Innovation Studio

The ALLIANCE′s Innovation Studio Incubates new media projects and participatory storytelling models that create blueprints and creative resources for the field.

The ALLIANCE Innovation Studio provides a space to support the development of unique interactive digital media projects and other story-driven open source social justice tools and technologies that are designed to serve the field and foster new creative experiences and social impact in communities around the world.

Strategy, design, development, and prototyping in The ALLIANCE Innovation Studio is customized and unique to each project. We bring together a team of creative and tech experts based on the needs of the project; the central requirement for inclusion in the Innovation Studio is a commitment to sharing out the development process with the the field and making the the project available for replication in diverse communities and contexts. We’re talking about publishing the code, sharing data and providing templates or toolkits for meaningful and effective adoption.

The 2017 Innovation Studio Projects are:

FOOTPRINT

FOOTPRINT

Chihiro Wimbush
FOOTPRINT is an experience of the Refinery Corridor Healing Walks, led by Native American grandmothers (Idle No More SF Bay) who live downwind from the Chevron Oil refinery in Richmond, California. After the Chevron explosion of 2012 poisoned their air, they turned to an ancient tradition of healing walks along the oil refineries of the Northeast SF Bay, rallying local communities to reclaim their land and water. We will create a Projection Map of the walk (to project on the side of the UN?) with surround sound installation of the chants/songs and environmental audioscapes of the walk, an immersive experience contrasting the natural world with modern oil industry. Through voices and images of the Walkers we join in their prayer and song for healing, and participate in reclaiming the land. The Map will guide us in to an exhibit that will include photos of these Healing Walk leaders (power of matriarchy) with mini-docs activated via augmented reality that will share personal narratives of the grandmothers. Next year is the fourth and final series of Refinery Healing Walks; this is the last chance to document this transformative event.
Growing From the Inside-Out

Growing From the Inside-Out

Insight Garden Program, San Quentin State Prison (Amanda Berger)
The vision for this project is to bring the audience into San Quentin Prison, where the Insight Garden Program transforms prisoners’ lives through reconnection to “self, community and the natural world". We will create a participatory documentary highlighting the prisoners’ active work in the planting, growing and harvesting stages of vegetable and flower gardens as well as the journey of self-discovery, along with the raising of environmental awareness, “inner gardening” mindfulness, and global climate issues. The film will be part of a forum that brings the target audiences together with environmental leaders and incarcerated participants -- sharing experiences and passion for environmental stewardship. Collaborative filmmaking practice will underscore deep work exploring the impacts of global climate change on low-income and underserved communities, the healing effects of working with nature, the importance of “green jobs for all,” and the impact Insight Garden Program has had on shifting lives and “greening” prison cultures.
Stories from the Sea

Stories from the Sea

Blue Ventures (Martin Muir)
This project tells the story of a grassroots community taking control of its natural resources in a changing environment. Using an intensive participatory approach, community members in Tanzania (through partner organization Mwambao) will be trained in all aspects of short film production. These videographers will be actively working with communities to document their stories, monitoring action and changes in the marine environment during a time of unprecedented challenges. We hope to use the Ricoh Theta as part of this process to capture 360° footage of the community, and have sourced an underwater housing which will allow some unique and immersive footage to be created as part of this project − helping engage communities in the tangible benefits of conservation − above and below the water.

The 2015/2016 Innovation Studio Projects are:

Chasing the Sun

Chasing the Sun

Part film, part book, part something new, Chasing the Sun is an immersive online story about the Arctic, told in a compelling first person narrative that makes the North’s current and coming struggles more vital and relatable.
222 Forgotten Cities

222 Forgotten Cities

222 Forgotten Cities is a photo series aimed at visually dissolving the disconnect between the popular, media-informed perception of a city and the reality of the people who live there.
Global Witness Interactive

Global Witness Interactive

In the Innovation Studio, Global Witness will produce a blueprint for leveraging emerging technologies, interactive online storytelling and web-based mapmaking.
Question Bridge

Question Bridge

Child Brides
This interactive effort will be an online portal that facilitates a transformative “megalogue” between a critical mass of child brides around the world.
Map Your World

Map Your World

Map Your World is an open source data/mapping/storytelling platform that empowers youth around the world to make positive changes in their own communities.

