Editorial: Civic pride high above the Seven Hills

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There’s a vision for Worcester which holds that youth, creativity, collaboration and diversity are the keys to a bright future.

Worcester residents got a sneak peak at just such a future, and the reaction has been better than anyone could have anticipated, viral, we should say.

Check out the video:

You have never seen #Worcester like this!We asked a very talented Worcester high school student to put together a…

Posted by I Love Worcester on Friday, January 29, 2016

Curtis Kariuki is a 17-year-old student of the Worcester Public Schools who will graduate from Doherty High this year. He is also a talented filmmaker with numerous music videos to his credit.

His most recent project, shot last Wednesday and Thursday [Jan. 28-29], was posted last Friday and has become a sensation, with more than 313,000 views on Facebook and nearly 6,000 views on YouTube.

Kariuki shot the 2 1/2 -minute video with a Phantom 3 Professional drone and shows the city in ways never before seen.

But Kariuki’s talent and the magic it produced would never have seen such a wide audience were it not for the help he received from a teacher at Doherty and the person behind one of the biggest social media outlets in the city.

Kariuki credits Jeffrey Weisenberg, a computer programming teacher at Doherty who also teaches a TV class, for encouraging his interest in the visual arts. Kariuki, a self-described inattentive student, said of Weisenberg, “He’s really believed in me.”

“Curtis has been a student for a couple of years in my TV class,” said Weisenberg, who helped Kariuki acquire the drone he used in his Worcester video. “He is definitely among the best I’ve ever had as a student, but by far the best at work ethic and creating image and his own job.

“It’s just phenomenal how hard-working he is in his industry and how hard he works in trying to succeed at what he does.

“I think he always had it in him; the way he can direct himself and produce his own videos is impressive,” Weisenberg said. “I think his career is pretty much etched in stone.”

The Facebook page I Love Worcester has nearly 18,000 followers and weekly engagement that exceeds all local media outlets combined.

“I reached out to them a while ago,” Kariuki said. “In the middle of making this video they reached out to me.” He said he asked I Love Worcester to post the video in hopes it would gain him a larger audience for his other video projects, including a series of documentaries that will include an episode focused on Worcester.

“He is a fan of the page and saw that we try to promote things that may fly under the radar for other media outlets,” the I Love Worcester creator, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote in a message to the Sun. “He gave us some background about himself and asked if he could create something for us to share with our viewers.

“We had reviewed some of his previous works which appeared to use a drone, so we thought he might do something along those lines, but he is the artist. We wanted a fresh view of the city from a young person’s eyes. Curtis brought through the beauty, nostalgia and grit that make this city a special place.

“We really try to hit a nerve with our audience. We love the video! Curtis really did an outstanding job. We hope that this is just part of a series of videos that he is going to be sending to us covering all of the city’s highlights and even some hidden crevices. It really shows Worcester through a new, hopeful lens. It is a fresh, and as Curtis says, very clean view.”

As for how his project is being received, he said, “I knew it [the aerial Worcester video] would get more than I usually get but I didn’t expect that number. … It was pretty cool that my work was something they felt represented the city well enough they could share it and be proud of it.”

When told the city’s official Facebook page reposted his video, Kariuki said, “I didn’t even see that. That’s awesome. I didn’t know that.”

As for what the future holds, Kariuki said, “For the past two years I was dying to move to Atlanta because of the music industry there. … Lately, Worcester has been pulling it together in the arts industry and music and all.

“I don’t want to say I’m staying, but I am thinking twice about leaving.”

“He’s traveled all over the country. He’s done some incredible stuff,” Weisenberg said. “But I think he has a great opportunity if he wanted to stay around here.”

Having talented people such as Curtis Kariuki stay in the city is one way the public will know that its vision is closer to becoming a reality.

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