Well This Is Weird

In my previous post I ended with the following reflections:

“The irony of all this is that I’m able to bring an unprecedented level of live TV broadcast (on the web of course) to this event and I’m just as unhappy with it as I am proud of the accomplishment … last June I broadcast a 5 day baseball tournament by myself with only one person to spell me off two or three times. For Free. Doing it was a real accomplishment but I keep feeling I could have done better.”

Well after lat night’s forum was live webcast I found this strange conversation thread on Facebook:

DB: Thank you very much for broadcasting it live Les. I got there at 10 to 6 and the nearest parking was halfway through Perley’s lot… too far for me and my cane.
CS: I agree – I wish we had one of you over here in the West Boundary, Les. Grand Forks is lucky to have someone putting in the time and effort that you do…..
NG: The town is insanely lucky to have Les.
ME: ya, ok, er, thanks you guys … now stop please.
NG: Only if you charge more:)
IM: I was pondering whether it would be possible to support Les via a crowdfunding campaign. I’d contribute

Crowd funding? WTF?

Here’s my situation: I’m now 61. Almost all my experience is with computers – mostly programming and mostly in ancient times. That makes me a dinosaur.

When I moved to this little town I volunteered with the local Community Access Cable Channel. I’d done that once before and felt it was a way to get involved and get known – we were trying to fit in and find work. Plus being able to shoot, edit and produce all my own material didn’t hurt. I got a job with the local museum. My wife found good work as well. When city council changed they resurrected the idea of live broadcast on cable. (it had been done before but stopped while city hall was being renovated after asbestos abatement) I ended up being the guy who broadcast that. Over time I became known by many as that guy who showed up with cameras and shot things for free that then appeared on cable TV.

Then my wife was killed on the highway. I ended up with a pension. Which meant when my employer and city hall got in a fight and my job ended I wasn’t in that much of a hurry to find another. I ended up on the board of the Chamber of Commerce (boy would my youthful friends be surprised by that). During that time I’d started a free community event calendar website, whatsupingrandforks.com. That too long for you? whatsupgf.com works as well. And a friend talked me into doing a small podcast style video each week about the things coming up in the next week. We did hundreds of those over the years.

It was fun. And apparently it was a bit ahead of its time as well. We were self financed and community driven. Beholden to no one. For a few years it was great fun.

whatsupgf.com was put into hiatus for a number of reasons. First – I felt that it was being ignored by the community at large. I hadn’t put in the work needed to popularize it and I wasn’t using it as a revenue stream. (pension, remember?) So many people forgot it existed. The most traction we got was the videos on facebook … I felt like I was putting in a lot of work to enhance a billionaire’s enterprise. for free.

And it was work as well. I was using DotNetNuke as the underlying site software. On GoDaddy. No real assistance there. None around here either. And trying to push the limits of what I could do on a limited budget. (I got $25 for each evening I broadcast city hall) During that period of fighting city hall I decided that I wanted to ensure that the populace could monitor city hall even if they had not showed up to watch in person. (almost NO ONE does) So I started audio-recording the meetings. and making that available on the website. And the Agenda documents were PDFs but they were just images of pages froma photocopier. So I bought Acrobat Pro and started running them through that and OCRing them. And putting in internal links. And uploading all this to the whatsupgf website. Now the site was getting a spit personality:Booster of the community AND Monitor of city hall.

Along the way the local cable provider was purchased by Shaw Cable Systems, a giant in our country. And a few years back Shaw invested a bunch of money into upgrading this little place and used our town as the test / getting-feet-wet case for shifting us to Digital Cable. Which meant no more live broadcasts … so I looked around and bought into the Amazon S3 service. So I could host webcasts of city council that you would watch on the web.

At some point YouTube let us put things up longer than 10 minutes. And then longer than 15 minutes. So I started recording events in the community and putting them up on the web so others could see them.

While whatsupgf was in hiatus I developed the idea of trying to do more citizen journalism. Eventually I created gftv.ca and whatsupgf got folded into that. So everythign goes through there.

Along the way I sold my house and paid down my credit cards. And then chewed through the money from the sale … it took a few years but I’m almost back to poor normal now.

So I do more and more video production in the community. I keep saying I’ll stop and get on to things that I should be doing (like being a writer) but I’ve started to see how TV, radio and newspapers have real value in make a group of people and buildings feel life a community. And I think I can help my town be a better place to be.

I’ve left lots of things out and glossed over a bunch but essentially the above history captures a lot of what I’ve been doing here for a while.

And now someone has suggested I could be crowd funded … oi!


About xamble

Most things I do involve computers. Nowadays that sounds stupid to hear because everyone uses computers. Except I was saying that before the IBM PC came on the scene. (hint: my first programs were entered on punch cards in an IBM-29) Now I mostly use them. Mostly to provide a community service in my small town. Because I could when it was asked and still can. And I'm a wannabe writer. Various books in various states of incompleteness. A few short stories. Might do more of that.
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