no tote bags, no swag, no cocktail parties…

a whole bunch of amazing activists, thinkers, and people are listed in the 50 Visionaries Who Are Changing the World article done by Utne. (bfp, jess hoffman, susan nussbaum, mattilda bernstein sycamore, and so many others— a definite read if you need an energy boost!).

my favorite description though was of the Allied Media Conference, mostly because with ALL the conferences we all go to, the way this one is set up is just revolutionary. everything a conference should be and Utne does a great job putting that in words:

Conference Callers
Organizers of the Allied Media Conference

Now this is what a “conference” is supposed to look like: 800 concerned citizens and activists, most of them young and denim-clad, many of them people of color, queer, or both, gathered in Detroit on a crisp June day to create and critique media. There are no tote bags, no swag, no cocktail parties. Just tables full of radical literature, free hip-hop concerts, and late-night bowling.

And you can forget about expense accounts and self-serving corporate sponsors. These people spend months raising funds to finance their trips from all over the globe, and conference organizers are squeaking by on their annual budget of $100,000, all of which makes the 2008 conference (the 10th annual) hum with a singularly engaged, productive energy. “It really makes the event user-owned,” says Mike Medow, one of the conference’s five organizers. “Everyone made a personal sacrifice or a personal investment to be here, and everyone has a deep stake in its success.”

What’s more, what goes on at the hundreds of sessions and workshops doesn’t go the way of yet another stodgy PowerPoint presentation. Participants and presenters take what they hear and learn about taking back the media to heart—and back home. The radical parenting caucus, the lunchtime meeting for women of color with disabilities, the Youth Media Lab: no matter the specific subject area, it’s all about using the tools of journalism to strengthen and expand a grassroots push for democracy.

Save the date! The Allied Media Conference is back in Detroit July 16-19, 2009.

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1 Comment

Filed under links, organizing

One response to “no tote bags, no swag, no cocktail parties…

  1. Julia

    Oh man. Now I’m pondering that conference.

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