The Choir and Beyond: The Dual Role of Environmental Media – Bioneeers Converence workshop
“The Choir and Beyond: The Dual Role of Environmental Media“ was moderated by Steve Katz of Mother Jones. The four panelists all had video/audio/music production expertise. One was Kim Spencer, Chief Content Officer for Link TV. Unfortunately the direction of the conversation did not veer toward the technical “how to” of new media much so I didn’t hear from them the kind of content I would have liked but in all fairness, very few in the audience would have wanted that kind of technical discussion.
The description of the session states: “The U.S. environmental and social justice movements lack a choir — and need one. At the same time, it’s imperative to reach beyond the choir.”
This session explored how communication and media can reach a larger segment of viewers. Unfortunately too much of it was the same old rhetoric of us vs them polarization — a political polarization fixation! Had I the opportunity to comment I would have said that drawing a larger circle by finding common goals and motivations might help.
A perfect example of this “larger circle theory” is the story of how a representative of the Land Institute in Salina Kansas found that while talking about global warming did not motivate a local conservative Kansas community to make changes in their energy conservation habits, talking about caring for the earth and becoming energy independent as a nation was much better received and accomplished the same end goals. The community’s energy conservation went up measurably after the focus of the discussion shifted to goals the participants shared. She found that her target audience cared about the environment as a part of their Christian commitment to “God’s creation.” And politically they agreed with the concept of becoming energy independent. This kind of re-work which allows for a broader buy-in from many different parties was not, unfortunately, part of the session discussion.
Bettina Grey, Chair of the North American Interfaith Network and film maker, is no neophyte to media production. She has produced films and interviews with many of the World’s foremost religious leaders including the Dali Lama. Most recently we worked together in Australia’s Parliament of the World’s Religions producing live feed coverage of that event in cutting edge technology
Both Bettina and I had hoped that more emphasis and exploration would have been spent on the newer technologies that would have allowed such a conference to have occurred virtually without the heavy carbon costs of bringing 5000 people together in one place. All of the plenary sessions were recorded and are available to any interested party at a cost, and many are absolutely fascinating. However that doesn’t reduce the initial cost.
The Bioneers also has a “Beaming Bioneers” program which allows groups to watch a live feed of the plenary presentations from a distant location. No workshops were given on offering this technology, nor was there a discussion of its relative merits, or how to presentations of whether this might be a viable means of holding such conferences in the future. We were somewhat disappointed and can only hope that the Bioneers continue to explore this technology and decide to share the environmental benifits at some future date.