Support the Dominion
Support the Dominion
The Vancouver Media Co-op held a meeting several days ago for folks who are interested in helping with organizing, promoting events, and covering stories. About 7 or so amazingly solid folks showed up to our meeting on the back balcony of Spartacus Books. People threw around some great story ideas, agreed to taking on specific tasks (ie postering and flyering), planned a group trip to Sutikalh, talked about the structure and purpose of the co-op, as well as its goals, and shared contact information. It was an impressive tone-setter to say the least.
The bulk of Media Co-op work so far has consisted of talking to or emailing people, getting contact info for other people, talking to them, setting up meetings, and then talking some more. Several meetings with a diverse cross-section of folks linked to media production, cooperatives, and unions have been arranged and are slowly filling up the VMC calendar.
Picture 1: A demonstrator at a women's housing march put on by local group Power of Women (POW). The march was a dignified expression of anger at the government for authorizing mass evictions in poorer areas of the city (most notably the downtown eastside), as well as destroying potential social housing sites in favour of making way for the Olympic Games in 2010. Aboriginal people comprise about 3 per cent of BC's population yet make up over 32 per cent of the homeless population. Aboriginal women are particularly vulnerable to losing their homes.
Picture 1: The Vancouver Media Co-op tour kicked off in Victoria BC at the Camas Bookstore and Infoshop. About a dozen people showed up, and in spite of technical difficulties which prevented us from showing the Media Co-op's promo video (filmed in Halifax during our February tour), the discussion was a success, as folks were enthusiastic and interested in finding ways of supporting and collaborating with the Media Co-op on independent media projects that are already up-and-running in Victoria. An organizer from Indymedia Victoria attended the event and gave an update of events after the talk. Another organizer there is starting a news site called B Channel News in response to Victoria's mainstream A Channel.
Picture 2: After Victoria we headed to Nanaimo to speak to people at Radio Malaspina(CHLY), the town's campus community station. Four people came out, but they were incredibly enthusiastic and spent some time brainstorming ways that Nanaimo could fit into the Vancouver Media Co-op picture.
Picture 3: After the talk in Nanaimo we were interviewed on the Popular Participation Movement (PPM) news show. The PPM is a a group that mobilizes against war and empire. Most notably, they have staged theatrical demonstrations for four years in a row now to oppose Nanaimo's annual Empire Day celebration. The following morning, the Media Co-op snagged an interview on CBC Victoria news.
Picture 1: Our presentation at Just Us cafe on Spring Garden had a really good turnout, one of the highest, at 13 people. The tour, on average brought about 8-10 people out to each of its events. The thing about touring a city (as opposed to a country) is that, while touring a much smaller area, small groups of people make it out to whichever event is the easiest one for them to attend. With each event, a different group of people comes out, and most are there for really good reasons, making every presentation interesting in the sense that the people in attendance dictate its terms.
Picture 2: "The revolution starts here!" shouted Dominion editor, Dru Oja Jay, in the midst of a presentation at the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). Those in attendance were highly enthused, amazingly supportive individuals, ready to take a stand on Canadian media. It was a rejuvenating experience to be in the same room as these folks, older than myself, who see the big picture with blatant confidence. In this picture: Errol Sharpe of Fernwood Publishing (middle), and Dave Shaw of PSAC (right).
Picture 1: A public presentation in the North End was held upstairs from Anchor Archive, a growing local library of zines on every topic available. Besides being the most well-attended event this month, a journalist from the Chronicle Herald described how he had survived the paper's brutal cuts, and expressed interest in being involved in the co-op.
Picture 2: Our presentation in Bedford, aka 'an attempt at branching out,' proved a little less than fruitful in spite of concerted attempts at postering in bus stops and sticking flyers under people's windshield wipers nearby the community's shopping mall. There is a lack of public space in Bedford. We are told that the ice rink is the favorite public hangout by our solo contact there to date, Mark, who, when he's not helping build media co-ops, is driving a Zamboni.
Picture 3: The 7th annual Homelessness Marathon, which airs every year in Montreal, aims to raise awareness about homelessness with 14 hours straight of live broadcasting. This year, CKDU 88.1 FM in Halifax hosts a listening booth at St. Matthews United Church of Canada, serving food and drinks all night long. In collaboration, women from the Roberts Street "Stitch and Bitch" have a KNIT-A-THON to raise funds for the Out of the Cold Emergency Winter Shelter.
Picture 4: The Media Co-op's own traveling videographer, Van Ferrier. Van has returned to Montreal since this photo was taken, but before he did, was instrumental in documenting the process of building the co-op. Here, he flims The Dominion's first annual AGM.
