Personally this week was a special week for me because on Tuesday it was my birthday and although I think you naturally miss your home more on days like this and I was a bit nostalgic, a group of us went out to Dave and Busters in the evening and had a great time. This week was a bit different from normal as we had our staff summit on Thursday and Friday and on both nights we had had events too. On Thursday night we had celebrity bar tender night at a restaurant called Flavor in Half Moon Bay it was a fun time to just hang out with the rest of the staff and chat and laugh about random things. Then on Friday night Dave spoke at Causes and this was the first event that we streamed live on NotForSale.tv which has been an idea in our heads for a while now so it was fun to finally see it become a reality. Yesterday Not For Sale launched there first Zero Tolerance Community (ZTC) in San Mateo county, it was a long day on my feet between shooting the main session, cutaways of the main session and interviews but it was very inspiring to be a part of it and see how people are thinking in different ways about ending a global problem on a local level. After the ZTC event finished I went to my first baseball game with Gabe, Alli and Adam, which was fun and I even completed the entire American experience by eating a hotdog, now I as I am told, “I am a real American” If only the customs official would see it that way, things would be way easier.
Ever since my blog post last week, I have been questioning how it is possible to use media to make a difference in at risk communities, and then this week at the Causes event I met a fellow South African who runs a organization called Rlabs which uses Social Media like Twiter and Facebook to help people tell stories of hope and offer a way out of poverty. I had never even thought of the possibility of using a platforms like twitter and facebook as tools change people lives, I have seen plenty of organizations using this tools as mediums to fundraise or to tell their story so they could do a specific task, but I have rarely heard of social media as the platform to bring the change. With this meeting and my blog from last week in the back of my head and the thinking that has gone with that I am beginning to see that I am going to have to have a paradigm shift in the way I view the use of these tools to make a difference. Lets take Nigeria as an example, In Nigeria the film industry is called Nollywood it is the second largest film industry in the world after Bollywood, it generates about $200 million each year and is the second largest employer in Nigeria. That is quite an impressive résumé but its important to note that most films are not made by studios but individuals, the quality is defiantly not Hollywood but its not meant to be, there are not many cinemas most films go straight to DVD or VCD, there is somewhere between 1000 to 2000 new films each year and the average film sells 50 000 copies and these disks generally only sell for $2 each making them affordable for most Nigerians. What I find amazing about that is that the $200 million is new wealth, its did not migrate from another sector, now I don’t know everything about poverty around the world (and it would be naive to claim anyone does) but I can take a guess that in every situation of poverty there are 2 things people want, hope and escape (maybe this is why we see such high levels of substance abuse in poor areas) and the medium of film can offer both of those simultaneously. So what if in each developing country we could incubate a local film/media industry, is it possible that if it worked we could not only give people hope but we can also create large sums of wealth which previously never existed and help many people out of poverty.