Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stir It Up - In the Pot and on the Web: Making Media about Making Food

I was thrilled to have these subjects be key aspects of the presentation: green media, homesteading, food and 2.0 technology. I came to San Francisco Public Library early, my then 18 mo. old son was magically sleeping, and I was able to peruse the Special Collections Dept. of the SFPL. For those who do not know, the SFPL has a very special collection of zines. The Main Library catalogs them as “Little Magazines,” and they are searchable in the catalog but do not have descriptions past the basics of title, geographical subdivisions, and maybe physical descriptions. I took a random selection of a bunch of archival boxes and for a period of a few hours, I really thought I was in zine nirvana. I had made the SFPL Special Collections librarian nervous, because I was clearly not a scholar, but a zine freak taking notes on the back of my own small pieces of paper and had a permanent smile and a trace of drool on my face. I was the kind of patron they most feared.

When I had emerged from my literary "drunken" haze from reading the archived decades of geographically subdivided angst between the lines of prophets and unknown outcasts bound by staples, sewing machine thread and wheat paste, I tried to stealthily slip into the back part of the lower auditorium where the lecture for “Stir it Up” was held. The problem was that was where all the speakers were hanging out, and my son was squirmy.

It became clear that the vast majority of people there all knew each other, as they were all part of University of San Francisco. A lot of the students had emerged from the garden and brought their garden dusted clothes and bountiful foraged loot. On the back table were pickled Jerusalem artichokes, some fabulous fermented apple cider elixir, seed packets of calendula and marigolds, and seasoned baked bread. Students served the culinary treats as if they were very expensive chocolates.

I was slightly annoyed by the lecture. It always bothers me when professors make belittling comments about technology and the influx of media, and then crow in delight about how a student Twittered him about if he could bring an electric griddle to make pancakes with to class. It was nice to see the use of multiple formats such as Flickr, personal movies with perhaps an iMovie application, live folk music, and personal anecdotes, and not just another power point lecture. The lecture was not boring, slow, or dry in content. The lecture felt like a quick, fluffy overview of course curricula, or a plug for taking these type of courses at the university. However with the majority of the audience being students, it strikes me odd that they did not just do this lecture at the university.

Some things that I took home at heart: I enjoyed the virtual audience that was on their laptops outside, and I would have liked more participation and engagement from that perspective. I also picked up a copy of Novella Carpenter’s book, have read about half of it, and plan on finishing it when I am done with finals. The whole lecture, reading Novella’s book that was passed around, now has me all fired up about getting a piece of land, getting some meat birds, goats and going back to my roots that my wonderful hippie parents instilled in me long ago. It just is not enough to recycle, take public transportation or bicycle, it is important to grow what you eat, and take responsibility for what goes into and out of our bodies. Thank you for the lecture information, and I hope to see more of these green events at the San Francisco Public Library.

Stir it Up:
Join Professors Melinda Stone and David Silver as they spin tales about making food and making media at the University of San Francisco. Stone will screen a couple of videos from her How-to Homestead collection and discuss how student research assistants and the University's community garden play a vital role in the creation of these pieces. Silver will share examples of social media produced by students in Green Media--a class devoted to making media about making food. Experience the dynamic convergence of green living, food in San Francisco, social media, and Web 2.0 technologies in this digital storytelling presentation.


Green Stacks at SFPL

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