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Create, connect, transform: Allied Media Conference engages media & communications tools to improve communities

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Par Lisa Cyr and Mallory Knodel pour APCNews

Canada, 13 July 2012

From June 28th to July 1st 2012, grassroots organisations from the US, Canada and Mexico, came together at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, Michigan to “cultivate strategies for a more just and creative world.” Alternative media organisations, rights groups, queer and trans activists were among a variety of progressive and advocacy organisations who came together to share concrete tools and strategies on transforming their communities through media-based organising.

Sessions ranged from highly technical talks on wireless mesh networking for short range calls in times of disaster, to hands-on mapping and self-organised data gathering, to workshops on filmmaking, digital stories, and radio clips, to community activism through civic-hacking and hip hop as a pedagogy of liberation. There was something for everyone – children, women, elders, queer and trans people, people of colour, disabled, Spanish-speaking and more.

As an organisation that promotes the strategic use of technology to create a more just world, APCers felt right at home in this energised, innovative and inspiring space.

APC member May First/People Link hosted a People’s movement assembly, a day-long event for members and allies of their network, including LaNeta, another APC member, where participants collaborated together in an outcome-focused discussion on “internet tools needed for our movements.” The results of this consensus-building excerise will be published by May First/People Link in time for its annual membership meeting this September.

APC hosted two workshops to bring awareness to important emerging issues around access to the internet and secure online communications. As governments and private actors are restricting community access to resources and increasingly finding ways to store information about us, these topics resonated strongly with AMC participants from a human rights perspective.

Presenting open spectrum as a solution to bringing affordable internet access to those around the world, APC and New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) explained the basics of open spectrum and wireless connectivity for development – what it is and why it is important for enabling human rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of association, access to information, health, education and government services.

The second workshop, Securing our online communications, was co-hosted by APC and OTI and raised important questions around privacy and security by posing controversial statements for discussion such as, “As a user, it is ultimately my responsibility to ensure my security online” and “You cannot have security and trust online as long as there is anonymity.” Many misconceptions about security and privacy were addressed in the discussion between participants. Also, a stronger sense of community responsibility for the safety of all online users was reached. This was then followed by a hands-on session led by OTI on specific methods and tools for improving one’s own and community’s online security.

While the conference was largely comprised of US organisations, APC was a welcomed addition to the conference for bringing an international perspective. While knowledge- and skills-sharing was one of the conferences’s main foci, its vibrant and progressive character was perhaps the most memorable, and the new relationships formed between participants, who were joined by their passion for creating a better, more sustainable and equitable world for all.

“Find out more about the AMC”:http://amc.alliedmedia.org/

(FIN/2012)

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