Cathy Edwards has served as Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS), a not-for-profit association she founded that advocates for digital media literacy and access, for the last 8 years. She is also owner and President of TimeScape Productions, a media content production company that focuses on increasing Canadians’ awareness of their history and culture. Her work has been exhibited on four continents; she has conducted workshops in community media around the world, and has won awards in drama, documentary, and news magazine programming in Canada and the US. She specializes in ways to engage audiences in storytelling to provoke social change. Cathy’s thesis project is to develop a transitional strategy for public-access TV stations that want to integrate new technologies including video games, AR and VR as tools of community expression and social change.
What was the path that brought you to CMAP?
I have worked as a community media practitioner for many years, most recently as Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations. Through research, the association had determined that we need to figure out a methodology and set of resources to assist former public-access TV stations to transition to full community multimedia production and distribution facilities, incorporating the teaching and distribution of new media including digital games for change, and VR. To find out more, I went to Games for Change in NY in 2016. Someone there told me about MIT’s Civic Media Lab. I interviewed someone at MIT’s Civic Media Lab and it was suggested that the work I wanted to do was more closely aligned with Emerson College’s Engagement Lab. As I had toyed with going back to school occasionally, and would like to be able to pass on what I know (journalism courses are not telling students about community media) I decided to carry out the research at Emerson in the form of a Masters degree.
What does civic media mean to you?
Media that has been adapted for civic purposes, to facilitate dialog and a deeper understanding of challenges and issues that face us as citizens living in communities; with the potential to forge solutions.
[Engagement is being] connected to what’s going on in the world around me; feeling agency in affecting outcomes in the world.
What is one change you would like to see in the world?
More robust community media to strengthen minority voices and increase the diversity of civic dialog.
What would you want the civic media community to know about you?
That I have a lot of experience facilitating the general public to make media in community.
Are there any specific projects that you’ve done in the past that intersect with your studies now?
As above; community media has a lot of overlap with civic media.
How do you define engagement? What does being engaged mean to you? Connected to what’s going on in the world around me; feeling agency in affecting outcomes in the world.
What are some of your favorite pieces of media?
Clouds Over Sidra (a recent VR discovery), Alien Impact (a community TV video made by Aboriginal children in Vancouver expressing their desire to be seen as super heros), Buried on a Sunday (a Canadian comedic feature about separation, made by the NFB).
What’s one fun fact most people don’t know about you?
I once came second in a spaghetti eating contest.