By Akosua Kathryn Albritton
Just Eight Bucks
The US National Slavery Museum needs support. The first kind of support is increasing public awareness of its existence. The other kind of support is financial. The museum is using viral marketing to get both kinds. Bill Cosby is the selected spokesman to accomplish raising awareness, as well as eight dollars from every American. In a thirty-second appeal, “The Cos'” jokes about how “every American was asked to give just eight bucks, but everybody didn’t.” So he’s appealing to everyone again. This spot is found on www.eightbucks.org. The site uses Pay Pal to process debit and credit card charges. The web site will accept donations larger than eight dollars, of course. There is a page to e-mail the message to people in one’s address book, which is viral marketing. Rather than expensive TV and radio advertising, Eight Bucks believes the power of viral marketing will be more effective. There’s the Bill Cosby Green Screen Challenge to get amateur and professional videographers involved with the project. Videographers who are skilled in Chroma key video compositing can use software such as Motto and Photoshop to create funny scenes behind Bill Cosby. The green screen is what is used during weather forecasts. The weather reporter only sees a green screen, while TV viewers see rolling clouds, mountains, and pictures of smiling suns across the United States. So far, the works of Brett Atwood and Scott Stucky are featured on the site. Other renditions may be found on www.youtube.com. This campaign uses social media to aid the US National Slavery Museum.
How many people know about this museum? No answer is given, but some information is offered. The US National Slavery Museum is one of three slavery museums that focus on the tri-continental enterprise. The US site is located in Fredericksburg, VA; another is in Liverpool, England; and the other is in a West African nation. Virginia’s first African American Governor, L. Douglas Wilder, founded the Fredericksburg site. Wilder pressed for the museum to be in Virginia due to owning more than forty percent of enslaved Africans. Four of the United States’ first five presidents were Virginians, and slaveholders and Virginia’s enslaved Africans grew most of the tobacco that financed the American Revolutionary War. While still on storyboard, paintings, and 3-D graphics, the museum has hosted a gala, has an online gallery, and a shop. Visitors to the web site will be intrigued by the online interactive museum. To stay abreast of the museum’s progress, please visit www.usnationalslaverymuseum.org.
And please, give eight bucks. As Bill Cosby explains, “There are some wonderful people who sent much more, but they didn’t send it for you.”
Located in Boerum Hill at 123 Smith Street, between Dean and Pacific Streets, is yet another Brooklyn treasure. It’s the Micro Museum. For over twenty years, this storefront operation has been making art and supporting artists. Kathleen Laziza, one of the museum’s managers, calls it a living art center. Media artists, visual artists, and performance artists use the space year-round for their events. Opened to the public only on Saturdays between 12 noon and 7:00 PM, visitors pay a small fee to casually study video installations, time-based photography, or watch performances. The other days of the week find Micro Museum staff busy booking hourly and weekly space rentals to artists for rehearsal or creating art, running children’s art classes, or doing one-on-one music classes.
Typical of many art houses, the place is under funded. Laziza says, “The museum takes an entrepreneurial stance to maintain autonomy.” They will sponsor bus tours and field trips of Brooklyn neighborhoods. Under funded, however, does not mean lacking in creativity. They also upload streaming videos to You Tube. The Micro Museum has a cable show, “Spontaneous Combustion,” on BCAT, and collaborates with Improv Art to curate the annual International Not Still Art Festival. In its twelfth year, International Not Still Art Festival showcases non-narrative art video, original music, and visual tablets. The submissions come from around the world. Most interesting is to observe the overlaying theme running through the submissions. It’s as if the collective unconscious is at work. One year, as an example, many offerings had a water theme. The next festival is scheduled for October 6, 2007, featuring forty offerings with artists’ talks.
Currently, the museum is running Spectrum: The Chakra Element. To learn more about the exhibit and the museum in general, please visit www.micromuseum.com.
Getting Local Biz to do e-Commerce
On Saturday, March 31, 2007, Brooklyn Community Board no. 8 presented a two-hour seminar to get local businesses and entrepreneurs up to speed on e-Commerce. The panel included Linda Edwards, President of The Urban Tech Center, who did an easy-to-follow overview of e-commerce, which is online product and service transactions; Kelvin Alexander, Deputy Chief of Staff for State Senator Eric Adams (20th SD); and Jennifer Stevens, eBay Trading Assistant. Kelvin Alexander spoke from the viewpoint of an entrepreneur engaged in eCommerce, and as the State Senator’s one-stop online business assistance provider. Jennifer Stevens gave encouraging words for people who wanted to sell new and used merchandise. Stevens told attendees that she has buyers from around the world who are interested in things you longer want. In attendance was Councilwoman Leticia James, who made encouraging remarks.
Web site Snapshot
Use The Black Web Portal, a search engine and portal site, www.blackwebportal.com. The site is 100% African-American owned. The search engine and portal features a celebrity and model gallery; national calendar of events; and major headlines, discussion channels, press releases, and classifieds. The FAQ page explains, “This site has been designed to be your window (a portal) into Black information on the web and on the street.”