Andrew Sullivan once wrote, in a heated blog post, (and I paraphrase) that equality for LGBT Americans is not a partisan issue. It is a human rights issue. His fervor gave me clarity and his observation stuck with me. So today, I’ll take it a step further because we are facing a symbolic moment in the journey towards equality.
Congress will be voting on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the next 48 hours. I’m asking my friends and family to call Capitol Hill and let their Representative know they SUPPORT LEGISLATIVE REPEAL in 2010. The phone number is (202) 225-3121. If you’re not sure what to say, you can take suggestions from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Fund here. You can also find out if your Member supports the legislation here.
Why do it? Too often do homophobic policies find their ways into national politics, making it difficult for people of all ages living in small towns, big cities and rural areas of America to live their lives fully and openly. They are paralyzed by fear of political and social retribution for being who they are. I know because it happened to me.
Dupont Circle’s 17th Street area is under construction. Block by block, new sidewalks have been laid and lamp posts lifted up.
I guess this is part of the stimulus ripple effect? People are working, goods are being exchanged and the businesses around stand to also benefit. What D.C. neighborhood will be next? My hope is somewhere in the Ward 8, Anacostia region. It is by far the poorest population in D.C. A stark contrast to these city blocks below.
Last week I got a call from one of my favorite MTV Street Teamers – Charlie Berens from Wisconsin. Since our work with MTV ended, Charlie has been busy…he graduated from college and moved west to Los Angeles to chase his dreams. And as luck has it, I’ll be helping him do just that tomorrow when I help his production team cover one of the most exciting events of the year – The Summit Series.
According to the web site, Summit Series DC10 is an “invitation-only event that connects top young minds and inspires a new generation of leaders to succeed in business and life.” Panels range from Business to Altruism to Innovation to Arts and even Personal Growth.
Kiki Ryan over at Politico did a great write up on the event – so don’t waste all your time here! If you want to follow the event via Twitter, check in with these hash tags: #DC10 and #SummitSeries.
Some of the speakers I’m excited to possibly see include:
President Bill Clinton
Craig Newmark Founder, Craigslist
Alec Ross Senior Advisor for Innovation, U.S. State Department
Ted Turner Chairman, United Nations Foundation
Alfred Lin, COO & CFO, Zappos
Shervin Pishevar, Serial Entrepreneur & Angel Investor
Philip Rosedale , Creator, Second Life
David Rubenstein, Co-Founder & Managing Director, The Carlyle Group
Ann Veneman, Executive Director, UNICEF
Howard Buffett , White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Engagement
As a side note, finally! I am back. As a video journalist, that is. It was a long journey to transition and upgrade all my gear. I’m happy to report that I have officially gone from a Panasonic Mini DV cam (MTV vids), to a Flip Cam (CNN iReport vids) to a Canon Vixia and a Kodak Zi8 Pocket, which are both HD quality. In this video, you’ll notice some imperfections, in part due to experimenting with different file formats. That’s OK though. No one is expecting technical perfection – I think we all get at this point, it’s all about creating content that is raw, unfiltered and authentic…and in some way makes you feel like by watching it you are closer to a truth you had not considered.
As for my editing gear, I also transitioned to a MacBook Pro and Final Cut Express. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was a dramatic, drawn out process getting the Canon Vixia HD filed (AVCHD .MTS) ready to go into Final Cut. In fact there’s no easy way, it requires tons of conversion and compression. That’s what video editing is all about. Tedious, challenging problems that require solutions. Over and over. Thanks to @AnthonyFears, who suggested I use HandBrake, an excellent converter that made my life so much easier and got these old clips ready to produce.
A lot of my friends have been asking me to describe the work I’m doing with Ignite DC. I’ve been asked to co-host along with Jared Goralnick, who is a successful technology entreprenuer and all around go getter. I figured if I was lucky enough to be considered – and would be in the company of people like him, I’d go for it.
As some background, Ignite is an O’Reilly Media event that takes place in over 50 cities across the globe. The event draws hundreds of people, happens a few times a year, and the next D.C. one is coming up on June 16th from 6-10PM. I’m tasked with helping to organize it and bring in compelling, thought-provoking speakers. Like many of you, the readers of my blog.
