Wednesday, December 10, 2008

VOICES OF HOPE VIDEO DOCUMENTS AN HISTORIC ADDICTION RECOVERY JOURNEY

Join Together, a program of the Boston University School of Public Health recently highlighted the Voices of Hope video that documented an historic journey of over 5000 addiction recovery advocates who came together to demonstrate the strength of addiction recovery and their determination to have addiction accepted and treated as a disease.



National, NYC metro and New Jersey participants made their way from Liberty State Park in Jersey City to the Brooklyn Bridge and back on Saturday, September 27, 2008. This year's Friend's Addiction Recovery Cruise and Rally was supported by the Recovery Project and the A&E Network.

Monday, December 01, 2008

SCREENS: HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE.

There was a very interesting and exciting discussion that was published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine a week ago about the proliferation of screens and how it’s changed advertising forever. Benjamin Palmer, Lars Bastholm and Robert Rasmussen, three advertising guys spoke forthrightly about the state of advertising today. They discussed the fact that advertising has always been persuasive, but now it needs to make a shift into the authentic zone because young people can actually check on the Internet to see if the claims are even close to being true—creating a new marketing “transparency”. That can throw a real big curve ball to advertisers and their creative people. Lars Bastholm, who has worked onXbox, Coke and Motorola campaigns, sets the record straight, “Most media, like television, used to be a kind of flow. You’d sit down, you’d turn it on and you’d watch. The reason advertising is completely broken is that the flow doesn’t exist anymore. There’s no prime time. There’s no such thing as must-see TV. Everyone’s composing their own flow.”

We are still in the age where the advertisers are trying to figure out how to deal with all the content creation and the lack of the Millennial audience’s interest in television, the old-time prime advertising vehicle. Brands need to find a way to have a relationship with their audience. In 2006, BBDO’s GenWorld Teen Study argued, “If your brand wants a relationship with this generation (Millennials) connect them to each other…hype causes apathy, but meaning energizes. To stand out, be a brand that matters.”

Bastholm provides an incredibly astute case study about EA Sports, a brand getting it right and interacting with its audience. “On YouTube, someone posted a clip of himself playing the company’s Tiger Woods golf game. He put it up as a joke, laughing at EA Sports, because he had discovered a glitch in the programming that allowed Tiger to walk right out onto a pond next to the golf course and shoot his ball from there. So the company saw the video, and in response, it uploaded this ad to YouTube that said: “It’s not a glitch. He’s just that good.” The ad showed the real Tiger, in live action, actually walk on water and shoot a ball.” This shows an ingenious ability on the part of an advertiser to take a risk and fly with it. However, according to Benjamin Palmer that’s certainly not the norm at the moment. Advertisers are resistant to changing with the times and the shift in audience, “They assume their business practices will carry on forever.”

Well they simply won’t be able to afford to do that any longer. In February the digital signal will take over from analog and it won’t be too long before the “TV” just becomes a big screen to view all the content available—at home. There will be billions and billions of websites and other media and pop culture, and advertising will need to find its place, but not in its typical “overkill” manner. Then there’s the wide world of the mobile screen, as well. Brands will need to figure out how to make a long term, “authentic” connection between their brands and media consumers. They better get crackin’. In the meantime, it’s fun to watch and be a part of what’s happening.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Voices of Hope Featured in Special Events Publication

Voices of Hope Productions is featured in the October issue of Special Events Galore, a monthly Stevenson publication to give nonprofit event planners tips on how to create a comprehensive media kit. Cited are 7 tips that should keep the media kit simple: Don't overwhelm the audience, photographs are essential, create a template and brand, include a dvd or streaming video of past events, include testimonials, promote your website and use e-marketing. Media kits can be used for distribution to a wide and diverse audience. Download publication article

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Magazine | Dangerous Assignments

At least seven Mexican reporters have vanished in just three years, most after probing the connections between criminal groups and public officials, Monica Campbell and María Salazar reveal in the new edition of Dangerous Assignments, now available from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“ Mexico is already one of the world’s deadliest nations for journalists, with 21 killed since 2000,” Campbell and Salazar write. “But the spike in disappearances suggests a significant shift in the dangers facing the Mexican press.”

Also in the new issue of CPJ’s magazine ... Elisabeth Witchel reports on Russia ’s lagging investigation in the murder of Paul Klebnikov. … in Tunisia , Joel Campagna finds a government aggressively silencing critical writers …. from Sri Lanka,
Agence France-Presse Bureau Chief Amal Jayasinghe describes the challenges in covering the country’s civil conflict … Gambian reporter Ousman Darboe gives a first-person account of his hunt for missing colleague “Chief” Ebrima Manneh. … from Azerbaijan, Nina Ognianova examines the unsolved murder of editor Elmar Huseynov ... and in Gaza, Reuters Bureau Chief Alastair Macdonald remembers slain cameraman Fadel Shana.

Monday, October 27, 2008

FIXING THE FINANCIAL CRISIS: NOT SO EASY

Danny Schecter, "The News Dissector" at the MediaChannel talks with Paul Jay of The Real News Network about the financial crisis in "Media and Bailout Failure." Schecter's website looks to 5 viewpoints in fixing the crisis. On The Real News Network, Schecter tells about Andrew Ladhe, a highly successful investor who closed his firm, “Recently, on the front page of Section C of the Wall Street Journal, a hedge fund manager who was also closing up shop (a $300 million fund), was quoted as saying, ‘What I have learned about the hedge fund business is that I hate it.’ I could not agree more with that statement. I was in this game for the money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.”



Watch part 2 of Danny's interview in "One Nation Under Debt."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

ECONOMIC MIGRATION TAKES PART IN artHARLEM EVENT

freeDimensional's Action Lab on Economic Migration will be on display at the Harlem Studio Fellowship (HSF) during artHARLEM, Oct 4 & 5. HSF will also host an opening reception of Abacism by French artist France Languérand, co-curated by Stéphanie Jeanjean and Raffaele Bedarida Opening reception: Friday, October 3rd 2008 (6-10 pm)

The Harlem Studio Fellowship is located at 128W 121 Street (between Lenox and Powell) / Subway: 2-3; A to 125 st.

artHARLEM will be held this Saturday, October 4th from 12 noon - 6 p.m. and Sunday, October 5th from 1.p.m. - 6 p.m.

