ST. PAUL, Minn. (Dec. 8, 2014) — Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) is excited to announce an important new project to preserve a unique community history in Saint Paul. Over the course of two years, SPNN will work to document the lives, experiences, and triumphs of the Hmong community in Minnesota. The project, Hmong Pioneers, will culminate in the premiere of an hour-long documentary film in May 2016.
In late 1975, Hmong refugees fleeing genocide in Laos began settling in Minnesota. Seeking safety from persecution, these Hmong pioneers faced many challenges as they created lives in their new community. Nearly forty years later the Hmong community is a deeply established part of the City of Saint Paul, and, as many of the grandchildren of those pioneers’ are now young adults, SPNN feels a sense of urgency to capture and preserve their stories. The SPNN Community Productions department will document the stories of these Hmong pioneers, so that their community’s foundational story can take its rightful place in our shared historical record.
On the heels of his successful 2012 web series, Market, SPNN staff producer David Zierott leads the project, with the assistance and guidance of other Hmong media makers and community members. For the next two years, David and his team will document a diverse array of Hmong cultural events and interview community members on their experiences as new immigrants to Minnesota. An additional team of youth interns from the Hmong community are also assisting in the production, getting the opportunity to meet with community elders and learn their history.
Generously funded by the Voqal Fund, the Saint Paul Foundation, and the F.R. Bigelow Foundation, Hmong Pioneers will capture, share and preserve a unique Saint Paul success story – an unfinished one, certainly – but one that has so far proven to be remarkably impactful. By preserving oral history interviews, by creating and sharing an hour long documentary film, and by engaging Hmong youth and elders in this effort we will ensure that this story can be passed down to future generations, as well as understood and celebrated by our entire community.
SPNN is proud to be an asset to the community, offering valuable locally produced content alongside other services, including training, youth programming, and CTEP AmeriCorps. SPNN is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) community media center serving Saint Paul, MN and the Twin Cities metro area. The mission is to empower people to use media and communications to better lives, use authentic voice and build common understanding.