A community program based on a simple, age-old process ‒ people learning from one another through the oral tradition. There are stories, insights, perspectives and facts within all of us. And, all too often, we take little time to share them.
Crossing Fences is a project of SLB Radio Productions and is made possible by the African American Men and Boys Initiative of The Heinz Endowments. Year 2018 projects were also made possible with support from:
and Bistro To Go & Company, New Pittsburgh Courier, and Jonas Chaney, Community Affairs Director WPXI-TV. The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the individual represented and do not necessarily reflect those of The Heinz Endowments or any collaborating organization.
Since 2012, SLB has worked with local community centers to bring together African American male students to acquire and document stories from African American men raised, living or working in their neighborhood. The Crossing Fences process requires that participating students work hard as they:
- Discuss the meaning of role models and mentors
- Identify men in their neighborhood they’d like to know more about
- Learn about interviewing, digital recording and audio editing
- Work in small groups to interview neighborhood men about their lives, career paths, triumphs and challenges
- Listen to and edit audio they’ve acquired
- Write and record reflections based on the interview
The project requires dedication and a commitment of 40 to 50 hours per student. Work is done during the summertime. At the conclusion of their work, each student receives a tablet or laptop computer in gratitude for the summertime hours they have volunteered and for their hard work in giving voice to others.
As shown below, Crossing Fences has been brought to three communities each year. The resulting audio for each community is published in a multimedia book and released at citywide and community celebrations designed to reunite participants, share stories across as well as within the neighborhoods, and let the general public know about the availability of these powerful stories. Stories, reflections and photographs for each neighborhood are also distributed via public radio, SLB StoryBox kiosks in libraries and community centers and this website. Smartphone, tablet and computer users can hear or subscribe to the Crossing Fences Podcast via all major podcast systems, including iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Pocketcast, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Google Play, or our web player. Select one of the locations below to see photos and listen to audio clips: