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Massey Media April Update

At Massey Media, we have been busy all April working to give voice to those promoting a sustainable, free and empowered world.

Earth Day ~ sustainable fashion
On Earth Day, April 22, we were reminded that sustainability can look fabulous, darling. Our friends at Proxy Apparel in Boston hosted a spring fashion gala that showed we can look great and know our purchasing supports good jobs. Proxy will be coming to DC on May 7 for a trunk show and you are invited. Please see the Facebook invite.

Biomass Accountability Project ~ promoting clean and green energy
“Somebody’s got to stand up for these children.” These were the words of Robert Hughes, who lives 300 yards away from the site of a proposed biomass incineration power plant, which will be across the street from an elementary school with hundreds of children. Biomass incineration emits toxins that are known to cause asthma and heart and lung disease, and they deplete our forests to meet energy demands. Massey Media has been giving voice to local community groups working to oppose biomass incineration in Wisconsin, Florida, Massachusetts, Washington state and more. We’ve been reaching out to the press to let them know that clean energy doesn’t come from a smokestack.

Roots Fest 2011

ROOTS Fest ~ a festival of healing, unity and empowerment
We are two months away from ROOTS Fest in Baltimore. The festival is a celebration of how art and culture connects communities and creates resiliency. For five days in June, tens of thousands of people will make history at ROOTS Fest. The first three days will be a national dialogue on arts, culture and creativity. For the free outdoor festival, nationally-renowned artists, performers and the Baltimore community will take over the 52 acres of green space that sits atop the “Highway to Nowhere,” and fill it with new life, color and music. ROOTS Fest will serve as an example for other communities around the country who face the same challenges as West Baltimore.

Edgeworks Dance Theater ~ movement to break stereotypes
We are very pleased to be the public relations sponsors of the Edgeworks Dance Theater’s 10th Anniversary Gala on May 5. Edgeworks Dance Theater is Washington, DC’s premier all male contemporary dance company of predominately African-American men. Edgeworks Dance Theater aims to break down stereotypes through dance, utilizing a spectrum of performances, choreographic and teaching styles, reflecting the diversity of experiences and perspectives of both its members and guest artists. Please support this amazing group and purchase tickets here.

At Massey Media, we partner with social justice and socially responsible organizations to take their messages to the press and to the world. Please call on us to help broadcast your vision of a healthy planet, human rights, creativity and freedom.

- Sarah Massey

Why try Jumo?

Massey Media signed up for Jumo yesterday.  Jumo is a social network for causes created by Chris Hughes, a founder Facebook. What do we think of it? At the very least, this site holds promise for bringing more attention to the non-profit organizations we support. And we know that more attention most often brings more volunteers and donations.

But there could be even another, not quite definable potential.  Jumo is a word in Yoruba, a West African language, and it means “together in concert.” It is just that “together in concert” that is unknowable.  If this site builds like Facebook and people from all over the world come “together in concert” around the fundamental issues of inequality and injustice and the fundamental needs for health and creativity,  what can happen? Hughes hopes for a sea change.

The new means of communications, spreading worldwide, gives Hughes the basis of his hope for real change. He writes, “While they’re not a panacea, communication technologies make it easier for people to share their work and passions, learn from others, and improve the quality of their activism.” His vision is to “use networking technology to connect individuals and organizations working for global change.” His belief, “Together we can speed the pace of global change.”

We still wonder, as we wrote in an earlier piece (The Massey Media Opinion On Twittering the Revolution), whether social media can create “sticky relationships,” which are those bonds which sustain true sacrifice for a cause. But here we begin with deeply committed people who, when they find others like them, may “stick” together in concert. Who knows? We say give it a try.

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Get the Story Straight

We can change the story line, but first we have to get the story straight.  No one knows how to do that better than the great reporter, Bill Moyers.  He gave a speech on the eve of the 2010 elections in honor of Howard Zinn which gives us a crystal clear view of what is going on in our politics.  In Moyers’s words, “Socrates said to understand a thing, you must first name it. The name for what’s happening to our political system is corruption – a deep, systemic corruption.”

Brace yourself.  There are no clouds or shadows outside the window Moyers opens, just a glaring reality.  Step by well-documented step, he show us how the rich, supported by our Supreme Court, control our government. He demonstrates how “(m)oney from secret sources is poisoning the public mind with toxic information in order to dupe voters into giving even more power to the powerful.” He illustrates like a Michael Angelo how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  He concludes, “If this were a functioning democracy, our financial institutions would be helping everyday Americans and businesses get the mortgages and loans – the capital – they need to keep going; they’re not, even as the financiers are reaping robust awards.”

