2018 NAAME Year in Review

Thank you volunteers, members and coalition partners. Thank you for making 2018 a great year for the Northwest Alliance for Alternative Media and Education (NAAME). Together we accomplished an impressive, broad and dynamic set of feats for a scrappy all volunteer nonprofit. This is a clear reflection of the experience, camaraderie and effort of all of you who took part.

Brief Overview of NAAME’s History.

One feature that is paramount for an alternative media and education organization is remembering history. NAAME originated in 1981 with the launch of the Portland Alliance newspaper. Over the next many years the Alliance expanded to become five connected community monthly newspapers across the northwest. Over time, the media landscape changed. Newspapers consolidated, the internet grew and the Alliance alternative monthlies slowly shut down. The Portland Alliance was the last to go, although it still maintains an online presence even today.

In 2014 NAAME was on the verge of shutting down, the board needed an influx of young energy from the next generation of media savvy volunteers. That year a group of video journalists called “B Media Collective” stepped up with several joining the board. That was the year of the first Cascade Media Convergence which brought hundreds of grassroots media workers together in Portland for a weekend of skill shares and meetings. This was to be the rebirth of NAAME.

Over the last 5 years NAAME went through the cycle of forming, storming, norming and performing. The focus and emphasis has continued to evolve as it has embraced a media culture that requires nimbleness and flexibility. NAAME had the attitude of saying yes to wherever the passionate energy of it’s members desired to take it. At the same time we tempered that tendency by agreeing to work towards following best practices for nonprofit boards and finances, while always trying to make sure new collaborations helped to build shared capacity.

NAAME’s Work.

For good example, in 2018 NAAME embraced the development of it’s speakers bureau. Northwest tours were coordinated for three people working on projects NAAME supported. We also had a number of local one time events and were coalition partners on several other. One highlight was Franklin Lopez of Submedia.tv who has been described as “the epitome of a renegade media maker.” On the other end of the spectrum was the tour of Massamba Diop, a master of the tama or “talking drum” from Senegal.

Another development has been the expansion of our fiscally sponsored projects from only a couple small projects to over a dozen. It challenged our all volunteer nonprofit to successfully meet the widely varying needs of those seeking our fiscal sponsorship services. One successful project that we fiscally sponsor is “Women of Color Speak Out” which continues to be a group we really agree with. Several other fiscally sponsored projects could be best described as exciting seedling projects. These projects come to us often through referrals but sometimes as cold calls and often require a bit of work especially in the beginning. We take on this effort out of solidarity, everyone in NAAME has been there, part of struggling grassroots projects looking for allies and we know we would have wanted just a little affirmation and support.

While helping fiscally sponsored projects and developing speaking tours has been hugely rewarding and become key to the current solidarity and collaborative model of NAAME, we have still continued developing internal NAAME projects. Our model has been one where specific members of NAAME coordinate certain projects and then come together with other members in helpful collaboration. NAAME projects tend to ebb and flow, members work on projects as they become priorities and park some projects to be developed further at later dates. One of these projects, “Keys Beats Bars”, which has been under development since late 2016 made some major progress in 2018 and is now blooming. Another project called “Power to the Public” had to be partially reworked in 2018 but in 2019 has a renewed focus.

On a related topic of special projects, core volunteers, supporters and allies have been asking if we are going to put together another Cascade Media Convergence (CMC). There has been a three year hiatus from the immense work of organizing our seminal CMC but we haven’t forgotten about it. In fact we’re pleased to announce the beginning planning phases for a conference focused on grassroots media and international solidarity (especially towards Latin America) with an emphasis on documentary film and investigative journalism. It might not be called the CMC, but it we are determined to have it feature the best aspects of the CMC with aspects of other international solidarity conferences some of our core members have in the past helped to put together.

NAAME’s Finances.

Completing the 2018 year in review means discussing the figures and statistics. As a small nonprofit it takes a lot of work by an already busy group of volunteers to capture the statistics that foundations and donors like to see in determining giving decisions. Since 2017 we have had the Bronze seal of transparency as determined by GuideStar. By the end of 2018, despite year by year trends of growth since 2014, gross receipts were $37,000, still less than $50,000, which allows NAAME to file the IRS form 990-N, known as the “e-postcard”. Breaking that down: Fiscal Sponsorships were 57%, the Speakers Bureau was 21%, Programs made up 19% and operating costs were a mere 3% of our gross receipts. Other important statistics concerning the number of volunteers and diversity have both improved with a third of our board and advisory board being women and minorities. That diversity is also reflected even more strongly in the fiscally sponsored projects, speakers bureau and program work.

Finally, in 2019 our projected overall budget is $90,000 and we expect that is a little conservative. Mainly this is because of the seeds we sowed in 2018 and because of the work we’ve done in building a great organizational foundation that is performing well. The speakers bureau is on course to double in output. The fiscal sponsorships have already exceeded the amount raised during the entire year of 2018. The “Keys Beats Bars” project is on track to hiring a staff member by the end of the third quarter. For NAAME that will be a game changer, but we are prepared for it.

Support NAAME in 2019.

I would be derelict in my duty as a board member if I didn’t finish off this year in review with another thanks and a personal request to support NAAME’s work and become engaged with us in this work. Everyday I read the news vociferously across a wide array of sources. I have a background in journalism and pride myself as a critical thinker with a socialist heart. In my never quite expertly opinion, working class people everywhere are swimming in a sea of misinformation, blatant lies, advertising, branding and propaganda. And we all know it. Because when it looks like shit and smells like shit – it’s shit!

NAAME doesn’t have the capacity to fight an asymmetrical war against the lying corporate media, por ahora. Our revolution will not be televised. However, try as the filthy rich might, ideas like democracy will never go away and truth is hard to hide. In fact the truth stands out, it can defeat a thousand lies in but a moment. While a lie is backed by endless deceptions with it’s unraveling being found in increasing feeling of uncertainty, the truth leads only to other truths with the feelings of greater trust, comfort, confidence and improved decision making.

NAAME isn’t in the business of journalism. We’re not out there investigating, searching for truth ourselves, although someday we might be. We’re fighting for the people who are though and against the powerful people and corporate interests who are not. This is fundamental to the movement work towards breaking the chains of oppression, towards democracy, against war, towards sustainability and towards socialism and economic equality. We are a movement organization and supporting the movement’s media and education is our contribution. Please join us!

Solidarity,

Bruce Wilkinson

NAAME Board Member