The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture has teamed up with Microsoft to build a very smart digital library of independent film, video and photography. It’s called FRED.

FRED means “peace” in Scandinavian languages.

And it’s a very cute name. FRED promotes peace by connecting people through the power of story. It is a new tool that puts AI and machine learning technology to use for the preservation and innovation of global culture, stories and humanity.

FRED provides access to vaults of previously inaccessible or little-used archives, independent film and video, and orphaned public media works. FRED can also create access to unseen footage from “cutting room floors” that could be incredibly valuable in a new context. FRED can help us re-ignite interest in the histories that are not taught in school. FRED can empower us to illuminate the stories often excluded from “dominant narratives.” FRED can rise up unknown, lost and forgotten content to inform our work, our learning and our lives. We need FRED to help us envision and narrate our desired futures.

We are building FRED in collaboration with Microsoft, along with an international network of media arts organizations and archives, independent filmmakers and editors, scholars, photographers, librarians and technologists. Here’s the plan for the first version of FRED:

  • ● FRED ingests as much contributed, archived and public domain footage as is humanly possible to curate — in full collaboration with rights holders.
  • ● FRED automatically indexes the footage so it is searchable by a diverse and exciting set of metadata: place, time, sentiment + emotion, gesture, person, utterance, and more.
  • ● FRED can translate audio into subtitles in 14 languages at the present time, and can deliver them to streaming content.
  • ● FRED can protect the visual identity of people, per request of rights holder.
  • ● FRED automatically returns clips and information based on the specified search criteria (i.e.’ Archbishop Desmond Tutu laughing in New York between 1975 and 1980’, or ‘Sound bites about LGBT hate crimes’). Watching is free.
  • ● Members of FRED can pay to license specific clips for use in new works or for educational or exhibition purposes – per agreement of the rights holder. FRED connects you to the rights holder and processes your payment once approved.

Imagine if FRED was embedded in film editing software, enabling automatic rich media searches for exactly what you are looking for, when you need it. Then imagine if you could call on FRED in academic libraries and research labs, social media networks, online learning environments, or activism trainings. FRED will exist through multiple interfaces, allowing users to quickly and easily interact with a wealth of media.

FRED is a soulful new machine – a new media library of the future — that will help humans have access to the richness that is our global media culture. To expose injustice, to uncover secrets, to illuminate the undiscovered, to honor the past, to empower those whose stories must still be told.

To support FRED with funding, resources, brainpower or media contributions, contact The Alliance for Media Arts + Culture Executive Director Wendy Levy, wendy@thealliance.media

Story Revivals are a new genre of “restorative media event” that includes music, film, food and conversation. These events are designed to bring people together – across generations, beliefs, and backgrounds – for a uniquely creative experience designed to revive the spirit, open the imagination, build community dialogue, and instill hope for the future.

What happens at a Story Revival? Picture this. A few hundred to a few thousand people come out on a Saturday night. The venue has a large lobby and reception area – maybe a hall, a tent, a conference center — you’ll know it when you see it. As people enter, local musicians play, and maybe there are jugglers or dancers or costumed welcomers. The vibe is inviting. Food from local vendors is available, festive beverages, and communal tables are hosted so if you sit, you can meet someone new if you want to. After about 20 minutes, the event hosts gather the crowd to go into the theater. The first part of the program features church choirs singing secular songs to bring folks to their feet. We’re talking black and white interfaith choirs, singing together. After the musical portion of the program, there is a 30-minute screening of selected shorts and clips from powerful documentary films “curated to connect” audiences and spark a Town Hall-style conversation that flips the script on traditional Q&A’s. The artists and subjects of the films ask questions of the audience, and using a call-and-response style, the event host helps gather local wisdom, energy and insight. Nonprofit orgs shout out workshops and events that will follow-up the revival, and poetry + music closes out the evening, bringing the crowd back to its feet, revived and inspired.

