11/30 Youth is a youth-driven first-person storytelling project that showcases the voices and stories of individuals who call Chambersburg home, presenting a fuller picture of the community for the community.
We aim to support the development of first-person narratives, particularly among young, marginalized individuals who are rarely heard or seen in the mainstream media and to bring people together to listen to and learn from the wide array of stories that Chambersburg residents tell themselves.
11/30 Youth offers these story collections to community partners as op-eds and testimonials to further social justice work in the community.
Madison Mellinger, Co-Director
I am a junior at Princeton University studying Public Affairs with a particular focus on rural communities. I was born in Hagerstown, MD and lived in Waynesboro, PA as a small child. I moved to my grandma’s house in Chambersburg with my mother in 3rd grade and have grown up here since.
I am excited about this project because it allows us to imagine what news and creative media can look like when it is created by local residents for local residents. By working on this project, I hope that our community can learn to be more just and loving by hearing about current events and “hot topics” through the voices of our own neighbors, building trust and understanding across identities. I think many of my peers at Princeton fail to realize the nuances of Appalachia, something I try to combat with evidence from Chambersburg. I try to emphasize in my stories of home that Chambersburg is not all white and conservative and saying so actually discredits the amazing work of our local activists of color. I believe this project will showcase the true faces of rural Central Pennsylvania and inspire others, both inside and outside the region, to join us on our path toward a more just world.
When I’m home, I love eating at Falafel Shack, Hickory Ridge (my first job!), Gearhouse, and Big Oak. I like to work on school projects at Coyle Free Library and think about attending workshops and checking out books there when I was younger. I also enjoy roller skating at Norlo Park and hiking in the mountains. One of my favorite places in Chambersburg is the apple orchard behind my house where my mom and I walk our dogs.
LeShan Wilkinson, Co-Director
I am a junior political science student at Temple University interested in public service and public policy. I was born in Germantown, MD, and moved to Chambersburg when I was four years old. My mother and father raised my two siblings and I, who have all shown me the importance of patience, serving others, and being kind. These four people are my rock.
I joined the Youth Collaborative to be a part of a group that will help accurately reflect the voices of all members in our community. I am confident that our work will be a bridge for understanding between community members through the perspectives of our very own family, friends, and neighbors. I have noticed that people not familiar with the greater Chambersburg area believe that it is a place that lacks diversity and culture. Chambersburg is unique and through our work, I hope the11/30 Youth Collaborative will act as a resource and a platform to showcase the numerous features, perspectives, and voices that are hidden in my hometown.
Erika Kitzmiller, Advisor
I am a historian of race, inequality, and education and a Term Assistant Professor in Education at Barnard College, Columbia University. My first book, The Roots of Educational Inequality: Philadelphia and Germantown High School, 1907 – 2014, will be published with the University of Pennsylvania Press in December 2021.
I grew up in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and am a proud graduate of its public schools. Despite the stereotypes that circulate about rural communities, I credit Chambersburg educators, neighbors, and friends for my belief that the world can be a more equitable and just place for everyone. I am thrilled to be a part of this innovative project to shed light on the progressive rural voices and support the youth from my hometown who I have no doubt will change the world just by being part of it.
I live in New York City with my husband and two young children. We love to run around the city and to rest in the Pennsylvania mountains that always make me feel at home.
Steven Goss, Advisor
I am a higher education faculty and administrator. As an educator my teaching interests include art practice, information design, web development, and online education. As an administrator, my focus is on adult education, authentic teaching practices, professional studies, and digital learning. While my role in this project is centered on project design and development, I feel very connected to the project’s goals and mission, as I spent my formative years in Altoona, PA. I am inspired by the young leaders who have taken the lead on this project, demonstrating how important their voice is for the growth and vision of the community they present, both regionally and state-wide.