Public Matters

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Public Matters is an interdisciplinary California-based social enterprise comprised of artists, media professionals and educators. We design and implement integrated new media, education and civic engagement projects that yield long-term community benefits. We offer consulting services in program design + implementation, curriculum development, cultural + visual production, new media, community-building and leadership development.

Public Matters’ work is distinctive for its creativity, depth, breadth and ability to create cross-sector partnerships between community organizations, academic institutions, neighborhood residents, youth and local municipalities.

Public Matters’ work spans a broad range of constituents and concerns: community building, economic development, neighborhood identity, youth leadership, and public health.


Through Neighborhood Narratives, Public Matters teaches residents and stakeholders how to be creative, critical, media-savvy problem solvers with a deep understanding of their neighborhoods. Neighborhood Narratives link story and community engagement with direct actions. They are innovative, place-based projects that build creative, civic and social capital in communities.

Driven by community interests, participation and needs, Neighborhood Narratives illuminate the history, character, conditions and questions of “meaning” in neighborhoods, while strategically advancing policy and advocacy efforts, educational programs, organizational capacity and community development. Through Neighborhood Narratives, participants deepen their sense of place, purpose, and involvement in their communities, and work in partnership to achieve shared goals.

The HyperCities Team presents at the MacArthur Foundation/HASTAC Digital Media + Learning Showcase, The Palmer House, Chicago, IL, April 16, 2009 (l-r: Todd Presner, Jan Reiff, Dean Abernathy, Reanne Estrada, Diane Favro, Mike Blockstein, Chris Johansen, Aquilina Soriano)

Public Matters receives a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Los Angeles, courtesy of Council President Eric Garcetti (CD-13). (l-r: Aquilina Soriano, Executive Director, Pilipino Workers’ Center; Ryan Carpio, Field Deputy, CD-13; Reanne Estrada and Mike Blockstein of Public Matters)

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Los Compadres owner José Aguilar, Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry (CD-9), and HEAC Youth Ambassadors (l-r: Adriana Moreno, Jessica Orellana, Britanni Dighero, Andrea Vazquez, Jonathan Contreras), Los Compadres Market Grand Re-Opening, December 2008.

“Choreographed Clean-Up”, production still from Señor Saludable (Mr. Healthy), a commercial promoting a new, improved, more healthy Los Compadres Market, shown at The Gatherers exhibit, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA

HEAC Youth Ambassadors + Program Coordinator Aurora Flores, Where Do I Get My 5? Premiere Screening, Los Angeles City Hall, November 2007.

Audience, Where Do I Get My 5? Premiere Screening, Los Angeles City Hall, November 2007.

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Mike Blockstein, Principal, is a visual artist and educator working in cross-disciplinary community-based public art projects that utilize a sense of place as a mechanism to address social, cultural and built environments. Connecting artistic processes, leadership development and civic engagement, he has created and led projects nationally with youth, community development and arts organizations. Among his projects is A Chinatown Banquet, a nationally recognized art, education, and leadership development project about Boston Chinatown in conjunction with the Asian Community Development Corporation. The former Executive Director of Southern Exposure, a San Francisco nonprofit artists’ organization,
and a former Board President of the National Association of Artists’ Organizations, Mike holds a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Reanne Estrada, Creative Director, is an internationally exhibiting visual artist whose diverse practice includes installation, performance, video and public art. She worked for nine years as an educator and in cause-related marketing, design, and curatorial programming at Creative Growth Art Center, an internationally recognized studio and gallery for artists with disabilities. Her public art projects emphasize a collaborative approach and focus on community narratives in Asian American communities. Reanne has an A.B. in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard University.

David Lawrence, Media Specialist, is a media artist, designer, producer, and researcher. He is a founding member of Stretcher, a collective of San Francisco Bay Area artists and art critics who have published an online art magazine since 2001. His works include award-winning radio documentary, books, laserdiscs, CD-ROMs, and interactive public space kiosks. While at Lucasfilm Ltd., he did groundbreaking research and production in the emerging field of interactive multimedia with partners including the National Geographic Society, the National Audubon Society, and Apple Computer, Inc. He holds a degree in Conceptual Design from San Francisco State University.

Ron Milam has over eleven years of successful experience in the nonprofit sector and provides consulting services for community sustainability-oriented organizations in the areas of fundraising, strategic planning, leadership development and campaign planning. Ron founded the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and served as its first Executive Director. Ron is a David Rimer Fellow at Los Angeles Social Venture Partners and also coordinates BikeSage, a network of experienced urban cyclists helping others discover the joys of bicycling in Los Angeles. Ron graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Planning, Public Policy and Management.

McCrae A. Parker is a youth development practitioner and media artist with nearly 15 years of experience designing, implementing and evaluating media, community service and advocacy projects. He is the Director of Youth Development and Training programs for Youth Radio. Previously, he was a Senior Associate for Children Now’s Children and the Media Program. He was a principal project coordinator and author of research, content analysis, policy analysis, and advocacy on representations of race, gender, youth and class in television programming, news content and emerging new media. McCrae studied Comparative Literature and Film Studies at Occidental College.

Rene Yung is an internationally exhibiting installation and public artist and designer, with a socially-engaged practice that specializes in cross-cultural, cross-generational community development. Ranging from drawing, installations to community-based projects, her work combines imagery, text, and sound in subtle relationships, to challenge and re-contextualize social and cultural assumptions. Rene has completed extensive public projects with senior, youth and immigrant populations. She received her B.A. in Art from Stanford University.


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