Month 4: Back to Training and Media Organizing

This was a month for organizing people to be self-sufficient in producing content for local community radio, television, and the Internet. From October 15 to November 15, I focused primarily on training volunteer citizen journalists while also staffing the media studio facilities at the IMC and facilitating meetings. Like last month, I still had little time to write, but compensated for this with direct engagement and a lot of indirect service (with some direct service- but that seems unavoidable).

Training this month consisted of several one-on-one sessions. These included size tutorials with WRFU radio station airshifters, one with a volunteer new to live sound, one on PC audio recording/editing, and at least two sessions on video production (specifically, editing and DVD authoring). As a companion to teaching, I provided technical support to different IMC working groups. I helped Books to Prisoners upload their videos to YouTube and add some photos to their volunteer archive, produced promo spots for WRFU with a local volunteer, and tested and reconfigured the IMC’s sound system for live events.

To further expand the IMC’s media programs, I coordinated the monthly IMC Video News October 2008 project, which was a series of short films for public-access TV. Key among these was the November Ballot Township Referendum video, an educational film released prior to the November elections that informed local voters about a ballot issue that would increase funding for those living in extreme poverty in Champaign-Urbana. The ballot referendum was not passed, but the making of and distribution of the film raised local awareness in an already high-profile national election. I also organized a live radio production and interview on Ibogaine, a treatment for chemical addiction, and by the end of the work month had raised enough funds to purchase a new camcorder for the IMC.

Finally, this month provided an opportunity to do more community organizing and to address my own concerns within the organization, described in last month’s field report. One event was rather simple – an experimental music and a/v performance concert which also served as an opportunity for our volunteer film crew to learn production and editing. Additionally, I helped fellow IMC VISTA Nicole Pion present a state AmeriCorps application to three IMC working groups. This included drafting job descriptions for a Venue and Events Coordinator and News Media Coordinator. We scheduled a VISTA meeting with representatives (there are no employees) of the IMC to address concerns that we were doing too much direct service at the expense of our capacity building project goals. From this meeting, I developed a media training plan to better utilize community member’s talents and interests, in which groups who would like to use IMC services appoint two media support representatives to meet with me to go over their technology and press needs, upon which we draft a specific training schedule to meet their goals.