Storytelling for Social Change

For the past decade Re:Work, the UCLA Labor Center podcast, has elevated stories of work to humanize and break down economic and racial justice issues.

Each episode centers the life story of a worker or activist — with a focus on people of the global majority — through curated interviews punctuated with host reflections, music, and archival tape that draw listeners to a particular time, place, and feeling. It is produced by Veena Hampapur and Saba Waheed.

Re:Work also trains community producers and students in multimedia story production and includes curriculum and educational tools.

LET’S RETHINK WORK!

 

 

UCLA Labor Center

The UCLA Labor Center believes that a public university belongs to the people and should advance quality education and employment for all. Every day we bring together workers, students, faculty, and policymakers to address the most critical issues facing working people today. Our research, education, and policy work lifts industry standards, creates jobs that are good for communities, and strengthens immigrant rights, especially for students and youth. The UCLA Labor Center is housed in the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to the study, teaching, and discussion of labor and employment issues at UCLA.

Episodes

The Tractor Princess

Historical, Immigrants, Women

“The Tractor Princess” draws on excerpts from an oral history interview with Antoinette Yvonne DeOcampo-Lechtenberg, which is a part of a community archive and research …

Here Comes Mau!

Immigrants, Low Wage Work

There’s a tendency to associate fast-food with American nostalgia, which can shield issues in the franchise structure ranging from wage theft to violence and safety …

Soul Force, Part II

Black Workers, Historical, Women

Civil rights icon, Reverend James Lawson Jr., shares his recollections of the 1960s and working closely with Martin Luther King Jr. Reverend Lawson presents the …

Soul Force, Part I

Black Workers, Historical

On Dec. 11, 2021, the UCLA Labor Center’s historic MacArthur Park building was officially named the UCLA James Lawson Jr. Worker Justice Center, in honor …

Stranded

Education, Immigrants, Low Wage Work, Young Workers

In 2020, India suddenly went into a national lockdown without advance planning or adequate government support, which led to a humanitarian crisis in addition to …

It’s Magic

Black Workers, Women

We often refer to birth as miraculous, and it can also seem mysterious. Many times there is a veiling around birth and labor, and the …

The Calling

Black Workers, Historical, Women

Despite a long tradition of midwifery in the Black community, which predates the founding of the United States, less than 2% of midwives today are …

The Graduate

Education, Immigrants, Low Wage Work

When we think about college, there’s a certain whimsical image, a time of self discovery and carefree fun before you step out into the “real” …

[No] Child Left Behind

Criminal Justice, Education, Immigrants

We often see children as innocents who need love, support, and stability. But not all young people are nurtured this way. Too often youth from …

Redemption

Criminal Justice, Immigrants

In today’s political climate, there’s a prominent narrative of “bad” immigrants who don’t deserve to be here. This isn’t new — it’s a part of …

It’s a Man’s Man’s World

Black Workers, Education, Women

What happens when you go to work and no one else in the room looks like you? Being the “only one” often means more scrutiny, …

The Gig’s Up

Gig Economy, Low Wage Work, Women

Uber. Lyft. Their arrival has transformed daily life and raised important questions about job quality, employment law, and creating an economy that works for everybody. …

School Days

Education

Earlier this year, over 30,000 public school teachers went on strike in Los Angeles, for the first time in nearly 30 years. Educators reminded us …

Trafficked

Immigrants, Low Wage Work

Trafficking. When you hear the word, many images come to mind. It may seem like something distant, hidden, and secretive — something that happens to …

Solidarity

Black Workers, Historical

This episode is a tribute to the life and legacy of Henry Walton — a lifelong union and community activist. Henry had a special relationship …

La Moda Femenina

Historical, Immigrants, Low Wage Work, Women

Re:Work Radio is back with another episode on LA’s Garment District. This time we explore the Garment District’s rich history through three generations of strong …

Block by Block

Black Workers, Women

What makes someone get involved in their community? How do community members become engaged? Not just during election season, but everyday, how do communities come …

Dispatch

Immigrants, Low Wage Work

It’s one of the most dangerous jobs in America: taxi driving. In this special joint episode from ReWork and Making Contact, we’ll hear a radio …

Los Callejones

Immigrants, Low Wage Work, Women

Who are the people who make the clothes we wear every day? Tune in to take a journey through “los callejones,” Los Angeles’s garment district. …

Moving the World

Women

Most of the stuff we use, from our clothes to our iPhones, were at some point made in another country and shipped to our shores. …

Listen Up!

Art & Music

What comes to your mind when you think of a musician? For many musicians, their work is no different from any other profession. They dedicate …

All on the Same Ocean

Low Wage Work

We live in a global market, and most of the clothing and electronics that we use are made halfway around the world. They’re transported across …

Indebted

Education, Housing

Who was your favorite teacher in high school? We all have that unforgettable teacher that sets us on our life’s trajectory. But most of the …

Baby’s Bodyguard

Women

All of us are on this planet because we were born. Still, for most of us, giving birth is so mysterious. Many people don’t really …

Coming Home

Immigrants, Young Workers

A group of undocumented youth cross the border from the US into Mexico to cross back and turn themselves into border patrol. Why would you …

A Hand Up

Housing

Everyday we pass by someone who’s homeless. We may be so used to seeing homelessness that it just becomes part of the normal city landscape. …

