AMC2013 reflections from the South Louisiana Delegation

"The road to Detroit for us involved piling into a mini-van, sans air conditioner, and driving 19 hours across several states. We had spent months fundraising for, organizing for, and looking forward to the AMC. The South Louisiana Delegation (aka "Loved Bayou") was an eclectic group of Gulf Coast media-makers, artists, and organizers whose work is rooted in the rural and urban communities we live in."

AMC delegations are groups who collectively fundraise for, travel to, and reflect on the Allied Media Conference together. AMC2013 included nine official delegations. Read on to learn about the experience of the South Louisiana Delegation.

AMC2013 reflections from the South Louisiana Delegation

For us, the AMC was more than just a conference. It was a powerful space for creativity, transformation, and movement-building. We came home with concrete skills, insights, connections, and plans for collaborative media justice work in Louisiana, the Gulf Coast, and beyond.

More than anything, the AMC was an opportunity for us to share our experiences of life in a region of the country experiencing mass incarceration, environmental degradation, and disaster – both micro-disasters and macro-disasters. How do we respond to disaster as artists, activists, and media-makers? How do we create art and media that gives voice to the communities most impacted?

We had the last minute opportunity to put together a session – and used the time to present a Deep Dialogue on post-disaster media making in Detroit and New Orleans. Listen to the conversation from the session and read the transcript.

Below are some of the reflections from our delegates on our experiences in Detroit this summer:

Ada McMahon:

"The Allied Media Conference started making an impact on me before we even got to Detroit, as our delegation planned our trip together, shared excitement, and raised our entire budget through grassroots fundraising (a new experience for me - it was actually fun!). We got amazing support, with friends and family chipping in online, the Gulf Coast Fund and Allied Media Conference contributing mini-grants, and additional donations from our communities through a film screening and dance party.

"It was wonderful to go as a delegation, with different media skills, projects, interests, and backgrounds, but a shared home and common purpose, and with the support of a larger community. Being at the Allied Media Conference itself was really, really great. My only regret is that we couldn't stay for the final day.

"Some highlights: being introduced to the concept of 'emergence' by Adrienne Maree Brown during the opening ceremony, as slides of flocking birds gave way to the electric slide and a spontaneous dance party; watching the documentary film Rerooting the Motor City, and then listening to Charity Hicks and Shea Howell, two community organizers from Detroit, talking about redefining work with full knowledge that the jobs of the auto industry (or any other industry) are never coming back; learning the creative process of young Detroiters, who turn interviews with neighbors into songs, dances, and murals through the Detroit Summer project; getting hands-on and learning the basics of animation, screen printing, and stenciling; discussing ethics and ownership in web publishing; connecting with oral history projects; working through the challenges of planning a session together at the 11th hour; and more! In short: Connecting with people, projects, and ideas, and with Detroit itself, thanks to the way the conference roots itself in the city. I'm filled with energy, inspiration, and a renewed sense of myself as part of a much larger collective. I look forward to what comes next."

Ada is a Media Fellow with Bridge The Gulf Project, a community-based media project for Gulf Coast communities covering social justice and environmental issues.

Gahiji Barrow:

"Attending the Allied Media Conference was a transformative journey that brought me around many people of color doing social justice work that I wouldn't ordinarily have had the chance to meet. I connected with folks of various backgrounds and envisioned a future of community determination. The cohort I rode in with was asked to present a version of a community conversation that we organize in New Orleans, and in doing so we were able to receive valuable feedback as well as return with content for a radio show I produce. I truly appreciate the AMC supporting us with a mini-grant, and the Gulf Coast Fund supporting this adventure with a grant."

Gahiji does community radio for WTUL News and Views in New Orleans, and he works with Voice of the Ex-offender (VOTE) and Critical Resistance New Orleans, where he tackles the injustices of the Orleans Parish Prison and the Prison Industrial Complex in general.