We are gathering a network of members and partners to help hone the model for these events so they are easily replicable in any community. Beginning in Charleston, West Virginia, we are joined by Reveal News, Auburn Seminary, Alternate Roots and the Southern Doc Fund to support the first Story Revival. Stay tuned for dates and details!

What Is a HatchLab?

A HatchLab is a new kind of global storytelling workshop. Designed to build creative strategy muscles for filmmakers and nonprofit organizations, HatchLabs facilitate collaborations between artists, movement leaders, scientists/technologists, civic leaders, policy makers and communities.  HatchLabs offer new tools and opportunities for the voices of those traditionally marginalized to be a central part of creative ideation and social reform.

HatchLab participants gather for a single day, from 9AM – 5PM, joining a team of award-winning artist/mentors to explore inclusive, collaborative, and responsive storytelling models, build deeper connections as a creative community, and activate new narratives designed to embolden and sustain vulnerable communities.

After a HatchLab, the collaborative projects that emerge from the workshop are eligible for funding and mentorship throughout the year. We feel an urgency to move beyond tired Hollywood tropes, appropriation and apocalyptic messaging to support co-created films and videos, community-based artist residencies, interactive projects and innovative technologies that honor and amplify the voices, wisdom and lived experience of the people whose stories are told.

We began the HatchLabs in 2016 focusing on Climate Change and Environmental Justice storytelling;

  • March 21/22 at the Carnegie Institution for Science, in collaboration Environmental Film Festival at our Nation’s Capital
  • April 10 at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford — in collaboration with Sundance Institute’s Stories of Change Program
  • June 7 at the NAMAC Conference, ALLIANCE 2016, in Oakland, CA

In 2017, the HatchLabs will explore Racial Justice and Inclusion:

  • August 2 at the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia, in collaboration with The Colored Girls Museum
  • October 10 at the New Orleans International Film Festival, in collaboration with Antenna Collective
  • November 2 in Chicago, in collaboration with Appalachian Media Institute, RYSE Media Center and Donda’s House 

For further information, contact Alliance HatchLabs Producer Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong, adwoa@thealliance.media

To see a video of the 2016 HatchLabs click here.

A NEW KIND OF HATCHLAB 

The Urban/Rural Co-Lab

This year, we experimented with new intersections in our HatchLab program, and designed a something special with youth mediamakers in mind. Leveraging the work of both the ALLIANCE Creative Leadership Lab and HatchLabs, we connected with our partners at the Appalachian Media Institute and RYSE Media Center in Richmond, CA to create the Urban/Rural Co-Lab to help connect urban and rural young people around the issues, ideas and creative expressions most important to them.

It has been a challenging time for Appalshop as they pull in and reflect on their ongoing work — in a community where upwards of 70% of local folks voted for Donald Trump. They have collectively witnessed the impact of our nation’s deep rural / urban divide and we are looking forward to finding new pathways for solidarity, collaboration and visioning towards of a future of connectivity and as Bayard Rustin says, more community centers of power for the advancement of civil and human rights. 

Towards that end, we have been in conversation to envision new ways to bring rural and urban storytellers, young media makers and leaders together to collectively imagine a path forward beyond the reductive “trump country” slogans. We have invited 10 RYSE artists from inner-city Richmond, CA, and 10 Appalshop Media Institute artists from the heart of Appalachia, to participate in a day-long creative lab in their respective communities, exploring innovative storytelling strategies, cultural difference + otherness, and multi-platform/inter-disciplinary approaches.

We will do a lab with each group – one in Kentucky and one in California, and then we’ll bring them all together at Catalyst Ranch in Chicago for a retreat-style experience in “neutral” territory to facilitate collaboration and group work. Each organization will mentor and co-produce the youth projects emerging from the experience and we’ll plan a series of real world and online exhibitions, performances and conversations by the end of the year.  After the pilot with RYSE and Appalshop, we would love to work with other partner organizations like Spyhop, Tribeca Teaches, Say SI, Better Youth, Scribe and so many others. Let us know if you’d like to build an Urban/Rural Co-Lab in your community. Send an email to jason@thealliance.media – we’ll get back with you asap.

