Results from the pre-AMC2012 survey

"I want to learn to create, to be visionary, to think differently, to collaborate, to tell stories and to listen really, really well."

Over the past 13 years, the Allied Media Conference has grown and transformed significantly. We describe our work as conference organizers through the metaphor of earthworms cultivating healthy soil. We identify the right balance of nutrients (workshops, strategy sessions, dance parties, etc.) out of which annual cycles of media-based organizing can grow and flourish.

The projects, ideas and relationships that spring out of and through the AMC each year together represent an ecosystem for a more just and creative world.

Knowing what makes healthy soil is essential to our work. With this goal in mind, we designed a survey to assess: What are the most important questions facing our planet in this moment in history? What skills do our communities need in order to navigate those questions?  What kinds of relationships do we need to be building and with whom? More than 200 of you took time to complete the survey, sharing your goals, ideas, and desires for AMC2012. We gathered your responses, fed them into the AMC2012 coordinators planning meeting in January, and will now use them to shape the session development process.

Summarized below are quotes and major themes from the survey responses. If you're considering submitting a session proposal, we strongly encourage you to read through this summary and incorporate this information into the design of your session. Whether or not you are planning to submit a session proposal for AMC2012, we hope this data will inform your year-round organizing efforts.    

SESSION LENGTH AND SKILL-LEVEL 

"Sometimes people bring unexpected skills to the room. Mixed skill groups enable these to come out. I also think that mixing it up builds on a philosophy of skill-sharing."

"I would love some more in depth tech sessions for practitioners."

"An intermediate level allows the advanced people to reengage with their skills. More people will be served. Most of the people who come to the AMC are organizers and are looking to share skills as well as develop new skills."

"On certain topics...I want to be able to dive deeper, and have presenters that really know what they're talking about, to keep my fire going."

More than 50% of survey respondents asked for more sessions that served all skill levels. Nearly a quarter wanted sessions for more advanced skill levels. 

This year, breaks between sessions will be 10 minutes longer than in AMCs past. This change reflects the fact that a majority of people wanted the length of AMC sessions to remain 90 minutes, but a significant number of people also said that 90 minutes was not enough, causing sessions to run-over time and infringe on the following session's time. With 30 minutes between each session block this year we'll cut down on rushing and allow for more fluid transitions. Even with the extended break, presenters should continue to plan to end their sessions on time.

SESSION CONTENT

"I would like to learn more about sound, interactions, electronics, and how those practices can be use in art and outreach projects."

"Movement building techniques that go beyond isolated act of civil disobedience, indigenous storytelling as a means for cultural and historical preservation."

"I want to [hear] voices of different generations. I want to be inspired and challenged by someone who's been in the struggle for decades, and I want to find hope in a child's dream for the future."

"...the way our art can be political without being pedantic. I want to see new concepts of activist and radical art that move beyond youth media and art work that is more savvy."

"Perhaps this is the year you ask select session leaders to begin to think about a longer term (two or three-year) vision for their topics, how they could build, what they might accomplish with a longer- term vision."
 
Survey respondents expressed interest in a vast array of skill-sets, ideas and strategy conversations. Some of the common themes were:

  • how to build stronger communities and networks of communities - inter-personally and technologically.
  • skills that demystify technology and make it work towards liberation, while honing our non-digital communication skills.
  • in-depth strategizing around what we mean by “liberation,” and sharp analysis of our current moment and expansive visioning of our collective futures.

See below for a more detailed summary of what survey respondents said they want to see at AMC2012.  
 
