I'm reporting live from the 3 dot dash Just Peace summit on 31st street in NYC.
I'm here with 31 young colleagues from almost as many countries, and we're all locked up for a week to talk about, well, global peace.
So in the absence of a proper live blog, I'm going to keep updating this post!
See you all soon,
Last night at the opening ceremonies, we were joined vis a vis skype by Mahmoud Jabari, a Palestinian reporter recently released after being arrested and held for 6 days by Israeli forces following a protest-turned-violent. He had a powerful message: Despite what he perceives as an situation where he was wronged, Mahmoud harbors no anger, and plans to continue his journalism on the Israel-Palestine conflict free of prejudice. I guess time will only tell how his coverage will be colored by this experience.
We opened today's General Session with words from Jeni Stepanek, mother of the late great child poet and peace activist Mattie Stepanek. She shared the inspiration behind his words and philosophies, and then applied them to the current realities of the peace-making process. It may seem odd to take instruction from an armchair philosopher who never lived to see 14, but Mattie's words carry undeniable and surprising relevancy.
The first breakout session focused on creating a compelling "memorable introduction." For a lot of the young conference attendees, many for whom english is a second or third language, this was invaluable, and Simon Cohen, founder of the UK's Global Tolerance, was an excellent mediator.
Our second breakout concerned obstacles to success of peace efforts, and was shaped around this basic question:
"When basic human needs are met, is peace accomplished? What are those basic human needs?"
The consensus was that while the essential human needs (shelter, food, clean water, safety, and EDUCATION) are necessary in order for the peace process to commence, they in and of themselves do not guarantee peaceful conflict resolution, and are indeed only prerequisites.
Reflections: You've heard a lot about the conference, its nuts and bolts. But how does social media play into the equation? Well the truth is, deeply. Forget for a moment that 3 dot dash has a full-time social media consultant (thank you Kyle) responsible solely for leveraging Facebook and Twitter to garner an almost disproportionately large web presence (as does the World of Children and many other large philanthropic/service/social action-oriented organizations). Forget for a moment that 2008's class of conference-goers organized a high-profile protest that rallied around the aforementioned Palestinian journalist, Mahmoud Jabari, using almost exclusively Facebook. These notwithstanding, social media is ingrained in the very structure of the conference, and social norms are beginning to form around them. iMACs and wifi at the conference abound, and we are encouraged to tweet and post status updates on Facebook regularly during breaks. In fact, Kyle, 3 dot dash's social media consultant, has asked that those of us who have Twitter accounts (I do not) to follow 3 dot dash and re-tweet the 3 dot dash tweets at their followers. That could be the beginning of a new understood protocol: while you're at a high-profile event, will it soon be "impolite" not to make mention of it in your social media or "polite" to re-tweet their content at your followers? I don't know, but it doesn't seem too crazy when you think of it. It's certainly interesting to see novel social norms develop as WEB 2.0 comes of age (e.g.- ever see what happens when you don't "add" an acquaintance who requests to be your friend on Facebook?). Oh yeah, #3DD.
Two dynamite speakers today. We began our first session with Betty Cohen, a former executive at Cartoon Network who works with the Lifetime channel, a generally pro-social media production and distribution network. Betty framed "the pitch" in terms of "the story," using her experience on both sides of the fence ("green-lighting" shows and pitching them to carriers) to demonstrate what does and does not make for a compelling presentation. The pitches she remembers, says Cohen, are the ones that exist within the larger framework of a personal narrative.
Betty Cohen's presentation was followed by a similarly energetic discussion led by Pamela Newkirk, professor of journalism and African American history at NYU, and working journalist. Pamela delved deeply into the repercussions of biased legacy media coverage and what that meant in terms of responsability for new media outlets.
Today started off with a photo competition. Seeing as how none of the delegates are professional photographers yet all of us are more than decently competitive, this was bound to get ugly. With photojournalist Alice Proujansky presiding, we each presented photos representing transformation that we had taken the afternoon before with our identical canon point-and-shoot cameras (thank you 3DD). These ranged from iPhones in phone booths to flowers rising out of concrete, and all of them were genuinely surprising and scarily professional. In the end, no one was more surprised than me when my black and white rendition of barbed wire and vines took the cake and got me a sweet hand-done small-batch print by celebrated war photographer Teuten (currently embedded with rebels in Lybia: he skyped in yesterday amidst the explosions).
Next up was a truly unique experience. Oscar-nominated filmmaker and entrepreneur Jamal Joseph of Columbia University and none other than the Black Panthers took us through what makes a compelling documentary.
More to come!