Connecting government and community one YouTube video at a time
February 20, 2013 —
SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Did you miss your last town board meeting? Now you’ll have another chance to see it, thanks to two local filmmakers Nyssa Calkin, 27, and Isaac Green Diebboll, 24.
What started last summer with Calkin and Diebboll offering their video equipment and expertise to record a Town of Delaware meeting grew into Community Film Watch (CFW)—a service they offer to film meetings and post them on YouTube. So far, they have filmed municipal meetings in the Towns of Delaware, Callicoon and Fremont. Now, CFW is evolving into a bigger project, branching out to other meetings as well as working with Sullivan West High School.
Diebboll is speaking with Sullivan West social studies teacher John Ogozalek, who teaches “Participation in Government.” Diebboll said it will be “an exciting way to get students involved in looking at how government operates and to be broadcasting their own show about government.” He also wants to make films about the people and places of the community, like a day in the life of a local farmer, or a profile of a restaurant.
Calkin, a resident of Callicoon, was raised in the area. She went to Sullivan County Community College for photography. Diebboll is a newcomer who moved here recently from New York City with plans to build on his family’s property on Robisch Hill Road in the Beechwoods. He graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Sculpture from the Maryland Institute College of Art and he has around 10 years experience with film. Upon his neighbor’s suggestion when he moved here, Diebboll went to a Town of Delaware meeting and from there has made connections within the community.
“I never really had such direct access to what government is or how it functions coming from New York City,” he said. “But here in the country, I can go to a town board meeting and I can use my voice to share my feelings; I’ve never felt so closely connected to government.”
That connection is something he and Calkin want to share with the community. By putting the videos on YouTube and the Public Access Channel, they say it makes government transparent, accessible and entertaining. “There’s so much that I learned that I never knew prior to going to the meetings,” said Calkin. “We hope to encourage people to follow what’s going on in their areas.”