May 24, 2011

Highlights from Media That Matters 2011

bald-eagle-copyright 2011
Photo of a bald eagle I took on Friday while kayaking (copyright 2011 by JD Lasica)

JD LasicaThe most sublime media conference that you’ve never heard of takes place every spring in Hollyhock, a tiny town on the remote island of Cortes in British Columbia. Just getting to the place is a bit of an adventure.

Last week was the 12th gathering of the invitation-only Media That Matters, one of a series of conferences/retreats that take place in Hollyhock (another one is Web of Change), a pristine outpost where activists, artists and some of the earth’s last flower children have gone to revel in nature, self-actualization and the Great Woo.

Unlike other conferences I’ve attended, I did no live-tweeting and took almost no notes, because it was all about being in the moment. Indeed, I co-led a long breakout session on Hype-free Engagement, with Nicole Sorochan and Leif Utne, with 5 minutes’ notice.

To get a taste of the conference, check out my Flickr set.

Notable quotes & takeaways for media activists

Media That Matters brought together filmmakers, media activists, journalists and educators in a refreshing torpedo-the-silos way. I got a deeper understanding of what goes into the documentary film process and even learned about a handful of social activism sites I hadn’t heard of before. Here’s a brief glimpse of some highlights:

Documentary filmmaker Velcrow Ripper (photo by JD Lasica)

• I was honored to be one of 30 people given the first glimpse at “Evolve Love,” a still-in-progress film by the Canadian filmmaker Velcrow Ripper about love in the time of climate change. He finished this first cut just a few days earlier, and it’s absolutely fantastic — beautiful, heart-tugging and powerful. Look for it in spring 2013. Among those interviewed are founder Bill McKibben and author Don Tapscott.

• Velcrow, who now lives in Brooklyn, introduced me to Pond5, which his team relied on for the film. The firm offers stock video footage, sound effects and production music, all royalty-free at low prices, and it gets 5,000 new media items per week.

Bill Weaver, who founded the gathering, carried us through this remarkable journey with grace, humor and wisdom. He may be expanding the Media That Matters concept to other venues, so stay tuned for word about that.

• Bill quoted a colleague thusly: “A great friend is someone who stabs you in the front.” Almost worthy of Lao Tse.

• Another one from the 60-years-young Weaver: Don’t call it retirement, call it refirement.

• And Mr. Weaver did manage to quote Lao Tse: “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

• I owe an immense debt of gratitude to social entrepreneur, eco-activist, documentary filmmaker Nicole Sorochan, who drove me and Mother Jones publisher Steve Katz from Victoria to Duncan to Campbell River on Vancouver Island before we scooted over to Hollyhock via water taxi. Nicole drove me back as well while I heard more about her fascinating Save Mary Lake project, one of the finalists in the Social Media Camp Westies awards.

• Louis Fox, co-founder of Free Range Studios, gave a terrific presentation of the six steps involved in Media Alchemy. I hope his team finishes up the ideagram so we can circulate it among social cause organizations.

• Nikos Theodosakis took me aside and showed off his brilliant idea for introducing young students to the concepts of geography, the global village, farming and entrepreneurship through the use of

• Congrats to Zanby, a company that Leif Utne has helped steer. On Zanby, unlike, you own your own data — and they just went open source 11 days ago.

• Overheard much praise for this book: Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman by Malidoma Patrice Some.

• Here’s a partial list of the other participants at Media That Matters:

Tom Adair, BC Council of Film Unions
Anita Adams, First Weekend Club
Lawrence Alexander, Environmental Policy and Sustainability Strategist
Raul Alvarez, Filmmaker
Rachel Bagby, World Perspectives Institute
Natasha Lee Beckow, 6S Marketing
Sue Biely, Melting Silos, What’s Goin’ On Salons
Delores Broten, Watershed Sentinel
Stina Brown, Graphic Facilitator
Penelope Buitenhuis, Director/Filmmaker
Caroline Cumming, Filmmaker
Andréa de Keijzer, Freelance Artist & Photographer
Heiko Decosas W2 Community Media Arts, Stillhope Media
Heather Dew Oaksen, Media Activist/Artist
Phillip Djwa, Agentic
Melinda Briana Epler, Experience Designer & Creative Storyteller
Tracey Friesen, National Film Board of Canada
Michelle Grenier, Documentary Producer and Researcher
Ian Gschwind, DreamRider Theatre
Erika Harrison, What’s Going On Salons, Communications Consultant
Ilja Herb, Photographer
Gregg Hill, Zafu Media
Kevin W. Kelly, World Perspectives Institute
Arno Kopecky, Writer, Journalist
Kris Krug, Photographer, Web Strategist, Author
Vanessa Lebourdais, DreamRider Theatre
Ian MacKenzie, Documentary Filmmaker
Patricia Marcoccia, Agentic
Claudia Medina, Filmmaker, Media Artist
Margery Moore, Institute for Sustainability Education & Action
Roy Mulder, Digital Media Producer, UWVIDEO1
Roberta Olenick, Wildlife Photographer
Tony Papa, Avanti Pictures
Denton Pendergast, Rocket Science Design
Sarah Petrescu, Victoria Times-Colonist
Pravin Pillay, Emergent Performance Consulting
Velcrow Ripper, Filmmakerr
Anne Marie Slater, AMSix Productions
Joel Solomon, Renewal2 Investment Fund, Hollyhock
Nicole Sorochan, Envirospeak TV
Russell Sparkman, Fusionspark Media
Michelle Staples, Gra`minu Productions
Nikos Theodosakis, OliveUs Education Society
Jeff Vander Clute, Circlabs
Jan Vozenilek, Copper Sky ProductionsJD Lasica, founder of, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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4 thoughts on “Highlights from Media That Matters 2011

  1. Thanks for an awesome post JD- you don't have to be so grateful- the pleasure of driving Steve and yourself was all mine! Looking forward to visits in the Bay or up here in BC again soon. Please keep in touch :)

    • You were total awesome sauce, Nicole! :~) Good luck with your world-changing projects!