George Koster

Episode 11: Changing Stockton’s history by making history

From Bankruptcy to Reinvention –

The City of Stockton


Episode 11:
Changing Stockton’s history by making history

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Tama Brisbane founder With Our Words and Brandon Leake founder of Called To Move

Changing Stockton’s history by making history

In this episode we feature the voices of Tama Brisbane the City of Stockton’s first Poet Laureate and spoken word poet and youth leader / teacher Brandon Leake

Tama Brisbane


Tama Brisbane is the founder and director (along with her husband Aaron) of WOW, Inc., a nonprofit, slam poetry collective. With Our Words trains young writers and creates performance opportunities for them. Since 2004, Brisbane has made WOW Stockton’s and the Central Valley’s foremost presenter of youth development and leadership programs through literary and performing arts. She has created safe spaces for young people to express themselves through written and spoken word and provided opportunities for at-risk youth to connect the dots between literacy, critical thinking, social action and community results.

Tama was the City of Stockton’s first Poet Laureate. She will use the title to promote literacy and literary arts in a city that desperately needs such an influence.

She will prepare special poetry for city events — festivals, parades and swearing-in ceremonies. She will visit schools. And she will identify projects to bring poetry to youth who otherwise might never experience any.

With Our Words

With Our Words (WOW) programs offer unique exposure to the arts and effective nontraditional delivery of California Common Core academic standards. WOW is a nontraditional delivery of academic standards and social-activism opportunities. WOW provides Youth Development & Leadership Through Literary & Performing Arts

WOW places special emphasis on performance and social activism gateways that broaden the creative, cultural and personal horizons of youth in Stockton and the Central Valley. WOW rock arts and education by rocking arts IN education! At any one time, there are 50 to 75 young people involved. Since starting in 2004, it has broadened its reach:

• Youth Poetry Collective: Young people who write, perform, organize, mentor and work to change the artistic and educational landscape of Stockton.

• All-City Poetry Slam: More than 300 students 13 to 19 have “workshopped, written and spit” their way onto Stockton’s youth slam teams.

• one.Poetry: An enrichment program operating at one.Charter for Visual & Performing Arts.

• Poetry Book Camp: A free Saturday workshop series.

• Hip Hop, You Don’t Stop Reading: Promotes literacy through live performances and a book give-away at under-performing elementary schools. Nearly 30,000 books have been donated since 2011.

• We Rock Green Mics: Program promotes environmental awareness, justice and stewardship through the arts.

• Dream Out Loud: Annual community theater event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

• WOW Performances: Provides speakers, spoken-word artists and keynote addresses for local and regional events, conferences and workshops.

Since 2008, 92% of Stockton Youth Poetry Slam Team members have gone on to attend colleges and universities. Over half a dozen are teaching in Stockton schools, holding university positions, or have attained their Paraprofessional Certifications. To date, there is a 100% high school graduation rate and a 93% college attendance rate among WOW Youth Poetry Collective and slam team participants.

With Our Words is one of the country's leading organizations in the field of youth leadership and development through spoken word. Our programs create safe spaces for Stockton and Central Valley youth to find their voice and tell their stories.  For more information visit our web site or

Donation / Fundraising

Please become a WOW supporter, sponsor or community partner.  Donations of money, gift certificates, printing, computers, in-kind resources, time and access are always needed and very much appreciated.  Your contributions are also tax-deductible. On behalf of WOW and the voices YOU help empower, thank you for your support. To make a donation please email us at or call 209.470.8515

Brandon Leake


The Founder and CEO of Called To Move – CTM, Brandon Leake, is an artistic visionary and award winning spoken word poet whose roots lie in the ghetto’s of south side Stockton, California. Being born and raised to a single parent household with his mother, Carla Leake-Gibson, Brandon was accustomed to the complexities of playing this game of life with the decks stacked against you. However, with a strong home life and some divine intervention Brandon made it out of his neighborhood ghetto into a college classroom. This journey came with its many trials from the loss of integral members of his family and abusive home life, but these trails mixed with this spiritual collegiate journey would soon blossom into a beautiful poetic journey.

In 2012 Brandon started Called To Move – CTM at Simpson University with a small group of artists just trying to share their gifts and encourage others to do so, which has lead its way into inspiring others through poetry all across the country. Brandon Leake released a debut album entitled, “In My Thoughts”, which lead him to traveling from Los Angeles to New York and everywhere in between for a year and a half performing his pieces, leading spoken word poetry workshops, and keynote speaking. For more information please visit Called To Move

Follow Brandon on his Facebook Page and you can purchase recordings of Brandon’s performances at Poetry Bandcamp

Donation / Fundraising

You can support Brandon through his Patreon page and you can book Brandon to perform at your next event at Called To Move.

“I’m a hip-hop midwife. I was here when it was born.
— Tama Brisbane

This has been an Alien Boy Production.


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