Archive for the ‘Georgia Straight’ Category

AHA MEDIA Livestreamed Human Rights and Media Matters forum at W2 Storyeum in Vancouver

December 10, 2010 1 comment
By Staff, December 9, 2010

A public forum called “Human Rights and Media Matters” is being held tonight (December 9) at W2 Storyeum in Vancouver.

Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith is moderating the discussion, which is being cohosted by the Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity Society, the Chinese Canadian National Council, and the W2 Community Media Arts Society.

The panel features B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director David Eby, Downtown Eastside activist Tami Starlight, antiracist activist Harsha Walia, and UBC history professor Henry Yu.

Here’s the live stream from April Smith of AHA Media.

Below is Sid Tan, organizer of “Human Rights and Media Matters” forum at W2 with Irwin Oostindie watching

Below is Tami Starlight, Henry Yu, Charlie Smith and David Eby

Below is a photo of AHA MEDIA’s Mac with Nokia N97 mini and Nokia N8 smart cameraphones

Below is Nokia N97 mini livestreaming

Below is filming with Nokia N8 and livestreaming Nokia N97 mini

Below is David Eby and Harsha Walia

Below is Peter Davies of AHA MEDIA filming with a Nokia N8

Below is Tami Starlight with Henry Yu

Below is Charlie Smith, Editor of Georgia Straight

Below is Sudha Krishna asking a question

Below is Miraj Khaled asking a question

Below is MLA Mable Elmore for Vancouver-Kensington

Below is Sean Gunn

Below is Lani Russwurm, Stephan and Miraj

See all “Human Rights and Media Matters ” livestream at

AHA MEDIA is so proud of Jon Ornoy and Andrew Lavigne on their article in The Georgia Straight newspaper “Activist documentary filmmakers get interactive”

May 15, 2010 Leave a comment

AHA MEDIA is so proud of Jon Ornoy and Andrew Lavigne on their article in The Georgia Straight newspaper “Activist documentary filmmakers get interactive”

Many thanks to Jon Ornoy and Andrew Lavigne of Animal Mother Films for the upcoming film “With Glowing Hearts” for all their hard work and REAL care and concern for all the people they interviewed and cultivating a life long working relationship especially for us at AHA MEDIA.

Below is a photo of Andrew Lavigne and Jon Ornoy from their Georgia Straight article written by Shana Myara

Jon and Andrew were the only filmmakers we’ve seen who were dedicated in telling the REAL stories of our lives and other community members in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside.  We  are immensely grateful for their time, patience and care in working with us at AHA MEDIA over the year for their documentary film.

We at AHA MEDIA are very proud to count Jon Ornoy and Andrew Lavigne as mentors, advisors and most importantly friends of AHA MEDIA.

So many people are always interested in what, where and why we do our citizen journalism and social media documentation with cameraphones of events, functions and daily life activities in our community the Vancouver Downtown Eastside.   One thing we were most impressed and touched by Jon and Andrew was that they geniunely wanted to KNOW us and be there with us through the good and bad times.

In the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, so much goes on in our community and it’s rapidly changing everyday. We deal with many issues including gentrification, poverty, lack of social housing  and during the film process of With Glowing Hearts,  we all learned more about ourselves and how we could change things together!!

Thanks to Jon and Andrew for being there for us and helping us tell our story to an international audience. Thank you for encouraging us and supporting our endeavors to tell the stories of the most marginalized people in our City of Vancouver.

Please see Jon Ornoy and Andrew Lavigne of With Glowing Hearts article in this week’s Georgia Straight newspaper

AHA MEDIA is very pleased to have ongoing rehearsals for our second performance of “Love In Shadows” – Shadow Theatre Play in Vancouver Downtown Eastside

March 16, 2010 Leave a comment

AHA MEDIA is very pleased to have ongoing rehearsals for our second performance of “Love In Shadows” – Shadow Theatre Play at the end of March at Interurban Gallery in Vancouver Downtown Eastside

AHA MEDIA cast and crew members were so encouraged by the very positive feedback by our audience from our first performance, we are continuing to do rehearsals in anticipation for our second performance.


Below is a photo of AHA MEDIA’s cast and crew of  the second production of “Love in the Shadows”

Richard Czaban, Hugh Lampkin, Clyde Wright, Holly Boyd, Alvin Clayton and Alex Martin

AHA MEDIA wants to present a play with seven scenes based on true personal stories about how child abuse, trauma and sexual molestation can lead to some folks unable to deal with issues and may end up in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside trying to cope in a variety of harmful ways .

