Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Planet Forward: GW's Best Kept Secret

Last semester I walked into SMPA 307 on the first day of class and had one of those “What the hell am I doing here?” moments. No offense to Professor Keller (with whom I took another class last fall, and thoroughly enjoyed), but Political Debate was not for me. Thus ensued the hectic search to find an interesting class during the same time slot.

I ended up stumbling upon Planet Forward—an organization birthed here at GWU last spring, as part of the Center for Innovative Media—but who offered its first semester as a class in fall of 2009.

The organization is Frank Sesno’s brainchild. It has a web-to-TV-to-web platform, and is trying to do exactly what we will be learning about in “Politics and the Internet”—to create an online community and movement through digital media, blogging and viral videos—all with the greater goal of promoting sustainability and carbon-footprint-reduction.

As a self-professed hippie since birth and someone who had recently realized I could make a career out of my love for computers, software and the Internet, the class was a sigh of relief. I gained critical knowledge about filming, video editing, and the freelance-journalism industry. The professor, Laura Pohl, was an incredible teacher and mentor.

But as of today, a week into the spring semester, the class has only three students.

For an organization which has spread to other universities, such as Roger Williams University and Middlebury College, and which has secured large grants and funding for its efforts, I can’t help but wonder why it doesn’t have a bigger presence on campus. I feel as though I’ve done my part, and continue to do so. I promote Planet Forward among my friends and family, via Facebook and email and I’ve signed up for the website’s online community “Ning” site (think Facebook meets academia). Still, its Facebook fan page has only 50 members, while Roger Williams’ has 722.

If you’re a journalism or environmental studies major, or simply have a desire to be part of a project still growing and changing, check out their website, blog, and Youtube page for more information, and please consider joining the class. And while you’re at it, be sure to check out my video below:

Dream of the Future from Madeline Twomey on Vimeo.

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