AMP Year-End Reflections
This was the most epic year-to-date in the life of Allied Media Projects.
During that same weekend in late January 2011, AMP moved from our cozy (but too small and inaccessible) office in an old Elementary School to a 3,000 square foot ground-level space in the Furniture Factory Theater building, only a few blocks away, in the Cass Corridor. Our new office includes a media lab/classroom which we designed to host the first round of Detroit Future Media workshops. We have spacious work areas for our staff, which has grown from three at the beginning of the year to a crew of eight full-time and a dozen part-time staff.
Through DFM we trained an inaugural class of Detroiters in audio, video, graphic design, web design skills and the application of these skills in education, social justice organizing, and community-based entrepreneurship. We selected DFM students through an application process which asked, "What is your vision for the future of Detroit?" and "How will you use digital media to transform your community?"
In August, we launched Detroit Future Schools by hosting 12 teachers and eight DFM artists-in-residence to "AMP Camp" – a five-day professional development retreat at a YMCA camp in West Michigan. AMP Camp was a time for collaborative curricula-building,plus a healthy dose of kayaking, karaoke, and jumping off trampolines into a lake. At the retreat, we looked long and hard at the education crisis facing Detroit. We realized that the goals of our program were nothing less than to reinvent the purpose and practice of education in Detroit. Our purpose is to prepare the future-builders of a more just, creative and collaborative world. Our practice is digital media arts integration, project-based learning, democratic classrooms, and school-community connectedness.
Amidst the highs of the 2011 Allied Media Conference, the graduation of the first class of Detroit Future Media, and the AMP Camp week of Detroit Future Schools, the Summer of 2011 hit a profound low with the passing of Detroit poet-activist-educator, D. Blair. Blair had been an important part of the AMC community, most recently as co-coordinator of the "Poetry and Music as Transformative Media" track at AMC2011. AMP staff mourned alongside our vast network of people locally and nationally who loved Blair. We celebrated and honored his life, while committing to do better at taking care of each other as we work towards a more just and creative world.
AMP continues to be an active member in the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, providing facilitation for monthly meetings and technical support for the network of the coalition's thirteen Public Computer Centers. At the first DDJC retreat, held in November of this year, we laid strategic plans for the coming year of Discovering Technology Fairs (or "DiscoTechs") community wireless networks and communications work, including the publication of the zine, Communication is a Fundamental Human Right.