Youth Media | Stories

Making Breakthrough Media: Interview with Mohammed Nurull

Mohammed Nurull (Educator), London

Sharing the unique power of digital storytelling with young people is Mohammed Nurull Islam’s passion and stock in trade. He co-founded the Mile End Community Project to give youth in East London a creative outlet and purpose, bringing them together around issues, such as race relations and accessibility, that affect the community deeply. The work is campaign-driven and visionary – media making tied to extensive social and exhibition strategies for impact. It’s young people upending perceptions, on a mission to redress their public image and write their own stories.

Creativity is used in everything we do – the way we walk, the clothes we wear, but most importantly the way we think. I want the young people I work with to think differently, to see things from different perspectives.

Twenty years ago Nurull began his journey in community work. He and a few volunteers set up Mile End Community Project (MCP) and it has flourished. The multi-awardwinning Mile End Community Project is built on a grassroots community organizing model, a model they integrate into their mediamaking. For instance, you can’t just make a video, they told the youth artists who created Deaf Not Dumb; you also need to organize a campaign for greater inclusion, to start a movement. Now, it’s an international phenomenon, and a generation of the deaf and hard of hearing are growing up with the film Deaf Not Dumb as a touchstone.

AYV has been honored to give Mile End Community Project media tools and support for their media programming. It’s a small organization with a vast reach. We’re so excited that they are taking their media work to the next level.

This interview with Nurull is our first in a series of stories to recognize the newly announced Adobe Youth Voices Creative Educator awardees.

What’s your vision for creativity in education?
I work with a wide range of young people including those not in education, employment, and training (NEET), as well as those in further/higher education and in employment. I want to help them to channel their energy into creative practices, and for those in further and higher education, to think creatively in any given subject.

What have been some of your most thrilling moments of media making?
I really do not know where to start – I am lucky to have been part of many media making projects with young people. I would say that seeing the participants involved in the HoodForts project win numerous competitions and film festivals was amazing. HoodForts Stereotypes won 6 awards in total; these include the Film of the Night at the Limelight Film Festival with a £10,000 production award.

The other thrilling moment is the Deaf not Dumb campaign, not just because it also won awards but because it was a great opportunity and experience for the participants. They went to the Adobe Youth Voices Summit. They also sent their positive message on raising deaf awareness out on a global scale.

What story of change do you want to share?
Deaf not Dumb. The local authority Tower Hamlets recognised the need to make changes to their policies for funding projects for hearing-impaired young people. One of our young people became the first deaf young person to be a judge in the local authorities Youth Opportunity Fund.

What brought you to teaching?
Slightly by accident, I and a few friends set up Mile End Commmunity Project in 1995 when we were teenagers ourselves. There were no youth provisions for out-of-school activities where we lived.

Over the years I found that young people wanted more from a youth centre than Playstation or table tennis. They expressed an interest in creative arts, though they didn’t realize this themselves at the time. I then actively searched for projects we could deliver that allowed our young people to get creative.

What’s your favorite tool?
Collaboration. It allows our past participants to connect with our current participants to discuss ideas, projects, and even business plans via online platforms.

Who do you follow for inspiration?
It’s a process… The young people and their ideas get me thinking who and what we could work with on the next project. Then it’s the industry creatives, editors, photographers, bankers, accountants, etc. We work with a range of organisations to help us produce the projects and environment required to deliver our projects. Working with them and learning about their practices inspires me to think more creatively.

Why do media making and creativity matter?
Creativity is used in everything we do, the way we walk, the clothes we wear but most importantly the way we think. I want the young people I work with to think differently, see things from different perspectives.

The media making is the fun part, getting your work shown on various media platforms. At the same time it’s a powerful tool, allowing your ideas to connect with people across continents.

What are you hopeful about for the next generation?
From the perspective of the Mile End Community Project, I want them to go beyond the levels experienced by their older peers. I want them to set new targets of creatively working with industry professionals for potential longer term relationships, with the goal of securing a good job to gain experience and then to have the confidence to set something up themselves.

Growing up with the advancement of technology, the next generation will have the opportunity to be part of major change, whether in education, health, environment or even entertainment. I am confident their ideas and experience with technology at such a young age will impact how they grow.

POST DATE: October 14, 2013
AUTHOR: Wendy Rivenburgh

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