The foundation of a place is its local culture: the stories, struggles, and triumphs that those in a community share and cherish. But where does that culture come from? How do we encourage people to be self-aware about their surroundings, to document, create, and ultimately change the course of their world?

It’s something that I’ve thought about a lot since I began writing Just Up The Pike nearly eight years ago. But it’s also the mission of the Gandhi Brigade, a youth media organization in downtown Silver Spring whose director, Richard Jaeggi, passed away Sunday. He was an adult with a strong voice in our community, but he gave it to young people who otherwise might not get heard.

The Gandhi Brigade started in 2005, right around the time the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring finally took hold. Its mission was to prepare young people to take part in their communities through the creation of art and media, hence the motto “Youth Media with a Focus.”

It was good timing for them, and for Silver Spring, which had newly emerged as a hangout for teens from all over the region. With Richard’s guidance, the organization gave those kids access to cameras, art supplies, training on how to use them and a bully pulpit. From a storefront in the otherwise dead City Place Mall, the Gandhi Brigade has weighed in on everything from skateboarding to gun violence to national immigration policy.

[Continue reading Dan Reed’s post at Just Up the Pike.]

Dan Reed blogs at Just Up the Pike. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.