Archive for December, 2009

Revival of weekly Fearless City meetings, Wednesdays at W2 Culture + Media House

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Orientation Meeting: Wednesdays 1-3 PM W2 Perel Gallery 112 West Hastings @Abbott

Fearless DTES residents are invited!

W2’s Fearless City Mobile is recruiting DTES residents and artists for an exciting mobile video streaming showcase of ideas and views from our neighbourhood. VJs (video jockeys) will remix live videos created by participants and project a mashup on giant screens from the large window facade of the new W2 Cafe site inside the Woodward’s Atrium. W2 is slowly opening in stages in the heart of the Woodward’s project with the Cafe opening first.

Fearless City Mobile has a successful track record of empowering local residents with access to technology, and helped launch other projects in the neighbourhood like AHA Media. Funding for this February program is from CODE Live (Cultural Olympiad Digital Edition) and the City of Vancouver’s Bright Lights. For project background, check out these samples of previous test events: showing Fearless participants learning about mobile video and VJing are Vision Division; with mobile streaming from DTES locations and our shopping cart screen; mixing it up with VJs and DJs at Tech Forms; in Ottawa for BC Scene with VJs remixing streaming connections from seven galleries and layered social media together.

Orientation Meeting: Wednesdays 1-3 PM W2 Perel Gallery 112 West Hastings @Abbott. Weekly Fearless City Mobile training and peer support sessions (lunch included) every Wednesday. We will be providing an honorarium for Fearless City Mobile Project participants and we especially encourage our original 2008 Fearless City crew to come and work and create again.

Thank you for reading my recent article “April’s Story” by Gillian Shaw – Digital Life Writer of the Vancouver Sun

December 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Merry Christmas Everybody!

I would like to thank everyone who has read the recent article “April’s Story” in the Vancouver Sun Newspaper by Gillian Shaw, Digital Life Writer

In my article in the Vancouver Sun which came out yesterday, Christmas Eve 2009, I reveal my personal journey of homelessness,  struggles, poverty, my efforts to do Citizen Journalism and Mobile Media Reporting with AHA MEDIA and the volunteer mentoring of other folks in basic Media training in Vancouver Downtown Eastside

If you have not read my article in the Vancouver Sun, please click on the link

It has been a really tough year for us at AHA MEDIA and we are seeking donations of electronic gear and equipment  so we may continue to build our community capacity to do mobile media reporting in Vancover and Downtown Eastside

FIDO Pay as You Go Phone Cards for cell phones,

Digital cameras,

SD memory cards,


Video cameras,

Audio equipment

We are also looking for donations of warm clothing and food items for our friends and neighbors in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside at the LifeSkills Centre near Oppenheimer Park where we volunteer at

Wish List of Christmas Donations by members of AHA MEDIA and LifeSkills Centre

If you would like to donate FIDO Pay as you go Phone Cards, Electronic Gear and Equipment, Warm Clothing and Food to us at AHA MEDIA and for other folks in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, please email me

Email: or  through Twitter or Facebook

Thank you very much and have a Merry Christmas! 🙂

April Smith of AHA MEDIA is a featured storyline in ” With Glowing Hearts” – WGH the Movie

December 22, 2009 6 comments

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This storyline is from the Documentary ‘With Glowing Hearts‘. It follows April Smith on her journey building AHA Media as the preeminent news source for Vancouver’s DTES using social media for social justice. Along the way April faces many challenges including homelessness

” April Smith is an incredible young woman facing a boat load of challenges.  She has graciously allowed us to follow her for the last 8 months and gather the footage we used to compile this story thread. Hers is a story full of both despair and inspiration. ”

A Social Media revolution has been brewing for the past five years on websites from FaceBook, to Wikipedia, to Flickr, and as it spreads throughout the Internet and into popular culture through an increasing number of portals, it is creating a new sense of community and empowerment amongst those who have embraced it.

History has shown that poor and marginalized communities stand to gain the most from leaps forward in the democratization of information, so the excitement in areas like Vancouver’s maligned Downtown Eastside about the possibilities of Web 2.0 and beyond is palpable.

With the Winter Olympics less than a year away, billions have been spent in preparations and many poverty advocates are concerned about how the city’s several thousand homeless and working poor will fit into the equation as Vancouver puts on its best face for the world.

Against this background the film examines Social Media in action as a group named Fearless City embarks on a campaign to empower and protect its neighbours with cellphones, video-streaming, and the World Wide Web.

With great thanks to Director Andrew Lavigne and Producer Jon Ornoy !

You may contact April Smith via Twitter or Facebook

April Smith of AHA MEDIA is very honored to be featured by Gillian Shaw – Digital Life Writer for The Vancouver Sun Newspaper on Christmas Eve 2009

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment



As it comes time to wrap up 2009, I wanted to share the story of a journalist who has inspired me this year.

