Transmedia Story-Telling

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Wranglers: Sam and Meryl

The Team:

  • Meryl Alper
  • Chi Zhang
  • Rook Campbell
  • Ben Caldwell
  • Sam Close

Our Goal:

This project addresses the critical need to preserve and revitalize the history, culture, and commerce of Leimert Park and the Crenshaw Corridor. By transforming payphones into wi-fi jukeboxes and installing them in local businesses, we hope to connect tourists and locals alike with the incredible people, places, and stories in Leimert-Crenshaw.

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Artist's rendering of Sankofa Search website

How We Do This:

The business hosting the phonebooth receives the sticker below for their window, letting anyone walking by know there is wi-fi available inside. When customers come into the store, they put a quarter into the phonebooth slot, activating a set period of wi-fi for the immediate area.

The Sankofa Search website pops up as the homepage whenever people log into the wi-fi. The website guides them through the neighborhood in search of Sankofa birds, which indicate locations where stories can be heard or told. The Sankofa stickers, murals, or statues are placed throughout the neighborhood at businesses, event locations, parks, and important spots for local history.

Once people find a Sankofa, they can scan the QR code on the bird's egg to reach the location-specific page for that Sankofa on the website, or they can call the number listed under the Sankofa to hear the stories archived for that location. They can also upload stories themselves in the form of pictures or writing uploaded to the website or recording their voice right into the phone.

The website acts as a living repository of stories about the neighborhood, collectively narrated by anyone who participates in the Sankofa Search, stumbled upon a good story, or met someone interesting in Leimert Park and the Crenshaw Corridor.

Connecting to the Community:

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Artist's rendering of how Sankofa will look around Leimert Park

Our project helps local businesses by drawing in traffic, both to use the wi-fi and in search of stories. The business owners who host the phonebooths can also use them to access the internet. The Sankofa scattered around the neighborhood can be created by local artists or the business owners themselves, adding to beautification and visual interest in the landscape.

The business that hosts the phonebooth wi-fi jukebox needs to have an ethernet cord wired to their building. The money collected from the payphone will go towards covering the cost of internet service.

This project is inspired by the work other major cities are also doing to revitalize the defunct public phones dotting the urban landscape. It combines two projects in New York City, Recalling 1993 and payphone wi-fi hotspots, to both benefit local business and connect to the rich local history and culture. We're also drawing on the spirit of London's project of asking local artists to re-design red payphone booths as art installations by spreading Sankofa art pieces around the neighborhood. No other such projects are currently happening in Los Angeles, and this gives Leimert Park and Crenshaw a chance to really lead the city in urban design.

Sneak Peek at Our Concept Video: