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Bringing TV to the People, TPC Style

24 Sep

This Monday we present the sixth in our series of profiles of our 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Here’s what happens when a group of concerned media activists set out to make sure that local voices are heard.

The People’s Channel (TPC) and Durham Community Media (DCM) are the result of these concerned activist’s struggle and as the only public access TV and community media centers in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham they understand the importance of free access to quality media content. In 1998, they went live with their locally run media model, a model devoted to addressing specific needs of the community.

What’s missing from National TV?

Profit-driven mainstream media favors stories that increase viewers or please advertisers, which can leave less popular but no less relevant, stories out in the cold. The People’s Channel believes this creates an inequity in the kinds of stories that are told.

How does public access television address this issue?

TPC values the power of free speech and works hard to disseminate effective media. They provide community members with the resources to create and share their own media, developing a local and alternative television dialogue.

TPC and DCM make it possible for anyone in the community to tell their stories by offering courses in filming, film production and editing. Whether you are looking to hone your technical skills or have never touched a video camera in your life, you are welcome at TPC.

Over the past three years The People’s Channel and DCM have grown significantly, tripling their staff members and doubling the amount of facilities they have allowing them to reach a larger public.

Executive Director Chad Johnson reflected that, “The organization has spent a great deal of time building a solid and sustainable organizational culture, which was not a small undertaking. However, because we chose to build a solid foundation, we stand at a tipping point as an organization. We are at a crossroads, where the staff and the board feel as if we can truly serve the community in a manner, which is consistent with our mission and has the internal capacity to make our mission a reality on a day to day basis.”

Sign up to be a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional and help public access television and community media stay relevant.

Check out some of the local stories, made possible by TPC’s efforts:



How do you solve a problem as big as the Earth?

21 Sep

Today we introduce the fifth profile in the series of our 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill-Carrboro. We’re exploring what happens when a young boy’s fascination with bugs evolves into a vision that inspires a change-making biodiversity foundation.

E.O. Wilson never grew out of his bug phase. What began with an observation of ants developed into a lifelong study of biodiversity and resulted in the launch of a foundation dedicated to promoting worldwide understanding of the importance of biodiversity and environmental conservation.

Why is Biodiversity Important?

Biodiversity on our planet is shrinking quickly and in most cases humans are the cause. We chop down our rainforests and compromise the quality of the air we breathe. We affect a sensitive environmental balance and species become extinct. As a result of extinction there are fewer organisms for scientists to study, which limits the number of breakthroughs and their potential to provide us with new medicines, innovations and improvements in our quality of life.

The Wilson Foundation believes education is one solution. This year they launched a digital textbook that puts the 10 lb. paper textbooks from high school to shame. E.O. Wilson’s Life on Earth engages students using interactive multimedia, transforming the way students learn.

E.O. Wilson Asks You to Enter the World of the Biologist

Paula J. Ehrlich, President & CEO of E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation discusses the importance of this new tool,  “From molecules to ecosystems, this iBook introduces students to the grandest story there is, the story of life on Earth. Today’s biology students will be tomorrow’s biochemists, explorers, environmental policy makers, park rangers, and informed citizens.  E. O. Wilson’s Life on Earth is being created to prepare them for their work.” 

The Foundation’s efforts take them as far as the Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique where an unprecedented ecological restoration project is underway by the Carr Foundation and the Gorongosa Restoration Project. The Park was once one of the highest density wildlife areas in the world but was devastated by decades of war. The Wilson Foundation is documenting the restoration of the park and working to establish a living laboratory there, which will be used as a model research station for this and other treasured ecosytems.

We think EO Wilson and his team are are on to something!

Sign up to be a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional and help them train tomorrow’s scientists. 

Continuing the Dialogue

17 Sep

Today is the third in our series of profiles of our 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Today we go back to school – to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill – the home of Campus Y.

About Campus Y:
With an estimated 2000 members each year, the Campus Y  remains the oldest and largest student service organization on University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus, a leader in on-campus dialogue and discussion, and in off-campus service and activism. Its mission is the pursuit of social justice and it welcomes and supports a diversity of views, approaches and activities in its agenda to drive lasting social change.

Over the past two decades, the Y has seen a significant rise in its international outreach, along with an increased emphasis on entrepreneurial and sustainable strategies for community empowerment. The organization has journeyed far from its origins as a young men’s Christian fellowship group, to become a pluralistic, diverse institution that champions civil and human rights not just in North Carolina but across the world.

We caught up with Mathilde Verdier, Project Coordinator at Campus Y and asked what she thought about the prospect of working with talented pro bono professionals through Catchafire:
We are actively building out our communications strategy to convey our programs in an impactful way and are eager to take it to the next level. Because we are relatively short staffed, getting assistance from pro bono professionals who have expertise that we do not have in-house will help us move our projects forward and reach our strategic goals, and at the same time save us a significant amount of time.

Sounds like a good plan! What’s new at Campus Y?
This year, Campus Y developed a comprehensive “co-curriculum” of capacity-building workshops to support the start-up, development, and growth of social enterprises at UNC. By drawing on interdisciplinary expertise at the university and forming partnerships with the private sector, the Campus Y now offers workshops that are open to a campus-wide audience of social innovators. Some great workshops from last Spring included: Legally incorporating social ventures, Refining organizational messaging and mission crafting and Developing an effective marketing strategy. Campus Y has also organized workshops to be delivered this fall on topics such as best business practices, effective use of social media, grant writing 2.0, non-profit management, ethical leadership in the social sector, and intellectual property.

You can check out a Campus Y workshop on Tuesday, September 18: Reality Check: What it Takes to Launch & Sustain a Social Venture.

Sign up to be a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional and help Campus Y continue the dialogue!

People First

12 Sep

This is the second installment in our month-long series of profiles of Catchafire’s 13 Founding Members in Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Today we’ll be bragging about The Arc of Orange County.

The Arc believes that all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have strengths, abilities and value and must be treated with dignity and respect. The Arc represents, supports and acts on behalf of these individuals and their families.

One Arc father says it best, “If not for the ARC of Orange County my son would not be able to live in the community. They saved him from life in an institution! Their care and concern for him as a person is beyond measure. ”

Watch this video for three inspiring portraits of Arc community members and their families: Ethan, a young boy with cerebral palsy and a powerful bond with his big sister; Joey, a 25 year old with a job he loves at a local grocery store; and Denise, a life-loving day care attendant and talented painter.

What’s New at The Arc of Orange County?
As the result of the May 2011 House Bill 916 Statewide Managed Care in North Carolina, The Arc of Orange County had to act quickly to comply, re-organizing the infrastructure of the entire agency. It was a difficult process but the silver lining is that The Arc managed to increase services by 28%, rescuing many people from disaster when other agencies were forces to close. They turned a stressful situation into an organizational growth spurt. See what we mean about bragging?

They are nonprofit superheroes for sure, but Executive Director Robin Baker says they’re still more to do and they’re excited about the possibilities for growth in working with Catchafire, “We are constantly bombarded with challenges that require immediate attention. By enlisting the assistance of Catchafire, we will be able to significantly further our efforts in areas that are extremely important but often set aside.”

Sign Up to be a Catchafire Pro Bono Professional and help the Arc of Orange County keep up the good work.

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