The freeDimensional Action Lab on Economic Migration has been in development since 2006. Starting with an fD resident artist in NYC, Bara Diokhane and the Gowanus Canal "Empty Vessel" Boat Project, and leading up to the artHARLEM tour on October 4/5, the project has no intention of slowing down. The project has found a great deal on momentum in 2008. Beginning with an event during New York City's Immigrant Heritage Week, on to a one week workshop on Economic Migration at the Santa Fe Art Institute and ending the spring season of events with a media intervention in Dakar, with their partner center the Atelier Mustapha Dime, during the Dak'Art Biennale.

There are a number of community based organizations that are focused on Economic Migration from Central America to the US as well as West Africa to Europe that fD has been working with. fD looks to further the discussion by bringing organizations and community art spaces to work together to focus on the situation at hand.

The artHARLEM tour The freeDimensional Action Lab on Economic Migration has been in development since 2006. Starting with an fD resident artist in NYC, Bara Diokhane and the Gowanus Canal "Empty Vessel" Boat Project, and leading up to the artHARLEM tour on October 4/5, the project has no intention of slowing down. The project has found a great deal on momentum in 2008. Beginning with an event during New York City's Immigrant Heritage Week, on to a one week workshop on Economic Migration at the Santa Fe Art Institute and ending the spring season of events with a media intervention in Dakar, with their partner center the Atelier Mustapha Dime, during the Dak'Art Biennale.

There are a number of community based organizations that are focused on Economic Migration from Central America to the US as well as West Africa to Europe that fD has been working with. fD looks to further the discussion by bringing organizations and community art spaces to work together to focus on the situation at hand.

The artHARLEM tour is a free event of 100 Artists who open their private studios and talk about their work once a year for one weekend only. Purchase art directly from the artist.

Monday, September 29, 2008

BOOK | THE NUMERATI


Every day we produce loads of data about ourselves simply by living in the modern world: we click web pages, flip channels, drive through automatic toll booths, shop with credit cards, and make cell phone calls. Now a savvy group of mathematicians and computer scientists are beginning to sift through this data to dissect us and map out our next steps. Their goal? To manipulate our behavior -- what we buy, how we vote -- without our even realizing it.

Journalist Stephen Baker provides us with a fascinating guide to the world we're all entering -- and to the people controlling that world. The Numerati have infiltrated every realm of human affairs, profiling us as workers, shoppers, patients, voters, potential terrorists -- and lovers. The implications are vast. Our privacy evaporates. Our bosses can monitor and measure our every move (then reward or punish us). Politicians can find the swing voters among us, by plunking us all into new political groupings with names like "Hearth Keepers" and "Crossing Guards." It can sound scary. But the Numerati can also work on our behalf, diagnosing an illness before we're aware of the symptoms, or even helping us find our soul mate.

By analyzing the data they gather about us, retailers are learning how to lavish big spenders with special attention and nudge cheapskates toward the door... The same algorithms originally used to combat e-mail spam by predicting its mutations are now being used to predict the mutations of the HIV virus...Researchers at Carnegie Mellon are studying the patterns of office e-mail to spot signs of subversive networks taking shape within a company...

Meet Stephen Baker on October 6, 2008 at the Princeton Barnes & Noble.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

JOIN THE HUMAN BRIDGE TO ADDICTION RECOVERY

The Recovery Project— Recovery Cruise and Rally, Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thousands of addiction recovery supporters from the tri-state area will come together to form
a human bridge - a living symbol of recovery on the Brooklyn Bridge. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-New Jersey (NCADD-NJ) and sister organization, Friends of Addiction Recovery, partnering with A&E Television with alliances from the tri-state area will come together to raise awareness that addiction is a chronic but treatable disease that affects more than 22 million people nationwide.* The Recovery Project is a new initiative that confronts the stigma of addiction and unites people in the fight for effective treatment and support against this misunderstood disease. Recovery is possible, and we can all help. A&E Television's Recovery Project is a new initiative that confronts the stigma of addiction and unites people in the fight for effective treatment and support against this misunderstood disease. Recovery is possible, and we can all help. 

The day will include:

• Recovery Cruise to Brooklyn Bridge (registration required)
• T-Shirts for Cruise participants
• Live Entertainment/Celebrity Guests
• Walk across Brooklyn Bridge to form the Human Bridge of Recovery
• Cruise back from Manhattan to Liberty State Park, including free lunch
• Liberty State Park Rally for Recovery
• Keynote Speaker:
David Carr, New York Times Journalist
• Battle of the Banners
• Recognition of NJ Recovery Delegates
• Recovery Voices Count ~ Voter Registration
• Shout Down Drugs Performers and other musical entertainment
• POWER OF THE CIRCLE and much more

*SOURCE: Overview of Findings from the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health


Sunday, September 21, 2008

DEVELOP PROJECTS FOR NATIONAL DESIGN WEEK

National Design Week- October 19-25, 2008

On Oct. 19, Cooper-Hewitt will launch its third National Design Week, an initiative that aims to draw national attention to the ways in which design enriches everyday life, through outreach to school teachers and their students, and partnerships with design organizations across the country.

Nominate Your Favorite Design. This year the ceremony includes the People's Design Award, determined by an online voting system. Starting September 22, until October 21, the public can nominate and vote for their favorite designs. The winner will be announced live at the National Design Awards Gala in New York City.

