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Me in Media – A shout out to Vancouver

September 16, 2011

- posted by Lara Hill, Vancouver M&M Regional Coordinator and Director of Me In Media

- event photos shot by Jeremy Lim posted here.

#MeinMedia was trending in Vancouver on September 13, 2011, and for good reason!

I’d like summarize my perspective on what culminated into an extraordinary and effectual evening with thanks and gratitude to my incredible contributing community.

Thank you Henry Charles, our Musqueam Elder, for welcoming us at the Vancouver Public Library and for grounding us within the historical context of the land and space we all occupy together in what has evolved into today’s Vancouver City.

The speaking segments provided by Simmi Dixit, Alden Habacon, & Mauree Matsusaka perfectly described the reasoning behind MiM and why UNA-Canada’s M&M and Schema Magazine are a natural fit for producing MiM together. Simmi had just flown in from Ottawa and after providing CBC with a great interview at 6am that morning, she gave an engaging and thoughtful address (no one would ever guess she was jet-lagged!) Alden, founder of Schema, postponed a flight to Portugal to be there (he’s on a panel right now speaking about transnational identity and social media as I type this), and Mauree, one of the powerhouses behind bringing you MiM, beautifully wove together all the puzzle pieces for us with grace and eloquence.

We truly missed Liz Schulze from Pacific Cinematheque who was unable to join us. But what a wonderful last minute piece provided by Access to Media Education Society (AMES) facilitator, Lila. Lila, you set the tone for the positive outcomes associated with providing our youth with platforms to share their stories. You are now a leader and inspiration to others and an example of why the MiM workshops will be so valuable– not just to the youth MiM participants themselves, but to everyone they touch with their stories and voices. And Peter, through your own passionate and authentic voice, you inspired the crowd with the important work of AMES. I look forward to experiencing your facilitation of the workshop commencing this weekend at the Museum of Vancouver (thanks to Hanna Cho). And Liz, I look forward to what you and your team will bring next week by guiding the media production portion of these workshops in the creatively fertile spaces being provided by our community sponsor, W2. Many of our registered youth participants were present, acknowledged and are now primed to embark on their workshops!

I’m so grateful to the amazing CoopCulture team. I credit the prowess of Miss Tracy Bains for filling VPL’s space with an eager audience through her social media outreach efforts and the communications strategy she built for MiM . She captured the entire live twitter feed that night- you can read it here. And huge kudos to Ajay and Sean, CoopCulture founders and speakers at MiM… I attended the #NetCulture event you hosted last spring which explored how Vancouver’s culturally diverse community utilizes social media to convene, engage and tell stories. Your work provided the groundwork and inspiration for the MiM town hall.  I know you are already hatching plans for the next public dialogue to allow this important conversation to evolve.  I imagine that Zi-Ann Lum, the other powerhouse that brought us MIM (she also worked on #NetCulture) will be wearing a Director’s hat for the next project… Vancouverites are clearly hungry for more, and Zi-Ann has the skill and talent to lead the next initiative.

With deep gratitude I congratulate and thank our moderator and amazing panelists for enlightening the audience: Jennifer, Riaz, Stuart, Sid & Shima. Each of you provided us with such diverse perspectives and analysis around the broad concept of inclusiveness through media and what that means through each of your respective lenses. Riaz,  co-host on CityTV’s Breakfast Television, shed some interesting light on how the rise of citizen journalism is changing and affecting broadcast television. A key point that resonates with me still is how it allows us as participatory citizens to hold broadcasters more accountable. While there may be a lot of great meida/engagement programs in Canada’s major cities, Stuart made a revealing point that the urban/suburban divide is becoming disproportionate between resources/programming for youth (urban) and the target youth demographic (suburban) those programs intend to serve. This is a growing gap that needs addressing if we intend to be more inclusive for engaging marginalized youth.  Sid, a user of social media since it’s inception, challenged us with new perspectives on how 140 characters may or may not translate into actual action. Grounded in McLuhan’s theory, he summed the entire night, ‘We are the Medium’. And finally, Shima, one of UNA-Canada’s M&M interns currently placed to work with Media Democracy Day, shared the personal perspective of some youth who don’t always feel that media accurately represents our identity and realities. She concluded with the message reminding us all that we can change this reality by continuing to tell our stories through our own voices. How hopeful that we have so many new platforms and ways to share them.

The spirit of the evening was entirely inclusive. Our audience had the ongoing opportunity to comment and engage with the speakers via twitter which was projected in a live feed on the wall throughout the entire evening. Our brilliant moderator, Jennifer, seamlessly fielded a charged audience Q&A period that saw a steady line-up at the mic until the evening closed and we had to turn questions and comments away for next time. Nearly 200 people came out, one woman in particular said she had never heard of any of the organizations before but came because she heard Simmi that morning on CBC and was curious, which is a testament to the power of media! And how important this conversation really is.

In closing, I’d like to remark that while we are always indebted and thankful to sponsors (the town hall portion of MiM cost a total of $245), this particular event was brought together entirely through the passion driven by serious volunteer efforts. As a fairly new arrival to Vancouver myself, I can say that through the process of working on this event I have found my sense of inclusion in this community. A new and dear friend told me that Vancouver is so much more than the visual landscape that the tourism board touts, it has a pulse that radiates from it’s people… and Me in Media tapped that pulse! Thank you Vancouver!

And special thanks and high five in particular to Mauree, Zi-Ann, Tracy, Dhaneva Panday, Simmi, and everyone else mentioned above, but also: Jeremy Lim, Wendy Chen, Deblekha Guin, Jordanna Mah our live tweeter (and the entire team at Schema!), Brandon Woo, Tyler Hill, Melany Nugent, Joyti Bharaj, Jineane Payne, Elaine Donovan, the UNA-Canada Vancouver Branch, my dear friends and family (who supported and gave me insight since day one when I dropped the first seed in the ground last March), and finally a special thanks to Executive Director Kate White and my new family with UNA-Canada that I’ll be joining shortly in my new position at headquarters in Ottawa.

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