The Buffalo Youth Media Institute, one of Squeaky Wheel’s featured youth programs, aims to challenge and intrigue students in grades 8-12 for 3 months every summer. This year the program gave students the tools to create their own documentaries through partnerships with PUSH Buffalo, Journey’s End, Buffalo First and Preservation Buffalo Niagara. The focus of this year's program is Buffalo's up-and-coming West Side. Students explored the pervasive issues of pollution, illiteracy, and poverty, as well as featuring some of the unique grassroots businesses found on the West side, i.e. Ethiopian and Italian restaurants, bakeries, and bookshops. This kind of community awareness and unity is precisely what BYMI is meant to capture, and it has been an exceptional summer.
Matt Rousselle//Guercio & Sons
Guercio & Sons is an Italian market on Grant Street in Buffalo’s West Side. It has been providing the community with the finest imported and domestic produce, meats, and cheeses for the past 52 years. In my documentary, I pay homage to the market’s rich history, how it kindles a sense of Italian heritage in Buffalo, and the reasons for its vitality despite changes to the city around it. I hope to impart this message through interviews of the people that have worked there for decades, and through filming the daily goings-on.
Hugh Brown//Clean Air Coalition
“The Coalition” is a documentary about pollution on Buffalo’s West Side. The cause of the pollution is the Peace Bridge, one of the few bridges from the USA to Canada. Big, fuel-burning trucks cross the bridge all day, expelling enough exhaust to cause asthma in West Side residents. I interview people from the Clean Air Coalition, a non-profit organization committed to helping Buffalo fight against the elected officials that make decisions that allow pollution. I find out how this organization is trying to save the people of Buffalo.
Emma Hulsing//West Side Stories
My documentary is about the high rate of illiteracy on the West Side of Buffalo, New York. The focus is a small shop on Grant st. called West Side Stories. They sell used books as part of a mission to help both refugees from foreign countries and illiterate people learn to read. They don’t sell any book for over ten dollars as a way to make reading more accessible. They also give anyone who comes into the store, and is learning to read a free dictionary.
Olivia Long//Sweet_Ness 7
My documentary is about the community inside Sweet_Ness 7, a café on Grant St. Prish Moran bought the vacant building out of the blue one day in 2007, and has owned it ever since. She knew she wanted to help the West Side community, made up mostly of immigrants, and this was her way of doing just that. Since then she has opened another location on Parkside, which is also helping the community. The café has customers from all over Buffalo, not just West-Siders. Their fresh food, kind employees, and hard work helps to establish a welcoming vibe to anyone who walks in
Lauren Killian//Sweet_Ness 7
My documentary is about the Sweet_Ness 7 café located on Grant St. I picked this café because it has so much life to it. I will be focusing on how it appreciates and benefits the community. The West Side is a big place and Sweet_Ness 7 is smack in the middle of it.
Will Stott//Five Points Bakery
My documentary is focused on Five Points Bakery. It provides a view of what the bakery does for its community and why they are so involved. The documentary will give multiple perspectives on the bakery and bring them together for one cohesive conclusion.
Jack Nix//You and Who T-Shirts
My documentary is about You and Who T-Shirts. You and Who is a company located on Main Street in North Buffalo. Dan Gigante, the creator of You and Who, was inspired by an interview with the creator of Toms shoes. You and Who donates to shelters in need of t shirts. Summer wear is often needed. You and Who donates a shirt every time they sell one.
Noah G. Williams//Religious Arts Center
My topic is the Religious Arts Center. The center preserves artwork from abandoned or closing churches. Rather than auctioning off the pieces, the center keeps all the art in Buffalo. At the end of the day, Buffalo’s historical art stays in the city in which it belongs.
Eli J. Jackson//West Side Bazaar
I am doing a documentary film on the West Side Bazaar, which is on the corner of West Ferry and Grant in Buffalo’s West Side. The Bazaar employs several immigrants and refugees from a wide array of countries. The Bazaar allows these people to integrate into their new American surroundings while also being able to market their cultural goods.