Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Allied Media Projects: Creative communications for the future

Photo by Marvin Shaouni
(originally published 5/8/12 in Model D)

It’s almost that time again: every summer since 2007, media makers (and reformers), social justice activists, radical educators and librarians, technologists, youth organizers, artists, and musicians from around the country gather in Detroit for the Allied Media Conference (AMC).

Their mission is to explore how participatory media are (and yet could be) used to create a more just and creative world. Members of this diverse and expanding "network of networks" come together to organize and strategize, and to share stories, information, and tools. They envision a future in which greater numbers of people can access and use empowering technologies to tell their own stories, and to start meaningful conversations about issues relevant to their communities.

The AMC originated in 1999 in Bowling Green, OH as the Midwest 'Zine Conference. It’s currently coordinated by Allied Media Projects (AMP), an organization that emerged out of the conference in Bowling Green and later moved it to Detroit (in part because of the city’s long history of community organizing and grassroots media production).

AMP’s small staff works out of the Furniture Factory in the Cass Corridor, in a vibrant space designed to foster interaction and collaboration. (Think pods, not cubicles.) Hosting the annual conference is the most visible work they do, but their other, lesser known and locally focused projects, Detroit Future Media (DFM) and Detroit Future Schools (DFS), are remarkable, and well worth a closer look.

Both projects are about fundamentally changing the city: "One of our goals is to transform Detroit’s economy into a media based one," Operations and Outreach Manager Adriel Thornton says. "One way to do that is through Detroit Future Media. We’re also concerned with transforming education in the city. That’s Detroit Future Schools."
Read the rest at Model D.