Leading up to Vancouver 2010 Olympics, filmmaker Andrew Lavigne followed, filmed and documented various stories around social justice and social media. One storyline was the “True North Media House” a renegade media project cooked up by me, Kris Krüg & Robert Scales based on our experiences documenting previous Olympics. In brief, we wanted to create a context in which grassroots bloggers, photographers, podcasters, vidmakers etc. could capture and share stories, reach a wider audience, and (if they chose to) stay out of trouble with IOC.
We aimed to take a non-political, non-denominational, non-everything kind of approach in that folks were welcome to write about whatever they want and participate anyway they wanted as long as they: took responsibility for their own work, published content under creative Commons license, submitted their RSS feeds to our “firehose”. This was unique amidst the adversarial relationship the Olympics built up with various constituent groups in the community. In other words, the Olympics were going to happen in our city, and we had an opportunity to share stories of what life is really like in Vancouver, the neighbourhoods we live in and the changes we saw to our civic society during that time, plus lots of parties
Wisely, we eschewed a physical space in favour of providing a litany of meet-ups, campaigns, workshops, and offering access to our mailing list and other channels to all the PR agencies, hospitality houses, various educational an activist groups and so on providing a wide variety of topics and events for TNMH accredited documenters to document. By the way, to be accredited, one must agree to the three principles above, and print out their own badge, lamination optional but recommended. Overall, so many wonderful people took on this challenge from youth to elders, people who thought they would have no interest in the Olympics to people who were diehard enthusiasts, to activists to people seeking free beer.
Uncounted thousands of stories were created, amplified through some very strategic social media kung fu, and the story of True North Media House became a story for the mainstream media with coverage in dozens of publications. Indeed, some “mainstream” journalists wrote with a glint of envy about our lack of word counts, deadlines and assignments… Yet we were motivated and focused enough to actually create compelling narratives and artifacts.