Detroit, MI – After wrapping up the Summer 2010 Campus Training & Technical Assistance Institute in Las Vegas, I caught a red-eye flight to attend the annual Allied Media Conference (AMC). Held at the campus of Wayne State University near Detroit’s downtown, the AMC drew “people involved with do-it-yourself media, alternative media makers, [and those] interested in using participatory media as a strategy for social justice organizing.” Certainly a cultural and geographic shift trading in the western desert for the midwestern city that has struggled for years to rebuild itself. For the next three days, I learned how local communities in Detroit are working tirelessly to improve living conditions for themselves, their families, and neighbors.
The AMC offered participants a variety of tracks designed to generate and actively engage in discussions surrounding particular areas of interest ranging from disability justice, indigenous media, creating safe communities, Medios Caminantes (the Spanish language media track), Trans & Queer Youth, and Media Policy to name a few. The AMC’s notion of media (multiple forms of communication including print and web-based journalism, radio, writing, art, and music) has come to expand over the years which is incredibly refreshing given the ever-increasing power and range that technology has in transforming individuals and communities.
Each workshop I attended either provided participants in opportunity to learn hands-on the technology at hand (such as community mapping) and/or encouraged folks to identify needs, resources and network in order to build capacity, knowledge and access. Each workshop, keynote speaker, artist, facilitator, conference participant I heard or met, reinvigorated my commitment to building communities by evoking a language rooted in idealism, realism, and practicality.
Collaborative mapping, a visual representation of needs and/or assets in a given community, caught my interest given its relationship to the work I do at CALCASA. Some examples of community mapping include: Philadelphia Place (storytelling collaboration of peoples and events in Philadelphia), Toronto Trees (uses trees as landmarks in tours of Toronto), and Green Map (identifies areas with green resources). Throughout the community mapping workshop, I frequently thought of Dorothy Edwards’ intervention to end sexual violence. To simplify: sexual violence = red dots. Bystander intervention = green dots. Red and green dots spread across the United States, ideally the green dots surpassing the number of red dots and ultimately covering the country.
How can Green Dot, or any other intervention for that matter, translate itself from an initially theoretical conceptualization and practical approach to potentially technological soundboard/card conceived as a community map to further illustrate the urgency to combat sexual violence as communities? How can survivors, bystanders, educators, and others engage with the data? This is a question I’m struggling with and would like to hear your take on community mapping of sexual violence on college campuses.
Save the date: June 23 – 26, 2011 in Detroit for the next AMC.