2010 .:. DETROIT .:. The Future from Ground Zero

2010 .:. DETROIT .:. Everyone Has A Media Pass

The last 2 weeks of June 2010 saw some true agents of change at work. If you were in Detroit during the month of June, you either knowingly, or unknowingly, witnessed the synthesis of the future underway at Ground Zero, otherwise known as the Motor City. While most mainstream media keeps a steady job of scaring people away from America’s epicenter of innovation, the agents of the future were busy synching independent and alternative media resources at a series of inclusive events designed to have well, a minimal amount of design. Read on to see what we mean…

12th Annual Allied Media Conference

(c) Carleton S. Gholz

Our first 4-day intensive was at the 12th Allied Media Conference hosted at Detroit’s Wayne State University, where, first of all, this unique campus in the heart of downtown’s cultural-museum district proved to have abounding independent and grassroots businesses of all kinds to be discovered in seemingly every nook and cranny. We were certainly impressed with the number of bicyclists in and around the conference, especially in the city known to be almost completely vehicular.

Opening night we scored 3 amazing prints from featured visual artist, and AMC staff graphic designer, Joe Namy, at the conference’s art reception, “language.power.difference” inside a fantastic local loft gallery, and witnessed the dropping of several 10+ foot tall Pacific-Island-style handmade canvases in the welcome lobby at registration Friday morning. Immediately there was something a bit different about this “conference” – everyone in the building was constantly busy recording multi-media, uploading or downloading multi-media on the spot, interviewing each other, and in the lower level, young people were actually building computer mesh networks and radio broadcasting modules. It was a scene from a very colorful spaceship.

With over 15 sessions and workshops to choose from, plus a local city tour off-site, to say it was difficult to choose where to learn would be quite the understatement. Eventually we made it to check out a super engaging youth-led, multi-media mural collaboration project headed up by the Grace Lee-Boggs-founded organization, Detroit Summer, and learned about some of the urban farming going on as we speak among the brownfields-turned-greenfields of the city popular media would have you believing is a black hole of death and decay. These blindingly vibrant sprouts of new life amid last century’s bland, waning industrial backdrop painted what appears to be what happens after “Metropolis” – is Detroit already answering it’s own question of what happens after mass industry is dead and buried?

Friday night’s official afterparty certified us as sold Tamar-kali fans, as well as raised an eyebrow at rock-hybrid outfit I, Crime. Up and at ’em the next day, Saturday presented some interesting approaches to “unearthing solutions in an era of unnatural disaster” and a personal favorite, an Octavia Butler literature symposium, which inspired again the notion of just how powerful honest, and truly creative media can be in illustrating the most profound messages, even without the support of typical pop culture portals. As if there was any space left in the brain Saturday, we attempted to stay up to speed in the collaborative mapping seminar where tons of free and affordable digital linking tools and ideas bounced around a small room among a group of uber cool map nerds looking to prove that everything really is connected. One of the coolest projects highlighted was the Open Sound New Orleans music map. Simply amazing.

(c) Jocelyne Ninneman

By nightfall Saturday, media nerds were in need of our next dose of quality music, and well, we got perhaps more than we bargained for at that night’s official AMC showcase. Beyond the fact that we had the opportunity to hear Detroit Hip Hop legend, Miz Korona , perform her debut solo album live for the first time, along with surprise guest after surprise guest including more Motor City talent like Invincible,Jessica Care Moore with a full live band, and rising group Stereoluxxx c/o WINK Detroit, we were in awe of the quality of the crowd. Man, even the audience at this party was just as entertaining as the talent on the bill – we even got down in the dance cypher like it was 1993 all over again, wanting more from DJs Sicari, Mark Flash and RiMarkable. To call this gig diverse and colorful would not even do this afterparty at the MOCAD gallery justice. Packed with renewed energy and fresh faces, the former warehouse saw visitors experience Detroit legends they’d only heard about before and Detroiters reassured that there is life after death. [AMC Music Showcase @ MOACD: video 2]

Tired though we were, we were up bright and early Sunday morning for often our raison d’etre, or the AMC session entitled, “It’s OurMusic The World Lives and Dies To: Creating a Music-Based Economy in Detroit” for which Fusicology.com‘s Nina Morena and Jocelyne Ninneman joined other music media and business entrepreneurs from organizations such as 5E Gallery, SplinkMe.com, MichiganHipHop.com, EmergenceMedia.org and more. Moderated by innovative Detroit artists, Invincible and MonicaBlaire, a cast of independent journalists, media-makers, consultants and local venue owners began to strategize how the city’s music community can pool its collective talents and resources to actually own and operate its creative property without interference from the majors. [Photos courtesy Carleton S. Gholz]

(c) Carleton S. Gholz

From the opening ceremony to the closing, the AMC facilitated some of the most inspiring and empowering experiences from and for people from all types of circumstances. Yet, it somehow was also one of the more humbling “conferences” due in large part to it’s inclusive infrastructure that disallowed for the more typical presenter-vs-audience summit framework, which seems to successfully keep egos in check and focus on the information exchange network, rather than an “expert”-producing environment. At the AMC, everyone has media credentials. And what is more Detroit than that? Keeping it real, indeed.

In the AMC mission;

*We emphasize our own power and legitimacy.

*We are agents, not victims.

*The strongest solutions happen through the process, not in a moment at the end of the process.

+ Kudos to the AMC directors for integrating local independent businesses intimately into their programming.

— Jocelyne Ninneman for Fusicology.com

> Follow her on Twitter @JMoneyRed