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Benevolent Media Festival

One year ago, Erica Schlaikjer came up with the title for her dream job: benevolent media creator. She then started a group blog showcasing storytelling and design techniques employed for social and environmental good.

"I got so excited about this idea, and wondered, 'How can I take this beyond me?'" said Schlaikjer.


One year later, Schlaikjer's self-termed "passion project" has evolved into the Benevolent Media Festival, a weekend celebration slated for November 4-7.

Schlaikjer's gathering, highlighting how media can be a catalyst for change, will span sites around the Washington, D.C. metro area. The entire agenda is crowdsourced. Individuals with specific media-making skills -- blogging, photography, web design -- can submit a proposed event to the Benevolent Media Festival coordinators for approval. Tentative sessions include: a film screening, a poetry reading and a tip session on trends in social media use.

"As you can see, the events are not tied to one medium or one cause," Schlaikjer explained, in that benevolent media encompasses numerous media formats and issues for social engagement.

The audience for the festival is two-fold, Schlaikjer said. She aims to engage entrepreneurial media makers as well as non-profit "change makers." Schlaikjer hopes the event will bridge those two worlds together.

After the festival, Schlaikjer aspires -- with volunteer support -- to assemble a toolkit of case studies and best practices for those crafting media messages to impact change. This year's gathering will be a testing ground, but Schlaikjer hopes that the Benevolent Media Festival evolves to becomen an annual event.

"I don't think anyone disputes that media storytelling matters," Schlaikjer said, "But sometimes it's hard to illustrate how it affects change."

The Center is thrilled to be a partner for the first ever Benevolent Media Festival and support the closely-aligned mission of showcasing socially engaged media-making.

Interested in hosting an event? Want to volunteer for the festival? Visit the Benevolent Media Festival's site, and complete the online form.