Design in the Classroom. Are you looking for new ideas and methods to engage your students? Design makes any subject immediately relevant to students by directly relating to their real-life experience. How can design enhance the teaching of any subject, including mathematics, science, environmental studies, language arts, history, and art? Get free design lesson plans. | Conversations with educators
Celebrate National Design Week October 19–25 with free admission to Cooper-Hewitt all week long.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Journalists Arrested in USA and Africa

The FreePress report that police in St. Paul arrested several journalists yesterday, including Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and an AP photographer as they were covering protests of the Republican National Convention Stop the Arrests of Journalists in the USA. Sign the Letter. And earlier this weekend, police raided a meeting of the video journalists' group I-Witness.



ABC News reporter arrested


A similar situation has been reported by Mohamed Keita in Senegal. "Senegal, once considered a haven of press freedom in Africa, has seen an unusual level of venomous rhetoric against the independent media, fueled by Senghor and President Abdoulaye Wade, once an ally of the press. Several independent Senegalese journalists have told CPJ that this rhetoric from the highest levels of government encourages attacks and suggests that there will be impunity for those threatening the press, including security forces, government supporters, and members of the politically influential Mourides Muslim brotherhood."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Singer/Songwriter/Producer/Guitarist Tomas Doncker Releasing World/Soul EP "SMALL WORLD and Fundraiser

Brooklyn based Singer/Songwriter/Producer/Guitarist Tomas Doncker is releasing his World/Soul EP "Small World" due out in August independently on his own label GroovySexMusic. This new collection of songs mixes the flavors of World Music with the in-depth Soul progressions that makes up the sound of Tomas Doncker. His music has
been described as earthy, sultry and sophisticated, focused on poignant lyrics and soulful grooves. His music appeals to a global community that bridges the unity of listeners with spirit and harmony.

In celebration of the launch of the EP, on THURSDAY, AUGUST 28th @ SHRINE World Music Venue a concert will be held. There will be a $5 cover charge, but Tomas Doncker has been generous enough to give 50% of all the money raised at the door to freeDimensional. freeDimensional is an organization that links artistic communities to International Social Justice. This is a wonderful way to help freeDimensional in their work in NYC and Internationally. Show your support by coming out to SHRINE on 8/28 and listen to some amazing new music by Tomas Doncker.

The first single "Children of Darfur" has caught the interest of such humanitarian organizations as freeDimensional, The Solar Cooker Project and Jewish World Watch. Co-producing the new EP with Tomas is master percussionist Daniel Sadownick along with the production team of Hollins Steele. The album is being recorded at The Steele Factory in Brooklyn, NY. He has recently finished up recording the EP Small World after touring around the country in support of his CD "InsideOut". He has used the same band to record both recordings and has received critical acclaim around the country for their live performances in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, DC. His longtime band is comprised of Daniel Sadownick on Percussion (Steely Dan/Matisyahu/Raul Midon), Booker King on bass (Santana/Lila Downs), Etienne Lytle (Freddy Jackson/Elizabeth Withers) and rising star Camelia Qabazard on backvocals.

"Small World" features guest appearances by Soul and World music luminaries Martha Redbone, Karen Bernod, Audrey Martells, Keith Fluitt, KUKU, Ayib Dieng, Karma Johnson and Caitin Meissner. Tomas has upcoming dates in NYC at The Blue Note, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Shrine Cafe, Solomon's Porch, Frank's Lounge and has just been asked to participate in the New York City River to River Music Festival which brings Free music to the public.

Tomas Doncker's music is available on
www.iTunes.com
www.CDbaby.com
www.dustygroove.com
and www.myspace.com/tomasdoncker

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Zambia and its People

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa died after being hospitalized 2 months ago for a stroke. The WSJ article went on to say that Mr. Mwanawasa won praise for his anti-corruption and economic modernization plan, but had "failed to lift the Zambian people out of crushing poverty."

My husband and I visited a typical Zambian village set on the Zabezi River about 30 miles from the historic colonial city of Livingstone, which is very close to the Zimbabawe border. The evidence of the anti-corruption campaign came in the form of a billboard that I happened to capture while driving in Livingstone. Although the people lived in small mud huts and structures, they did not live in the same poverty that we see in cities like Trenton and Newark. The main difference is that these people feel safe in their villages and there is little evidence of violence within these communities.

The children and the
adults looked very happy and were pleased to see us, even though in most cases we did not speak the same language.
The villagers who did speak English were complimentary about their country and the government. They seemed quite concerned
about Zimbabwe's President Mugabe and when we went briefly passed through Zimbabwe we could feel the tension in the people. From what the villagers told us, Zambia appears to be a stable country and one that is concerned with educating its young people. There were quite a few educational campus' in Livingstone. In some villages the children may have to walk a long way to go to school, but they do have schools. We were told if anything was lacking it was a place to homestead the teachers.
I loved Zambia and its people--they were warm, open and constantly smiling. I certainly hope that a change in leadership won't bring major negative changes to the country.

And perhaps it might be a good idea for New Jersey to put up a few of its own anti-corruption billboards.
Mwanawasa's message is right on target.




Friday, July 18, 2008

ARE POSITIVE NEWS STORIES POSSIBLE?

Recently the Romanian Senate unanimously voted in favor of a law that would require fifty percent of the news reported by media outlets in that country to distribute “happy news.” One senator, from the opposition Social Democrat Party (PSD), argued newscasts show too much of the "dark side of life". The Romanian's National Council for Audiovisual Broadcasting is to validate the law - under which it will have the responsibility to decide what constitutes good or bad news. But the Council swiftly criticized the law. "News is news, it is neither positive nor negative, it simply reflects reality," said the Council's president, Rasvan Popescu.

Good news is a good idea. All you have to do is watch mass media news at night to witness that there's about a minute and half of positive news reported. Why do we have inspirational speakers who constantly tell us that if we believe and stay positive then good things will happen to us? Then there's the old adage about "looking on the positive side of life". Well that's no easy feat when the media is so negative.


I recognize media conglomerates have to make money, but what's so wrong about good old inspirational stories? There's a ton of them around. Stories that make us laugh and feel good about being human. If big media isn't going to tell them, even a quarter of the time, maybe there should be a law to ensure that daily we see good things about good people.

