Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Greening New York: Streetfilms: Seeing it helps you to believe it.

This is the second submittal of a series to be presented by Streets in cooperation with a number of groups and contributors over the remainder of this month, devoted to reporting on problems and problem-solving by key actors in the city of New York as they steadily increase civic, professional and political support for sustainable transportation innovation. More follows.
The goal behind the Livable Streets Network, of which Streetfilms is but one component, is to harness 21st-century communications technologies, reinforced by a strong sense of simple neighborliness, to create a powerful consensus for change in our cities -- and make them into safer, healthier, and fairer places to live, learn, work and play.

But for this to happen the indispensable intermediate step is to find ways to help people change their minds, challenge their old ways of thinking about how they live and get around in their city. So with this in mind the Network is working with a wide variety of tools which you can check out at http://www.livablestreets.com. One of these is the Streetfilms program.

The starting place behind Streetfilms is a firm belief that we live at a time in which there are many different ways of reaching people, one of them being through short films of the kind which you see in the millions posted on YouTube and the like. In order to make our contribution, we work from a solid base of web support and outreach, the Livable Streets Network, to which we have added a small team of young videographers who spend most of their time charting problems and potential solutions in and around our own city -- but also leaving time to travel to cities and projects around the world to document and share outstanding experiences and contributions.

If there were only one place, only one brilliant strategic approach that would do the trick of city transformation, this peripatetic working style would not be necessary. But we live in a world of huge varieties and great distances, which means that one day the next good subject for a Streetfilm may be a project or a problem in the Bronx or the Battery, and the next day it may be taking place in Columbia or Brazil, India or France, South Africa or Peoria. And when we spot that opportunity, it is our job to grab our cameras and make our way there to work with all those on the spot who are working hard to make their project succeed. In this way we are able to make our modest contribution of getting the word out -- working from bare-bones budgets and always with strong local support to get the job done.

Streetfilms is only one of a number of projects around the world that are trying to make this kind of contribution. And while film is just one of the tools at our disposal in order to help people first open and then perhaps change their minds, it is a tool that we are seeing from our experience really can work. Reports and conferences and books are necessary, but short films made broadly and freely available are part of the winning solution.

And since it does work, for us and for others, we strongly recommend that these efforts of communication and sharing should be broadly supported by individuals , organizations and government agencies across the board. And in many places. In fact, don’t you think you should be doing something like this in your city?

We look forward to the day in which we have many strong "Streetfilms competitors" in many places -- because if we are ever to meet the challenges of the necessary overhaul of our transportation systems , it is going to require all of our efforts and more.

Refs:
http://www.livablestreets.com
http://www.streetfilms.org/
Contact:

Clarence Eckerson, Elizabeth Press and Robin Urban Smith
The Streetfilms Team,
New York, NY, USA

Print this article