Regent Park Focus at MozFest 2014!

Regent Park Focus, since 2013, has joined forces with HiveToronto Hive Toronto which is a network of non-for profit organizations within the Toronto area. HiveToronto is supported by Mozilla (The developers of Firefox) and acts as a way to bring organizations together to collaborate and participate in Maker Party events. A Maker Party is an event led by any of the containing organizations within the Hive network. A place to give participants the opportunity to quite simply... make something.

For Regent Park Focus we have been very lucky to be featured in the 2014 MozFest that took place in London, England last week. All the Hive networks from around the world met up for the very first time. Was a great opportunity to connect, share knowledge, collaborate ideas and discuss challenges and solutions pertaining to each organizations' needs and potential growth. Additionally to the Hive track program I was fortunate enough to also meet the other track programs that Mozilla supports which featured many innovators in web literacy and open web tech.

On our first day at MozFest I met up with all the other track programs and then shifted off into groups of our own track program. In our case this would be the Hive tracks which included (to name a few): HiveNYC, HiveChicago, HiveKansas, HivePittsburg, HiveIndia and also many other soon to be Hives: HiveNewZealand, HiveVancouver and HiveSeattle. Throughout the weekend we planned and organized our presentations for the MozFest Maker Party, Science Fair and final collaborative track program Demo. Below is a map displaying all the attended Hive organizations from around the world:

My task was to twine in our program we had conducted during the summer, which used Mozilla Popcorn as a way to visually enhance radio podcasts produced by youth - into a presentation/workshop at MozFest. The project is called RadioZilla and was originally inspired by HiveNYC's Radio Rookie's project entitled "Stop and Frisk" which utilized Mozilla Popcorn to enhance a youth produced radio podcast around social justice issues. What i did find challenging was making the RadioZilla project in some way more engaging of a presentation as it primarily is a showcase type of project. The presentation at the Maker Party later on severed as a Mozilla Popcorn teaching workshop as addition to the explanation of its benefits for teachers to use as a way to engage their students/participants in social justice activities and enhancing audio documentation with visuals and interactive elements. I was kindly greeted by other track program members who were able to help control the floods of people coming up to our booth; by having them help assist with explaining the technical side of Mozilla Popcorn and how to use it step by step whilst I explained its benefit for its use with radio or audio arts. I was able to speak with many different facilitators from around the world that didn't just work with youth. Some of which were journalists and some were just looking for new formats of open web communication tools. I was interviewed a few times by local researchers and I hope I helped provide some insight in how open web tools like Mozilla Popcorn have helped make communication easier for us over at Regent Park Focus.

We also presented RadioZilla during the MozFest science fair; which was an intensely packed, fast paced, fun learning environment. For this event I was able to show some of the various projects that youth had produced during the summer and spring. This included audio documentaries that were produced by TDSB students from at least 4 high-schools in Toronto, in partnership with Facing History (another HiveToronto organization) and Popcorn videos produced by summer program youth. During this event I was able to connect with some of the developers of Mozilla Webmaker to address issues and successes with the Mozilla Popcorn experience and also learn about some new tools I hadn't dove into such as Thimble and App Maker.

Throughout the weekend we touched on facing challenges within each organization and brain-stormed end solutions. This was a very vital part of the weekend as we were able to connect with many like-minded people working/volunteering at organizations that share a common goal. The overall experience for me was overwhelming but extremely exciting as I got to speak to 1,700 people from around the world that, like me, had an interest and passion for open web technology.

The RadioZilla project has been generously supported by the Trillium Foundation.

Tyrone MacLean-Wilson

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