Monday, April 6, 2009

What defines YOUR community?

Hello, my name is Peter Shea, and I’m a proud member of the MPT community.

I started working as a producer at the station on August 31st, 2006. I moved to Maryland just one day before I started my job here, and quickly felt at home. Prior to relocating to Maryland, I lived in Vancouver, Canada. Pleasant people, comfortable climate, lush landscapes, but, to be honest, I didn’t always feel comfortable as an American expat living amongst our “neighbours to the north.” I couldn’t quite figure out why I felt that way, either. Same language, same food, same traffic laws. What was missing? To this day I still don’t know the exact answer to that question. However, I do know that whatever piece that was missing I quickly found when I moved back to the States. I felt comfortable again. I felt a sense of community.

And then I started to wonder: What is this “community” thing?

Webster’s defines “community” as “a unified body of individuals.”

My mom defines “community” as “my friends and neighbors, even those jerks, the Andersons, who keep letting their dog loose to tear up my rhododendrons.”

They both can’t be correct, can they? Well, that’s what I’m going to try to find out. I’m currently beginning work on a new, on-going series for MPT called “Our Town.” The series is going to be a collection of hour-long documentaries showcasing different towns across Maryland, from the Eastern Shore to the western mountains.

But there’s a twist. Unlike a lot a historical documentaries on television, the “Our Town” series will explore different Maryland communities through the eyes—and camera lenses—of community members. I’ll be soliciting the involvement of a wide variety of each community’s populace: From the mayor to the bartender, the high school student to the chief of police, new residents and old residents and everyone in between.

After a participant is selected, he or she will be given a small digital camera and a week to collect footage that answers the question: “What is special about your community?” Will residents find their community to be “a unified body of individuals”? Or will they find it a collection of “friends and neighbors (who occasionally disregard local leash laws)”? Or will they tell us something else entirely?

I’m looking forward to finding out the answers to those questions, and maybe even shedding some light on what my own sense community is. I hope that you’re interested as well. Perhaps you’re so interested that you’d like to borrow a camera and find out the answer for yourself?

Well, if you happen to live in Chestertown, Maryland, you can! Chestertown is the first community explored in the “Our Town” series. You learn more about the “Our Town” project here.

Why Chestertown? Please stay tuned to find out… and how you can be involved. I'll be blogging here to tell you all about it!

Peter Shea
Associate Producer for On-Air Fundraising

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