Kopkind 2009 – Call for Participants

In 1999, Kopkind launched its 1st summer retreat, bringing younger political journalists and activists together with veterans in the field for a week-plus of political and cultural exploration, intellectual stimulation and rest, an experience of provocative ideas, delicious food, great company amid the pastoral beauty of Tree Frog Farm in Southern Vermont. Ten years later, we’re still at it: in the spirit of the great journalist Andrew Kopkind, thinking deeply, living expressively and extending the field for freedom, pleasure and imagination.

There are two sessions, one a political seminar/retreat and the other a documentary filmmakers’ workshop/retreat.

 First session:

July 18 – 26
Theme: Crisis and Opportunity
How do we disentangle the many strands of the economic crisis and its meanings for our work, our communities and the wider world? As the political class appears intent on shoring up a bankrupt system and real life becomes increasingly precarious from Jacksonville to Jalalabad, we can envision the dangers; can we envision alternatives?


Susan Smith Richardson, a newspaper journalist for 25 years, has long interest in the relationship between media, community consciousness and political action. As public education editor at the Chicago Tribune she was responsible for a series that galvanized community action around the rising homicide rate for students in the Chicago schools. As a columnist at the Austin American-Statesman, her writing on the gentrification of black and Latino communities resulted in a citywide task force to address the issue. As the urban affairs editor at the Sacramento Bee, she coordinated a reporting team to cover grass-roots initiatives to rebuild South Central Los Angeles a year after the riots. As a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in 2003, she studied the relationship between globalization and gentrification. In the 1970s, Susan was an organizer with the African Liberation Support Committee, which worked to build political links and material support between the liberation movements of people of African descent in the US and Africa. She also worked with rank-and-file trade union movements throughout the Texas Gulf Coast and produced an independent monthly newspaper for the Black Citizens Task Force, a grass-roots organization that helped African-Americans fight police brutality and discrimination. Susan currently lives in Chicago, where she is senior writer at The MacArthur Foundation, teaches journalism and is working on a memoir about growing up on US military bases during the height of the cold war and the civil rights movement.

Robin Blackburn was a founder of New Left Review in London in the 1960s, later served as its editor, and is now a member of the editorial committee. For the past several years he has been writing widely on the roots of the financial crisis, the rot at the core of corporate capitalism, and the relationship between life, death and banking as reflected in pensions and Social Security. He is especially interested in prospects for radical reform and transitional economic policy alternatives to the current stew of bailout schemes. Robin is a visiting professor of historical studies at The New School in New York and a professor of sociology at the University of Essex, UK. He has a long history with international political currents and movements, including Cuba in the early ‘60s, Paris and Prague ’68, and Venezuela and Bolivia most recently. Beyond the financialization of everyday life, he has written numerous articles and books on the history of revolution, colonialism and empire. His masterful works, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery and The Making of New World Slavery, are major contributions not only to the history of slavery in the Americas, Atlantic trade and the rise of the West but also of the connection between slave revolts, abolition and political and class struggles in the Age of Revolution. His latest book, forthcoming, is The American Crucible: Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights.

Program and Application:

For this session, we encourage younger people who have been at work for a few years as media makers or organizers (or hybrids) to apply. (For legal/insurance reasons we cannot invite people under 21.) The program is entirely free, including transportation. (The 18th and 26th are travel days.) There are seminars every morning for three hours, free afternoons, and evening discussions sometimes with special guests, two of which are free public events. People must be able to commit to the full program.

Participants stay in individual cabin rooms. We arrange for travel, as well as transport from airport or railroad station to Tree Frog Farm, as well as all meals, beautifully prepared and drawing on produce from Tree Frog’s lovely garden.  Interested applicants should send a letter of intent, telling us a little about their work, themselves and their politics, and explaining why they would like to come this year in particular. They should also tell us how they heard about the project. Letters should be sent to me, JoAnn Wypijewski, at . If anyone has questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me by e mail or phone, 212.533.8366. Letters of intent should include all the applicants’ contact information, phones and mailing address, and must be in by Monday, June 8, 2008.

Second session:

August 2 – 9
Kopkind/CID Filmmakers Retreat Seminar

Theme: Brainstorming to a New Future

(for full details, see CID’s site, www.documentaries.org)

Program and Application:

This session is open to all ages over 21 but limited to independent documentary filmmakers. More of a focussed workshop, in this session participants show and collegially critique one another’s work, get feedback on works in progress, discuss issues particular to filmmaking, especially the question of how to survive and thrive as independent filmmakers in the current climate. Screenings are done each evening, with discussions at morning seminars. (The 2nd and 9th are travel days.) The week closes with Kopkind’s 4th Annual Grassroots Film Festival, August 6-8, which is free and open to the public.

The session is organized by Susi Walsh, director of the Center for Independent Documentary, and John Scagliotti, Emmy-Award winning producer of such films as Before Stonewall, After Stonewall and Dangerous Living, creator of the PBS series In the Life, and administrator of Kopkind. Participants are asked to bring 20 minutes of work on DVD or VHS for the evening “film slams”.  Applicants should address their letter of intent to Susi and John, explaining where they are from, what media work they have done and how they could contribute to the theme. They should also describe briefly the 20-minute visual media they would bring for the “slams.” Letters should be sent to John Scagliotti at (note there is only one ‘l’ in this ‘stonewal’). As there are always many more applicants than there are spaces, Susi and John would appreciate the letters as soon as possible, but no later than early June. They will be putting the group together around May 30.

The cost to filmmakers for participating in this week is $295 per person. Registration and non-refundable deposit ($50) will be due by June 10, with full payment due by July 11.

Thank you, friends, for years of support and participation. And please urge people who you think would be interested and interesting to apply. We expect another great year!

JoAnn Wypijewski, president, Kopkind

212.533.8366/ 646.498.5810

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