Springing Forward

  • Posted by Gretjen Clausing
  • |
  • March 3, 2021

Greetings PhillyCAM Community,

In a week's time we will be reaching a milestone I never, ever, imagined.  On March 13th it will be one year since we closed our vibrant community media center in response to a pandemic. It feels important to mark this one year, acknowledge what we all have been through. What keeps coming up for me is how despite it ALL, the PhillyCAM community of staff, board, members and supporters has remained resilient and committed to the work. It is with so much gratitude that I write this to you today to share hopeful things to come, like little sprouts busting through the frozen ground. We are ready to “Spring Forward!”


A year ago this time I was delighting in the sights and smells of the Flower Show and feeling energized.  It was not just the hints of spring fueling this good mood, I was also feeling inspired by a day spent with the PhillyCAM Board visualizing the future we want to see as we started our strategic planning process to set new goals for our work. We discussed PhillyCAM’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. During that conversation board member, Gigi Nikpour, said that we should add COVID 19 as a threat. We nodded our heads in agreement and added it to the list but no one could anticipate how prophetic those words would become. Two weeks later I was gathered in the Commons with staff making plans for a 2-week closure, which extended into a 4-month closure, followed by a short reopening only to close again in November.     

Today I am happy that we are to begin the reopening process again. As of February 16th, PhillyCAM is open again, 2 days a week, to members on an appointment only basis.  Notwithstanding our desire to make the facilities available to all we recognize the still precarious nature of the pandemic and as such we urge you to utilize our ever-expanding virtual offerings first and foremost. Check the website for updates on virtual engagement and training opportunities as well as resources for staying creative at home


In the coming weeks we will be coming to you with announcements about many new initiatives finally ready for primetime. Here are a few of them.  Starting in April board and staff will be sharing out highlights from our new 3 year Strategic Plan. Hopefully you will see things that resonate with you in the plan. We are thankful to all who completed surveys, agreed to interviews, or participated in meet ups, watercoolers and town hall. We absorbed it all and translated what we heard into the plan.  Please mark your calendars for the Annual Member Meeting and Board Election on Thursday, April 22.  It will be a virtual gathering again this year. We will share more about the Strategic Plan to make it a living breathing document that we all feel some connection to and invested in the goals.


Over the next several months we will be rolling out a new website that comes with a mobile App that will make for more ways to share television and radio programming. To make this possible PhillyCAM is part of a platform cooperative called Localeyz that will connect our work with that of other community media centers from across the country.  The transition may be a bit bumpy and we ask for your patience.  We are confident the new site will be more engaging and offer an improved user experience. 


We are thrilled to announce that Good Pitch Local Philly will be returning this year in July 2021. PhillyCAM in partnership with Doc Society will again present this unique gathering that convenes filmmakers with change makers around urgent issues to catalyze coalitions that are good for the films, and for good for society. Stay tuned for more information about how to apply to participate in the 2021 edition of Good Pitch Local Philly.

We are beyond excited to announce that with funding from the Independence Public Media Foundation,  PhillyCAM will be producing a retrospective of WYBE TV’s public broadcasting television series, “Philadelphia Stories”, to recontextualize and lift up the civic importance of this unique collection of independent media and use it as a springboard for discussion and community building. This year is the 20th anniversary since “Philadelphia Stories” debuted on WYBE in 2001. The series chronicled, through the eyes of independent media artists, a unique moment in time in Philadelphia during the first decade of a new century. Now fast forward to 2021, a year where we will still be living during a pandemic, facing an unprecedented economic downturn and coming to terms with the divisiveness in our nation, the role of the storyteller has never been more important. We have an opportunity to present narratives told by media artists that expose untruths, shift perspectives and center caring and resilience through creative expression.  Stay tuned!