Today's articles about restorative justice in public schools represent a new partnership for The Bee. This time teenagers are helping us report the news.
Partnerships are not new for us. In recent years, we've teamed with several organizations on journalistic efforts. Just last week, we commemorated Veterans Day with excerpts from oral histories compiled by Fresno State students.
In January, we published a series of articles on Spain's high-speed rail system to give Californians a look at what we might expect here. That project was funded by a dozen California news organizations coordinated by California Watch, a non-profit investigative journalism team.
In September, we published an investigative article on the troubled New Millennium charter school by Fresno State advanced reporting students with additional research and fact-checking by Bee reporter Heather Somerville (now a reporter for the Contra Costa Times).
Today we introduce a partner with a younger perspective: The kNOw Youth Media. The kNOw is all about helping young people find their voices through writing, photography and art. The organization produces a bi-annual youth magazine as well as regular Web content at theknowfresno.org.
The kNOw operates under the umbrella of New America Media, a network of ethnic and youth media organizations including Richmond Pulse, Silicon Valley De-Bug and Coachella Unincorporated.
My co-editor on this project was Anna Jacobsen, director of The kNOw, a young Fresno State graduate with a passion for empowering youth. She works out of an office in west Fresno near Edison High School.
"I love seeing them learn that their voices actually matter and learning the tools to get what they care about to a larger audience," Jacobsen said.
To read The kNOw, the group's twice-yearly magazine, or to visit theknowfresno.org is to get a glimpse into the lives and thoughts of teenagers, many from Fresno's toughest neighborhoods. These are the kids behind the stereotypes.
They write about hard topics like domestic violence they've witnessed, the incarceration of a family member, living with diabetes or surviving rape. And they write about those universal teenage woes, like the lure of junk food.
These kids are earnest, and the word that keeps coming to my mind is "heart." Stories are honest, raw and sometimes heartbreaking. They give a heartfelt perspective that I think needs to be heard.
The kNOw holds public forums and focus groups on issues such as restorative justice, health and public transit. Members also conduct weekly writing workshops at Juvenile Hall. Stories from incarcerated youth sometimes appear in a weekly magazine, "The Beat Within," that works with a number of similar efforts, mostly around the West.
Funding comes from the California Endowment as part of its Building Healthy Communities initiative. That's a natural fit, Jacobsen explains.
"The health of a community really depends on how easily information is accessed," she said. And more than that, as any writer knows, writing "impacts the person who's actually writing.
The next issue of The kNOw magazine will publish in December. You can find it at all Fresno County public library branches and at hair salons, barber shops and coffee shops throughout Fresno. Or check out their website at theknowfresno.org.
Making It Right: Restorative justice
Betsy Lumbye is executive editor and senior vice president of The Bee. She can be reached at (559) 441-6207 or email@example.com