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2015 Media Rise Forum: Social Change Agents Arise

On Saturday October 3, 2015, CMSI attended the 2015 Media Rise Forum at Impact HUB DC, which was the final event of the festival. The event began with challenging group exercises, followed by panels of social change agents who shared their passions and purposes. The last portion of the forum consisted of breakout sessions, where attendees and panelists met in different rooms for a more intimate communication setting. 2015 Media Rise Festival

The first group of panelists shared their passion for race and gender issues in the media. Chenjerai Kumanyika is an activist and professor at Clemson University who expressed his passion of using live streaming, radio, and tweeting to reveal every truthful detail of a story (http://www.chenjerai.net). Kumanyika stated that live streaming provides raw and real coverage, unlike the diluted coverage that is offered by mainstream media. Live streaming gives exposure to the voices of the community. Kumanyika also stated that the media often portrays protests as platforms for rage and destruction. For example, mainstream media heavily focused on the destructive rage of the Ferguson riots opposed to its intended purpose- to establish social equality and justice. Journalists are often praised for covering stories but Kumanyika’s main focus is on the community- the authentic source of the true story.

Laura Donnelly Gonzalez was another panelist who is passionate to involve the youth in utilizing media and technology for social change. She is the founder of Latinitas (http://laslatinitas.com), which is an organization that focuses on empowering young girls to use media and technology to generate social change. Gonzalez stated that mainstream media offers crystallized coverage on Latino issues, mainly focusing on immigration issues. Latinitas are passionate to break beyond this limited coverage, broadening narrow perspectives by sharing their stories with truth and passion.

Joan Michelson, CEO, Executive Editor, and Host of Green Connections Media (http://www.greenconnectionsradio.com) shared what it takes to become a powerful social change agent. Michelson emphasized the need to get out of restricting comfort zones. She expounded on the necessity to act audacious and bold. She landed her first job at 60 Minutes simply because of her boldness to write a letter explaining her desire for a position with the company. She taught that every social change agent must learn to use setbacks as navigating tools. Use feedback and criticism to improve. Restructure your approach. Listen to your intuition and realize what you are to learn through the process. Lastly, find the positive in the negative and take the opportunity. For example, Michelson was laid off of her job at Chrysler and was able to return to DC for other endeavors.  

After the panelists presented, attendees engaged in breakout sessions in separate rooms with the panelists. Attendees selected which panelist to join for the breakout sessions, based on similar interests. The sessions were very intimate and informational. Panelists shared many personal experiences and advice with the attendees, providing the roadmap to becoming a powerful social change agent. For example, filmmaker Peter Yesawhich Jr. explained his trials and tribulations with pitching for film funding. His short film Open Letter to World Leaders urges leaders around the world to enforce practices that protect the environment. Yesawhich traveled to over a dozen countries to film and the cost was several millions of dollars; however, funding was obtained and the film is powerful and phenomenal. Passion and drive will break barriers and lead to limitless impact.

To wrap up the 2015 Media Rise Forum, various attendees took advantage of interview opportunities. The interviews allowed the attendees to state their passion and purpose for attending the forum. The 2015 Media Rise forum featured passionate social change agents who are eager to spread their passion and teach others how to use media for positive social impact.