We were delighted to catch up with Pablo Herrera Marin, storyteller, cultural promoter and educator, passionate about helping youth and communities thrive through inclusive multimedia storytelling.
How did you end up where you are today?
After finishing my master’s degree in Barcelona, Spain, I began using multimedia storytelling to give communities a voice. My first enterprise was to create the “miniFILM Festival” which promoted the use of digital cameras for short film productions. The festival was a success with a high level of participation in Spain and Latin America and received strong press coverage. During its 5 year run, the “miniFILM Festival” showcased incredible stories about the communities involved, raising awareness of social issues and building bridges between creators and the general public.
This early experience in my career made me understand the importance of encouraging the use of digital tools for community development. As a result, I co-founded Colectivo Piloto, a non-profit organization which advances community participation and fosters youth development through inclusive multimedia storytelling. Since then, I have been advancing progressive causes and education by partnering with educational centers, NGOs and government agencies in Latin America, Spain and the U.S. to develop media literacy initiatives across public schools, advancing media production startups championed by youth entrepreneurs, creating film festivals to advance youth filmmakers and mentoring young people in their journey as storytellers.
What is the most meaningful part of your job?
I spent the last 20 years of my life working aside community members and young people in Argentina, Spain and the U.S., creating and sharing stories to advance youth citizen participation and voice culturally diverse perspectives. The most meaningful part of my work as an educator is to advance critical thinkers and cultivate active citizens as both consumers and creators.
What drives you to give back?
My vision of education is holistic. I grew up in an Italian immigrant family in Argentina and was able to attend University thanks to the free and universal higher education system that exists in my country. This was a gift that I have to pay back.
I give back by mentoring, designing and promoting educational initiatives to advance critical thinking skills with students more than any other thing, because I believe in the power of knowledge to overcome barriers and thrive. That knowledge comes through the stories that we tell; and those stories have to explore the world as it is, including all its contradictions and complexities and have to show and celebrate the richness of its diversity. In other words, those stories should be inclusive.
What’s an urgent issue facing education?
I think that the biggest issue facing education today is the mistake to believe that education exists only for individual development, especially in the U.S. Standards focused purely on individual gain minimize the importance of soft skills such as social development for the collective good. Lack of investment in public education and extreme commodification of higher education do not help collective development either. We need to rethink education as an essential vehicle for communities to thrive, rather than a unique commodity for individuals to succeed. In the U.S. it is particularly worrisome to see that something similar happens with the health care system. It is crucial to refocus our efforts on the common good, which in the long run will also secure our success as individuals.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
While living in Spain, I was hired by the City of Barcelona to address the lack of youth engagement for cultural and extra curricular activities promoted by the Department of Youth Affairs at the Garcilaso Youth Community Center. The Garcilaso Youth Community Center is an important cultural and digital media creation hub, serving a population of 25K youth, ages 14-25.
Under the first year of my leadership, youth participation grew by 35% and kept thriving at the same yearly pace for the next 5 years. This was possible by implementing a strategic plan designed to scale youth participation through extra-curricular activities linked to their social/emotional and professional development.
By launching pilot projects and studying and analyzing trajectory and results, activities and courses became more and more appealing to the youth, exceeding expectations. This was possible by designing innovative multimedia programs that fit youth expectations, involving teens from all backgrounds in the design of the projects to empower decision making and promote culturally diverse perspectives. This was also possible by engaging the community during the process and by nurturing strong partnerships with educational centers to provide training for youth. Finally, this was also possible by creating a work culture for people to thrive; where respect, cooperation, kindness and enthusiasm were at the core.
See his work on inclusive storytelling:
Follow his work:
Colectivo Piloto Website: https://www.colectivopiloto.org/
Personal Website: https://www.pabloherrera.me/
1000 Spotlights: Why We Give reflects our mission of giving back, to mentor and to inspire those around us.
Through a series of interview questions, we explore intrinsic motivations behind why we give, and talk with those inclined to make a difference in the lives of others. If you are involved in charitable activities, volunteer and paid academic engagements or in community service, we want to talk to you.
Write to us to nominate yourself or someone else who fits the bill.