Warning – the following scene is considered graphic but is a real story that happened to some of our actors

This video was filmed by April Smith of AHA MEDIA on a New Media camera Fujifilm S200EXR. AHA MEDIA is about exploring mobile media production through New Media cameras. For a better quality version of this video, please DM April Smith @AprilFilms on Twitter or


Below are thoughts from AHA MEDIA cast and crew and their thoughts on WHY they are presenting a graphic shadow play depicting Child Abuse scenes from their childhood to help inform people WHY some end up in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside and how they want to have a Harm Reduction project

This video was filmed by April Smith of AHA MEDIA on a New Media camera – Panasonic DMC-ZS3. AHA MEDIA is about exploring mobile media production through New Media cameras. For a better quality version of this video, please DM April Smith @AprilFilms on Twitter or


AHA MEDIA believes “Love In The Shadows” can show the reasons WHY some people end up in the DTES – for the MEDIA, our friends and street folks. We wanted to help everyone remember us and our stories through visual and performing arts

AHA MEDIA is about doing positive community engagement and harm reduction strategies in our neighborhood through media, arts and now shadow theatre performances from our members.


AHA MEDIA is very proud to have been mentioned in the Georgia Straight  by Stephen Hui from our first production in February

Downtown Eastside media makers to put on first shadow play

By Stephen Hui

A group of Downtown Eastside media makers will present its first shadow play on Saturday (February 27).

AHA Media will put on Love in the Shadows at the Downtown Eastside Community Arts Network’s art space (67 East Hastings Street) in the Lux hotel.

“AHA MEDIA wanted to present a play with six scenes based on true personal stories about how child abuse, trauma and sexual molestation can lead to some folks unable to deal with issues and may end up in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside trying to cope in a variety of harmful ways,” the group states on its Web site.

“AHA MEDIA believes our play can show the reasons WHY some people end up in the DTES – for the MEDIA, our friends and street folks.”

The show—starring Alvin ClaytonMike McNeeley, and Richard Czaban—starts at 7 p.m.

You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at


AHA MEDIA is proud to do our “Love in the Shadows” Play in great collaboration with DTES CAN – (DTES Community Arts Network)

Hendrik Beune, will be training as a Legal Observer for the 2010 Olympics

October 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Hendrik Beune, will be training as a Legal Observer for the 2010 Olympics

Hendrik on his own

With thanks to Carlito Pablo of the Georgia Straight for the following article:

Legal observers train for 2010 Olympics

By Carlito Pablo

They’ll be highly visible during the Olympics with their orange shirts marked “Legal Observer”. But they’ll have no more special rights than any ordinary citizen.

Worse, as some incidents in the U.S. have shown, volunteers like these may even be targeted by the police. They may be arrested and charged with anything from mischief to obstruction of justice. They may also get hurt or even killed if a violent confrontation breaks out between protesters and security forces.

Nat Marshik was made aware of these risks when she attended a recent workshop for civilians interested in monitoring protests and potential hot spots during the 2010 Olympics. At the end of the training, conducted by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and Pivot Legal Society in East Vancouver on October 11, she handed in her application to become a legal observer.

“Part of it for me is the desire to even just know what rights I have and what actions the police are going to be undertaking,” Marshik told the Georgia Straight during a break in the two-and-a-half-hour session. “I think one thing that’s characterized a lot of the lead-up to the Olympics is the general lack of transparency, and that includes all the police preparations as well.”

Eighty people have attended the two trainings conducted so far by the BCCLA and Pivot, according to lawyer John Richardson.

Richardson is the cofounder and executive director of Pivot Legal Society. In an interview after he instructed participants in the basics of legal observing, Richardson said these volunteers will serve as the “eyes and ears” on the ground that will record how human rights and civil liberties are being upheld during the games.

“It has entered the consciousness of the police and military organizers of the Olympics, and they are going to have to be extra conscientious and careful that their military and police forces are observing the Charter of Rights,” Richardson told the Straight about the presence of the volunteers during the games.

The BCCLA earlier announced that the Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP–led Integrated Security Unit for the 2010 Olympic Games had accepted its invitation for their senior officers to undergo the same training as those participating in the legal observer program.

The potential for conflict has grown as the Olympics draw closer.

