In early October, 1996, a friend of mine sent me email telling me about the grand opening of One World Media Center, Inc. (OWMC), a new community-based non-profit video center in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of DC. First thing I did was to give the Center a call to find out more about what this place was all about. I chatted with the Executive Director, David Welsh, whose first action was to enter my name and phone number into a FileMaker Pro database on one of the administrative Macs at the center. Good sign.
I was unable to make it to the grand opening, but went by there to visit shortly afterwards. What I found was a hot, happening place with hopefulness bouncing back and forth between its walls. Walking into One World Media Center is not unlike walking into the WAP office. What you find is a place that buzzes with the excitement of the people who have an untamed passion for the creative work they're doing.
The mission of One World Media Center can only be described as bold and forward-thinking. (See sidebar.) One World Media Center seeks to empower ordinary people to grab video cameras to tell the thousands of untold stories that need to be told, particularly in an area as diverse and vibrant as Metropolitan Washington. Mainstream media (press, radio, and television) chooses to highlight the negative day-in and day-out. We who care about and are involved in the communities in the DC area need to provide our own counterbalancing images and sounds.
One of the ongoing, central projects at One World Media Center is the production of the bi-monthly Ward One Community News. Spearheaded by Tony ("Jazzy") Watkins, Ward One Community News produces lively news stories about the Adams Morgan, Mt. Pleasant, Columbia Heights neighborhoods. Jazzy has had several years of experience in producing community news shows, and his experience shows in the caliber of the news shows that get aired on DC Cablevision Channel 25. I don't subscribe to cable, myself, but I sat down and watched some of the news shows on the VCR/TV they have in the Media Center's screening room. Good stuff. Not as glitzy as network television news, but what the production lacks in glitz, it more than makes up for in heart. The power of the video medium jumps to life at you whenever you see a community-produced news show.
Hope Fortner, the Associate News Producer, can be seen regularly toting a news camera around the neighborhood. Hope has a flair for the in-person interview, and has lent countless hours of support to the OWMC.
This morning I gave a call again to David Welsh to learn more about where he sees One World Media Center heading. He said that the current emphasis is on enlisting new members, both individual and organizational, building its base of operational support, and offering five classes in video production (basic production, news production, studio production, editing and graphics).
As the media center gets more members trained, it anticipates expanding beyond its current news program to include other shows of relevance to the growth and development of Washington. These could be shows about important issues affecting our community, about the innovative work of area non-profit and grassroots organizations, or about little-known facets of our great wealth of cultural diversity.
"The sky is the limit with our type of programming," Mr. Welsh explained, "because we rely on our members to bring their own stories, and help them tell those stories with the latest video technology. What's so exciting when you begin facilitating programming from the inside-out -- produced by and for D.C. area residents -- is that you find little-known gems of hope and inspiration all around you."
On the technical side of things, Mr. Welsh mentioned that the center currently uses desktop Macs and Powerbooks to handle administrative tasks and desktop publishing. Favorite applications are ClarisWorks, Quark, PageMaker and FileMakePro. One World has had excellent success with grabbing frames off of video or with feeding in artwork, photos or slides using a video camera, and outputting them to color inkjet and laser printers using PageMaker. Many people wish they had still images off of favorite videos, and now with the power of Macintosh desktop publishing and a video card, this is easily done.
And the next editing platform that One World will add to its two now in operation will assuredly be PowerPC driven, Mr. Welsh hastened to add. All the leading digital non-linear editing systems thrive on the stability, the speed and the integrated multi-media capabilities of the Mac platform. One World is still waiting for the new digital camera formats to feed directly into these systems through a digital port -- a capability which is coming very soon, and which will maximize the power of digital video.
In December of 1996, a volunteer who lives near OWMC, Alfred (Alf) Bawcombe, set up a web page for the Center. The web page gives info about the OWMC mission, facilities, people, memberships, classes, and volunteering opportunities. I love the fact that volunteers can accrue equipment usage hours in exchange for their volunteer labor. Bartering and mutual support work are definitely at the heart this thriving community. The One World Media Center web page can be found at http://www.digitalfunk.com/oneworld/
The neat thing about OWMC is that the people running the organization realize that the technology is not the most exciting part of what's happening. It's the community building -- the people connecting -- that makes this kind of work so exciting. Barely three months old, OWMC has become a place where a wide cross-section of creative sorts in the neighborhood tend to hang out. WAP members who live in the vicinity of OWMC are encouraged to stop by for a visit Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm. WAP members outside of DC also are welcome to visit and join OWMC, although DC residents are given a preference in scheduling usage of OWMC video technology and facilities. For more information, you can either visit their website or give them a call at (202) 667-9038.
One World Media Center is a community-based media resource center serving the District of Columbia, with a primary emphasis on the neighborhoods of Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights. It was founded for the purposes of:
1. Providing access to mass media and communications technology to those who lack a way of making their voice heard in the media forum that has become so dominant in our society.
2. Fostering greater awareness of each other, of the socio-economic conditions of the community, and of the space in which we live.
3. Serving as a hi-tech training and empowerment vehicle for these and other communities.
One World Media Center accomplishes its mission by offering training in TV production, by providing direct access to TV production equipment, by serving as an educational and vocational resource, and by facilitating distribution of community productions locally, nationally and internationally.