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Digital Detroit: On Borders & Activism

Panel Discussion

Rick Silva, Western Fronts, 2019, video still
Rick Silva, Western Fronts, 2019, video still 

Sunday, September 22, 2019
10:45 am – 12:15 pm


In-person Event

Art & Architecture Building
2000 Bonisteel Blvd, Ann Arbor MI 48109-2069


Lecture / Discussion
Open to the public
Free of charge

Digital Detroit: On Borders & Activism presents the work of Detroit-based artists, designers and activists using technology and digital initiatives to create social and political change. From running for Mayor on a platform of moving all Detroiters onto their own local system of cryptocurrency called the D‑coin to creating a documentary on the most polluted zip code in Detroit to building community wireless networks in underserved and marginalized communities to collecting data to create interactive online food maps to gauge and raise awareness around access to healthy food options to the creation of an online street view style map of the destroyed Black Bottom neighborhood in Detroit using historical photographs of the neighborhood in its heyday, panelists will explore history, division and inequality in Detroit through a digital lens. They will introduce their own work and discuss their ideas and concerns for Detroit’s future within the digital landscape and beyond. A public conversation with a Q&A will take place following panelist presentations.

Part of the New Media Caucus Border Control Symposium.

Panelists: Marcia Black, Ben Corona, Joshua Edmonds, Janice Gates, and Ingrid LaFleur
Moderated by Jennifer Junkermeier-Khan

Marcia Black (she/​her) is a proud Detroiter, Black queer feminist archivist, memory worker, and organizer with BYP100 in the M4BL. Her life’s mission is to preserve and share the histories of Black women and Black queer and trans people — whose stories are often erased from our telling of the Black radical tradition. She is currently a second year dual degree graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is pursuing an MA in Women’s and Gender Studies and MS in Information Studies with a focus on archives. Marcia created and utilizes a Black feminist archival praxis to ensure that Black women, Black people’s agency, Black cultural memory practices, and Black liberation are always honored and centered in preservation work. black​bot​tomarchives​.com

Ben Corona is an independent filmmaker and owner of the production company, 40oz. Films. He has produced and directed numerous short films, commercials, and web series for organizations such as American Aqua, Wild Road Pictures, and Wayne State University. Ben is an award winning filmmaker that won the 2012 Artscapade Film Festival’s best picture award for his short film, Theater Piece. In 2018, he became a Detroit Kresge Artist Fellow for his work and achievement in filmmaking. In recent years, documentaries with social justice topics have been the main focus for his artistic practice. Ben is currently working on his feature length documentary, Sacrifice Zones: The 48217. The documentary explores the most polluted zip code in Michigan. Ben earned his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Film with Honors from Wayne State University. 40oz​films​.com

Joshua Edmonds works within the City of Detroit’s Technology and Innovation Department developing a citywide digital inclusion strategy. His role is a partnership between the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions initiative and the City of Detroit. Prior to joining the team, Edmonds reported to the Chief of Digital Innovation at The Cleveland Foundation, where he leveraged philanthropic investments and public private partnerships to help bridge Northeast Ohio’s digital divide. Prior to that role, Edmonds worked at the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority on President Barack Obama’s ConnectHome initiative. Edmonds holds a master’s in public policy from Howard University and a bachelor’s in English and Spanish from Notre Dame College. poverty​.umich​.edu/​a​b​o​u​t​/​t​e​a​m​/​j​o​s​h​u​a​-​e​d​m​onds/

Janice Gates has a background in program management, marketing and public relations, and communications. In her role as the Equitable internet Initiative Director, she works with anchor organizations in three Detroit neighborhoods (Islandview, Southwest and the North End) seeding community technology programming, including DCTP’s Digital Stewards training program, local expansion, outreach strategies, managing partnerships, program implementation, evaluation and internet adoption. detroit​com​mu​ni​tytech​.org

Ingrid LaFleur is a curator, pleasure activist and afrofuture strategist. Her mission is to ensure equal distribution of the future, exploring the frontiers of social justice through new technologies, economies, and modes of government. As a recent Detroit Mayoral candidate and founder and director of AFROTOPIA, LaFleur implements Afrofuturist strategies to empower Black bodies and oppressed communities through frameworks such as blockchain and universal basic income. Ingrid LaFleur is currently the Director of Social Impact for Detroit Blockchain Center and curator of Manifest Destiny currently taking place at Library Street Collective in Detroit. As a thought leader, social justice technologist, public speaker, teacher and cultural advisor she has led conversations and workshops at Centre Pompidou (Paris), TEDxBrooklyn, TEDxDetroit, Ideas City, New Museum (New York), AfroTech Conference, Harvard University and Oxford University, among others. LaFleur serves on the board of JustSpace Alliance, Powerhouse Productions, and the Cooley ReUse Project. LaFleur is based in Detroit, Michigan.

Jennifer Junkermeier-Khan is a curator and writer based in Detroit. She currently serves as the Outreach and Public Engagement Coordinator at Stamps Gallery part of the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan. Before joining Stamps Gallery she was the co-founding editor of Infinite Mile, an online journal of art and culture in Detroit.