A Short History of the Allied Media Conference (AMC)

Jason Kucsma

[1] As a graduate student in American Culture Studies in 1999 at Bowling Green State University, I had no way of knowing that the idea to host a small conference for zine (small, non-commercial, non-professional print media) makers would become one of the largest nationwide gatherings of independent media makers in six short years. The initial "Zine Conference 1999" was a day-long conference focusing on why people make zines and what effect their zine-making has on the world. Sessions covered such topics as dealing with racism in a subculture that is predominantly young white people and basic distribution and production how-to sessions. Approximately 200 people attended the Zine Conference in 1999.

[2] What started as a fairly elite subcultural get-together has blossomed into a grassroots resource for people creating independent media in all formats. While we appreciated the need for a gathering that fostered cross-pollination within the zine subculture, we ultimately wanted to make the conference more accessible to a variety of independent media makers — not just zinesters. We changed the name of the conference to the "Underground Publishing Conference (UPC)," to effectively open up the idea of who is invited to participate in the conference. That name stuck for a few years, including one year when the theme of the conference was "sharing our tools refusing the master's." In 2002, Jen Angel and I partnered with Joshua Breitbart (founding member of Rooftop Films — Brooklyn, NY) to form Allied Media Projects (AMP), a non-profit organization. The creation of AMP brought about yet another name change and the Allied Media Conference was born as a way of including even more independent media makers who might not identify their work as "underground" or strictly "publishing."

[3] So now every year in June, hundreds of the most passionate people from the world of independent media converge on Bowling Green, Ohio, for the Allied Media Conference. If you're looking to build new networks or find new approaches to independent media, this is the place.

[4] The AMC focuses on sharing skills, building alternatives to corporate media, and using media for positive social change. In addition to hands-on, DIY workshops, the conference includes film screenings, artist presentations, and a large exhibition hall to share our work. Set in a small, Midwestern town, it's also a space to strengthen our community and enjoy each other's company.

[5] At the 2004 conference, there were caucuses for video activists, community newspapers, and Indymedia members, as well as a series of workshops for educators on using independent media in the classroom. This year we'll be grappling with new realities and emerging technologies. From the election fallout to new uses for cell phones, the independent media community needs to continue to grow and adapt.

[6] The 7th Annual Allied Media Conference is set for June 17-19, 2005. Save the date! Get involved now! Visit the AMC website and sign up for updates. Contribute ideas for sessions, workshops, or presentations. Like our best independent media, the conference relies on your participation.