Technical skills

  • accessibility in digital media
  • adaptive technologies 
  • advanced audio - Ableton, Logic, ProTools
  • advanced design - Photoshop 
  • advanced wireless skills
  • alternative energy and how to make media without electricity
  • basic animation 
  • best practices for cloud adoption 
  • cell-phone friendly websites 
  • community blogs
  • community research 
  • computer networks 
  • creating apps for iPhone and Android
  • dance - Dunham technique
  • database design 
  • Drupal 
  • editing
  • electronics
  • encryption
  • graphics
  • how to turn complex ideas into accessible art 
  • live sound 
  • low-budget technology education curriculum 
  • making music - drumming, digital and non-digital 
  • media literacy 
  • mobile radio stations 
  • open source software and tools - for advanced and beginner 
  • performance art - gender-based, technology-integrated 
  • podcasts
  • printmaking - woodcut, silkscreen, stencil 
  • search-engine optimization
  • self-publishing/distribution 
  • sound art 
  • storytelling (especially for web)
  • street art - murals, and the art of spray paint 
  • survey of new internet tools 
  • telekinesis
  • using GIS technology - community mapping
  • video editing 
  • video production and editing
  • video remixing 
  • webstreaming
  • Wordpress
  • writing
  • zine-making 

Organizing skills and strategies

  • collaborative leadership 
  • communications practices for small businesses 
  • community accountability
  • community content-production models
  • community resource-sharing via online/offline space
  • conference-organizing 
  • conflict resolution and transformation 
  • documenting, archiving, sharing tools
  • facilitation 
  • how to shift from reactive organizing to vision-based organizing
  • how to teach technology to elders
  • interviewing 
  • media-based organizing / campaigns
  • national/international network-building & communication (sustaining national organizing)
  • post-cyber communication skills: intuition, body language, trust 
  • reflection on what's grown through the AMC thus far
  • strategy development 
  • to listen really well
  • web-based, community-powered grant-making and fundraising

Operations skills

  • capacity-building
  • databases
  • financial management 
  • grantwriting 
  • how to teach these skills 
  • membership tracking
  • project management 
  • pros-cons of Bcorps/L3Cs

Non-media related

  • astrology
  • growing food
  • healing from trauma 
  • healing rituals 
  • health clinics
  • herbal healing
  • how to build tiny houses/earthships
  • mental health 
  • seed bombs  
  • self-care
  • time-banking 

Issues

  • 2012 election 
  • boycott, divestment, sanctions 
  • environmental racism
  • fat activism 
  • food sovereignty
  • mass transit
  • organizing with returning citizens
  • resisting foreclosures and utility shutoffs
  • sex work 
  • the prison industrial complex - impacts on queer, youth, poc communities 
  • transformative justice

Conversations

  • 30th anniversary of Vincent Chin's murder 
  • analysis of different media-based organizing campaigns - what worked/didn't 
  • analysis of Occupy/Decolonize movements 
  • art that's political without being pedantic
  • avoidable surveillance 
  • better labor practices in the production of our technologies 
  • book clubs / peer learning circles 
  • building hyper-local communications infrastructures (lpfms, public access, grassroots media) 
  • building intergenerational queer community 
  • capacity-building and sustainability 
  • connecting digital justice with hacker/makerspaces 
  • connecting grassroots organizing with academia 
  • countering privatization and surveillance online 
  • creating / reclaiming language i.e.: "family" "health" "education" 
  • creating beloved community  
  • creating post-industrial life systems 
  • creating the societies we want, with science fiction as the starting point
  • cultural appropriation 
  • girls / non-males in technology 
  • how to be grassroots historians and journalists in our communities 
  • how to talk about policy better 
  • identifying and communicating essential survival skills for our communities 
  • inter-generational conversations with youth leading 
  • learning from failure 
  • liberation from the Mac empire
  • local organizing in relation to mid east, chile, occupy 
  • media and disaster response 
  • media and immigrant rights organizing 
  • media-making and information-sharing as a process that prepares us for self-governance 
  • new economic paradigms, learning from detroit 
  • politicizing childcare and building intergenerational movements 
  • politicizing childcare in all of our movements 
  • privilege and oppression 
  • re-framing the "net-neutrality" discourse 
  • sex ed and anti-criminalization curriculum for queer youth 
  • solidarity vs. charity 
  • strategic assessment of the impacts of our media 
  • syndication/ alt distribution hubs - evaluation of Indymedia's success and failures 
  • technology infrastructure ownership
  • the culture of remixing - from art to organizing 
  • the future of independent media 
  • transformative approaches to anti-bullying organizing 
  • transformative community-building through performance art 
  • what are healthy digital ecosystems? 
  • why is radio still relevant?
  • youth of color and media justice
  • youth speaking for themselves