On October 7, B.C. attorney general Michael de Jong introduced legislation that will authorize municipal officials in Vancouver, Richmond, and Whistler to enter private homes to take down unauthorized signage. It will also amend the Vancouver Charter to provide stiffer penalties, consisting of fines of up to $10,000 per day and imprisonment of up to six months for violators.

On the same day that de Jong brought in the proposed law, anti-Olympics activist Chris Shaw and Alissa Westergard-Thorpe filed documents before the B.C. Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of an omnibus bylaw enacted by Vancouver on July 23, 2009. This municipal law severely restricts activities such as distributing leaflets in several areas in the city during the Olympics.

Speaking before Vancouver city council on July 7 this year, RCMP assistant commissioner and ISU head Bud Mercer said that local, national, and international groups are planning “criminal protests”. Mercer also told councillors that a force of 7,000 police, 5,000 private security personnel, and 4,500 members of the Canadian Forces will be deployed in the mega event.

Vancouver resident Henny Coates attended the October 10 clinic for legal observers. She is concerned about how citizens will be treated by security forces during the Olympics.

“I think it’s easy for rights to be overridden if we don’t make sure that they know that they’re being watched, that we’re standing up for our rights,” Coates told the Straight.

Legal observers will work in pairs. They will document in various ways—from taking notes to filming—how security officials will interact with both protesters and ordinary citizens.

Participants were told at the training that neutrality is the key to being a good observer. Hendrik Beune is willing to set aside his opinions about the Olympics when he dons the orange shirt of a legal observer.

“I think this is the best way to exercise my civil rights and do my civil duty: being an objective observer,” Beune told the Straight. “Of course, there are a lot of concerns about the Olympics, the fact that corporations seem to have more power than people now. There are going to be some protests, so I’d like to be able to observe those.”

The BCCLA and Pivot will hold two more workshops to train observers at Vancouver’s Britannia Community Centre (1661 Napier Street) on November 22 and December 6, starting at 2:30 p.m.


Where’s the Money in the Media? – Event on Wednesday May 27th – VIVO Media Centre in Vancouver

May 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Register here to guarantee you a seat at the panel, and save some money. Only $7.00 here, $12.00 at the door. No one turned away for lack of funds.Where’s the Money in the Media?

Panel discussion on proposed corporate media bailouts, cuts to the CBC, and exciting alternative models for media

*Wednesday, May 27 6:45-9:00 pm
VIVO Media Arts Centre, 1965 Main St. near 3rd close to Main Street/Science World Skytrain and Main Street #3 bus

Organized by the Campaign for Democratic Media-Vancouver (formerly Media Democracy Day organizing committee)

*Charlie Smith*, Editor, The Georgia Straight
*Marika Swan*, Interim Manager, Redwire Native Youth Media
*Colin Preston*, Library Coordinator & Canadian Media Guild Secretary, CBC Vancouver

*Linda Solomon* Founder and Editor of the Vancouver Observer
and other special guests

Seating is limited – register online to save a seat

At this critical time when the new media environment is being molded and the traditional news industry is in a state of decline, creative approaches to journalism are urgently needed.

Yet politicians and policy makers are poised to further support the big conglomerates that got us into this mess in the first place. Canwest and other corporate media may even get a government bailout. At the same time, CBC is slashing jobs and programming under unprecedented cuts, and there is no end in sight.

-If news financed by big business is failing, what alternatives do we have?
-What role could/should CBC play?
-What other models for media are available?
-What can we do?

Vancouver’s leading independent media makers lead a panel and discussion about proposed government bailouts of corporate media, the impacts of cuts to the public broadcaster, and exciting alternative models for media.

Suggested Donation $7 in advance, $12 at the door
no one turned away for lack of funds.

