Our Bones Are Good – What Is Next

Our Bones Are Good | The governance team has spent the past decade on barn-building. They focused on the property acquisition, renovation and installation of technology tied to the mission. In 2020, we are pivoting toward long term sustainability of the operation. The infrastructure of people and finances and the connection between both. This may be more challenging than transforming a barn into a community space but with the dedication of the core team we intend to be in a better position to serve what we hope will be a more engaged community.

As was the case across the globe, the year 2020 was not experienced as intended. Our 2020 goals were to be relevant for our times, to empower our brand and to evolve as #MoreThanTV. Unlike many stations across the nation that had a hiatus for several weeks or months, we were busier than ever immediately, just differently. We adjusted our programing to include replay of remote spiritual services expanding the churches involved weekly, added predictable viewing for silver sneakers level fitness programs and Storytime for those under age seven. We provided alternative video production tools for local producers that could not safely use the studio. We hosted a LIVE music series in support of CT musicians and sponsored contest with prizes from local businesses. And our producers represented our community with eight winning production in the Alliance for Community Media New England Video Festival exploring topics such as child trafficking, inclusion, homeschooling and nonpartisan get out the vote as well as wins in performance categories. We also successfully transition our three college interns to remote work that enabled them to meet graduation internship requirements. We added the ‘As Told Here’, the podcast, extending the way some our most powerful stories could be experienced by the community.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, WPAA-TV had a calendar filled with people-gathering events: drum circles, improv theater, performances, writers’ groups, gallery visits and open houses. We did not foresee the ubiquitous and Internet replacing our success in becoming a public space with virtual meeting tools.

Few singular events change a world view. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I believed that what the Internet could not be, or easily replace, was the potential to meet and gather in person, teach, discuss and share what is local based on the reasonable needs and interests of a community. Then the socially starved world experienced the rise of the racial justice movement in rallies, protests and online conversations creating more community engagement opportunities than community TV could envision supporting.

2020 has been nothing but evolutionary, eclipsing 1965: the bridge in Selma Alabama, the race riots in Watts, The Voting Rights Act, Vietnam War, Medicare, the Gemini Space Program, Mini-skirts and CT imposing a 9% Gross Income Tax on cable companies that was still being adjudicated in 1990 before the FCC. (Is my age showing here?)

As people gather virtually, there is a palpable hunger to engage in person. So what is the real and future need for physical spaces to make media? There is a need for youth to discover, learn and experiment interactively with technology, and elders to stay connected inter-generationally in a public space. Locally WPAA-TV and Community Media Center is preparing to be that public space. We are not yet all we can be but our bones are good and we are planning for the future.

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