Human v. Walmart

Low Wage Work

Sometimes work can take a toll on your creativity, your individuality, and what makes you human. So what is the cost of being efficient at …

Raw Deal

Low Wage Work

For those of sitting in a restaurant eating, we may not be aware of what it takes to make our meal possible. What’s it really …

Dream On

Black Workers, Immigrants, Women, Young Workers

What is the future of this country’s dream for black and brown communities? This week’s episode, Dream On, is a fascinating conversation between two fierce …

Get Up Stand Up

Immigrants, Low Wage Work

When you get into a taxi, you usually know where you are coming from, where you are going. But what about your taxi driver? This …

Newcomers

Immigrants

Immigration visas dictate where someone can work, how they can work, how long they can work. But what happens when you throw friendship into the …

Breaking Out of Roles

Historical, Low Wage Work

Sometimes you have to become someone different to fit into a new job. Or, sometimes the job is exactly the right fit– but your being …

The Re:Work Team

Veena Hampapur

Host & Editor

Veena is the New Media Narrative Strategist at the UCLA Labor Center, and former Director of Communications. Dedicated to storytelling for social change, she discovered her passion for communications while working at various nonprofits including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in California and Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM) in New York, where she focused on issues related to homelessness, immigration, policing, and youth. Veena earned her PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology from UCLA in 2016. Her research focused on working class South Asian immigrants and their children, and examined how race, immigration, education, and surveillance shape one another in post-9/11 America. Veena is a filmmaker and 2012 Visual Communications Armed with a Camera Fellow; her films include advocacy and education films for community organizations as well as documentaries that have been showcased in film festivals, classrooms, and by the Smithsonian.

Saba Waheed

Co-Founder & Host

Saba Waheed is the Director of the UCLA Labor Center and former Research Director. She has nearly twenty years of research experience developing projects with strong community participation. With her team at the UCLA Labor Center, she coordinated the first-ever study of domestic work employers, launched a multi-year study of workers and learners, and conducted research on the impact of the pandemic on nail salon workers and owners. She has also conducted research related to gig workers, young workers, Black workers, LGBTQ+ grocery workers and retail workers. Saba teaches the Labor Summer Research Program, guiding students through an applied research project.

Previously she worked as the Research Director at DataCenter where she co-developed the framework of “research justice,” which aims to address the structural inequities in research. In addition to her research work, Saba is an award-winning radio producer and writer, and strongly believes that research and media are powerful tools for community storytelling. She received an MA in Anthropology from Columbia University and a BA in English and Religious Studies from UC Berkeley. 

Stefanie Ritoper

Co-Founder

Stefanie Ritoper was Re:Work’s co-founder, co-host, and editor. She has spent over 10 years supporting civic engagement through media in mission-driven organizations, including the UCLA Labor Center and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. Though she no longer works on Re:Work, she still actively produces audio stories as a freelancer and supports radio journalism as engagement producer at KPCC/LAist.

Get Involved

Hidden Closed
Pitch Your Story
We are always looking for compelling stories about workers, immigrants, and people of color. Pitch us your story by email veenash@ucla.edu. Please note that each show takes us at least 2 months to produce.

To pitch, follow this advice from the show This American Life:
“If you’re pitching a story you’re hoping to tell on the air yourself, let us know in a few paragraphs what happened. You don’t need to be formal about it, just tell the story the way you’d tell it to someone over drinks or coffee. If you have favorite moments in the story, let us know those. Tell us anything you think will help us understand what a great story it is. If the story happened to you and showed you something about the world you hadn’t realized before, or changed you (or the other people in the story) in some way, let us know that too.”

What is a story?
For this show, we are looking for stories that have the following ingredients:
– It is about work! Or we can connect it to work in some way.
– It is something that happens to a person (not a group of people), with audio from that person
– It is a series of events, with a beginning, middle, and and end.
– It has a “moment of truth”- a point of the story where the main character realizes something, has a reflection, or comes to a conclusion. This could also be called the “moral” of the story.
– There is something unexpected about the story. You should be able to fill in the blanks of this sentence: My story is about ____, but what is interesting about it is ____. The second blank should be surprising, out of the ordinary.
– It is accessible – this means no jargon!

Does my project/organization project have a story?
Yes! Just take a moment to ask:
– Who is the person we want to highlight? Is that person charismatic, funny, and/or reflective?
– Is there one specific moment/series of events that highlights what they are experiencing, or a moment where they we surprised?

Make Radio With Us
Most of our episode ideas come from the incredible stories of our partner organizations on the ground – worker centers, unions, and community groups. If you are interested to learn more about the process of making radio, you can join us to help create your own show.

Contact us if you would like to apply to become a community producer or get involved with the Re:Work team.

Make Your Own Brand
If you want to make your own radio stories, here are a few resources to get started:

Radio Rookies is a New York Public Radio initiative that provides teenagers with the tools and training to create radio stories about themselves, their communities and their world. Check out this DIY Toolkit: How to Report Your Own Story.

Transom.org allows you to find essays by the most experienced people doing radio documentaries. Transom also has a Tools section that has reviews of cheap, good equipment you can use to make radio and guides on digital editing and mixing.

Our friend Will Coley of Aquifier Media also created a great intro training to radio Listen Up: Audio’s Role in Digital Storytelling.

And there are a ton of great resources to produce radio on This American Life’s Make Radio page.

Contact

We would love to hear what you think about the show! Send us an email at veenash@ucla.edu or reach us on social media.