Last week I attended Justice Whitaker’s (Santa Fe University of Art & Design) fantastic session at the Student Television Network convention in San Diego, California. One of his most interesting ideas is that it takes five generations to move from immigrants to artists. In his session, titled “Documentary for Social Change,” Whitaker argues that we need to respect the camera as a creation tool and respect the generations before us who sacrificed their time and energy so that we might have the tools and time to create art. We show that respect by creating good work, right work, responsible work, by telling the stories that happen around us, stories that we are connected to, stories that incite positive change in our communities.
Thirty students from my broadcast journalism class accompanied me to this convention, but I didn’t assign them which sessions to attend. I let them choose what they wanted to learn. I was thrilled to see almost a third of my class lined up in Whitaker’s session and I walked out of there feeling like I was in “ecstatic cahoots” (a line from The Great Gatsby) with my students as we learned together and were inspired together to be responsible artists.