By Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire
August 20, 2011
Following two weeks of news mired in rioting, social strife and crime in throughout the UK, it’s little wonder that some of our readers have been hit with “doom fatigue”.
The London riots were not pretty. For those among us who were unlucky enough to be caught in the middle of it, even the best spin doctors have struggled to find something positive to report. A few readers have asked us, “why all the negative news, where are the feel-good stories?”, and in all honesty, I’ve been hard pressed to find those nuggets in the pan, but alas, one did turn up this week…
To be sure, 21st Century Wire is an alternative news agency whose primary function is to act as an early warning system, delivering information and analysis that enables our readers to achieve a better level of awareness about what’s happening in the world and to identify trends that will have a significant impact on society. Admittedly, positive news is not our core function- this is a job better left to other media outlets.
As London is being ripped apart by the clash of right-wing and left-wing ideologies, ‘no alternative’ police state measures, and as politicians attempt to dress the city’s fresh riot wounds with more cheap, off-the-shelf, divisive language of class-warfare, at least one gold nugget has come along to remind the doubting masses that there are individuals out there who can, and have– “flipped the script” of this otherwise muddy debate.
Quince Garcia is one such nugget, an individual whose vision and creativity are chronicled in the featured story below. If you haven’t heard of him, you should definitely listen to his story. It’s a story we all have a stake in, whether we are aware of it or not.
And something tells me that he is not alone in his exploits- it’s highly, highly likely that there are many, many more people like him existing in communities throughout the UK…
EX-CRACK DEALER “FLIPS THE SCRIPT”
Reformed hustler now runs a media firm encouraging young people into film
By Juliana Lucas
AN EX-CRACK dealer is transforming lives with a media project he developed to engage young people and keep them off the streets.
Quince Garcia, 32, spent up to seven years pedalling hard drugs on the streets of south London, but left the game after becoming a father and seeing the error of his ways.
He later set up Road Works, a media centre in Kennington, south London to provide opportunities for teenagers to get into the film industry. It also teaches them skills such as how to write scripts, film production, post production and editing.”
Garcia revealed how he first got interested in the media while serving a 12-month prison sentence. When he was in jail, he started to pen a screenplay about the life of a gangster.
He told The Voice: “When I was selling drugs I started writing a lot of the script at the same time as a form of escapism, but when I went to prison I wrote even more. When I came out I thought rather than go to places to get it funded, I will use my own initiative to get it out there.”
With the help of business partner Julien Bernard-Grau, Road Works was launched in 2009.
Garcia, who recently received an award at the House of Lords for his project said: “We offer people a programme that will teach them a skill and a programme that teaches people how to become their own boss. This way we are trying to discourage them from joining gangs by providing another option. We are setting up a journalism centre, mentoring and a music programme that will deter them from crime. But I believe the Government should do more. They should create an atmosphere that lets teenagers know it does care about them.”
Although he spent time in prison, Garcia believes the experience helped him to shape a more positive future for himself.
“Prison helped me escape it all. I spent seven years of my life selling crack in south London, although it was a constant battle because it never really sat well with me. I never ever used to go home and think what I was doing was great. At the same time, I felt trapped. I didn’t have great social skills and I had a low self confidence and esteem.”
When Garcia met Bernard-Grau at an event, they bonded over a shared interest in films. From that first meeting, they started to discuss plans to set up a media company.
Both were raised in south London but in very different settings: Bernard-Grau attended the prestigious Brits school while Garcia attending a local secondary school in Camberwell.
However they shared a belief that young people need opportunities to channel their talents in a positive direction.
“Bad care, bad living standards and a lack of opportunity are all the reasons why people turn to crime” says Bernard-Grau. “England has the highest child poverty rate in Europe and that’s why the Government needs to increase the minimum wage in order for people to avoid crime.”
In 2006, Garcia became the first person in his family to attend university and achieve a degree in film production, an experience which he said changed his life.
He added: “The drug lifestyle is over-glamorised especially by film and television. It’s not what it is like in real life, and that’s why we need to tell our children to stick to education. I know the implications of drugs. I am not trying to save the world but I want people to know there are alternatives out there. I see people like the late Amy Winehouse and I think it is really sad. I hope people recognise her talent and what drugs can do to them.”
This story originally appeared at THE VOICE.