Outside the Box Thinkers

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Outside the Lens | Layla Mazdyasni

Photo by Layla Mazdyasni

It had been several days since the team at The Carmel Valley Life started thinking of how great it would be if we could find a few high schoolers that would be willing to share their voice, their art and their creativity with the Carmel Valley San Diego community. But we didn’t want these teenagers to have a place where they would just “post stuff.”  We wanted them to follow their passions and to be fully engaged!  In addition, what we were looking for was to create a new way that they could shed light on some of the subjects, topics, and issues that are most important to them.  Let me share with you a story about how we found and connected with two amazing teens thanks to one of the best local non-profit organizations we’ve met.

On Thursday, November 3, 2011, was the official launch date of The KNOW in San Diego. For some of you that may not know, the Emmy-Award winning producers of InteReality Media and creators of the national hit television shows, Healthcare Heroes and NurseTV, partnered with social marketing and event planning powerhouse, MBK & Associates, to create a new movement in social media and public relations (a.k.a. The KNOW in San Diego). The KNOW in San Diego is one of our community partners, so naturally ,we were present at the event and ready to support an any way possible.  In addition, we were all very excited about all the great opportunities the launch would provide our community contributors and partners…please stay tuned.

Now whenever MBK & Associates puts together an event, they always structure it in a way that benefits a local charitable organization. That night, we had the wonderful opportunity to meet and hear all about Outside the Lens (OTL). For some strange reason, before that night, I had never heard about the OTL.  But little did I know that I was in for a real surprise.  As I made my way through the house, scanning the different sponsors, businesses and individuals present, I felt this undeniable urge to go see what this section of smiling people were up to.  As I approached the group of smiling attendees, I could not help but noticed pictures of beaming teenagers, computers, cameras, desks, paper, etc.  I immediately became even more curious and walked over to the table just a little more eager to figure out what exactly was going on. Once I arrived, I was greeted by Niki Even and Elisa Thomson of Outside the Lens. Both of them were ready and happy to answer all of my questions.  The more I understood about the organization and its mission, the more excited I became.

Just a little bit on OTL:  it is a “San Diego-based youth media literacy program dedicated to celebrating the vision and voices of children around the world and across cultures.  Students (K-12) tell their unique personal stories using photography, writing and other digital media forms while under the guidance of writers, poets, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, artists, and teachers.”

Mid way through my conversation with Elisa and Niki, Layla Mazdyasni and Alessandro Thomson walked through the doors and headed in our direction.  Niki and Elisa both waved them over and excitingly told me that they were on the OTL Youth Council and actively involved with Outside the Lens.  After being properly introduced, I began to talk to Layla, and she informed me that she was from Torrey Pines High School.  Later while I was talking to Alessandro, he said he was from Canyon Crest Academy.  I thought to myself, “Could this just be a coincidence? I’ve been looking for a couple of local teenage photographers just like these two, and now here they are!”  I thankfully accepted the wonderful coincidence and gave it no second thought.  I returned to the OTL table and began to speak with Elisa about how both of our organizations could really benefit from working jointly at achieving some common goals.  After several small chats with both Layla and Alessandro, it seem like a no brainer for me to ask them to be a part of The Carmel Valley Life team.  Today, I’m happy to announce that they are now a part of our contributing team and will be adding some much needed creativity that only teenagers can provide.

A few days after the event, Layla Mazdyasni and I were chatting on Facebook about how we can get some more involvement from the local high school groups.  She suggested that we create a place where a handful of local high school students can share a picture every day and give the community a peak into the daily life of a Carmel Valley teen.  What a great idea, right?!  The next day our team got together and created our new column entitled Daily Life of a Carmel Valley Teen.  Stay tuned and watch the column evolve as more community teenagers get involved!

p.s. Check out the quick video below on how Outside the Lens is changing lives and for my quick interview with Alessandro.


David A. Moya | Founder & Carmel Valley Community Contributor


David A. Moya is a community contributor and influencer for positive change. As founder of The Carmel Valley Life he focuses on education, transparency and helping others find their passion. During his earlier years, he fed his entrepreneurial spirit and founded a company focused on the development of young individuals who are committed to peak performance. David went on to pay for his BA in Finance through his real estate business and after graduating flew more than 30 flights to over 10 countries in order to master the art of communication and business.


Carmel Valley San Diego Community | RIDE Cyclery Encinitas

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