The Awesome News Taskforce Detroit recently had their very first deliberation meeting to choose the winner of their first $1,000 grant. I listened in from my room in Somerville, Mass., 718 miles away.
We've come a long way since my first trip to Detroit in August to sow the seeds for the Awesome News Taskforce project.
On that first trip, I met with as many people doing interesting projects as I could to tell them about our plans, get feedback, and also to learn more about the core issues that shape the city. On the next trip, I interviewed candidates for the Dean of Awesome position and ended up hiring Marshalle Montgomery, a superwoman facilitator, organizer and filmmaker.
Marshalle and I have worked together since to bring together a passionate, diverse and multi-talented group of trustees to form the core of the Awesome News Taskforce, and I couldn't be more proud of the results. We ended up with a group of 20 trustees who hail from every corner of the metro Detroit area with backgrounds ranging from ethnic media to founding hacker spaces. Over the course of the next month, we're blogging short profiles of all the trustees here -- two of them are up already!
creating an alternative community
The Awesome News Taskforce project is, uniquely, not about making new tech or producing a new type of story. It's about creating an alternative community for people -- journalists and non-journalists alike -- to learn how to shape their own media landscapes together. So our equivalent of that magical moment where your code passes all the tests was the first deliberation, the first time that these individuals who were bound not by professional obligation but by a love of their city came together to discuss what they want to see more of. They discussed the feasibility, impact and implementation of the 45 projects that were submitted in this first cycle.
But in classic Awesome Foundation tradition, they also talked about excitement, joy and wonder. And the best part? I chimed in once or twice, but for the most part they did their own thing.
It's a wonderful feeling for an instigator of a group like this to be obsoleted so quickly!
So what project ended up with the money? It's a secret for now, but we'll be announcing it at the first Awesome News Taskforce Detroit party at the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Center at 6-8 p.m. this Friday. I'll give you a hint, though: It's pretty awesome.