Bringing it home via regional collaboration

By March 30, 2011

Neither rain nor sleet nor snow (and we encountered all three on the drive up) stopped my co-workers and me from getting to Eureka last week. Our destination was a meeting of the community media regional collaborative in which Davis Media Access is participating this year.

The collaborative was kicked off last July here in Davis. Representatives of nonprofit community media centers in Davis, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Gilroy, Marin, San Francisco and Eureka now meet every other month at one of the centers to map changes and confront challenges in our rapidly changing field. Though most of us have done policy work at the state or national levels, working regionally has been an altogether different experience.

First, there are the commonalities. With the exception of urban San Francisco, all the centers are in counties that are largely agrarian, but with colleges or universities close at hand. These factors give rise to large divides in education, socio-economic status and access to technology. The semi-rural nature of our counties makes working on media access for all challenging.

But the differences are interesting, too. While we all have in common a commitment to creating and serving community using media, the programs and services that play out in each community are as different as the communities themselves. Gilroy runs after-school programs in a way we’ve only begin to talk about here in Davis. Monterey has an older population, one where the need for youth programs hardly registers, but demand for senior services is sky-high. San Francisco must provide services that address many cultural variations within a diverse population.

Second, our efforts are not directed at policy work, but at concrete projects. To date, we’ve had daylong summits on youth media, production and fundraising.
Working together, we emerged last week with a plan, a pitch and some funders in mind for a collaborative grant geared at creating “micro facilities” in all seven communities. Ultra-local models will help the media centers serve larger communities and regions, many of which typically lack media access.

We’re finalizing a collaborative production showcasing each center and community, and the executive directors at each center are committed to working on the grant proposal. I hope to have more good news to report soon.

Meanwhile, here at home, DMA worked with representatives from both the Yes on Measure A and No on Measure A campaigns last week. Measure A proposes a $200-per-year parcel tax for the next two years, as an emergency, short‐term, local response to the latest round of state funding cuts affecting schools. The measure is a vote-by-mail ballot, which will be mailed to registered voters next week.

DMA invited both campaigns into the studio on March 23 to record brief campaign statements. The resulting short programs are available at http://dctv.davismedia.org, and also will air on DCTV Channel 15 on the Comcast system, on Menu 99 on AT&T’s U-verse system and on KDRT 95.7 FM. DMA also will partner with the League of Women Voters of Davis and City Government Channel 16 on a forum planned for Wednesday, April 6, with the resulting program online and on DCTV.

Measure A programming reflects DMA’s ongoing commitment to local election programming and voter education. For more information, please feel free to contact me.

— Autumn Labbé-Renault is executive director for Davis Media Access, an organization providing access to, and advocacy for, local media. She has written this column monthly since February 1996. Reach her at [email protected]

Autumn Labbe-Renault

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