Perhaps it's just not possible. Humans have been drawn to hype and negative news as far back as the
Socrates and Salem Witchcraft trials. Today we are lucky to have many news sources to gather our news from. We owe it to ourselves to verify whether the information we get is accurate, and to accept listening and reading different opinions and sources than the tried-and-true that we habitually listen to in agreement. And with the advent of the Internet it’s never been easier.

If a magazine can offer Pitt-Jolie 10-15 million dollars for photos of their twins, then we know what the majority of the people ultimately want. Who's to say that if the media were forced to report fifty percent of the time on positive things that anyone would even watch or care? I still think there’s something to be said about “good things”—and not just tips from Martha Stewart. Positive stories are out there—we just have to search for them. Hopefully in the age of Youtube we might just see those good stories begin to develop when all the silly pet and baby tricks have trended downward.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

PARODY THIS!

Ok, I couldn't pass this one up. My very last post was about an engaging artist exhibit that parodied the media's depiction of the democratic candidates Obama and Clinton. Now that Obama has come out as the candidate for the Democratic party, we have a fresh new media parody with the New Yorker magazine cover. But unfortunately for the smart and witty New Yorker magazine, even the Obama campaign is denouncing the cover as "tasteless" and "offensive" and of course McCain is on the same bandwagon. There's been so much outrage about this cover in the past 2 days and it just seems ridiculous. But then again we have to be sensitive about the US constituency. That's the problem with satire, it's risky and can be high-brow and people just won't get it. Messages have to be "watered down" and even the candidates who do get it, prefer to act like it's an outrage. What happened to clear communication and talking about a subject. Like parody and satire are a solid asset of our democracy. Perhaps the outrage is that we can't seem to criticize or poke fun at anything in the political and corporate arenas anymore. Funny thing is that The New Yorker knows what they're doing. They had to know this would cause a fuss. They've been known to work with companies to take over many advertising pages and integrate them into the look, feel and image of the magazine. I think there's more than meets THE EYE here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

SOHO ARTIST INSTALLATION SATIRIZES MEDIA'S TAKE ON CANDIDATES CLINTON AND OBAMA

Recent installations, "The Assassination of Barack Obama" and "The Assassination of Hillary Clinton "explore the figurative, but highly effective attempts by the American populace to assassinate both candidates reputation during their historic candidacy for president. Reflecting the sentiment that no one is without blame or responsibility, artist Yazmany Arboleda's installation shows the extreme effects of a society's intent on castrating anyone in power.

Everyone is responsible, no one - and no group - is safe in this highly evocative and controversial exhibit. In the all-encompassing installation that explores the themes of sexism, racism, ageism and homophobia, one questions to what end we are willing to go to tear down our leaders in the process of electing them.

The installations can be viewed online.
The Assassination of Barack Obama
The Assassination of Hillary Clinton

WHAT'S THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IN PHILANTHROPY TODAY?

What's the biggest problem needing attention in the philanthropic world today? "Getting Americans to realize that their future — safety, the taxes they pay, quality of schools — is linked to addressing social problems. People need to feel that not contributing and being involved directly hurts their children. We apologize for asking for funding instead of reminding Americans that they chose this system — compared to Europe and Scandinavia, which have higher taxes — that depends on philanthropy and volunteering to compensate for our lower taxes."
~Allan Luks, Departing Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York

Sunday, June 08, 2008

TEACHERS LEARNING THE VALUE OF MEDIA LITERACY

Filmmaker George Lucus has been interviewed discussing how we should rethink the way we teach communications skills to young people and that should not only be about grammar and punctuation, but other associated skills like interpreting art, color, and perspective. Lucus, who is also the publisher of Edutopia Magazine says, “Art and music are usually thought of as therapeutic or fun, but not approached as a very valid form of communication.”

An eight minute video by the George Lucus Foundation includes a segment on the
Greater Brunswick Charter School in New Brunswick, NJ where a teacher works with the class to analyze an advertisement. Voices of Hope Productions also interviewed numerous teachers, staff and kids at this school for the New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) short film, Invest in Change because NJCC helped to finance the school. The Jacob Burns Center in Pleasantville, New York is also highlighted for their work with 8000 children who can access communications classes. 4th graders are shown learning how to produce animated shorts.

Students and teachers throughout the country are not only making media, but are dissecting newspapers and advertising and critically analyzing the messages held within. This video illustrates that writing along with critical thinking skills and media analysis instructs young people on how to become well-rounded individuals. Hopefully in the future we will see this more consistently as the traditional classroom experience. One where the student will not only learn grammar and writing, but will also be exposed to graphics, cinema, illustration, animation and music--taught in a basic class called communications. As Lucus explains, communications should be taught as a language all its own and not as an “arty thing, but a practical tool to be used to sell, to influence people, get your point across and to communicate with other people, especially at an age where kids are using more and more multi-media.”


Read the
Edutopia article

Watch the Voices of Hope Productions’ video "Analyze this: Message in the Media"


Monday, May 19, 2008

VOICES OF HOPE PRODUCTIONS NAMED AS "STEVIE AWARD" FINALIST

Consistent with the philosophy that Non-profit organizations should have the same access to effective and successful communications, media and video documentary resources as corporations do, Voices of Hope Productions was named a Finalist in The 2008 Stevie Awards--The American Business Awards.

More than 2,600 entries from companies of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted for consideration in more than 40 categories. Voices of Hope Productions is competing in the Non-profit PR fund raising category for directing and producing the short documentary, Invest in Change, developed as a fund raising tool for New Jersey Community Capital also known as the Community Development Loan Fund.
New Jersey Community Capital is a community development financial institution (CDFI) that invests in communities throughout New Jersey providing capital for affordable housing, education, and cultural and health services in low income communities.