A citizen journalist – April Smith, who is making an impact not only for her work chronicling the news and stories of Vancouver’s inner city but also for giving back to her community by mentoring others.

April didn’t graduate from any journalism program. Hers was truly the school of hard knocks and her background one of hardship.

I first met April at WordCamp Whistler last January. She was a grad of the Downtown Eastside’s Fearless City Mobile project, which helped residents and artists of the neighborhood learn to tell stories through mobile media.

At the time April said the experience had been ‘life-changing.’

“I have moved from one side of the tracks to the other,” she told me.

The other side of the tracks was pretty ugly. It was a life of homelessness and struggling to survive on the streets.

April shares her story with eloquence and honesty that is all the more compelling because it is free of self-pity. Her optimism for the future is what comes through loud and clear.

You can listen to Vancouver’s CBC radio did with April. And you see her at work in an episode of With Glowing Hearts the Movie. She is @AprilFilms on Twitter. -April Smith storyline from Andrew Lavigne on Vimeo.

The mentoring April received is being returned to the community many times over with the creation of AHA Media, a fledgling new media company started by April along with Hendrik Beune and Al Tkatch – AHA coming from the first letters of their names.

April is teaching and mentoring others in the Downtown Eastside, sharing her skills and enthusiasm in the hope of offering alternatives that will help improve lives.

April lives in a single room in the DTES and carries out her work and volunteering on a shoestring budget – no shoestring might be too generous to describe it. When I talk to April on the phone, I know that it’s using up precious minutes that she must buy to recharge her cell phone. I recently found out that the Nokia video phone that April was using in her work was borrowed and had to be returned. So I asked her what she needs to carry on.

While it has been a tough year for media organizations, not many list food and warm clothing on their wish list, but those are among the items AHA Media, which does volunteer peer training at the LifeSkills Centre near Oppenheimer Park, is seeking for its DTES neighbors.

The organization also needs: FIDO Pay as You Go Phone Cards for cell phones, digital cameras, SD memory cards, laptop and desktop computers, video cameras and audio equipment.

If you have any of these things kicking around, consider sharing them with others who will pay it forward many times over.

A Table for 2000: Union Gospel Mission partners with a celebrated local restaurant group to host a free gourmet meal for the Vancouver Downtown Eastside.

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

A Table for 2000:

Union Gospel Mission partners with a celebrated local restaurant group to host a free gourmet meal for the Downtown Eastside.

Just in time for Christmas, thousands of Downtown Eastside residents will enjoy the gourmet dinner of the season on Wednesday, December 23rd when Union Gospel Mission hosts A Table for 2000, a free culinary feast that is being made possible by the generosity and volunteer-time of a celebrated local restaurant group. The entire event is designed to give Downtown Eastside residents a unique, fine dining Christmas experience.

To accommodate so many guests, UGM will erect a tent outside of its building on Princess Street between Hastings and Cordova, seating 700 at a time. The spacious environment will ensure that guests don’t feel rushed as they enjoy hand-carved honey glazed ham and oven roasted beef strip loin with traditional festive gravy,  buttered vegetables with fresh herbs, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, an Italian pasta bar, fresh baked buns with whipped sea salt butter, and chocolate mousse tarts for desert. The tent will be decorated with festive lights and Christmas trees, and guests will be serenaded by carolers and the Vancouver Firefighters Band. At the end of the evening, guests will depart with a stocking full of goodies to help add some holiday cheer to the Christmas season.

UGM will offer a shopping cart valet service, so that guests can relax and dine leisurely with the knowledge that their belongings are secure. The SPCA will be on-hand to care for and feed dogs.

The Details

What: Union Gospel Mission partners with Glowbal Restaurant Group to present A Table for 2000, a gourmet Christmas feast in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside that is free to all.

Where: Princess Street between Hastings and Cordova, beside Union Gospel Mission. The street will be closed to traffic for this event, and guests will enjoy the meal in a heated tent with festive lights and Christmas trees, while being serenaded by carolers and the Vancouver Firefighters Band.

When: Wednesday, December 23, 2009

3:00pm: Priority seating for seniors, families, and those with special needs

4:00 – 7:30pm: event open to the public

Why: The Glowbal Restaurant Group approached UGM with the simple desire to provide a festive, gourmet, free Christmas meal to the Downtown Eastside. About 100 Glowbal employees will be volunteering at the event.

Carts and dogs are welcome; they will be securely cared for.

About UGM

Union Gospel Mission has been reaching the hungry, hurting and homeless for nearly 70 years. Through its 10 locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counseling, education, safe housing, and alcohol and drug recovery to men, women, youth and children struggling with poverty, homelessness and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. UGM is a proud member of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities.