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Flying Focus Video Collective

February 2009 Newsletter

PMB 248     •     3439 NE Sandy Bv     •     Portland, OR 97232

(503) 239-7456     •     (503) 321-5051    •    ffvc@flyingfocus.org

Gentrification and Race

Nathan McCall is the best-selling author of "Makes Me Wanna Holler" and "Them" and is a lecturer for Emory University in Atlanta. In January, 2008, he visited Concordia University in Portland, OR, where he read an excerpt from "Them", a book which explores the ramifications of well-to-do whites moving into poor black neighborhoods. [Nathan McCall] Following the reading, he discussed with the audience differing perspectives surrounding the reversal of 40 years of white flight to the suburbs. In "Nathan McCall: The Effects of Gentrification" (VB #68.11 & 12) McCall explores the pros and cons of gentrification for people living in the affected neighborhoods, a much more complicated issue than is generally understood by European Americans. An engaging and entertaining speaker, McCall also addresses the issue of race relations from personal and public points of view.

This is the first program produced by Flying Focus for the Restorative Listening Project on Gentrification (RLP), made possible in part by a grant from Multnomah County Cultural Commission and the Oregon Cultural Trust. The show was videotaped by PC Peri and edited by Barb Greene. If you would like to order copies of this program to make them available to the community through the RLP, please indicate "for RLP" on the order form. [--clip--]

Nathan McCall discusses gentrification issues

Blackwater, Dark Deeds

Author Jeremy Scahill spoke at Powell's City of Books on June 15, 2008, about his New York Times bestseller, "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army." The award-winning investigative journalist who serves as a correspondent for Democracy Now! and frequent contributor to The Nation is a vocal critic of private military contractors. In "Jeremy Scahill: Blackwater" (VB #69.12&13), he describes how Blackwater, with ties to conservative politics and the religious right, has been operating in Iraq, Louisiana, and South America, and their plans to expand into other areas of the globe, including Illinois and Southern California. Scahill is an intense and engaging speaker and shares much disturbing information about the effects on ordinary citizens and taxpayers. This show was videotaped by Will Seaman of pdxjustice Media Productions. Their longer version of this talk is on the web at www.pdxjustice.org.

Healing Hands in Peru's Earthquake Zone

In early 2008, Flying Focus producer and human rights activist Yvonne Simmons returned to Peru for her seventh trip as part of the Las Lomas Project. She again visited Las Lomas de Carabayllo, where most of the 35,000 people live in poverty, and visited several areas affected by the August, 2007 earthquake. Yvonne's trip is documented in the program, "Earth Day and Earthquake in Peru" (VB #69.2).

Children in Sol Naciente celebrated Earth Day, taking to the streets in a parade promoting awareness of the environment. This was an exciting event for young people who spend much of their time breaking down large rocks to sell to help their families scrape by. Yvonne was also able to do more work in Las Lomas, with children who live on a garbage dump, and a spay/neuter clinic that was set up there for family dogs.

In the Ica region, Yvonne shows families who were affected by the earthquake. They find ways to move forward--from creating baskets to sell, to creating crafts with yarn, to practicing Tai Chi. Among the rubble that was once their homes, children also attend a workshop to learn skills for communicating.

Author, Poet, Activists, Musicians Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The 2008 "Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki" event on August 6th, held in Portland's Japanese-American Historical Plaza at the Waterfront, featured two keynote speakers. Pamela Vergun, read from her book "A Dimly Burning Wick: Memoir from the Ruins of Hiroshima," relating a devastating account from a woman who survived the atomic blast there. Tom Carpenter, executive Director of Hanford Challenge, described similar horrors associated with the past and present of the plutonium facility just a few hours away from Portland on the Columbia River.

The event's highlights are included in the Flying Focus two-part "Hiroshima Day 2008: Remembering the Past to Change the Future" (VB #69.4&5). The shows also feature a personal note and prayer from Mikio Ohgushi of the Dharma Rain Zen Center, and a William Stafford poem read by award-winning poet Paulann Petersen. Each show also includes music from the Portland Taiko Drummers, and part 2 includes a song of peace from the Portland Gay Men's Chorus. --Video----Clip--

[Sandi Cioffi and Tammi Sims]

Not So Sweet Crude

Sweet crude is petroleum oil that comes out of the ground with low levels of sulfur and hydrogen, allowing for cheaper and easier refining. The sweet crude that comes from the Niger Delta accounts for about 10% of the US oil supply. So it probably will come as no surprise to Flying Focus viewers to hear that the documentary film by the same name is "about survival, corruption, greed and armed resistance," according to the website sweetcrudemovie.com.