Picture 1: Halifax is saturated in cooperative media potential. Posters detailing a list of events in different neighborhoods in and around Halifax can be seen from the four directions.
Picture 2: A presentation at Oxfam involved many projections, even though the writing was on the wall.
Picture 3: A journalism skillshare and intro to the Halifax Media Co-op website drew a diverse and engaged audience into NSPIRG's office at Dalhousie.
Picture 4: Handing people flyers outside of the Halifax Ferry Terminal leading to Dartmouth was incredibly fun. Being able to tell people about the upcoming event in Dartmouth ("it's not just a Halifax thing") felt like an exercise in being thorough.
Picture 1: The Dominion presented at the Ecology Action Center to the most receptive audience to date. When asked "If we lived in a real democracy, what would news media look like?" people's responses included "Politicians would have to speak for themselves," "the media would be accountable to it's readers," and "news would not be only from the perspective of power."
Picture 2: We The Dominion presented at the Halifax Labour Council to a small crowd, but many enthusiastic head-nods made up for what we lacked in numbers. The highlight of the occasion was, without question, Labour Council member Judy Haiven's extra-special Mr. Coffee brew.
Picture 3: A Friday night lecture at Dalhousie University entitled "Enduring Legacy, Enduring Challenge: The Global and Canadian Dimensions of the Trans-Altlantic Slave Trade," was one of many events going on in Halifax as part of African Heritage (or Black History) Month. Dr. Afua Cooper performed a spoken word piece called "The Negro Cemetery" about how old 'negro' cemeteries are currently resurfacing all over Canada--in corn fields, and in potato fields. Made me quake, simply. "Historians, by and large, see themselves as guardians of the story of the nation," said Cooper about the way she is treated as a historian who is trying to challenge prevalent notions of Canadian history in scholarly circles.
Picture 1: The Media Co-op's first formal presentation was given to Journalism students at the University of King's College. The crowd was small but receptive, and the event was well-documented by the Media Co-op's Van Ferrier (our traveling videographer).
Picture 2: A Halifax Career Fair for students of Mount Saint Vincent University, Dalhousie, and Saint Mary's was met with protest. The event included recruiters for Lockheed Martin, the world's largest arms manufacturer. Local activist Asaf Rashid played the role of Dr. Clusterbomb of the Weapons Inspection Team.
Picture 1: Last-minute printing needs landed several Dominion organizers at Kinkos an hour before the AGM. They walked in with a USB key, and left with darling pamphlets, secret ballots (on sky blue and lavender paper), and double-sided copies of the candidates' bios. A little less colorful but no less valuable, were the financial statements and special resolutions to be presented at the much-anticipated event.
Picture 2: The food was set out, along with coffee and OJ. Fifteen people attended The Dominion's first ever AGM, and eighteen more participated online. The whole thing was broadcast across the country to whoever cared to watch. Resolutions were passed, and a new board was elected, including Harjap Grewal (new Reader member rep), and Tracy Glynn (winning Writer member candidate). Other highlights included the suggestion that The Dominion feature a cute baby animal in each of its forthcoming issues, in the spirit of covering more positive news.
Picture 3: Dominion Editor Dawn Paley's "Economic Downturn shoes" will continue to glitter long after the fall of capitalism.
Media Co-op HQ, early morning, post-Muesli. The day before The Dominion's AGM and the plan is, roughly: work, eat, work, practice presentation (work), make pamphlets (work), go outside, walk, work, bluegrass with the Smokin' Contraband.
Three more organizers have arrived in the last 24: Dawn Paley (Dominion editor) from Vancouver, Van Ferrier (video guy), and Moira Peters (coordinating editor extraordinaire)!!
A practice-run of the Media Co-op's presentation got positive feedback and a few snickers (all in good fun) from a couple of friends who sat down to listen.
Slide 1: After assessing an issue each of both the Chronicle Herald and the Metro, it was pretty clear that the vast majority of articles were "canned," (gleaned from newswires). Of those that weren't, most reproduced content from press releases or announcements. Of those that were actually original, local stories however, none could rightly be called investigative.
Slide 2: First, we take Halifax.
Hillary talks briefly to the Student Coalition Against War (SCAW) at Dalhousie University about the Media Co-op. There is interest in future involvement and events.
The Dominion's first day of a month-long Media Co-op tour in Halifax, it's inaugural city, was all about getting the presentation together in time for a slew of speaking events, scheduled throughout February in different Halifax neighbourhoods. We did not have to look very far to find examples of media that do not serve the people.
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.