The Greensboro 52.
That’s the label a group of journalists, students, educators and community members adopted during the Create or Die 2 conference in Greensboro June 2-5.
The label takes its inspiration from the Greensboro Four, African American students at N.C. A&T University who sat down at a lunch counter at Woolworth’s in 1960. Others joined them, launching a sit-in movement for civil rights across the South.
The Create or Die 2 participants in 2011 hope to be just as viral.
The first Create or Die gathering was held in Detroit in 2010. The project is part of Journalism That Matters, which describes itself as a collaboration supporting new creators of news and information.
Bill Densmore, director of the Media Giraffe project at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, said at the end of Create or Die 2 that the event inspired the upholding and spreading of traditional journalism ethics and values, “by any means necessary.”
If that means spreading the standards of investigative journalism through hip-hop and biofueled buses, so be it, said participants at the conference, held at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
Actually, the “conference” was designed as a structured unconference, with attention paid to things like seating arrangements and story sharing to build trust and interaction, within a schedule that allows for concrete idea pitches and tours of the community. Journalism was loosely defined, or perhaps redefined, to include mission-driven efforts and storytelling in a broad sense across various platforms.
Peggy Holman, co-founder of Journalism That Matters, and Michelle Ferrier, associate professor at Elon University, were primary organizers, holding weekly calls with volunteers and building an online community before the event.
Holman has been organizing Journalism That Matters programs for years, and Ferrier brought the gathering to Greensboro, to take inspiration from the International Civil Rights Center and Museum and build ties and journalism capacity in the state.
Three incubators in the center of North Carolina offered support for startups emerging from the conference. Sponsors also offered $500 grants to groups who pitched ideas at the gathering.
Homewood Nation won a $500 grant for efforts to build online and offline community in a challenged neighborhood in Pittsburgh.
Two other $500 grants were combined and went to a creative, diverse group that formed at the gathering.
Members were mostly young, scattered from Los Angeles to Charlotte. They shared ideas, backgrounds and skills at the conference and made plans to launch a new website aimed at letting people claim and control their online IDs.
The project includes plans for a biofueled bus tour to spread the word of the project to underserved communities across the country.
I would not be surprised to see that bus roll into Charlotte in late summer 2012, before the start of the Democratic National Convention.
The Greensboro 52.