Community and Storytelling: Open Your Heart 2023

Every resident of East Boston has a story.

Many of those are family stories; immigrant stories; stories of entrepreneurship, struggle and small businesses; stories of struggle and triumph. This spring, in partnership with Hoopla Productions, our radio students had the chance to learn, embody and perform some of those stories through the Open Your Heart project.

Preparation began in the winter, as our students interviewed local community figures like Fernando Rosas of Bono Boston and Sandra Aleman Nijjar of the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen. The work of casting, writing, editing and rehearsing took place over many weeks throughout the spring semester.

Part of the project involved on-location visits to important places, including La Casa del Pandebono, Fernando’s restaurant (which has catered many delicious events for ZUMIX!).

As spring arrived, the students moved their rehearsals outside, and practiced embodying the people whose stories they were telling onstage.v They rehearsed with Brittany Thomas, ZUMIX Director of Creative Media & Technology; Hoopla Productions director Mindy Fried; and several adult storytellers who participated in the project.


The project culminated in a beautiful presentation at City Hall Plaza on June 30. ZUMIX students, staff and sound technicians gathered with other participants to present the stories with grace and passion.


The evening ended with a joyful dance party at City Hall Plaza, as the stories and sounds – and deep community connections – lingered in the summer air.