How Wal-Mart Came to Haslett




03:16 min
Exposé
Director: Meerkat Media Collective
Producer: Meerkat Media Collective

Winner of the Changemaker Award

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More About How Wal-Mart Came To Haslett from Director and Producer Meerkat Media Collective

In the fall of 2005 Meerkat Media decided to launch a video blog, or “vlog,” to challenge themselves to post new short videos on the internet every week. The content would range from sketch comedy to political commentary, and would be created for a new medium that anyone could access, and in which anyone could participate. With readily-available storage and bandwidth, vloggers around the world were already starting to share personal impressions and local stories with a global community — and the Meerkats wanted to throw their hat in the ring. The possibilities for democratic media and art were (and are) electrifying to say the least.

Last winter, the Meerkats split up and headed to their various hometowns in New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Iowa, and Michigan. Two members of the collective, Josh and Elliott, hail from the same town in the midwest; while there, they decided to shoot a mini-doc about the Wal-Mart which recently appeared down the street from their former high school. With an evening of internet research and writing under their belts, the pair shot a vlog over two snowy mid-Michigan days, and carried the footage back to their fellow Meerkats in New York City. There they recorded music and gathered supplementary images, producing How Wal Mart Came To Haslett over three nights of collaborative editing, as collective members threw ideas into the mix.

In Haslett, much remains the same. Wal-Mart is still in town despite a growing, statewide campaign to prevent the spread of the corporation and to force it to improve its labor and environmental practices. Anti-sprawl and workers’ rights actions have confronted Wal-Mart in lower Michigan, and word appears to be spreading. Meerkat Media has endeavored to share How Wal-Mart Came To Haslett with local audiences, including the students and teachers at Haslett High School, where Elliott and Josh first held a camera. With the possibilities of vlogging and new media, the Meerkats hope to encourage individuals and communities to find their own stories, share them with others, and together, confront the powerful.

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