WHO NEEDS TO BE AT AMC2012

"Anybody who uses or wants to use media or art as a tool for advancing human interaction, engagement and community development- especially youth, communities left out of mainstream media debates- immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ communities, etc."

The outcomes of all the discussions and skill-shares described above will only be as rich as the people leading and participating in them. When we asked who needs to be at AMC2012, survey respondents told us: 

  • anyone that is willing to participate
  • anarchists
  • artists
  • college professors 
  • culture-makers
  • detroit elders
  • Detroit Future Media participants
  • Detroit Future Schools participants
  • Detroit Future Youth participants
  • Detroit youth
  • Detroiters
  • disabled people
  • educators
  • elected officials
  • excellent, experienced writers 
  • executive directors who want to learn 
  • families
  • free software folks
  • gender non-conforming people 
  • game designers
  • grassroots organizers 
  • highly stylish people
  • homeless youth / youth living in shelters
  • immigrants 
  • indigenous elders
  • indigenous people
  • mediators and facilitators
  • muslims
  • Occupy/Decolonize movement organizers
  • participatory policy-makers 
  • people doing real organizing in their communities
  • people from other countries
  • people of color 
  • people who are active in uplifting their communities 
  • people who can't afford to go to conferences
  • people who don't have tech skills yet
  • people who may not identify as "radical"
  • people who may not see themselves as "media makers" or "artists" 
  • people who want to teach and learn 
  • prison abolitionists
  • programmers who want to teach 
  • queer elders
  • queer technologists
  • queer youth
  • radical futurists
  • radio producers
  • religious community activists
  • returning citizens / formerly incarcerated people
  • self-lovers
  • single mothers
  • Southerners, esp. ATLians, New Orleanians, Alabamans
  • storytellers
  • teachers who want to code
  • transwonderful people
  • unemployed/underemployed people
  • women technologists
  • working class people 
  • working journalists
  • young mamas 

MAKING THE AMC A WELCOMING SPACE FOR ALL

"my first time at the amc in 2010 was really beautiful and inspiring and amazing. but i was incredibly overwhelmed, and don't think i was prepped enough to take away practical skills as much as i was moved by the energy there."

The AMC is like a family reunion for people who have been coming for years and years, but as the conference expands every year, we want to ensure that new people feel welcome and are able to participate with their full selves. These are some of the great suggestions for how we can all work to make the AMC a welcoming space for veteran participants and newbies alike:  

  • a friendly face and a helping hand in getting settled 
  • accurate descriptions of workshops.
  • greeters! hydration stations. buddies. 
  • having introductory social ice breakers the first day.  
  • info and schedules in advance of the conference
  • making sure people leave with some kind of viable tools
  • more coffee
  • more support for the healing space and letting folks know that it's there 
  • online introductions / pre-conference interactions based on skills, passions, purpose, etc
  • opportunities for elders to connect & perform / showcase their skills & talents
  • people who show up for the first time should get an introduction to the AMC and maybe get partnered with an experienced AMC veteran
  • signs posted around campus as to the wheelchair accessible route.

CONCLUSION

With our combined efforts, AMC2012 is going to be the most mind-blowing and inspiring AMC ever. Please take the information from our Pre-AMC2012 survey, make it useful to your work and share it far and wide. We're so grateful for all the members of our AMP network who took time to complete the survey. Your effort is directly impacting our plans for AMC2012. Thank you! If you'd like to discuss themes, challenges or ideas, please contact us.

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