3/27/12: Innovations in Community Media — Live at Brookline Access TV and Webcast Everywhere
On Tuesday, March 27th at 4:30, in the main Brookline Access Television studio on the third floor of the High School's Unified Arts Building next to the Green Line D Train Brookline Hills stop, BATV will be hosting a live-audience session of the Ethos Roundtable on Innovations in Community Media, with a focus on community cable public, educational, and governmental (PEG) access centers.
The program will be webcast live at www.MassAccess.org — and, building upon the Ethos Roundtable's participatory tradition, the viewing audience will be able to comment and submit questions via some combination of twitter, email, chat, and pop – plain-old-phone. Comments and questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org prior to and during the program.
Featured on the program will be Ethos Roundtable co-convener Josh Shortlidge, long-time community media activist Chuck Sherwood, Belmont TV Executive Director Jeff Hansell, and BATV Executive Director Peter Zawadzki, the last three all active members of the MassAccess state alliance of PEG centers.
Chuck Sherwood, a pioneer in the field since the mid-1970's, has been Executive Director of the Channel L Working Group, Inc., in New York City, one of the first Government Access operations, Cincinnati Cable Access Corporation and Cape Cod Community TV, and has served on the Central States, Northeast Region, and national Alliance for Community Media (ACM) boards and in leadership positions with national advocacy associations. Jeff Hansell and Peter Zawadzki are experienced PEG access directors, both having served as Executive Directors for other Massachusetts access centers as well as at their current venues. More information about the featured presenters and the program is available on the Ethos announcement site.
The Ethos Roundtable has been hosting leading edge community technology presentations and discussions on a monthly basis for six years, almost as long as co-convener Deborah Elizabeth Finn has been hosting Mission-Based-Massachusetts, an open email distribution list for almost 1,500 people who care about nonprofit, philanthropic, educational, community-based, grassroots, socially responsible, and other mission-oriented organizations in the Bay State. They've hosted programs about innovations across the globe — Harris Sussman of the M.N. Adamov Memorial Fund on his organization's efforts to foster access to information and communication technologies among blind people in Russia; Samuel Klein on his work with the One Laptop Per Child project; Nolan Bowie, lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School, and senior fellow emeritus at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, on his vision for global telecommunications.
Ethos Roundtable has featured local notables and their organizations and project none of which ordinarily get local public attention as well as those less well-known in the area who have made innovative contributions to community technology — Ethan Zuckerman, Director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, on Global Voices Online, a non-profit global citizens’ media project, he co-founded that was launched from the Berkman Center at the Harvard Law School during his tenure there; Joseph Porcelli on Boston's Neighborsforneighbors.org and its 3,000 members; David Crowley on Social Capital Inc. and how evolving networking technologies can be used as powerful tools for crafting stronger communities.
Roundtable sessions have covered specific tools designed for the nonprofit community across the state: Mass NonProfit Database, with comprehensive data, information and tools to build stronger nonprofit organizations and communities, promote greater citizen engagement, and link to other data and information resources; the Open Indicators Consortium dedicated to improving access to data about communities and regions; NPO Connect, the online tool that assists in matching nonprofit professionals with peer mentors; the Massachusetts Philanthropic Directory, the first presentation of philanthropy as a coherent whole, organized by a systematic, comprehensive, taxonomy of 200 fields.
And Ethos has supported other sessions covering innovations in media and communications: Ken George, new media production manager at WBUR-FM and self-described "public radio guy stumbling along the digital highway" on public radio, social media, and civic engagement; Lisa Williams, CEO and founder of Placeblogger, the largest searchable index of local weblogs, on what knits geographic communities together online; Melinda Wittstock, award-winning broadcast and print journalist, on Web 2.0, populism, and professional journalism.
Last March Deborah and long-time Ethos supporter Tech Foundation joined others to help sponsor aMedia Reform/Community Technology Day, a local gathering organized in anticipation of the Free Press-sponsored 5th National Media Reform Conference taking place in Boston the following month, a program that included a session on Community Technology Centers (CTCs) and their Brethren, Community Media Centers. The upcoming March 27th program will focus on Community Media Centers, take place at one of them, and be featured, web-cast, and available as video-on-demand through their state association, MassAccess.org.
Brookline Access Television studios and community media center will itself be presented in some of its innovative dimensions, not the least of which is the growing partnership at its new home with Brookline High School, exemplified by the joint appointment of Krissie Jankowski, BATV station manager and education coordinator and BHS Documentary Filmmaking and TV Production teacher, and her contributions to joint programs such as "Race Reels," a year-long program of student-produced video showings and discussions designed to spark a dialogue about race.
BATV's Bibliophile Cinema book and film club collaboration provides books from the library and film showings of the movies that are made from them in the BATV theatre, with book and film follow-up discussion in the BPL main branch conference room, every 3rd and 4th Wednesday of the month at 7pm. A recent Library public service announcement provides an overview of its multi-media holdings and its almost 500 programs for kids, teens, and those with special language needs. It was produced during BATV's PSA Day last month, when a range of community organizations and programs took advantage of a specially scheduled opportunity to develop video promotions about their work and activities — the VHL Family Alliance, Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Coolidge Corner Community Chorus, Steps to Success, and the Brookline Commission of Arts, Art Center, Community and Education Foundations, and Teen Center along with the Library — and another 6-8 community projects signed up for the next offering.
