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City youth aim to improve downtown

August 12, 2004 . Local . Page 1L

Students and recent grads get involved in "City Prototype."
 
By Ashley Smith, The News-Sentinel
 
Assignment: Find fun in the Fort. Fort Wayne, that is.
 
Wednesday, 17 high school students and recent graduates took out their video cameras and hit downtown to answer the question, "What is there to do in Fort Wayne?" The video project was part of the first "City Prototype," which began Tuesday and runs through Saturday. Brainchild of Janette Luu, reporter on WPTA, Channel 21, and citizen Matt Stuart, the City Prototype's mission aims to get students to share their visions for the future of Fort Wayne.
 
"A lot of people like talking about what to do downtown. We're a group that just decided to do something about it," said Scott Hill, a member of City Prototype's advisory board. Hill, a South Side English teacher, handpicked most of the students.
 
"I tried to pick kids who I knew were free thinkers," Hill said. "I tried to pick loud kids, kids that had something to say."
 
Said Luu, "I just thought it was really important to get the high school students. They are our future. We need to make an effort to keep them here."
 
Recent graduate David Skalicky, junior Eddie Blue and German exchange student Sebastian Arnoldt made up one of the five groups. With only a camera and a three-hour time limit, this director, producer and actor trio set out in search of an idea. After a few beginning shots, they began to walk around downtown, asking folks, "What is there to do downtown?"
 
The question was met with responses such as, "nothing," and "You can tell us." So the trio went out in search of fun themselves. They walked to Coney Island, rode the trolley and ventured into local shops.
 
"I grew up with the impression that there's nothing to do downtown," Blue said. "But there are so many little shops. You just have to keep your eyes open."
 
Later Wednesday, the groups reunited at Higher Grounds, 101 W. Wayne St., to watch their videos. And their conclusions? They want more free or low-cost hangouts around town. They want the city to preserve its history. They want more signature hang-outs.
 
"I guess I would like to see more of those quaint places where you can sit and chill and listen to some tunes," Blue said.
 
On Saturday, the students will see their visions reach new heights when the videos are aired on big screens at Pop Filter around Main Street. The multimedia event caps off the public-art project.
 
"I just wanted to give them a voice," Luu said. "As teenagers, they can't go into the clubs. The kids are saying that they want to do something." The students were also taken up to the Summit Club atop the National City Center, to get a new perspective of the city and eat a free lunch.
 
"The view was awesome," said South Side junior Anne Spath. "I didn't know how much land there was. It was a beautiful sight."
 
All of the equipment used for Wednesday's activities was donated by Science Central's Sci-Tech Studios, 1950 N. Clinton St. The studio hopes to take the students' footage and transform it into a documentary that will air at a later date on public access television.
 
CITY PROTOTYPE SCHEDULE

Here's what's on tap the rest of the week for the City Prototype youth project.
 
Today, Prototype Product Launch - "We engineer our lives," 7-10 p.m. at Avant-Garde Gallery, 1301 Lafayette St. Northeast Indiana Innovation Center sponsors unveiling of Kinosynth, a brain-imaging device.
 
Friday, Prototype Storefronts - "The city is ours," noon-10 p.m. at The Landing and at Midtowne Crossing. Empty retail space is converted into virtual storefronts and a studio and gallery.
 
Saturday-Sunday, Prototype Immersive Experience - Pop Filter, 8 p.m. -2 a.m. at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and in the 300 block of Main Street. Multimedia art event. Admission is $10 in advance, $15 day of event.
 
Illustration:PHOTO
Caleb Schloss-Maxson, 16, foreground, and other members of a production team shot a video as part of the City Prototype program, designed to give students the chance to share their vision for the future of Fort Wayne. Also pictured, from right: David Burkhart, 17, Greg Solon, 17, Tim Solon, 17, and David Skalicky, seated in the chair. 
Photo By Ellie Bogue of The News-Sentinel