Desiree Evans:

"The work I do in the South has always been about sharing stories of survival and resilience in the face of systemic exploitation. My home-state of Louisiana is haunted by these kind of stories – stories of struggle, of survival, of resilience. For me, storytelling is about healing my home, as well as about creating and sustaining spaces for voices that have so long been kept out. The Allied Media Conference for me is one such space: a place where stories can come to be centered in our movement work; a place for sharing the power of story itself and the power of cross-community resistance and movement-building. Every moment at the AMC was a moment where I saw story come alive – whether just walking around the campus and seeing the faces of people from around the country, whether attending panels on radical editing, emergent strategy, or oral history. I learned from the people here, and I offered my voice in discussion, in community, in song, and in power. The AMC is a conference that defines how I do the work that I do in the world."

Desiree hails from the bayous of Southwest Louisiana. Activist, writer, and media-maker, she believes storytelling has the power to re-imagine worlds and feed our movements. She works with several groups challenging mass incarceration and the erasure of communities of color in the U.S. South.

Elizabeth Lew:

"I chose to attend programs at the AMC based on the work that I do with two groups: Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners and Nola to Angola (a bicycle fundraiser that benefits a free bus program for families to visit incarcerated loved ones in Louisiana). Panel discussions such as 'Fighting for Prisoner Communication' and 'Is it Research Justice?' and 'Using Everyday Research to get Data' gave me many fresh ideas for outreach based on how other groups are putting together information campaigns to spread awareness of their activities. The Nola to Angola group has also been trying to organize a series of loose teach-ins wherein we discuss the impact of the Prison Industrial Complex on the New Orleans community through film and text. Panels such as 'Forecasting the Future of Leadership' and the two 'Tools for Power' workshops gave me some very useful ideas on how to engage groups of strangers with each other, with the topic at hand. While our discussions were somewhat disorganized and uneven before, I am optimistic that some of the discussion strategies I learned at the AMC will help us bring out the best in our conversations."

Liz is a radical librarian and organizes with Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners and NOLA to Angola.

Louisiana Delegation

Ronald Morrison:

"I have been overwhelmed with newly restored motivation, creative energy, and vision since coming back from the AMC. While there I was able to better pursue my own interest of the intersections between future visioning work, collective design, and shared processing. Bringing together and overlapping the worlds of new budding organizing and tactile skill-building, the AMC is genuinely unique in its own right. I feel inspired by the folks that I have met from the Open Technology Institute working with resident members in Detroit and Redhook setting up mesh networks and expanding the levels of access to free quality Internet. Some of these same great folks also gave wonderful instructions into the worlds of data visualization and the importance, not just of our own knowledge productions, but the translation and inclusion of that knowledge into our movements for transformative change. I feel so fortunate to have been present for all of this and emboldened in continuing to work for such change."

Ron is a graphic designer and artist, and most of his interests and focus lie in utilizing intersectional subjectivities of race, class, and gender to rethink and mobilize mass movements around prison abolition and fair housing.

Monique Verdin:
"AMC was Awesome! I almost backed out, thinking I was insane to agree to voyage 4000+ miles, for 35 hours, in an AC-less van, in the middle of summer with a group of other curious travelers (who I didn't know very well) to get from the swamps of south Louisiana up to Detroit and back again; but I would definitely do it all over again! Blowout risks, body odor and all.

"I feel I have come away from the Allied Media Conference educated, exposed and inspired by good people out there in all parts of the country who are investing in positive transitional possibilities present on the verge of 'collapses', especially in places like New Orleans and Detroit. My first day at the conference began with a great film called Rerooting the Motor City by Paper Tiger. I feel Rerooting really gave me a quick crash course in Detroit’s history and resilience and support of community as a foundation to equality and justice. I heard these themes echoed in sessions from Food Chain Solidarity to Global Land Grabs. Also, I saw great media from the SPIT-IT youth out of Massachusetts. And met someone named Mr. Awesome, and connected with extraordinary folks from as far away as Canada and as close as my own city."

Monique is a native daughter of southeast Louisiana. In her first documentary film, My Louisiana Love, her intimate documentation of the Mississippi River Delta's indigenous Houma nation exposes the complex interconnectedness of environment, economics, culture, climate, and change.

Thanks for your hard work and amazing reflections. We hope to see South Louisiana back at the AMC next year!

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