when the dust clears

Words about and images of matters political, social, and military

What Matters Now—Proposals for a New Front Page

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The Aperture Foundation hosted a symposium last week, What Matters Now—Proposals for a New Front Page, which I participated in. We explored possibilities for creating a website rooted in images that would be a source for news, information, narrative journalism, and other forms of nonfiction narrative work, AND—and this is the key— also foster civic engagement.  Below is a short item and a photo I submitted to the web page. I made the image while traveling from one demonstration to the next with members of VOCAL (see previous post). The point of the photo is: communication. A VOCAL member was discussing the purpose of their direction action against Merck with an interested commuter.

VOCAL member reaches out between actions, July 28, 2011

Any new web entity, however engaging and brilliant, will be lost unless it has an active constituency participating in and supporting it. There must be a community behind it, a movement in fact. For inspiration I look to community organizers such as Saul Alinsky, Mike Gecan, and the Industrial Areas Foundation—and the Tea Party. All stress the centrality of building communities and movements around both shared values and substantive person-to-person connections. These are the keys to our success with this project—and to the challenges we face.

“In organizing, we teach that great and thriving institutions do three things: they provide people with opportunities to relate publicly; they design ways for people to learn together, satisfying the enormous appetite for knowledge and improvement that seems wired into our DNA; and they engage in meaningful public action.

“Relating, learning, and caring—when a congregation, or association, or party, or community, or country hits an all three of these cylinders, it can really move forward. When it misses on one or more, it either lumbers or stalls or goes into reverse.”

— Mike Gecan. “The Tea Party Movement Isn’t Radical Enough.” February 2011


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