"From the very beginning, we knew that Voices of Hope Productions was right for our short documentary fund raising video. We were even more pleased with how well they grasped our industry and how strongly they felt about it,” said Jennifer Bredehoft of New Jersey Community Capital, located in Trenton, New Jersey. “A Certificate of Finalist status in the Stevie Awards confirms their commitment to quality Non-profit storytelling. We congratulate Voices of Hope Productions on their achievement and wish them well in the competition.”


The American Business Awards are the only national, all-encompassing awards program honoring great performances in business. Finalists were chosen by business professionals nationwide during preliminary judging in April through early May. “Being named a Finalist is more of an accomplishment than ever before,” said Michael Gallagher, founder and president of The Stevie Awards. “It means that independent business executives have agreed that the nominee is worthy of national recognition.”


Stevie Award winners will be announced during the annual gala on Thursday, June 12 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. The Global Sponsor of the 2008 Stevie Awards is Dow Jones. Supporting sponsors of The 2008 American Business Awards include FIS Softpro, High Performance Technologies Inc., John Hancock, RCN Corporation, Richardson, and Ultimate Software. Media sponsors include the Business TalkRadio Network, CRM Advocate, and Human Resource Executive.

For more information go to the Stevie Awards website.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights Day: Voices of Hope and Economic Migration

I am pleased that Voices of Hope Productions has worked on a very worthwhile human rights project about economic migration in collaboration with freeDimensional (fD) and the New School University Media Studies Department.

Economic migration has been a concerning issue over the past few years and from May to June 2008 at the Dak'Art Biennale, fD is supporting its Dakar partner center, Atelier Moustapha Dime, to raise awareness on the growing number of West Africans dying at sea while attempting economic migration. Multi-site, in-depth focus on economic migration using the experience of 14 Senegalese men who traveled from Goree Island off the coast of Dakar to within a hundred miles of Brooklyn before being picked up by the US Coast Guard. These men were summarily detained in a New Jersey ‘warehouse’ afterwhich 10 were quickly deported. In May 07 the
Associated Press stated that in 2006 more than 30,000 African immigrants were caught trying to reach the Canary Islands.

Voices of Hope Productions’ role in this project evolved into the creative direction and design of a hybrid newspaper/poster called the
Goree Gazette that was printed in Senegal and will be handed out month-long at the 2008 Dak'Art Biennale. The accompanying media campaign interviews and press conference) in Dakar public spaces – including the central marketplace, city center, fishing boat launches, and the exhibition venues of the 2008 Dak'Art Biennale – will be created in an archival process of sharing, trust and consensus-building with Dakar pedestrians, and is intended to provide a robust version of the situation that faces economic migrants seeking opportunities in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

Voices of Hope Productions, fD and New School Media Studies provided a journalistic tone and artistic treatment to the English/French/Wolof text moving it from mere content to an aesthetically viable pamphlet dynamically designed to capture the attention of Dakar citizens, art world visitors and international journalists covering the Biennale. The hybrid newspaper opens up to an impactful and educational poster that includes an artistic rendering by a detainee of the inside of the detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The global awareness and reach of this important issue will continue beyond the Biennale through the Dakar Action Lab on the Taking IT Global Web site. The project will also be included in TransCultural Exchange’s Here, There and Everywhere: Anticipating the Future of Art 2009 conference and catalog.

More links:
Mother's migration outreach
CBS 60 minutes segment on Detention in America

Dakar Action Lab

Download the Goree Gazette
(web version 16mg)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

WHY WOMEN ARE THE MARKET FOR CHANGING THE WORLD

According to The She Spot co-authors, Lisa Witter and Lisa Chen, the secret to changing the world is hidden in plain sight—in fact, it’s half the population. Women vote more, volunteer more, and give to more charities than men do. They control over half of the total wealth in America.

Witter and Chen reveal surprising insights into women’s real social priorities (for example, in one poll only 7% of women identified “protecting reproductive choice," supposedly the women’s issue, as a top priority for Congress). They describe four core principles—care, control, connect, and cultivate—for designing messages that will resonate with women of all ages and backgrounds. And using case histories from companies like Home Depot, T-Mobile and Kellogg’s as well as nonprofits like MoveOn.org, The American Lung Association and The Environmental Defense Fund, they explain precisely how to put these four principles into practice.


According to Witter in a
commentary in ODE magazine, one very good case study is that of the women of Rwanda. "The 1994 genocide in Rwanda left the country in tatters, its future fraught with uncertainty. Of the more than 800,000 people killed, most were men and boys. Rwanda’s remaining population was 70 percent female. Fast-forward to the present day: The economy has revived and is holding steady. Major road arteries between cities and outlying villages, which were destroyed, have been rebuilt. Today, the Rwandan lower house of Parliament is nearly half female, the highest percentage of women in any parliament worldwide. Girls are attending school in record numbers.

The women of Rwanda are behind one of the most inspiring comeback stories of national transformation in recent history. And while their story is dramatic, it’s not unique. Indeed, in the field of international development, women have emerged as the not-so-secret secret to changing the world."

Read the transcript of the Chronicle of Philanthropy's Live Discussion What Women Want

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

IS MEDIA INDUCED PHILANTHROPY A GOOD THING?

Are shows like Extreme Makeover or more recently Oprah's “Big Give” (both on ABC) really philanthropic or just ratings boosters and product placement vehicles? Over the years I have been wondering whether these free handouts are truly successful and who they actually benefit in the long run.

We are all told the American dream is all about owning a house with a little white picket fence. Perhaps these reality television make-overs appeal to us in that same dreamy sense. Wouldn’t we all just love for someone to recreate our homes for free? Or is this show popular because people think by watching from their own TV they too are somehow part of the volunteer and philanthropic movement?

On the ABC, Oprah’s Big Give website it states, “In eight one-hour episodes, a diverse, determined and competitive group of ten people are given the challenge of a lifetime — to change the lives of complete strangers in the most creative and dramatic ways.” I think Oprah is probably one of the most ‘activist’ celebrities on television today, but perhaps rather than using contestants, her producers should consider actually highlighting “real people” who are really living this work daily across the country.