What makes Moyers’s delineation of the state of our nation so powerful is his excellence as a investigative journalist.  He is not writing an opinion.  He is digging in his sources, historical and contemporary.  We would be a very different nation now if we had hundreds of  journalists like him.  Sadly, we don’t so maybe, as he himself suggests, we just have to do this work ourselves.  “If you’re fighting for a living wage, or peace, or immigration reform, or gender equality, or the environment, or a safe neighborhood, you are, of necessity, strongly opposed to a handful of moneyed-interests controlling how decisions get made and policy set.”  And you fight with the best tools you can find.  In our case, and perhaps you, the tool is ownership of the press.

But right now, all our goals for a just America seem impossible.  Moyers by way of Baldemar Velasquez, the head of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, gives the following advice:   “It’s OK if it’s impossible; it’s OK! Now I’m going to speak to you as organizers. Listen carefully. The object is not to win. That’s not the objective. The object is to do the right and good thing….  (I)f you go and do the right thing NOW, and you do it long enough good things will happen—something’s gonna happen.”

Read Moyers’s whole speech.  You will have the story straight. Then come along with us and change the story line.

- From the whole Massey Media team on the occasion of the 2010 election.

Working America “On the Streets” in France

Working America “On the Streets” in France

The story of Working America is in the newsstands in France today in Libération, a popular daily, founded by Jean-Paul Sartre.  Working America unites union and non-union workers in an affiliate of the AFL-CIO to engage voters. In a two-page color spread entitled, “The Yo-Yo Chase in Ohio,” Libération follows the door-to-door voter engagement campaign by Working America.  “Yo-yo” means undecided voters. Starting with a group meeting at 1:30pm when canvassers get assignments and review the latest TV ads and ending at 9:30pm when no one will open a door, Libération records their experiences in Blacklick, a middle-class suburb of Columbus.

Working America canvassers find many empty houses, even abandoned houses, some Tea-Party supporters, and also some worried, but undecided, voters.  Patiently and persistently, canvassers ask people about their worries and enter into a discussion about hard issues in order “to pivot” them toward the candidates that will work for Main Street, not Wall Street.  Working America is a non-partisan organization, focusing on the issues of working families. They talk to voters about the issues that matter to them: jobs, health care, and Social Security.  According to Libération, Working America has knocked on 190,000 doors, a small percentage of Ohio’s 5 million, but maybe just enough “to pivot” the state.

Libération and the vast majority of the French hope Ohio does vote for working families’ candidates. Their memories of the presidency of George W. Bush are still quite vivid. They remember his politics not only destroyed America’s middle class but also brought the nation to two wars. In fact, the headline of today’s paper is “The Menace,” referring to Bin Laden’s threats to France.  They blame the Bush policies for keeping this threat alive, and so they are keeping their eyes on Ohio and those doing the Yo-Yo chase.

- MCMassey, International Correspondent, Massey Media

The Power of Humiliation

October 6, 2010 Social Justice
The Power of Humiliation

Blue Demon

Humiliation. You and I know what it feels like  We also know  that it can lead to tragic deaths, like those of  Tyler Clementi and Seth Walsh.  Henry Giroux in When Generosity Hurts: Bill Gates, Public School Teachers and the Politics of Humiliation contends that there is a politics of humiliation that is leading to a collective death of democracy – tough stuff, hard to read, but vitally  important.  Here is my take.  Giroux points out that demonizing is a principle tool of the politics of humiliation. An example of this leaps out from yesterday’s Washington Post blog, The nutty demonization of Randi Weingarten by Valerie Strauss.  Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has been stereotyped and misrepresented (to the insane point of being compared to Osama Bin Laden) all over the media and in “Waiting for Superman.”  Weingarten herself can handle humiliation and I agree it is nutty. But Giroux helps us see that these humiliating charaterizations are far more than just nutty.  They have real power.  When people believe them, power belongs to those doing the humiliating.  Who are these people?  We know them on Fox news and angry radio.  But we do not often think of Huffingotn Post (the Osama bit), NBC, or Bill Gates as among them. But the talk of Gates and the other school philanthropists, “Waiting for Superman” and all its uncritical admirers, including all the major networks, humiliate not just Weingarten but public schools themselves and their teachers while glorifying charter schools.  This talk has the power of legitimating the neglect of public schools, a neglect which is acclerating at a frightening  pace.  This talk has the power of privileging the private over the public, and, maybe, as Giroux thinks, of destroying the roots of democracy.  Worth paying close attention to those humiliations beamed at us and screamed at us every minute.