O’Reilly describe the event as “a high-energy evening of 5-minute talks by people who have an idea—and the guts to get onstage and share it with their hometown crowd. Run by local volunteers who are connected through the global Ignite network, Ignite is a force for raising the collective IQ and building connections in each city. And, via streaming and archived videos of local talks, local Ignites share all that knowledge and passion with the world.”
Below, I’ve embedded a few of my favorite past Ignite presentations. If you have an idea you’d like to submit – please do. We’re accepting applications (which are super easy to do) through May 17th. You can also pick up a ticket here.
Alex Lundry, Conservative Political Pollster
Presentation: Chart Wars: The Political Power of Data Visualization
“A funny thing happened during this summer’s health care debate: a chart that purported to show the organizational structure of the Democratic health care reform proposal took over the media cycle and triggered a partisan visualization volley. Since then, the original chart has frequently been used as a provocative protest sign and is now the subject of a congressional investigation. What was it that made this data visualization so powerful and politically potent?”
Peter Corbett, CEO, iStrategy Labs
Presentation: The Future of Social Capital
“Do stuff that maters. Where do you find the time? Sleep less, talk less. Help more. Do more. Do it now. Really, now. Literally when you leave tonight…write that blog post, reach out to that person. If you do that, we’re going to be the social capital that inspires the world. We’ll take (D.C.) from a social entrepreneurship perspective, a social technology…and a social change perspective, and we’ll inspire the world.”
A few weeks ago I got a note from an editor at Washington Life. (For those of you outside of D.C., Washington Life is a glossy magazine, a kind of “Insider’s Guide” to the city. It’s been around since 1991.)
The Editor was writing to ask how I felt about being featured in the magazine’s May Power Issue. He had heard about the work I did producing web videos for About Our Children (a Michelle Bernard/MSNBC program) and my success uploading and airing my first amendement news reports on CNN.
So I told him I was game…and here we are. Be sure to check out the magazine when it hits the stands this Monday, May 10th. In the meantime, enjoy the sneak peak of the other talented people in the “Media You May Not Have Met (yet…)” section. I’m being featured with – Huffington Post’s Dan Froomkin, Washington Post’s Katharine Zaleski, Facebook’s Tim Sparapani, TBD’s Erik Wemple and Bloomberg’s Manuela Hoelterhoff.
Today is World Press Freedom Day, a day devoted to remind everyone about the freedom of expression – and remember those journalists who lost their lives or freedom by pursuing it.
But with it, it is also a chance to look at all the great things that are happening on different corners of the globe to make sure vulnerable voices are heard, stories are told, and lives are made better because of it. And what better place to look than one of my favorite countries, India.
Video Volunteers (VV), (winner of a Knight News Challenge), is an organization in India that trains journalists to produce video reports on social issues – inside the often unpublicized crevices of the country’s widespread poverty. From Rajastan to the Himalayas, VV is out capturing stories from the voices of villagers who face major obstacles in education, poverty and health care.
Perhaps the most impressive part of VV and their new project, IndiaUnheard. The journalists are made up of Indians from different castes, genders, and states.
While the demand for community produced content in the media increases, it’s great to see programs like this get off the ground. Thanks to Mahima Kaul of VV for the tip on this great project. Having been to India three times, I’m an advocate of this work. Keep it up.
13th President, Calvin Coolidge, and with 44th President, Barack Obama, were both early adopters of new media. In 1925, Coolidge was the first President to give an inaugural address on radio. In 2008…Obama? YouTube.
For more facts on American Presidents, check out the Smothsonian’s National Portrait Gallery! Geek on!!
I had a great time last night at the Quinn Gillespie & Associates (QGA) and FD official White House Correspondents Dinner “toast” to the Press Corps last night. On my way, I did a quick Wikipedia search to find out the history of the WHCD, as it is a pretty big deal in Washington. Turns out, the WHCD began in 1920 just six years after the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) organized to protect journalists covering the White House. Today, the WHCD has become a sort of “Prom” for D.C., an annual event where some of the most prominent members of the media come out and mingle.
Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton (affectionately known as HRC for short) announced today a new @StateDept initiative called the International Fund for Women and Girls. To summarize, the mission is to help the State Department get “high impact” grants to NGOs faster – NGOs that help advance the rights of women and girls across the globe. HRC (referred to as #SecClinton on Twitter) has made it a priority to support private/public partnerships to see this happen.