Grassroots activists sprouted like, well, weeds around last year's presidential campaign. True, the election didn't turn out the way many of them hoped. But that doesn't mean the November 2 Project's national get-out-the-vote push or local efforts including The Partisan Project (an anti-Bush postering campaign) didn't make a difference. In the spirit of MoveOn.org's do-it-yourself ad campaign -- a Web-based contest that drew hundreds of submissions -- Pittsburgh's brand-new May 17 Video Alliance wants to cultivate similar involvement in our own mayoral race.
Named for the date of the mayoral primary, the Alliance is an informal group of four media-makers soliciting video ads pertinent to the mayor's race. It's this simple: Make an ad of 15, 30 or 60 seconds and -- as long as it's not a personal attack, or obscene or gross -- May 17 will post it on eMayhem.com. There's no fee, and film, video, animations and motion graphics are all acceptable.
Don't give a crap about the mayor's race? May 17 wants you, too. "We're really just trying to create a forum to discuss that," says organizer Keith Tassick, a freelance videographer. "It's a nonpartisan project. We're not endorsing anybody."
May 17 grew out of an idea by ubiquitous activist Pat Clark, with hopes of involving a wider range of people in local politics, especially the young. Now it's the province of Tassick, cinematographer Mark Knobil, video artist Tara Merenda and Dave Mansueto, who'll provide Webcasting services.
Merenda herself is making an ad. "I happen to be pro-[Bill] Peduto, so I want to kind of show him in action" at a city council meeting, she says. Merenda said the Alliance also plans a public screening of the submissions.
Moreover, if you have an idea for an ad but lack the skills to realize it, May 17 will try to match you with a producer. "We're going to try to accommodate anybody who wants to be involved in this," says Tassick.