MCMassey

Image, “The Blue Mask,” is in the Public Domain

Finding Superwoman

Finding Superwoman

The title of “Waiting for ‘Superman” comes from a memory of Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the non-profit educational support service,  Harlem Children’s Zone.  Canada, who grew up in poverty in the South Bronx, says “One of the saddest days of my life was when my mother told me Superman did not exist. She thought I was crying because it’s like Santa Claus is not real. I was crying because no one was coming with enough power to save us.”

I appreciate Canada ‘s childhood feeling and his work to provide the structures children in Harlem need to succeed academically.  But I do not appreciate the documentary ‘s conclusions that the problems in our schools are due to poor teachers, kept in place by teacher’s unions, and that the solution is found in charter schools, like those run by Harlem Children’s Zone.

I propose that we should be “Finding Wonderwoman” rather than “Waiting for Superman” and asking her opinion.  It will not be hard.  Seventy-five percent of all public school teachers are women and many of them are wonders.

I speak from experience.  I taught in public high school in Milwaukee, along with my female friends, but here I want to tell you about my first teaching job.  I had the sixth grade (all boys) in a Catholic school, Our Lady of Lourdes, also in Harlem in a area that is now within the scope of Harlem Children’s Zone. I later become a Harvard University Professor and Pitzer College president. But those jobs were  pieces of cake compared to my first teaching.

Although not a public school, Our Lady of Lourdes, was hardly a charter school.  I had 38 students in my class.  My challenge was to motivate, not just discipline, each of them.  To do that I had to know and love (yes, love) 38 children so much that I might come close to meeting their learning needs.  That meant letting Angel sleep the first class hour because he had to stay awake to make sure the rats did not attack his baby sister.  It meant bringing advance books from the library for Michael so he would not be bored.  It meant sending Hugo out of the class first to “guard” the outside door so he would not take out his raging hostilities by tripping the first graders on the stairs.  I can still name the rest of  the 38 and my strategies.

Since my students did not have parents who took them to museums and concerts, I did it, either in small groups on the weekends or as a class with the parents as chaperons.  We had some major adventures.  It never occurred to me how the boys would react to the Greek statues at the Met or that the parents, not the students, would get lost.  And there were end of the year tests and I did teach to them.  But the scores were no gage of my teaching success.  The successes were Leander wanting to go back to the Met (oh well) and Jesus asking for a different reading book and Peter bringing me roaches in a jar with a leaf inside.  Do you know how hard it is to get there?  If you are a teacher, I am sure you do.

For those of you who are not teachers, watch the reality show “Teach Tony Danza,” which chronicles his attempt to teach high school.  Here you will see teaching is a complex job demanding not only a knowledge of child psychology as well as subject matter contents but also the skills of entrepreneurship, creativity, and leadership.  And, as I said, love.  Danza gets that, as do many of the 25% of public school teachers who are men.

It is extraordinarily hard just to get to first base in this profession, as I and many, many others women have.  You get there and you work for a wage that is nowhere commensurate your skills. You work without the supplies or support programs you students need.  So you make your own small children’s zone, funded by your own generosity.

Think about what is the real work of making a successful classroom before you accept any simplistic solutions to our very real school crisis, like blaming labor unions or school size. To excel in teaching you must be an highly skilled hard worker with significant experience and profound commitment. If you must search the comics for answers, go out and find a  “Wonderwoman.” Look around.  Search your memory.  You will find an excellent teacher.  Ask her what it will take to save our schools.

I know some of what she will say.  Pay teachers at their skill level and give them the supplies they need.  Recognize that in many school communities there are children who need support like that given by the Harlem Children’s Zone.  Recognize that our children, all of them, are the future of our nation and assume responsibility.  Find those big public schools that work and replicate them rather than drain them to death as is happening before our eyes (see Illinois, California,  your own city).  Ask and you will learn even more about how to save our schools.

