. Even if you can’t make it to a physical event, you can still participate by sharing your own story as part of #11MillionDreams.

Create your story, upload it wherever you like (for example, YouTube, Tumblr, your blog), then post the link to our facebook, send us an email, or tweet using the #11MillionDreams hashtag. You can also send a sms or mms (picture message) from your phone to, or call +1 (866) 561-0056 to record your audio story. Contact the organizers, and join in the planning. If there’s no event near you, get in touch and we’ll help you plan your own!

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