HATCHLAB STAFF AND MENTORS

Wendy Levy

Wendy Levy

Executive Director
Wendy is the Executive Director of the Alliance for Media Arts And Culture. She is also the founder and director of New Arts Axis and a Senior Consultant with the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program.
Pamela Yates

Pamela Yates

Co-Founder and Creative Director of Skylight
Pamela Yates is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Skylight, a company dedicated to creating feature length documentary films and digital media tools that advance awareness of human rights and the quest for justice by implementing multi-year outreach campaigns designed to engage, educate and activate social change.
Paco de Onís

Paco de Onís

Paco grew up in several Latin American countries during a time of dictatorships. He is the Executive Director and Executive Producer of Skylight, a human rights media organization dedicated to creating documentary films and innovative media tools for long-term strategies to advance social and economic justice.
Nicole Newnham

Nicole Newnham

filmmaker and writer
Nicole Newnham is a filmmaker and writer. Nicole co-directed the Emmy nominated documentary The Revolutionary Optimists, which inspired her to develop Map Your World (www.mapyourworld.org). an online community and storytelling platform for young changemakers that enables youth to leverage mobile technology to map data about issues they care about as the centerpiece of a campaign for change in their communities.
Michael Premo

Michael Premo

Artist, journalist and documentary storyteller
Michael Premo is an artist, journalist and documentary storyteller. In addition to his work as Executive Producer at Storyline Media, he has created, produced and presented original works of art and media with numerous companies including Hip-Hop Theater Festival, The Foundry Theater, The Civilians, Penny Arcade, Company One, EarSay, Inc., and the Peabody Award winning StoryCorps.
Katerina Cizek

Katerina Cizek

Katerina is a two-time Emmy-winning, internationally recognized leader and pioneer in digital media: documentary, interactive and journalism. Her work has documented the Digital Revolution, and has itself become part of the movement. For 20 years, she has worked across many media platforms: digital media, broadcasting (radio and television), print and live presentations/installations.
VALENTINA STACKL

VALENTINA STACKL

Communications Lead EarthRights International
Valentina holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing and political science and a master's degree in public health from the University of Michigan with a focus on health disparities, the health impacts of migration, and health communications.
TYRONE B. HAYES, Ph.D

TYRONE B. HAYES, Ph.D

 Professor Dept of Integrative Biology UC Berkeley
Tyrone B. Hayes was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina where he developed his love for biology.
STEVE ELLINGTON

STEVE ELLINGTON

Video and Editing Manager at the Environmental Investigation Agency
Steve Ellington is a filmmaker and expert in visual media production.
STEPHEN BRODBAR

STEPHEN BRODBAR

US Trustee and Director of Education, Cool Earth Action USA
Stephen is preparing to use this program as the basis for a future doctoral research.
RONDELL POOLER

RONDELL POOLER

Green Corps Manager Washington Parks and People
RonDell Pooler graduated from and now runs Parks & People’s DC Green Corps urban forestry workforce development and service learning program.
RAJASVINI BHANSALI

RAJASVINI BHANSALI

Executive Director International Development Exchange (IDEX)
Rajasvini Bhansali is the Executive Director of International Development Exchange (IDEX) and a passionate advocate for participatory grassroots led social change and movement building.
NICOLE ST. CLAIRE KNOBLOCH

NICOLE ST. CLAIRE KNOBLOCH

Freelance Writer
Nicole St. Clair Knobloch is currently working as a freelance writer, most recently as a speechwriter for Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, president, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and as a feature writer for Rensselaer Magazine.
NED GARDINER, Ph.D

NED GARDINER, Ph.D

 Climate Program Office National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Ned is a Media producer, data visualizer, science communicator, content strategist, and public liaison for the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit.
MOLLY RAUCH

