Sometimes confessions are the best introductions.
Here goes: I seriously dislike writing. For me, getting ideas out concisely on the page is about as fun as weeding and as fast as erosion.
But I have to admit writing brings a focus to my efforts. It clarifies my thinking and helps me understand the values and methods underlying my work. More important, it creates conversations with networks of people I’d like to know and learn from.
So I’m tossing my hat in the virtual ring by creating this blog. It’s as much an act of faith (I will do this; it will be meaningful) as a kick in the pants. I aim to post a couple of times a month.
I’m a documentary artist who collaborates with communities to identify issues and propose solutions for the places we live. Some people call this participatory media, others label it civic tech, and a few refer to it as socially engaged art. In my current work in public radio, we name it as community engagement. Whatever the moniker, I bring people together to listen, learn, connect, and act via civic storytelling projects. There is an alchemy when individuals form a group, share experiences, and decide what they what to do—individually or collectively.
My projects blend collaborative planning, documentary production, and curated public events. Relationship building is both the means and the end in my work. It’s how I learn about social issues and co-create projects to address them. It’s what energizes my creative juices and passion for justice. And it’s what results from the project: new personal connections based on empathy, understanding, and a shared sense of what’s at stake.
What is Gather?
Gather is a venue to explore my recent experiences working at the intersection of journalism, participatory documentary, and social practice art. It’s a place to share, learn, play, and conjure up new ways of doing this hybrid storytelling work.
Since I recently took a full-time staff position in public radio, I’ll start by delving into the burgeoning field of community engagement in public media journalism. This is where my brain is these days and I’d love to hear your ideas, projects, and observations on this topic or others you come across in Gather.
Quote of the Day
Some people collect coins, others stamps or snow globes. I collect quotes. What better place to share them than here? So to take a page from John Stewart’s playbook: and now, here is your moment of zen…
“You can’t just simply publish or broadcast a story; you’ve got to actually talk to people both before and after the story, to make the process much more about community connections, and ownership of how and even what way the story is being told.”
– Jon Funabiki, Professor of Journalism, San Francisco State University
Comments, questions & suggestions welcome. Ping me!
Photos by Steve Fisch, Miroslava Chavez-Garcia, Andrew Nixon, and Joanne Serrieh