Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

10 tactics for info-activism

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Every day I am amazed at how the technological revolution is changing our lives, sculpting our cultures and expanding our consciousness.

I found myself at a wonderful event last night amidst social and political activists working in the fields of human rights, education reform, climate change – just about any cause you could name. It was held at my office-away-from-home Brooklyn Creative League and presented by theCoup and Witness.

10 tactics for turning information into action is a film produced by the Tactical Technology Collective. They say:

10 tactics for turning information into action is our newest project and our first go at documentary film-making. It explores how rights advocates around the world have used the internet and digital technologies to create positive change, featuring 35 stories of successful info-activism in 24 countries. The 50-min documentary comes with a set of 15 hands-on cards featuring examples from the film and tools and tips to help you plan your own info-activism.

After a screening of the film, we broke up into groups based on topic of interest (stories, visual representation, mobile & tech, community & networks) and briefly discussed the film in relation to our topic, our work and our experiences. I was in the community and networking group and was somewhat relieved to learn that every cause seems to be having trouble turning virtual networks into physical action. How to get people (besides the Mad Tea Partiers) off their butts and out of their seats and into the world to do something in real-time seems to be the $64,000 question.

10 tactics is a great resource for those of us looking to connect with people in meaningful, authentic ways and Tactical Technology Collective provides free tool kits and informational resources as part of the project. It was fascinating to reflect on how these tactics have been used (or misused)  in advocacy/awareness campaigns in the arts. More on that in another post…

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who made this an inspiring, informative and engaging event.

My heroes: Bill Moyers

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

I always knew the incomparable beacon of light that is Bill Moyers would be featured in this column at some point, so when I learned last weekend that he announced he will resign from PBS in April 2010, I figured now was the time to write a post about him. I have been watching Bill Moyer’s Journal program regularly since it was resurrected for a second life on PBS in 2007 – I believe at the suggestion of my Grandma. I don’t own a television so I watch it online and while I don’t follow the schedule, I check in weekly to see who he’s been talking with.

Qualities he possesses that I respect most include:

1. his commitment to being one of the lone voices speaking truth to power in the tattered shreds of what we call “news media”;

2. the level of sincerity that fuels his investigations and an honest desire to get to the truth of the matter;

3. the courage he demonstrates by presenting important issues from many different sides without apology.

His understanding and mastery of the process behind investigative journalism, knowledge of history and ability to place events in meaningful context is now a dying art in our media. He has been unrelenting in his coverage of the health care reform debate/debacle and very recently challenged the President and members of Congress to reinstate the draft if they feel we should send more troops to Afghanistan.

Earlier this month he featured an interview with Anna Deavere Smith, one of the most awe-inspiring and unflinching voices in American theater, about her current show Let Me Down Easy. Some of my favorite episodes include several conversations with the noteworthy economist Simon Johnson, a fascinating discussion about Thomas Paine with two noted scholars and a mind-bending dissection of potential outcomes in relation to an important case currently under review by the Supreme Court that “could decide to erase the legal distinction between corporations and individuals”.

Last week’s episode was a lesson in history and featured rare recordings of LBJ in conversation with various advisors talking about how to deal with the war in Vietnam. It was particularly compelling given the current political debate about how to deal with Afghanistan (a war I believe we cannot win and should not be fighting) and I am sure Mr. Moyers intended to provoke reflection on our past experiences waging wars in foreign lands against guerrilla fighters. As the (paraphrased) saying goes: Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

Bill Moyers is one of the last independent journalists in the U.S. who knows his history and is using his position and program to advocate for our society’s progress and evolution, instead of serving the same old interests with the same poor results.  Watch him (and check out the show’s archives online) while you can.

Mr. Moyers – you will be sorely missed. Thank you for always shining your light into the dark places of our society.

Triple tragedy

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

In less than a week, the U.S. has witnessed three ugly incidents in which an armed gunman entered a public place and started shooting people. The current state of affairs in this country is pretty disastrous in my opinion, so while I am saddened by this news, I can’t say I am surprised.

- First was Fort Hood, Texas where an army psychiatrist shot up a military base right before a graduation ceremony was to begin (PTSD anyone?). My brother is a retired army veteran, so incidents involving the men & women of our military hit me close to home.

- Second was a disgruntled worker in Orlando FL (where I lived for almost four years and still have close ties) who returned to his former employer’s office to settle a score, apparently believing the firm was sabotaging his quest for unemployment benefits.

- The third happened yesterday just outside Portland OR – a murder/suicide perpetrated by a man allegedly in a relationship with the woman he killed, who also injured two innocent bystanders before killing himself.

I wonder – is this symptomatic of a general unraveling of our collective psyche?

Are these challenging times stressing people out beyond their breaking point?

Or are stories like this just the result of an overzealous media ploy to divert our attention away from more important issues (economy/jobs, health care, financial regulation, climate change)?

Is this any different from the normal scale & scope of violence we see in our society or does it portend something bigger?

Are we approaching a tipping point wherein our citizens reject traditional methods of conflict resolution and resort to taking matters into their own hands via gun violence?

I have no idea…What do you think?