MOLLY RAUCH

 Public Health Policy Director Moms Clean Air Force
Molly Rauch is Public Health Policy Director for Moms Clean Air Force, where she directs national campaigns that address the health impacts of pollution.
MOLLY MURPHY

MOLLY MURPHY

Co-Director Working Films
Molly Murphy codirects Working Films , a national nonprofit that uses documentary film to advance social and environmental justice and sustainability.
MELISSA HOUGHTON

MELISSA HOUGHTON

 Executive Director, Women in FIlm and VIdeo
Melissa J. Houghton joined Women in Film & Video (WIFV) as Executive Director in August 2005.
MARY ELLEN SPRENKEL

MARY ELLEN SPRENKEL

Chief Executive Officer The Corps Network
Mary Ellen Sprenkel has been a longtime champion for youth.
MARIT WILKERSON

MARIT WILKERSON

Ph.D Climate Change Advisor & AAAS Science & Technology
Policy Fellow USAID Africa Bureau Dr. Marit Wilkerson is a second year AAAS S&T Policy Fellow serving at USAID as a Climate Change Advisor in the Africa Bureau.
LANCE KRAMER

LANCE KRAMER

Executive Director & Co-Founder - Meridian Hill Pictures
Lance is a co-founder of ​M​eridian Hill Pictures ​and recipient of the 2014 DC Mayor’s Arts Award, the highest award given to working artists in Washington, DC.
KEYA CHATTERJEE

KEYA CHATTERJEE

Executive Director US Climate Action Network
Keya Chatterjee is Executive Director of USCAN, and author of the book The Zero Footprint Baby: How to Save the Planet While Raising a Healthy Baby.
JENNIFER GALVIN, Ph.D

JENNIFER GALVIN, Ph.D

Director/Producer reelblue, LLC
Dr. Jennifer Galvin is a scientist and a filmmaker. She drives societal progress by turning resources—both human and financial—into social impact.
JANE ZELIKOVA, Ph.D

JANE ZELIKOVA, Ph.D

Research Professor University of Wyoming Department of Botany
Jane is an ecologist interested in the impacts of environmental change on natural and managed ecosystems.
EMILY THERESE CLOYD

EMILY THERESE CLOYD

Engagement and Outreach Lead US Global Change Research Program National Coordination Office (NCO)
Emily Therese Cloyd serves as the Engagement and Outreach Lead for the USGCRP National Coordination Office.
ELIZABETH NORTON

ELIZABETH NORTON

 Executive Director Stone Soup Films
Liz Norton was a freelance television producer for over ten years (PBS, MTV), with a focus on public policy issues.
ELIZABETH MILLER

ELIZABETH MILLER

 Professor & Documentary Maker Concordia University
Liz Miller is a professor at Concordia University in Montreal and an award winning documentary maker whose media projects offer critical perspectives on environmental justice, social movements and media.
CATHERINE ZAVALA

CATHERINE ZAVALA

Regional Director, Latin America International Development Exchange (IDEX)
A native of Peru, Katherine has been with the International Development Exchange (IDEX) team since 2005 specializing in building grassroots partnerships, learning alternative models for food sovereignty and advocating for social justice giving.
CATHERINE YRISARRI

CATHERINE YRISARRI

Journalist and Filmmaker
As a journalist and storyteller, Catherine Yrisarri has worked with some of the top visionaries, organizations and companies around the world where she’s editorially and creatively crafted documentaries and international series.
BRENDA EKWURZEL, Ph.D

BRENDA EKWURZEL, Ph.D

Climate Scientist Climate and Energy Program Union of Concerned Scientists
Brenda Ekwurzel leads UCS's climate science education work aimed at strengthening support for sound U.S. climate policies.
ASTRID CALDAS, Ph.D.

ASTRID CALDAS, Ph.D.

Climate Scientist Climate and Energy Program Union of Concerned Scientists
Astrid Caldas is a climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, where her research focuses on climate change adaptation with practical policy implications for ecosystems, the economy, and society.