Connecting the Docs: Live Blogging via Facebook

This post published on April 17, 2014

The tweetchat portion of our OPEN CINEMA events has been humming along nicely since 2012, gaining a progressively wider reach with each documentary, reaching up to 120,000 Tweeters per event. But not everyone is on Twitter, right? We decided to ‘follow the eyeballs’ with Connecting the Docs by adding one more virtual venue for conversation: Facebook. Lareina Kostenchuk was one of our first Facebook discussion group moderators, and she continues to be a strong, sensitive voice leading us into new engagement territory. We are thrilled with her enthusiasm, top notch writing skills, eagerness to learn, and killer kombucha-making savvy.

Lareina Kostenchuk’s OPEN CINEMA Story

‘My Facebook Experience with Island Green

photo of Lareina KostenchukIt all started with a Facebook message from a good friend in mid-January. This message passed along an invitation from Mandy Leith of OPEN CINEMA to be a Facebook discussion facilitator for the Island Green Connecting the Docs event on 29 January. Even the name, Island Green, drew me in and sparked my curiosity. As an islander with food security awareness and a daily Facebook user who loves starting up and encouraging in-depth conversations, I was instantly intrigued. After a little researching into what the film, the event and OPEN CINEMA were all about, I jumped whole-heartedly on board.

When Mandy added me to the Facebook group, two things happened: one, I was delighted to take the opportunity to redirect and expand my agri-centric posts from my personal wall to a more appropriate place (only a few days before, I learned about the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), why it matters, and posted links to this 2013 United Nations report about the need to take a “mosaic approach” to agriculture) and two, I saw how other group members like Amara Farm owner Arzeena Hamir were posting similarly thought provoking and rich content. It occurred to me that this Facebook group would grow as a comprehensive catalog of valuable relevant organic agriculture resources worth following up on.

photo of the Connecting the Docs social engagement team l-r Marylou Wakefield, Lareina Kostenchuk, Mandy Leith, Angela Hemming, Carol-Lynne MichaelsOn the day, I arrived at The Victoria Event Centre at 1:30pm with my laptop and enthusiasm, and took a seat at the curvy guitar-shaped counter at the back, alongside the rest of the team (dubbed the Power Bar) photographed here (left to right): MaryLou Wakefield, Encore Communications; me (Lareina Kostenchuk); Mandy Leith, OPEN CINEMA founder and Program Director; Angela Hemming, Ahem Productions; Carol-Lynne Michaels, TEDx Victoria and Susan Tychie, Share Organics (not pictured).

I was surprised that introducing a Facebook discussion was a bit of an experiment, happening for the first time at this event. I knew the Facebook platform would be perfect for this application, because we’re talking about thought-provoking and passionate topics, not just loling at cute cat pics. Thanks to the way Facebook is set up and organized, the group itself grew to be a tidy archive of resources leading up to, during, and after the film; an archive still accessible to active group members, which there are a lot of, thanks to Facebook’s ubiquity and massive reach.

Screen Shot nwq

Along with Twitter and Skype, Facebook allowed us the ability to connect in real-time to our team and our audience in their myriad locations, and cross pollinate among other social media through the use of hashtags, apps, and so on. I can’t emphasize enough how great it is to be able to communicate with the OPEN CINEMA volunteers on the other side of the country (Prince Edward Island to be specific) instantly, easily, for free, and with the option of posting on the public wall or sending a private message to work out details behind the scenes. I even used private messages and chat to exchange a few pointers and tid-bits of info with people in the room, sitting less than five feet away! Perhaps most importantly, I appreciated how Facebook allows people to write as many characters as they want (versus twitter’s single-sentence style 140 character capacity), create polls, and really do the subject justice by digging in deeper and feeling the freedom to write knowing there are no size restrictions.

photo of the Charlottetown audience for Island Green, Jan 29, 2014

After my second time around facilitating the Facebook group discussion for the film My Prairie Home, I am completely convinced that this new addition is an excellent and soon-to-be integral tool for OPEN CINEMA to accomplish its mission to use film as a tool for community engagement. I look forward very much to seeing you there in the discussion group for the next film in the Connecting the Docs series, The Ghosts in Our Machine on 23 April, 2014.

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