Although bad-luck-gone-good might make for interesting television I often wondered how did the people on Extreme Makeover handle the renewed sense of home ownership in the long-term? The show has been on for a long time, but I’ve never seen a reunion show highlighting “where they are now” …like measure the outcome/investment of the work done and money that’s been spent.

What’s prompted me to write about this is that the Marrero family, in Camden, a recipient of an Extreme Makeover home built by JS Hovnanian and Sons in 2007 has now put their home on the market for sale at $499K according to an Asbury Park Press article. I thought a reaction to the story by someone on the APP website hit the proverbial nail-on-the-head. Is the family advised and consulted on how to pay for the house and the bills associated once the film crew leaves? This house was built in Camden. Or does a show like Extreme Makeover get involved or care about how the home may-or-may not fit into the city's urban renewal planning?

Apparently the land the home was built on is owned by Urban Promise, which curiously has a video piece from ABC’s 20/20 on children in Camden that takes you to an affiliated story on “Waiting on the World to Change”. The article goes on to talk about Camden being the most dangerous city in America to children.

So one has to scratch their head and ask, why when the family had lived in a cockroach infested brownstone prior, would Extreme Makeover build a huge house in Camden where there are nearly no comparable homes in that price range which is at the top of the market. And why is the family trying to sell the home less than a year later?

Is this really responsible philanthropy? In an article by Joshua Horwitz for the Chronicle of Philanthropy he explains eloquently, “Television offers a great opportunity to educate and to make people passionate about causes — especially when a philanthropist and television personality as popular as Oprah Winfrey is sponsoring the lessons.” I agree. But like everything else in the media, we really need to think about the messages we are taking in and be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Maybe a few inconsistent and ill-informed philanthropic messages are better than none. But I'm not sure. Perhaps it's just fertilizing the ground for telling the real stories about volunteerism and philanthropy.

What do you think?

Monday, May 05, 2008

SHAKESPERIENCE:NJ | STUDENT SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL

The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey presents 2nd annual SHAKESPERIENCE:NJ. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will host teachers and students in grades 5 through 12 from across the state for Shakesperience:NJ -- three full days highlighting and celebrating the study of Shakespeare through performance on May 5, 6 and 7 at The Theatre's Main Stage - the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in Madison. The initiative offers an opportunity for middle and high school students to spend an entire day sharing the excitement of Shakespeare as actors and audience members. Each group of students will take the Main Stage at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre to present a 20-minute Shakespeare scene to an audience of their peers, teachers, parents and professional actors from The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey who will serve as commentators. Twenty-three schools will participate in this year's three-day festival. "As a teacher, I am most grateful for the fact that my students could share their work with peers from different schools and learn from other groups," said May Fung from the Faith Hope Love Academy in Somerset, a participant in the 2007 Shakesperience:NJ festival.

In addition to the student performances, each day will include entertaining educational interludes such as Shakespeare trivia games and swordplay demonstrations. For more information about Shakesperience:NJ, call 973-408-3980 or e-mail jbgrant@ShakespeareNJ.org.

Monday, April 28, 2008

THE CASE FOR MAKE BELIEVE

Dr. Susan Linn, the co- founder and Director of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood has recently released The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World.

In The Case for Make Believe, Linn demonstrates that, while creative play is crucial to human development, nurturing make believe in modern day America is not only countercultural - it's a threat to corporate profits.

At the heart of the book are gripping stories of children at home, at school, and in a therapist's office using make-believe to grapple with real-life issues from entering kindergarten to the death of a sibling. In an age when toys promote TV shows, dress-up means Disney costumes, and parents believe Baby Einstein is educational, Linn lays out the inextricable links between play, creativity, and health, showing us how and why we need to protect our children from corporations that aim to limit their imaginations.

Listen to Dr. Susan Linn on the Leonard Lopate Show.

Get a signed copy with your $75 donation to the organization.
Or just buy the book.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

SEEDS OF COMPASSION | DALAI LAMA VISITS SEATTLE

“Compassion arrived with the sunshine in Seattle,” said Dan Kranzler, Seeds of
Compassion co-founder.

A celebration of the many cultures that can be found in the Northwest kicked off the event, as 1000 people of all ages, representing 40 cultures, processed onto the field and joined the crowd in the stadium. The procession included groups representing Tibetan, Native American, Chinese and Latin American cultures.

As part of the procession of cultures, His Holiness the Dalai Lama entered the stadium and took center stage. Valued members of the community, including Governor Christine Gregoire, representatives from local Native American tribes, local youth and partners in the Seeds of Compassion efforts joined His Holiness to address the crowd.




“Today is not about international politics, but about coming together to plant the seeds of compassion for a more peaceful world,” said Governor Gregoire and honorary chair of Seeds of Compassion.

Seeds of Compassion is an initiative of the Kirlin Charitable Foundation. The purpose of the initiative is to nurture kindness and compassion in the world, starting with children and all those who touch their lives. Seeds of Compassion is partnering with early-childhood-development advocates and organizations, foundations, educators, scientists, business leaders and the greater community to highlight and promote the evidence-based programs, tools and strategies that greatly assist with the healthy development of children as happy, compassionate members of society.

A diverse group of youth from across the world that have come together to share their unique perspective of the Seeds of Compassion events on a blog.

Learn how to get involved in the Seeds of Compassion.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

REFUGEE REALITIES GAME

A few years back I wrote a story about the Games for Change Conference, which is slated this year for June 2 to 4, with Sandra Day O'Connor as the closing keynote speaker.

Recently, Oxfam Australia developed a Refugee Realities game that is a free interactive experience that puts you in the position of a refugee or internally displaced person trying to find safety from war. Each year over 500,000 people are killed in war, the livelihoods of many more are destroyed, and families are torn apart. Often they are left with no choice but to live in camps, which are usually unplanned and occupied by thousands of people.

