Copenhagen’s Fresh Air Center: Activism 2.0

Copenhagen’s Fresh Air Center: Activism 2.0

Copenhagen’s Fresh Air Center: Activism 2.0

Fission VP Beka Economopoulos at COP15. Photo by Kris Krug “KK+” (flickr.com)

The outcome of the recent UN Climate change summit in Copenhagen resulted in a general sentiment of disappointment from journalists, environmentalists, and bloggers. However, a silver lining to this fallout could be seen at the Fresh Air center, a nearby digital media headquarters organized by TckTckTck, whose team included Fission Vice President Beka Economopoulos. The Center represented a contrast to the more bureaucratic stylings of the COP15 summit; it demonstrated the potential Web 2.0 creates for modern day activism, adding momentum to what Jason Mogus of Communicopia describes as “probably the most diverse movement the world has ever seen.

Katherine Goldstein, Green Editor at the Huffington Post, expounded on this comparison in her post, Standing on the Edge of the Future,” writing:

When I think of what it means to be a new media journalist today, I think about the Fresh Air Center in downtown Copenhagen. It was set up during the UN climate summit by TckTckTck, a non-profit umbrella group committed bringing people together from all Fresh Air Logobackgrounds around the climate talks. The actual conference was held in a huge conference center, which eventually kicked out many NGOs and had lines up to eight hours long for people to get in even with accreditation. The Bella Center was the monolithic representation of The Old Way — slow, unresponsive and bureaucratic. TckTckTck made space available to bloggers, journalists and NGOs and provided high speed Internet access, live streaming briefings, video editing set-up, drop-in talks by people like Kumi Naidoo, the head of Greenpeace, panels with Naomi Klein, Andrew Revkin and George Monbiot, Happy Hour sponsored by the UN Foundation, and patient, tirelessly helpful support team. It was where the cool Internet kids were working, I joked. Movers and shakers wanted to stop by and reach that audience.

What was most amazing about the experience was not just the fantastic journalists and activists I met, but also the spirit of cooperation and camaraderie that was fostered in this environment. Unequivocally, it’s the backbone to where new media is going.

Chrissie Brodigan’s Activism 2.0: Creating Casablanca in Copenhagen, The Fresh Air Center similarly praises the Fresh Air Center’s egalitarian approach:

Great decisions don’t come out of chaos, and they don’t necessarily come from the top down. TckTckTck, a distributed brand, created the Fresh Air Center to be a rapid response digital media hub for journalists, bloggers, activists, and NGOs from around the world. What makes the Fresh Air Center worth drilling into is that it wasn’t a typical sponsored media center or a blogger tent. Instead, the Fresh Air Center blurred traditional lines first by bringing grassroots activists and leading media mavens together to produce content, and second by carefully constructing a physical space with shared technology and social media. They created what can best be described as a not as a press club, but rather a nightclub. One organizer, Beka Economopoulous, jokingly referred to the experience as a cultural, social, and political operation that felt akin only to Humphrey Bogart’s bar-based brokering in Casablanca…

When heads of state arrived and sequestered themselves in the Bella Center, kicking most of the NGOs out, the Fresh Air Center built on momentum and continued to thrive with authentic interaction and activity. It was the pulse of where the main messaging out of Copenhagen was taking place. Bloggers and activists worked shoulder-to-shoulder, drinking coffee, cocktails, and beer, smoking and brokering content shares, their hard-drives humming away.

While COP15 itself was viewed by most as failed UN Summit, the Fresh Air Center effectively demonstrated how Web 2.0 tools are changing activism as we know it. Its innovation in both its technology and its spirit were, as its name might imply, a breath of fresh air.   Others in the Fission team were lucky enough to be able to lend our support to Beka and the team at the Fresh Air Center. We created Twitter and Facebook messaging targeted to top journalists, bloggers, and activists about a series of videos covering COP15 and the issues surrounding it.  Our efforts resulted in the coverage getting more than 6000 views over 10 days, a nearly 10-fold increase of views prior to promotion.

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