Communication Strategies in the Shenandoah Valley

Prometheus Radio - Posted on 19 March 2010

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We started our Making Waves Journey in Harrisonburg, Virginia in the beautiful Shenandoah valley where we met with a mix of people who work with The People United, and The Fairfield Center as well as members of a worker owned coop The Little Grill Collective.

Just recently the FCC opened up a window for groups to apply for Non Commercial Full Power Radio licenses in 65 locations across the country. Prometheus partnered with Common Frequency to assist 28 different community groups who applied for these licenses. One of these groups is The Fairfield Center, a communications organization dedicated to “advancing dialogue and understanding” through conflict resolution, restorative justice and other strategies. We had the chance to interview Harrisonburg's Mayor, Kai Degner who also works with the Fairfield Center. He described The Harisonburg Summits they host where they bring together hundreds of residents to discuss a specific issue in one day. They utilize a  Open Space Technology to allow the community members to set the agenda. Degner believes that a community radio station can also serve as a similar tool for open dialogue.

One of the groups who hope to host a program on this station is The People United, a multiracial movement building group who are currently in the process of opening up the Wayside Center, a Popular Education Center in Central Virginia. Over the past few years they have organized around a mulitude of issues including fighting the new construction of an Immigrant Detention Center in Farmville, Virginia. Unfortunately, construction has begun on the detention Center and the People United have issued a case study  that includes an analysis of what they accomplished, what they struggled with and what lessons they take with them as they carry on. As we travel cross country we are meeting with many communities who are also organizing around Immigrant Detention Centers, Private Probation companies and Maximum Security Prisons. We hope to hear about their campaigns and help them explore communication strategies and radio as a possible tool for their organizing.