The Quintessential DC Experience

Nov 15, 2010
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Above: A video I worked on with colleague Grant Slater at the Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington DC.

I just returned home from a two-week, whirlwind DC trip that may easily have been an unexpected career-shaping visit. I originally set out for a couple reasons: I was teaching photo/video for the Online News Association Conference, which happened to coincide nicely with FotoweekDC the following week -- where I had my second consecutive win.

Both events went off without a hitch and I managed to make time to shoot the Rally for Sanity (above) with my friend Grant Slater -- An extremely talented videographer who I also worked with in Iraq. But the real game changer of the trip was the week in-between the two conferences. Mara Abrams, who just started working with The Tiziano Project flew out to meet me so that we could make some face-to-face connections with organizations about the future of Tiziano. We had no idea where this would go when we set out, we were just hoping to make as many connections as possible for moving forward with some big projects we have in mind for the future.

Well, we got lucky. In the first couple days we made some pretty clutch connections, including one of the leaders of Hillary Clinton's personal innovation team -- a team that floats above the heavily engrained bureaucracy that is the state department. From there, we were immediately added to an all day technology conference at the State Department called Tech@State and were personally introduced to the Executive Director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors -- a hand-selected agency appointed by Barack Obama who are responsible for more that $700 million to fund organizations like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe.

In total, we went to more than a dozen meetings ranging from the State Department to the BBG and VOA to the Accenture Development Fund. What was really interesting was the response at each meeting. First of all, it was clear that everyone realized that what we are doing is important and necessary. However, not surprisingly, the higher up the people we met with, the more receptive and interested they were to listen and brainstorm about game changing approaches to new technologies. Further indicative of the pitfalls that prevent broad change in the media industry, we received the most push back and resistance from the meetings with middle management -- the same people we would most likely have to interface with for such a project.

Either way, overall a great two weeks and more will come of this shortly for sure. Now I am on to the recovery stage of the trip in which I stay in bed for two days to get over a nagging cough, while working on my first blog post for Huffington Post -- a treatise on community journalism. Stay tuned.

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