The Allied Media Conference’s New Shape
After 20 years of creating, connecting and transforming our community, the Allied Media Conference took a one year break. We used this year to devise a new shape that could hold healthy, purposeful growth over the coming years. We called this period the Year in Chrysalis.
Throughout the Year in Chrysalis we gathered AMC community members far and wide to help us explore the questions: How do we want to grow? What are the key ingredients that make the AMC special? What parts of the conference can become something new?
We gathered quantitative and qualitative data to understand the last seven years of the conference (during which we experienced the most significant growth). We convened the Chrysalis Creative Team, a body of long-time and newer AMC participants to guide the strategic direction of the Chrysalis process. This body held two strategic visioning retreats, and collaboratively gathered input from approximately 200 people through a series of listening “living room” sessions. These sessions helped us learn about what AMCers need from the conference and provided vital feedback on various iterations of the next shape of the conference.
After spending the year in reflection, deep-dive evaluation, research, and development we’re finally ready to become a butterfly. Read on to learn about the new shape of the conference.
The Biennial Allied Media Conference
The Allied Media Conference will transition from an annual to a biennial (every other year) convening held over four days in Detroit. In the “off” year, AMP will support organizations within our network to produce mini conferences, “AMSeeds,” within their local communities.
In adopting this new shape and all of its components, described below, our goals are to accomplish the following:
- Advance AMP's mission of cultivating media for liberation
- Prioritize deep care and accessibility
- Strengthen connectivity across networks
- Continue to provide entry points for new people, especially Detroiters
- Nurture participant leadership
- Center marginalized communities
- Take celebration seriously
- Evolve continually through listening and evaluation
- Attempt to model the world in which we want to live
- Reduce the carbon footprint of the conference
The new shape has four major components: Daytime Content, AMC@Night, Access Upgrades, and AMSeeds.
AMC Daytime Content
The daytime content of the AMC will include three major categories: Network Gatherings, Sessions, and Field Trips.
Network Gatherings are one- or two-day mini-conferences convened by a local or national network. Through an open call for proposals, the AMC will accept a total of 20 Network Gatherings.
The purpose of Network Gatherings is to provide focused space for planning, skill-sharing, and community-building within the AMC for networks of people who are already organizing together around an issue or shared identity.
Through an open call for proposals, the AMC curates sessions exploring two broad themes: Media for Liberation and Visionary Organizing.
- Media for Liberation: Sessions that contextualize, advance and explore all forms of media (art, technology, design, storytelling, journalism, etc.) and how our media-making can further an ongoing process of personal, collective, and systemic transformation.
- Visionary Organizing: Sessions that grow our organizing capacity to envision and create a world in which we: care for ourselves, each other, other species, and the planet; dismantle supremacist systems as they operate upon us and within us; assume responsibility for creating new liberatory ways of being, and; cultivate life-affirming joy.
Sessions may be hands-on skill-shares, panel discussions, strategy sessions, performances, presentations, meetups, or a mix of formats.
AMC Field Trips
AMC Field Trips are opportunities for AMCers to engage with local community organizations on day-long off-site sessions exploring the historical, cultural, and media-based organizing landscape of Detroit. Field trip content may include panel discussions, skillshares, hands-on media making, and service work. AMC Field Trips are curated through an open call for proposals.
AMC@NIGHT will be a 4-night celebration featuring visual artists, filmmakers, and performing artists working at the intersection of art and social change. AMC@Night events take place in various parts of the city and are open to the public. AMC@Night activities will include:
Find your crew before the fun kicks off! Community meetups are pre-AMC@NIGHT networking opportunities. AMCers can propose or self-organize meetups to convene and find their crew of people to eat dinner with and plan for the night out.
Working in collaboration with local artists, arts organizations, and venues, AMC@NIGHT Art features artists creating visual, literary, and performance-based work for liberation. Events may include exhibitions, screenings, craft talks, ciphers, tours, and more.
Featuring performing artists, musicians, and DJs working at the intersection of social change, AMC@NIGHT Parties happen at various venues in Detroit offering the opportunity for participants to explore liberation on the dance floor.
In our ongoing efforts to make participation in the conference more enjoyable and accessible the new shape of the AMC will include the following:
Derived from Latinx and Mediterranean cultures, “siesta” or “midday nap” is a structured time to shut down most activities, eat, rest, and rejuvenate. To prioritize deep care and accessibility Siesta is scheduled each day of the conference.
These are ongoing physical spaces that remain open throughout each day of the conference to help participants orient themselves, feel comfortable, and get their needs met in community with others:
- AMC First-timers Space: Similar to the “Homeroom” experience of previous AMCs, this space is where someone can go to ask questions of long-time AMCers, learn how to navigate the conference, and find “buddies” to roll with.
- Children, Parents, and Caregivers Space: More than childcare, this space offers kid-specific sessions in media for liberation and visionary organizing with a focus on intergenerational movement-building. It also supports parents and caregivers and the conference to find each other and build a supportive community.
- Youth Space: This space is curated by and for AMC youth as a hub for the weekend’s activities. It includes opportunities to connect with fellow youth, and participate in discussions and activities geared to AMC’s vibrant youth community.
- Disability Justice Space: This space is for people with disabilities at the AMC to share information, connect to the accessibility resources of the conference, hang out together, and build community.
- The AMC Pantry: In an effort to grow food access through the conference, the AMC pantry will be a space to get snacks and drinks as well as local produce and other ingredients to cook and share.
- Healing Justice Space: This space provides healing services such as massage, cranial sacral therapy, reiki, and acupuncture to AMC participants on a pay-what you-can basis.
- Relaxation Room: This is a quiet, cozy space where you can go to read a book, take a nap, pump some milk, or just check-out from the high-energy pace of the conference for a bit.
- AMSeeds will be opportunities for experiencing the “critical connections” magic of the AMC on more intimate and local scales.
- AMSeeds will advance media-based organizing for liberation.
- The first AMSeeds will happen during the Summer of 2021.
- Over the next year the AMC will be developing a curriculum and set of tools to support organizations within our network to host AMSeeds.
- There will be intentional feedback loops between the AMSeeds and the biennial Detroit conference.
In addition to live streaming major content, such as the Opening Ceremony and plenaries, the AMC will begin piloting online-only interactive content. Virtual content at the AMC will explore the use of online learning platforms, gaming, virtual reality, and other technologies for learning and growing community online. The goal of this expanded content is to make the conference more accessible to people who cannot travel to the conference or for whom large scale in-person gatherings are overwhelming.
AMSeeds Regional Gatherings
AMSeeds are small-scale regional or thematic gatherings amplifying media-based organizing work within a community. They are anchored by host organizations or teams who receive dedicated training and support from AMC staff in the design and execution of their gatherings.
The purpose of AMSeeds, in part, is to answer the question, how do we want to grow? Rather than make Detroit a more and more powerful center of gravity within our network, AMSeeds distribute energy outward. Local adaptation and ownership are essential to this idea. AMSeeds will not be replicas of the Detroit conference; they will draw from the AMC’s 20 years of lessons in convening and repurpose them to meet community-specific needs.
While this part of the new shape is still forming, these are the things we know:
Stay tuned as we release more information on AMC 2020 in the coming months including calls for proposals and job opportunities.