When local homeless and under-housed residents of the Downtown East Side (DTES) were asked what they wanted during the Vancouver Olympic games, they said a safe place to hang out, get some food and coffee, relax and listen to music. And they wanted this without the invasive scrutiny of the media and without feeling like they were a problem to be solved with charity. The Homeground Festival was born, a festival of sustenance and sanctuary specifically for those struggling with poverty, substance dependency, homelessness and physical and mental health challenges.
The dates of the festival are not publicized. The only way to find out about it is word of mouth or if you happen to see a poster which only appear in the DTES. And with one exception, media is not allowed on site – no cameras or recording devices of any kind. It is a place where DTES residents can go and feel comfortable among themselves without the invasive gaze of outsiders.
(See the video interview after the jump.)
That exception is Fearless City Mobile, a production crew from the DTES. And this exception highlights one of the profound distinctions between cultural production that comes from within a community and forms of media that rest on the traditional assumption of a gap between producer and audience.
I caught up with with Barbara Hinton, one of the organizers of HomeGround, and Sid Tan of Fearless TV to talk about the HomeGround Festival and the diversity and importance of local independent media during the Olympics.