For the past two summers I’ve traveled to Detroit for the Allied Media Conference, now coming up on its 15th year. This incredible happening pulls together a phenomenal array of folks from networks across the country (and a few internationally) working on technology, media, community organizing, art, music, and more. Several of my compañeras in DC have been going for much longer and established deep roots with the conference and Detroit – roots I have been happy to slip into. There are so many amazing things about the Allied Media Conference that it is hard to explain, but I’ll make an effort to do so, briefly.
What first marks it so different is that the AMC is intensely grounded in Detroit – a place-based ethos that is rare in most conferences. Many attendees are from the area, many presentations are about the amazing work being done in the city, and there are tours with different themes (which I still have yet to experience but only hear amazing reviews) like Detroit’s musical heritage, or labor organizing, or housing issues. This grounding is the result of the hard work of our friends at Allied Media Projects, the local group that manages to do a million fabulous things.
The intersectional analysis is the next thing that blows me away about the AMC. There’s every kind of session you could imagine, from learning how to solder and make audio cables, to the politics of broadband coverage, to sci-fi discussion fish-bowls, to stories of media-driven campaigns for social justice. The incredible amount of variety coupled with the fact that everyone is excited to talk tech shop about radio spectrum policy one minute and dance it up at the DJ Geekout the next makes for an incredibly rich experience. Indeed, Detroit/AMC contributed to the genesis of the DJ Geekout!
Then there’s the people – super diverse, dedicated to justice, ready to learn and share, and totally cute. I get to see some folks that I haven’t seen in ages, make new friends working on incredible projects, and soak up powerful energy and wisdom. Plus they throw (collectively, the organizers, the participants and performers) wicked parties.