Snacks will be served
bus tickets available
Free childcare available onsite with advance request

*Seating is limited! To save your spot, please R.S.V.P. by net, phone, or email:*

to register by email: naava.smolash [at]
by phone: (604) 875-8455 (please leave a message)

For more information and updates, check out the Facebook event page


AHA MEDIA helps to give coverage of the Vancouver Downtown Eastside ( DTES )

April 12, 2009 1 comment

We, at AHA MEDIA are lucky to help give coverage of the Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES ). As we move towards the 2010 Winter Olympics, there are many different media groups reporting on our area. such as “Operation Phoenix”


As we are local DTES residents and citizen journalists, we are able to provide OUR unique perspective to the situations and issues concerning us and work with others who want to hear what we have to say 🙂

Below is a photo of Stephen Hui, Technology and Online Editor of the Georgia Straight publication, J-Hock   DTES outreach  and April Smith  of AHA MEDIA hearing what each other has to say about Technology, Citizen Journalism and the Vancouver Downtown Eastside. 🙂


Thanks to everyone who supports us in trying to give the Vancouver Downtown Eastside OUR type of media representation . 🙂

AHA MEDIA is very proud and honored to be interviewed by Stephen Hui of the Georgia Straight

April 11, 2009 3 comments

AHA MEDIA is very proud and honored to be interviewed by Stephen Hui, Technology Editor of the Georgia Straight!!  Thank you very much! We are so very appreciative of you! 🙂


April Smith, cofounder of AHA Media, holds up her Nokia N95 smartphone at Main and Hastings.

Stephen Hui

Geek Speak: April Smith, cofounder of AHA Media

April Smith calls herself a “hyperlocal citizen journalist”. The 23-year-old, Chicago-born videographer and photographer lives in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and covers that neighbourhood, as well as the next-door districts of Chinatown, Gastown, and Strathcona. Smith uses smartphones—the Nokia N95 and N77, and HTC Touch—to capture her footage.

In September, Smith cofounded AHA Media with Hendrik Beune and Al Tkatch. (The group’s name is derived from their first initials.) The trio was inspired by what they learned as participants in Fearless City Mobile, a project of the Downtown Eastside Community Arts Network. Since then, AHA Media has grown to six members, who report on their neighbourhood and teach local residents how to use new media to tell their own stories. Smith also works with the W2 Community Media Arts Centre, which is set to open in the redeveloped Woodward’s building this fall.

The Georgia Straight interviewed Smith in a Downtown Eastside coffee shop.

How did you get into new media?

I got into new media through Fearless City, and it was definitely on an event called Vision Division, which is a peer-led, three-day event where they taught people how to VJ—so, take pictures, learn how to remix them, learn how to repurpose them, and broadcast them on a big screen. Since it was my very first time—like, I had not even used a camera. We had to create our own content. So, they encouraged everyone to go outside and film. But this was about the time that Stephen Harper had cut about $60 million from the arts and culture budget. So, myself, along with others—my partners Al Tkatch and Hendrik Beune—we decided to make a parody film against Stephen Harper’s ideals of, “Oh, well, arts and culture aren’t important. Let’s just cut it up.”

So, we did sort of a four-part mockumentary. I dressed up as four very strong women of the Downtown Eastside. I had to go through a few costume changes. I dressed up as a businesswoman that just graduated from school. I dressed up as, I would say, a young elementary school girl. Like, “What are my options now? I’m in the Downtown Eastside. Do I go into a life of maybe crime or do I continue my education? What options are there for me?” I dressed up as a fitness trainer, so as a real business owner trying to make it in this area, because, as you see, there’s a lot of business owners trying to develop their shops here. Like, “What tax incentives do I have in this area?” Then the fourth one, I dressed up as a—it’s a parody—I dressed up as a dominatrix, and I kissed Mr. Harper. I have the video, and it’s buried on-line. But it’s just to show people what we can do.

What are you working on these days?

It seems like I have more events than I know what to do with. Well, I’d like to still continue doing the ongoing reporting of our area. Like, new business classes are opening up for people who want to transition. When I’m on Twitter, I see people who invite me to different events of theirs, whether it’s to showcase something. I just went the Strathcona BIA’s Sustainability 2.0 expo, and we had a lovely lady named Majora Carter talk about green and sustainability. That’s within our area.

So, I would like to do two things. I would like to still report on things that matter in our area. We really do—I consider—ground-level reporting. I consider myself part of the Downtown Eastside that lives and works in the Downtown Eastside. Again, showcase their work, to perhaps giving light perspectives to maybe the Vancouver social-media, new-media, and tech areas that people from the Downtown Eastside can do just as much as they can. Through the Fearless project, we’ve learned to really be multitasking in our way of thinking and doing. We know how to live stream. We know how to upload. We know how to make footage. We know how to get on-line. We know how to Twitter. We know how to blog. We know how to do everything.