Refugee Realities is both an interactive performance event involving moving image, improvised theatre, audio-visual and photographic art forms as well as an ongoing online project to document the various realities refugees face.

Refugee Realities will navigate you through a mine field, find you on your way to a refugee camp, and have you search for basic needs like water and food and building a temporary shelter. At the end of the game experience you will have the opportunity to try to seek a permanent solution to displacement, outside the conditions of the camp.

Find out more about Games for Change

Friday, April 04, 2008

WHAT'S THIS I HEAR ABOUT WORM POOP?

I don't know what it was this week, but I ran into worm poop several times. I was looking for websites to post intern jobs and happened upon an environmental company in Trenton that I never heard of before—Terracycle. They seem to have a pretty extensive internship program and their entire communications and PR team seems run by interns. Smart idea. They pay a stipend of 100 bucks per 40 hour work week, which likely pays for gas and lunch. They post on numerous job sites and I kept running into them on every site I posted which piqued my curiosity. When you read "changing the way the world thinks about waste" you wonder what that means.

When you get to their website you are introduced to the company which makes products that are organic and they package them in recycled soda bottles. Their plant food product is made by "feeding organic waste to millions of worms"—better known as worm poop! Interestingly the company also pays people to recycle plastic bottles, energy bar wrappers, yogurt containers and drink pouches. They've even held Annual Worm Poop Factory Graffiti Jams with graffiti artists painting to beautify the community and raise community spirit

I thought all of this was cool, but clicked out of the website without thinking much more about it. The next day I got my advance email copy of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and what was the lead story? Worm poop. And the talented social entrepreneur whose idea it was—self-described eco-capitalist and co-founder Tom Szaky. Who would ever believe you could turn millions of worms to work to generate $8.6 million in projected sales for 2008? Szaky also has a blog on Inc.'s website and he's giving out free advice. Listen up. This 27 year old Princeton University dropout gives a little insight on how to generate FREE buzz. And he's right.

Smart, resourceful guy. Interesting idea. Free labor. Social entrepreneur with waste solutions. Eco-capitalist: sounds like an oxymoron. 

Sunday, March 30, 2008

SECRECY REPORT CARD

OpentheGovernment.org, a coalition of government groups, journalists, consumers, and environmentalists who focus on making the government more transparent and to strengthen the public trust in government has published in 2007 Secrecy Report Card. According to the report:

• Classified information has remained significantly higher than in the years prior to 2001

• States continue to enact laws that limit access to government information with 114 bills that expanded executive powers and closure of otherwise public forums due to security reasons

• 108 patents have been kept secret, with inventions kept under "secrecy orders"

• More than 25% of all Federal contracts are not competed on openly and fairly

The "Secrecy Report Card 2007, shows both a continued expansion of government secrecy across a broad array of agencies and actions and some, limited, movement toward more openness and accountability. While every administration wants to control access to information about its policies and practices, information created by or for the federal government belongs to the American public and should be open."

Read Report

Thursday, March 27, 2008

VOGUE COVER: LeBron and Gisele

You know I caught the discussion about this on the Today Show and was very intrigued. First I couldn’t believe that the mass media picked up on the story, although they did so because bloggers got so heavily into it. Ann Curry was excellent as she asked Nancy Giles (from CBS morning show who I really like) what do African American people see in this picture that white people don’t see? Nancy Giles said that blacks are always depicted in the media as aggressive, threatening and as primal beings. Advertising guru Danny Deutsch saw nothing wrong with the cover at all.

Actually they showed other Annie Lebowitz shots for the cover and I too think that they should have used one where LeBron and Gisele were both in movement, it was a great shot, but maybe the editors at Vogue thought it was too Sports Illustrated. I think this does help to perpetuate the stereotypes that Giles referred to and may purposefully be provocative. I’m sure LeBron got paid well for the shoot, plus that type of promotion boosts other career opportunities for him. So it’s easy to see why he would be positive about the cover shot. I personally think they made Gisele look like a weak figure, even a bit odd—twisted and her footing doesn’t appear well balanced. It looks like the only reason she’s standing upright is because LeBron is holding her up, yet that point of view wasn’t discussed on the Today Show.

Perhaps Vogue wanted some extra promotion for the magazine cover? 

Here's the full story

Monday, March 24, 2008

NEWARK LAUNCHING TALENT SEARCH

Mayor Cory A. Booker announced that the City of Newark ’s Division of Recreation/Cultural Affairs is seeking musicians, entertainers, and other performers to star in its concerts and events.

The division is seeking musicians with backgrounds in many types of music, including Hip Hop, R&B, Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Rap, and Salsa. Musicians can be solo performers, groups, dancers, bands, or choirs of all ethnic backgrounds. In addition, the division is looking for face painters, clowns, puppet performers, and food and craft vendors to entertain children and adults at fairs and events. The division is also looking for disk jockeys, comedians, and poets to give readings.

Newark and the surrounding region are rich with diversity and performing talent. The next generation of Sarah Vaughans and Frankie Vallis are with us right here, and we are proud to offer them a stage upon which to star. I urge performers, bands, entertainers, dancers, comedians, and groups to contact our Recreation Division and become Newark ’s newest legends,” Mayor Booker said.

The division is planning an expanded series of concerts this summer, utilizing concert halls, parks, and other public facilities, and plans a diverse array of entertainment for these events. Entertainers will get paid for their appearances. Performers need not be Newark residents, and they can be professional.

Musicians, comedians, and performers are encouraged to submit tapes, CDs, and biographies to Kevin Peterman at the Division of Recreation/Cultural Affairs, at 94 William Street , Newark , New Jersey , 07102 . Other performers and vendors can also contact him at (973) 733-6454.

Monday, March 17, 2008

THE LIVING CANDIDATE

The Museum of the Moving Image has a great archive of Presidential campaign commercials going back to 1952. Last year I watched some of the commercials in a comfy screening booth at the Museum and it was great fun. But now you can view the Museum's Living Room Candidate website right from your desk. The site allows you to search commercials by candidate, year, issue, and types of commercials and also has transcripts and teaching materials as well.

