It is the mid 90s, and I now have an affinity for this academic field known as media literacy. I'm totally sold on its importance. I'm curious to see how many folks from our region might be interested in attending a program on media literacy. Well, sixty-plus people attend. “Yes!” I say to myself. And that idea of creating a regional media literacy organization now has legs, and remains frequent, focused and clear—driving an aggressive plan to win over champions for it.
By 2004, following another community meeting of like minds, it was a reality and on its way—thanks to the many who believed.
Soon after that 2004 meeting I receive a surprise phone call from Liz Thoman, one of the great media literacy education leaders and now dear friend who said she had heard about a media literacy movement here and wanted to talk. I was touched and blown away at the same time!
And now, looking back—while organizational survival hasn't been easy—it’s the all-volunteer, hard-working, mission-driven and devoted partners from the public, private, volunteer and independent sectors who've created the foundation for what is now an organization that continues to serve its mission, creating a business model for others to emulate.
For this I am both proud of and grateful for all those who understand media literacy has an ability to be a nexus for change; and at this juncture in our institutional life, I'm particularly excited to turn leadership over to Jessica Bellomo. Jess, as we call her, is poised to work with our wonderful board and partners, and is an exemplary ambassador for media literacy now and in the next stage of our development. She will continue to seek out new friends while keeping the old, both here and around the world.
While the term media literacy is better known today, it is still a matter of continuously being on top of our game, to stay current with the evidence that proves media literacy education works, and then to get out there and urge communities to actively support sustained media literacy education in our formal and informal education environments—because critical thinking matters! We must all operate from sound information about the field of media literacy, being especially knowledgeable about our history and understanding the landscape in which we are living in order to change the status quo and move into the future.
My hope for GMLP is that we continually engage and educate our communities' citizenry regarding media literacy's virtues. Among them:
An ability to enliven the notion of civility among peoples via thoughtful consumption and creation of media;
An ability to strengthen economic development in our region, especially when business are demanding tomorrow's work force have solid critical-thinking skills.
GMLP remain a model for bringing disparate communities together to celebrate VOICE.
I feel strongly, GMLP is up to that task on all those fronts—and more!