Marilyn Chapin Massey
International Correspondent, Massey Media

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Unearthing the Activist Prize: True Change Starts at the Grass Roots

Unearthing the Activist Prize: True Change Starts at the Grass Roots

Did you catch that there is an Activist Prize?   Last week there were buried blurbs about it but we think it is a big story so we are unearthing it.  In 1980, Jakob von Uexkull felt the “Nobel Prize” overlooked significant achievements and so he funded the Right Livelihood Awards.  This years’ awards, announced last week and  to be presented December in Stockholm, recognize that “true change starts at the grassroots.”  The winner are:

Each of these are great stories.  We need to stick with them.

- MCMassey

Image: Nnimmo Bassey

Immigrant Rights are Civil Rights

On Saturday, May 1, Lacy MacAuley and I joined a huge pro-immigrant rights rally outside the White House to show our support for civil rights. Here is a little video we made about the day.

For many years, I have worked in immigrant rights and have supported laws that make it easier for immigrants to be a part of society, such as getting a driver’s license. When one group of people does not have the same rights as the majority, they will be exploited. Right now, workers across the country are getting paid less than minimum wage because their employers threaten them. Today in Arizona, people are afraid to call the police, which means criminals have free reign. It’s unjust, unfair, and dangerous for all of us.

We applauded U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) who sat down in front of the White House in an act of civil disobedience and was arrested to show his support for immigrants.

From The New York Times coverage:

Mr. Gutierrez was handcuffed behind his back with plastic cuffs by the Park Police, and he walked in silence when an officer led him away along the black wrought-iron fence in front of the White House. Among others arrested with him were Jaime Contreras, director for Washington, D.C., of the Service Employees International Union; Joshua Hoyt, Ali Noorani, Deepak Bhargava, and Gustavo Torres, leaders of immigrant advocate organizations; and Gregory Cendana, president of the United States Student Association.

- Sarah

Image: GNU Free Documentation License

We Make Headlines in DC

If you are looking to make a news splash in DC, call on Massey Media. From influencing international policy and trade with Egypt to gaining new audiences for a local theater group starring people with disabilities, and everything in between, our team is making headlines in our nation’s capital. Massey Media is a DC public relations company that helps you harness the power of the press to promote the arts, environmentalism, social justice, and socially responsible businesses.

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In addition to making headlines, we’ve already empowered hundreds of communicators this spring in our storytelling and media training workshops. We trained mountain justice activists, the owners and members of the Affinity Lab, low-wage workers with the DC Employment Justice Center, and local leaders who took our story telling workshops. Last week, we spent an afternoon with the O Street Studios artists preparing for their forthcoming art opening. Here is one of handouts written by Sarah Massey on how to reach your target audience through media relations.

DC Venture Summit & Startup Job Fair
Join Massey Media at the Affinity Lab this Friday night at the DC Venture Summit & Startup Job Fair. This event will feature presentations on some of the most cutting edge entrepreneurial concepts by leading area startups, as well as provide great networking and a Startup Job Fair. As a public relations veteran, Sarah Massey will be giving a talk on how Massey Media recently overcame the challenge of a shrinking traditional media. She will also share insights on how the press and producers view stories and strategies for getting your message out by making news. The Summit is a laid back atmosphere targeted at connecting startups, investors, and stakeholders and providing a forum for discussing the latest and greatest in entrepreneurship. RSVP here:http://dcvs.eventbrite.com

Recent press results for our clients:

Please call Massey Media at 202 445-1169 to make headlines or participate in a media training. We hope to talk to you soon!

Massey Media’s Blog

Own the Press was founded on the belief that news makes things happen, and you can make your own news. The big vision is that the world needs more good news to create positive change. Own the Press has three purposes:  
1. To give you the tools to makes your own news.  
2. To give you examples of good journalism.
3. To bring you good news.

You will find articles on how to own the press (tactics) in the Massey Media Toolkit.  We have organized examples of using these tactics under five rubrics.
1. Be Seen demonstrates the necessity and power of the visual.
2. Make Headlines is how to create news.
3. Place Opinions is an important, but often overlooked, way of owning the press.
4. Create Buzz Online illustrates the many ways to grow your audience.  
4.Tell Your Story is really the first and most basic skill you need to own the press.

We are glad that you have joined us in this endeavor. Together, we can change the world, one headline at a time.

Have an idea for a post? Please email us info(at)massey-media.com. THANKS!

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