They also have an interesting statistic on their site: "The Internet is used regularly by almost two thirds of American adults, surpassing the level of penetration achieved by television in 1960, when that medium first played a vital role in the outcome of a presidential election. The Internet is no longer a novelty, but is rather a necessary campaign tool. Airing just 739 times in a total of three states, the controversial "Swift Boat" ad gained much of its considerable traction from the Internet and 24-hour cable news channels."


Monday, March 03, 2008

SUNDAY IN ISTANBUL

Sunny. Warm. Beautiful.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

TAKE ACTION: SAVE THE INTERNET

A new bill has been introduced in U.S. House that would stop Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from controlling what you do, and where you go online.

In 2006, 1.6 million people stopped mighty phone and cable companies from gutting Net Neutrality. In 2007, more than a quarter-million people sent comments to the FCC and opened up cell-phone networks to user choice and innovation.



This year, we're going to stop Internet blocking and censorship once and for all. Learn more about the Internet Freedom Preservation Act

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

COMCAST PAID PEOPLE TO KEEP PUBLIC OUT OF INTERNET DEBATE

SavetheInternet.com just caught Comcast Corp. stacking an FCC hearing with paid (and apparently sleepy) seat-fillers.

The hearing was set up to investigate Comcast's recent blocking of the Internet. But Comcast packed the room so that the public couldn't get in to voice their support for Net Neutrality.


They took pictures and recorded an interview that proves Comcast was taking seats from concerned citizens. Now, they need you to make sure that the company doesn't get away with this ever again. Here's what you can do:

  1. Tell your friends to take action at SavetheInternet.com.
  2. Support SavetheInternet.com's campaign to protect free choice on the Internet.

Comcast is blocking the public debate just like it is blocking the Internet: it wields its substantial political and financial power to shut out debate and shut up people.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

PLAY PRESIDENTIAL PAINTBALL

Have fun- with this cute widget...


Monday, February 25, 2008

WHY THE INTERNET IS GREAT

Here's the proof. What a great medium for the people--for the public. Derrick a young guy, an immigrant tells us why he's behind Barack Obama. An interviewer comes up to him at an Obama rally and starts firing off questions. Derrick is an eloquent and impressive young guy. He's taken the time to understand why he likes a candidate and is supporting him. He also explains why he thinks it's imperative to be politically engaged in the US. His second video is quite impassioned and offers it's own hope. This is why the Internet is so much better than broadcast television. Here we can analyze a swath of opinions and finally make a truly informed decision instead of just sitting on the sidelines and listening to pundits and journalists.

Derrick's 2nd video (tan background) is a must watch and is in response to the initial interview video.



Wednesday, February 20, 2008

FutureWave -International Youth Films

FutureWave is a feature-length program of shorts by students 18 and under that showcases the best in international student films. Submissions close on March 1, 2008. Submit student films completed in the past year.

Superfly is a 3-Day Youth Filmmaking Intensive during the Seattle International Film Festival. 50 youth from across the country come together to create a short film in just three days with a high profile public screening at the festival. Students will collaborate with other youth and master teachers, while exploring Pacific Northwest Native American Culture.
Application deadline is April 1, 2008.

More information
is available online or contact dustin.kaspar@seattlefilm.org if you have any questions or need any more information about these important programs.

POINTS OF LIGHT VOLUNTEER AWARDS

If your company has an employee volunteer program, you probably have some great stories to share about the impact your volunteers have had in communities across the country. Maybe it’s through large scale annual events, or with smaller groups of volunteers in remote locations who have significantly impacted their community – the Points of Light & Hands On Network wants to hear your stories. The awards are given out annually by the Points of Light & Hands On Network, demonstrating the values of corporate social responsibility through their employee volunteers. Visit the website.

Monday, February 11, 2008

PANGEA DAY

If the whole world was watching what story would you tell? Pangea Day taps the power of film to strengthen tolerance and compassion while uniting millions of people to build a better future.

On May 10, 2008 -- Pangea Day -- sites in Cairo, Dharamsala, Kigali, London, New York City, Ramallah, Rio de Janeiro and Tel Aviv will be linked to produce a 4-hour program of powerful films, visionary speakers, and uplifting music. The program will be broadcast live to the world through the Internet, television, digital cinemas, and mobile phones.

Your film could be part of it. Pangea Day is looking for films approximately 5-minutes in length that will make people laugh, pause and think. They can be fiction, non-fiction, real-life, animation or a mixture. Above all, they should tell a story that someone else on the other side of the world will be able to relate to.

Of course, movies alone can’t change the world. But the people who watch them can. So following May 10, 2008, Pangea Day organizers will facilitate community-building activities around the world by connecting inspired viewers with numerous organizations which are already doing groundbreaking work.

Pangea is the name of the original super-continent which contained all the world's land mass before the continents started splitting apart 250 million years ago. Pangea Day is being launched with the vision that the people of the world can begin to overcome their divisions, and that the power of film can help make it possible.

Find out how Pangea Day got its start with Jehane Noujaim's wish.

Join the Youtube group

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

GIRLS GOING PLACES

Now in its eighth year, Guardian has brought Girls Going Places(R) virtual, by allowing teen entrepreneurs and nominator's unlimited access to program news, highlights and video on YouTube, Facebook and MySpace. Teachers, parents, and community members are encouraged to nominate accomplished young female entrepreneurs between the ages of 12 and 18. Nominations will be accepted through February 29, 2008.

"We're excited to bring the Girls Going Places(R) program online and allow teens and parents full access to this great program that supports women in business of all ages," said Diana Acevedo, National Manager, Girls Going Places, Guardian, New York. "Small business is the main driver of our economy and women account for more than 55% of new startups in the country*. We encourage budding entrepreneurs to go online to learn more about Girls Going Places(R) and how to get involved."

Additional information about the program and nomination forms for the competition can be found on their Website.