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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Courtesy of The Collective Impact Podcast

Community and conversation: What the Collective Impact Podcast hopes to achieve

What began as an internship has turned into a passion project for first year students working on the Collective Impact Podcast.

A new student-run podcast, which launched this February, aims to give a platform to Madison residents in marginalized communities. "The process of getting here has been one filled with learning and excitement," said Mina Yildiz, a first-year University of Wisconsin-Madison student and the host of the Collective Impact Podcast, which released its first non-demo episode on Feb. 21. 

“I feel like my story is often overlooked when people have conversations with me or meet me — where I am now, people don’t recognize the process of my life to have got to that moment,” said Yildiz.

Yildiz spoke of her many identities — a woman of color, someone with chronic health conditions and an immigrant — Yildiz details how those marginalized communities change how she experiences events. Yildiz says, "Sharing stories is a way for people to build collective understanding."

“[And] by allocating that collective identity, you can make these new human connections, these new relationships and new ambitions in wanting to make the world in a way that promotes understanding, prompts love and promotes positivity in a way I think society needs a little bit more of,” Yildiz explained.

Through the Collective Impact Podcast, Yildiz and Quinn Henneger — also a first-year student — highlight the diversity of experiences in the Madison community. Yildiz is the host and founder of the podcast, while Henneger works on its social media and promotion. 

“I have parts of my identity that are marginalized a lot, and so seeing how those identities have intertwined with each other and seeing how I’m treated in different places has definitely inspired myself to raise those who are in historically marginalized communities, to make sure their voice is heard — having them on the podcast, saying what they want to say,” Henneger said.

Making Collective Impact

Collective Impact is the product of internships Yildiz and Henneger have with the Associated Students of Madison (ASM), UW-Madison’s student governance body. While visiting her grandparents in Turkey, Yildiz was inspired to make a community-focused project on campus. 

“I knew that I wanted to create a project from the ground up, and I learned about grassroot initiatives,” she said. “When I came back, I jotted down a rough idea of the Collective Impact Podcast.”

When ASM sent out an email soliciting applicants for a grassroots organizing internship, “it really was kind of a miracle,” Yildiz added. 

“It’s like, okay, this is something that I want to do, and now there is an internship that can provide resources and help facilitate that for me,” she said. 

Henneger began working with Yildiz after hearing about her work and taking interest in it. They had prior experience in social media management, which lent well to the collaboration between them and Yildiz. 

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“A big part of the podcast is for it to reach as many people as possible,” Henneger said. “I jumped on the project and became a collaborator and just took over the social media aspect.” 

Both Yildiz and Henneger took courses on ideas surrounding community and social change prior to working on the podcast. Yildiz said this experience and other relationships she built early on helped create the connections necessary for building Collective Impact.

Prior to working with Henneger, Yildiz published an initial demo episode interviewing Justice Castañeda, a doctoral candidate focusing on the impact housing policy, community violence and economic development have on youth outcomes. This initial experience, combined with bringing in Henneger, helped develop the podcast’s vision, according to Yildiz.

Yildiz works under Castañeda, executive director at the Commonwealth Development, a non-profit, by “supporting and preserving the vitality of neighborhoods in the Madison Metropolitan area.” Castañeda shared “little parts of his story” during Yildiz’s employment, and hearing those stories made her want to better understand his story and share it with the public. 

“Who is this person on a deeper level? What have they been through, and how did they get where they are now,” were the questions that came to Yildiz’s mind before seeking to interview Castañeda for the podcast.

In the demo episode, Castañeda shares his story with Yildiz. Much of it centers around his continuous educational development, which occurred despite difficulties with living accommodations, family and the law. 

“I barely graduated high school,” Castañeda said during the episode. 

The demo episode provided a valuable base for Yildiz to learn from, and lessons learned from it have been implemented into her creative process, she explained. 

“During the process of interviewing [Castañeda] and then making it public to everyone, it was a huge learning experience for me — I just found his story very inspirational, and it was definitely one of the major points of why I began the project,” Yildiz said.

The process of creating a podcast from pre-interviewing a subject to publication takes about a month, Yildiz said. Moving forward, she and Henneger plan to release one episode per month. 

Yildiz already feels a sense of growth in her work on the podcast and noticed a difference between the demo episode with Castañeda and the first official episode with Aaron Bird Bear, UW-Madison’s former and first director of tribal relations.

“I’m learning these skills. I’ve never really put myself out there, I’ve never really had a social media platform in a way where I kinda expose myself to the public. I wanted to use media platforms in a way to facilitate other people and make sure that they’re uplifted, that their stories are heard,” Yildiz said. “That’s what makes any project fun, the process.”

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Liam Beran

Liam Beran is the Campus News Editor for The Daily Cardinal and a third-year English major. Throughout his time at the Cardinal, he's written articles for campus, state and in-depth news. Follow him on Twitter at @liampberan.

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