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Buses and political change go hand in hand. Rosa Parks did not give up her seat in the front of a Montgomery City bus. Psychedelic school buses appeared at protests throughout the sixties. Ken Kesey and his merry pranksters promoted permissive politics as they tore up the country with their bus named "Forward." Director Spike Lee portrayed African-American men en route to the Million Man March in Get on the Bus. Most memorably for some of us, Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno showed their first videos out of the back of an abandoned mail truck in the early seventies thus introducing community television to the streets of New York.
A bus symbolizes mobility. Mobility gives people a chance to get together. This interaction births solidarity. But, modern technology boasts that it can do all of this better, faster, and easier. Why drive a bus across the country when you can talk on your cell phone with four friends, in as many states? Cell phones, instant messaging and e-mail may give you the illusion of mobility and clear communication, but it does not deliver solidarity. Face-to-face contact builds bonds. Here lies the heart and power of the Cybercar.
The Cybercar is a mediamobile for the 21st century. In its former life it was a 40 foot long passenger bus that carried missionaries around the American South. With a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, it was reborn as a fully functional mobile television production studio, custom-created to sow the seeds of democracy with state-of-the-industry equipment provided by Avid, Miranda, Panasonic, GlobalStreams and SmartVision. The beat-up black and white television sets DCTV's first TV-truck have been replaced with a Times-Square style video wall built in the side of the CyberCar.
The CyberCar has been successful in advancing community-building endeavors in numerous tours: Main Street USA was a 2002 initiative that traveled around America touring twelve main streets from cities from Tennessee and Arkansas to Mississippi and Illinois. Through Town Meetings, Main Street USA showed tapes DCTV recorded at Ground Zero, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and took the pulse of our country on the second anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center. Speak Up NY! was an enormously successful youth-focused project that achieved an Emmy® Award, a Telly Award, an Aurora Award for encouraging youth from 26 cities to participate in the gubernatorial election in the Fall of 2002. Over 2,000 young new voters were registered through this initiative Speak Up NY! was broadcast on every New York PBS station on October 30th, just days before the election. Spring of 2006 DCTV took the Cybercar to High Schools and Community Organizations around New York City and Connecticut to talk to get teenagers to speak out against Gun-Violence. Plans are now in the works for a national tour this fall. The most recent CyberCar trip headed out across the country with a bus load of Russians. This trip aptly named, The Russians Are Coming served as an American-Russian Reporting Exchange. Russians stopped in small towns across America to screen short segments about their home. They simultaneously created segments that were broadcast in Russia about the locations they visited.