In "About 'Sweet Crude'" (VB #68.7&8) Seattle-based director Sandy Cioffi and producer Tammi Sims discuss their film after showing a working copy at the 18th Annual Cascade Festival of African Films at Portland Community College in February, 2008. It is clear from the moving and highly informative discussion that both care deeply about the country and the people who live there. This is a subject about which Americans should be more informed, as many of the problems there are being caused by our high oil-consuming lifestyles.

Tammi Sims (L) and Sandi Cioffi (R) discuss their film, "Sweet Crude."

Flying Focus Highlights Another Year in the "17th Busiversary"

In November, Flying Focus celebrated our 17th year providing videos on social justice issues on cable access via our weekly show, the Video Bus. You can see what we worked on by watching the "Seventeenth Busiversary" (VB #69.8&9). On the show, seven people introduce clips from the 14 shows (made up of 24 half-hour episodes) they produced between November 2007 and October 2008. Those producers, along with Field Production Coordinator PC Peri, who taped 9 of the 14 shows featured, appear on screen to introduce short clips from these programs.

Topics include gentrification, US policy in the Middle East (Iraq, Iran, Israel/Palestine), civil liberties/Guantanamo, health care via vegetarian diets, a new trade deal known as "NAFTA with guns," empowering people with mental health issues, Native American perspectives on sustainability, corporate influence on the media, nuclear issues and concerns in Peru, Bolivia, Nigeria, the Congo, and other countries.

Some of the two-minute clips are up on the internet at www.flyingfocus.org/videoclips.html.

Panel Reveals How Corporate Media Really Works

In Minneapolis on June 6, 2008 at the National Conference for Media Reform, former corporate media insiders presented what they discovered while working for some of the largest media companies in the US. They shared how news decisions are made, if and how owners influence what gets covered or what does not, as well as why stories are overlooked. Ultimately, the panel's insight and experience shone some light on the problem of Big Media and its failure to cover issues that matter including why scrutiny of the media industry itself never takes place. The two part episode "Corporate Media Confidential" (VB #68.3&4) exposes the corporate wizards behind the media curtain. Panelists included Jeff Cohen of the Park Center for Independent Media and Catherine Crier of Cajole Entertainment.

Fund Your Local Media Activists

Flying Focus is not alone in feeling the pinch of the economic downturn--we know many of you are also tightening your belts. Now is as important a time as ever to present people with viable, peaceful alternatives to corporate and militaristic options being played out on the national and international stage. Please consider a contribution to Flying Focus, whether you order a DVD or want to support us with funds.

Some of the current costs we will be defraying include mailing to a recycling center several dozen 3/4" videotapes, a format which is nearly extinct. The demise of 3/4" is the key reason we are currently copying all of our 600 old programs to DV-CAM tape in our Digital Archiving Project (DAP). We also need contributions for the DAP to meet our matching funds requirement of the generous grant from Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission for that project.

Cable Access Services in Jeopardy!

Flying Focus faces, for the first time in 18 years working at Community Access, the issue of "user fees" being imposed to produce our programs on equipment that is supposed to be free to the community in exchange for the cable company having access to the City's rights-of-way. We hope that you will join us in asking the Portland City Council to fund Portland Community Media (PCM) at a higher rate than they are proposing, while simultaneously reminding them that the mission of Public Access is to give the public access to the airwaves. Although the City rakes in roughly $5 million dollars per year in franchise fees, they are providing less than $900,000 to the budget of PCM, which also covers educational and government channels. Contact us for more information about how you can make a difference.

Sponsor a Video

As mentioned in the Gentrification article, your DVD order can be used to educate others.
Pick a DVD you would like to see at our lending libraries or for community groups
or other locations and let us know that you plan to donate it when you're done viewing it!

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