Photo Slideshow: Palmer Reed (black skull cap), Quentin Williams (black jacket) and Victor Crawford want to spark a cultural renaissance in the village through youth-oriented multi-media programming. | William Camargo/Wednesday Journal
Friday, February 19, 2016 || By Michael Romain
“Nobody really gave me a chance as a kid,” said Palmer Reed, during a recent interview inside the Maywood Park District, 921 S. 9th Ave. The Maywood native is back in the place he grew up — but from the void of his childhood, he focuses on creating possibility for the children coming of age here and now.
“We’re kind of like Walt Disney,” said Victor Crawford. “People come to us with dreams and we help make them happen.”
Reed, Crawford and Quentin Williams — all of them are 22 years old — comprise three parts of what they’ve called DxxM (Doom) Media Group, the nascent two-month-old brainchild of a band of young, hip creators (they say there are at least a dozen of them) who are bent on making Maywood an artistic and cultural center.
“I envision this being a place where we can support and create a habitat and ecosystem for artists,” Williams said. “My job is not to say, ‘No, you can’t be a rapper,’ when kids come up to me with that aspiration. Instead, I’ll say, ‘I know you want to be a rapper, but I’ve seen that you’re really good with people or with networking. Have you thought about going to school for public relations?’ We’re just trying our best to provide them as many opportunities and resources as we can.”
The three friends said they each came to the Maywood Park District by way of different paths. All have roots in the village and all had their own creative ventures before DxxM — Crawford, for instance, showed off some apparel that he designed as part of his clothing line — and all are college-educated.
Several months ago, they caught the eye of Maywood Park District Executive Director Antoinette Dorris, who’s also a Maywood trustee. They said she liked what they represented and gave them a chance — employing them to develop, and facilitate, programming for area young people and Williams as an executive assistant.
As part of their outreach efforts, the young men work with students at Proviso East High School three days a week, providing performance arts and media programming to a community of youth desperate for creative outlets.
They said they want to expand on their present momentum — with the goal of creating mentorship opportunities and a base of operations for their cultural activities in the vein of the YMCA or YouMedia Chicago, described on its web page as “a 21st century teen learning space at Chicago Public Library.”
Last December, the Dxxm members hosted an open mic event that drew dozens of eager youth. And hundreds of students have signed up to participate in their regular sessions at Proviso East, where they’re exposed to music, art, fashion, photography and videography, among other areas.
Reed said it’s all phase one of his mission to make of his hometown what it wasn’t when he was young and vibrant here.
“When I went off to school, and after I came out, I wanted to make a brand for myself,” he said. “Then, I thought about it. ‘How about I brand the village?’”
“We want to paint the town.” VFP
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