As an intern for Planet Forward, I have heard about the live taping for our PBS April Special before I could even clearly define the difference between ethanol and butanol. No one at the office could have prepared me for the scene Wednesday night.
I arrived at Planet Forward by looking for internships on the George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs' website. The school aims to “to investigate and teach how ideas and information are communicated through media and how media content and institutions function as a central ingredient of a democratic society.” This internship certainly has provided the messages that SMPA (School of Media and Public Affairs) tries to set forth. I have learned how simple tools like twitter and Facebook can help to drive traffic to a website and spread information. The Planet Forward website has exploded thanks to our PBS competition. All the lessons I’ve learned from SMPA about communication have become true. I should probably explain the magic of Wednesday night so you understand the lessons I’m talking about.
Dressed in a college version of “business casual,” one of the other Planet Forward interns and I, Kelsey Rohwer, entered the green room. It was the first green room I had ever been in. I was immediately introduced to our group of very impressive panelists. The panelists were Andrew Revkin of the New York Times “dot earth” blog, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, and Tom Connolly who is the Chief Innovation Officer at DuPont. Dean Peg Barratt of the George Washington University’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences was also in attendance to welcome the panelists.
For months, Kelsey and I have been tweeting and creating Facebook links for all the videos on Planet Forward. My mom always jokes that when you see people you never really thought you would, you’re having a “unicorn moment”. Well, I was in a forest of unicorns Wednesdsay night. I was able to see the kids from Caldwell College and their professor, representatives from the University of Arkansas, Linda Rose Myers from EchoTech, Danny Kennedy from Sungevity, and the kids from Columbia University who sang a catchy tune while helping kids in Ghana.
Every day, I walk by the Jack Morton Auditorium on the way to classes at GW's School of Media and Public Affairs. Three days ago, it was a regular auditorium. The auditorium has always been an impressive part of my education at SMPA. The auditorium has boasted famous names like Hillary Clinton, Walter Cronkite, and Bill Moyers. I have always loved attending the SMPA events and seeing what other people have to say about the world of media and communications.
However, on Wednesday night the auditorium had been transformed into a real television set. Huge signs for Planet Forward, a giant monitor, a real light box for SMPA Director Frank Sesno to stand in, and monitors on jibs and wheeled carts surrounded the stage. It was amazing to see such an impressive television set and know that I had been able to play some small part in it. It really made me believe that all the dreams the School of Media and Public Affairs sets out for us are a possibility.
The show was a complete blur of excitement. All the videos were edited to be really funny and catchy and the packed auditorium responded fantastically to everything. The best part was watching the contestants faces light up as their piece was presented. The hard work that went into their projects really showed in the pride on their faces. Every project was so good that it was almost disappointing to have to pick a winner. Each innovator deserved to be honored for their amazing work.
However, a winner was selected and his (or her or their) work was absolutely outstanding. I cannot wait for people to watch the show on April 8th on PBS and see what all our online followers think!