So, I guess it’s increasing our capacity to learn and definitely making sure that we are needed, especially with the 2010 Olympics coming in and this area going through, under such a tight microscope. We want to be known as, “Hey, we can do our own media representation too.” There’s people that are coming on-line that want to have their say, and this is definitely not a community that should be overlooked. If I can do anything to help that get bigger and get better, then I know that I’ve done something great.

What is AHA Media?

AHA Media is definitely a community media group by Downtown Eastside residents. Our focus is on the issues of the community, whether they be the day-to-day lives of people, like snapshots/moments of their lives, to AHA Media hopefully developing into more of a social enterprise. Where, if people would like to have our type of media production, we can go and live stream, we can go and live Twitter, we can do footage on camera phones. Because we don’t have, unfortunately, the money to buy HD cams like some of our fellow peers.

Basically, if people want to engage with us, then we’ll definitely engage with them. So, I would like to see more of what we do get broadcast out there. So, I’m thankful for this opportunity to say, you know, we’re teaching people of the Eastside. We’re empowering them. We’re teaching them tools. I have a mobile media production studio, as you can see right here. I mean, just to even show people. All this came from Fearless and W2, and without them I wouldn’t be here right now.

What does citizen journalism mean to you?

I would say citizen journalism means that citizens in whatever community or whatever neighbourhood can be able to go out and report on any events, news, or any happenings of the area and be able to report it the way they see fit for themselves. So, I guess it’s definitely them being able to take that empowerment within themselves to say, “This is how I feel about it. This is my perspective. This is how I’ve put out my information, my footage to the world.”

I’m not sure that’s the definitive answer of being a citizen journalist. But being able to make your own media, produce your own content, and inform the rest of the world or at least maybe your neighbours or your friend down the street, you know, this is what’s happening.

Why have you spent many hours filming in the alleys of the Downtown Eastside?

I would say—because I am a Downtown Eastside community leader, advocate for this area—sitting inside a coffee shop like this I’m not going to meet real people that have real stories, that have very real things to say. It’s too bad that, unfortunately, there’s not enough media attention in the proper perspective, I’d say, to actually go and see what the person on the street is feeling, saying, thinking, or doing. So, when I’m walking around, I see people that are up and coming leaders, like people that lead their own organizations, their own groups.

If I go out and film, say in the alley, I would say, yeah, it’s a democrative term for me to say, “Yeah, I’m not afraid to go and find the real story, to see people as they are in their own element.” Basically, I want to approach them in a way that, “I’m here. I’m your friend. I’m from this area. What do you have to say? What are your thoughts?” Like, I’ll see someone sitting on the sidewalk, carving. Or, I’ll see someone sitting on the sidewalk, ranting. To me, to be able to tell a story in a digital fashion though on-line methods, through new media and social media, I get to broadcast their stories out.

How do you think mobile technology can help bridge digital divides?

I think that because of the fact that it’s portable, it’s highly functional, and it basically contains everything you need to communicate with the world, to tell your friends where you’re at—so, it’s a connectivity thing, it’s a sociable thing, it’s a security thing. It’s a way to stay in touch with employers. It’s a way to stay in touch with jobs that are available, to stay in touch with people that you really need to. I think because, if you have a cellphone with you, it’s all in your pocket. You don’t have to always necessarily be at a computer. You basically empower yourself so much that you can be your own independent media person.

So, my focus is encouraging others to learn more about cellphones and computers, so that you can broadcast to the world what’s happening in your life. Very much how Twitter is on-line, very up-to-the-minute, up-to-second broadcasting. I’m working with others in the Downtown Eastside. I have this vision of making maybe the Downtown Eastside computer club, social-media club, technology club.

What are your future hopes and plans?

If I can turn out more empowered, more knowledgeable, happy, positive people in this area, I’d like to be able to say that it’s a showcase, on my résumé, that I helped the community grow. Working with W2 and Fearless, if we can help bring together all communities to work and learn and grow from each other, that would be a wonderful, beautiful thing….

I’m hoping that, through collaborations on-line—through the on-line world—and off-line through coming together and meeting people face to face, I can learn to go and empower our community, empower each other, and ultimately empower myself as a young woman to learn about social media and new media. Because I’ve tried sort of outreaching ourselves to other people on-line and there still are barriers for us as “Downtown Eastsiders” to access technology, access the money, access equipment. Working with others, hopefully, we’ll be able to be recognized as do-gooders and people who want to do great things with social media and new media and technology.

Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at