When a storm caused flooding, electrical outages and washed out roads in northern Wisconsin in July, Patty Loew showed her students how journalists pivot quickly to cover breaking news. Loew, a professor in the department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, was teaching at her annual summer program on the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe reservation when the devastating storm hit.
Loew, a Bad River tribal member and a former broadcast journalist in the Madison market, was there to teach digital storytelling skills to middle and high school students as part of the Tribal Youth Media Initiative. Through the program, students learn how to produce documentaries on issues facing the tribe. The focus this year was going to be on the tribe's food sovereignty. But the real-life threat to area residents from record-breaking flooding caused them to document the damage and recovery efforts instead.
The initiative is partly about media literacy and possible careers. It is also about connecting young people to their land so they can "ask really good questions of the people that want to come in and use our natural resources," says Loew.
The students produce quality work; an award-winning documentary released in 2013 on a proposed taconite mine in northern Wisconsin was shown at a human rights film festival. Loew sees the communal benefit. "I really care about growing strong, young leaders with 21st-century skills so that they can meet really important challenges and still be able to hold onto those traditional lifeways."
The M List
Madison Magazine's M List is a who's who of organizations and individuals who are having an impact on our local culture and economy. In its fourth year, the M List recognizes those making strides as mentors and teachers. Last year's list of honorees were making impacts in the area of social innovation. The original M List, in 2013, honored the technology sector. The 2014 M List honored "Foodtastic" entrepreneurs and innovators.