As you’re reading this, about 2,000 people are flooding into Detroit to participate in the 16th annual Allied Media Conference, a celebration of everything “media,” whatever that means any more.
As far the Conference goes, it considers anything out there that is communicating has “media.” That concept expands to something called “media-based organizing,” or using writing, art or technology “to advance a more just, creative and collaborative world.”
This year’s Conference blends hands-on workshops on a range of topics including Detroit dance, data encryption to gender con-conforming fashion. So if you think you’re going to get the same blah-blah-blah here, you couldn’t be more wrong. Panelists here try to create social change and move the conversation around media forward.
Since 1999, the Conference has been redefining how we talk to one another, going from ‘zines to print media to online citizen journalism. It moved to Detroit in 2007 and the city embraced it. The host, Allied Media Projects, will have about 200 talks, presentations and panels, all put together by a crew of about 80 volunteers. The event continues through Sunday.
Two highlights include AMC Music and a panel discussion called “Gentrification is Not Inevitable.” AMC Music is an annual showcase at MOCAD from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday. It allows local musicians to show off their talents and hopefully gain a national audience. This year’s event is hosted by Flint native Tunde Olaniran, who performed at the 2011 and 2012 events. It also features performances by a mix of emerging and established Detroit-based artists: Shigeto, Lola Valley, MGUN, and Little Animal. Legendary Detroit techno crew Underground Resistance will present “D3 Live” as the headlining act.
Gentrification is Not Inevitable takes place at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Old Main Building, Room 106 at Wayne State University. Its goal is to explore the role of government in establishing new patterns of development and what’s next, from the perspective of community leaders from Tucson, Detroit and Newark. Also being discussed is how media, art, and technology can facilitate bottom-up community development that breaks the typical pattern of gentrification and the role city governments play in establishing new patterns of development. Presenters include Roberto Bedoya from the Tucson Pima Council for the Arts; Raquel Castañeda-Lopez from Detroit City Council Member District 6; Damon Rich from the City of Newark Chief Urban Designer; and Nina Bianchi, who serves as Moderator, from the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition.
I had a chance to chat with Tunde via email this week. Here’s what he had to say about the Conference, the music and his inspirations.
1. How did your AMC appearances help your career in big and small ways?
The Allied Media Conference was one of my first solo performances in Detroit. It was a way to be introduced to the city and to a national audience of people that are hungry for music from diverse perspectives. That performance helped me form friendships that were the basis of future music collaboration, Detroit booking and national touring.
2. Why did you want to step up to host?
I just love the people who organize this showcase and the energy of the event is unreal. It’s over a thousand activists and media makers from around Detroit and the world. They’ve been making connections, falling in love with Detroit, brewing ideas and camaraderie, and Saturday is this joyous release of all that building energy from the Allied Media Conference. If I can be a part of that in any way, I will.
3. How did you select (if you did or helped) the performers this year?
I didn’t select anyone but I tried to make connections. Little Animal is a band I fell in love with last year after booking them for an AMC fundraiser. I think the AMC fell in love with them a little too, and asked them to perform.
4. What does this event mean to you?
It’s really just a killer dance party. The AMC understands that real connections are forged on the dance floor, so it’s intentionally designed as a safe (but still turnt!) space for anyone. It’s honestly one of my favorite events in the year.
5. What do you see happening in Flint or Detroit that inspires you these days?
Obviously, the Allied Media Conference in Detroit is very inspiring. In Flint, there’s a strong DIY ethic as well as a number of collectives. So organizations and collectives in Flint like Flint Handmade, the Creative Alliance, the Flint Local 432 are examples of that. I’m also inspired by energy from folks like artist/rapper/producer/promoter Sheefy McFly in Detroit, who is like the ratchet Basquiat, and the whole #CoOwnaz movement.