Beyond its mushrooming local programming, also available through an online database as video on demand — and the continual upgrading of its technical resources, most recently with the addition of a new video server, graphics designer, and mobile van — it's BATV's training and support partnerships and collaborations that mark its community rootedness.
With its high end Mac labs and editing suites as the ultimate training and production sites for the entire town, BATV provides the next ladder step for high end multi-media learning and access from just about everywhere that teaches basics and have people who want to go further — from all the schools and the extended day afterschool programs and adult and community ed, from all the libraries, from the public housing labs supported through HUD Neighborhood Networks and other resources, from the lab at the Senior Center, from the soon-to-be teen center, where collaborative audio lab programs are already being planned.
From summer camp promos to full coverage of the Annual Public Health Forum moderated by Mike Dukakis, town and selectmen's meetings, local politics, environmental issues, contact with local and regional bands to produce a Golden Sounds Series, and use of its access gallery as a place to showcase local artists through Brookline Art Makers, BATV is one of the town's key anchor institutions for the continuing expansion and use of broadband, stretching the limits and contours of community media and technology and ties with those who contribute to that effort. The March 27th program promises to be an occasion for those in town and in the metropolitan area to find out more and develop appropriate connections.
BATV has currently attracted 19 interns. It's informative that "Occupy Boston TV Live," accessible primarily on YouTube, finds its production home in Brookline, a story covered by both the Brookline TAB and Boston Herald, and that its organizers and producers have turned to BATV precisely because of its community media access virtues. Matthew Krawitz, one of the show's producers, points to the benefits giving "the Occupiers a chance to speak to a wider audience without their message getting compromised by big media outlets." Jess Schumann, one of the show's founders and a longtime proponent of local access television, said she sees the show not only as a platform for the Occupy Boston movement, she also sees it as a way for people to learn the ropes of local access television so they can go out and make documentaries and similar shows in their communities.
Massachusetts Community Media / MassAccess.org, the state association of 120 community cable access centers, boasts a diverse and distinctive leadership as can be seen at the Alliance for Community Media national level where five of the 12 board members are from Massachusetts, four of them the main officers. At last year's national conference, of the 129 HomeTown awards given and honorable mentions listed, 33 went Massachusetts, to 19 different centers with nine receiving multiple awards (with Brookline leading the group with four) — for achievements in magazine shows, animation, documentary events and profiles, government-supported programs, programs for seniors, informational features, the arts, music, PSAs, website development, programs about access, and all three budget levels of overall excellence in public access (to Medford, Somerville, and Cambridge).
Special dimensions of MassAccess.org will be featured on the March 27th program, especiallyMyMassTV Network, a statewide network that allows nonprofits and government agencies to freely distribute timely information, TV programs, videos, and PSAs across the Commonwealth to over 100 affiliates from Boston to Bellingham that regularly download programs for viewing in their respective communities. The March 27th program will be available as a live webcast at MassAccess.org, beginning at 4:30, and otherwise available as video-on-demand by individuals and via MYMassTV for other access and media centers, too.
Long-time community media activist Chuck Sherwood, a key presenter for the March 27th program, has provided useful material as background to the show. He guest edited the Summer 2010 issue of the Community Media Review, "Community Media Centers Connecting with the New Broadband Networks" with features on BronxNet, Humboldt Access in northern California, and Denver Open Media that are key national models of innovation. The issue's policy pieces provide an informing context in which these innovations occur, and Chuck's editorial overview provides a useful historical framework and informing one for the March program, a framework further clarified in his policy piece on "Surviving Language Migration from Telecom to Broadband Policy" from the NATOA Journal, the publication of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, where he serves on their Policy and Legal Committee.
Twitter communication for the program will be coordinated by BATV Board President Annie Shreffler, whose own work exemplifies other integral dimensions of community media activism as can be seen at www.annieshreff.wordpress.com — witness its provocatively headlined "No longer a PRX virgin am I" where it finally happened: "I uploaded a piece of audio to my PRX [Public Radio Exchange] account… the first of many I hope to do about the occupy movement happening locally."
The audio piece is on Corrie Garnet, who showed up at the original meeting to plan Occupy Boston with a sign that read "I am a nurse without healthcare. I am the 99 percent." It's a follow-up to Annie's "storification" — "On the Occupy Trail with Chris Faraone," following the eyes, twitters, and tweets of the Boston Phoenix reporter's walk through the occupations in Miami, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. Who better to help tweet innovations in community media and technology at Brookline Access TV?
In-person amenities for the program include easily-accessible public transportation, literally next door at the MBTA Green Line D Train Brookline Hills MBTA stop, a location where one can find no cost neighborhood parking conveniences within a few blocks, all available for the mix of new and continuing participants, knights, and ladies of the Ethos Roundtable, the BATV and wider PEG access community, and Brookline and metro area activists and community members with a keen interest in innovations in community media and technology.
Do join, in person or online, with comments, questions, and additional innovative model or program contributions that depict or inspire community media and technology planning and development. ♦
Peter Miller (email@example.com) is on the board of Brookline Access Television and has helped pull together the March 27th program; his own contribution to Occupy movement coverage and analysis,"Who are the 99%: We the People — A Tribute to Ed Schwartz and the Institute for the Study of Civic Values," was published in Open Media Boston last December.