Today the idea of video as a public policy tool has become mainstream for those wishing to influence social or political policies. A quarter century ago this idea was less apparent since few people had video cameras and most times the cameras were focused on family or vacations. under construction
• Berkeley's Storm Drain: Portal to the Bay. (1992) 8:30 TRT Produced by Erbele/Wood This policy video includes a community tour of the city's Corporation yard, Public Works operations, and related surface water - urban runoff concerns and the impact of the City of Berkeley Public Works street sweeper operations on storm drains, urban runoff pollution and the San Francisco Bay.
• Chemical Waste: Disaster in the Planning (1994) was premiered on the steps of the Berkeley City Hall with the aid of a small TV monitor and generator. This public policy video was made in response to the 1994 plan to place the new UCB hazardous waste facility in Berkeley's Strawberry Canyon watershed. It was subsequently viewed at both the Planning Commission and at the Berkeley City Council. It was stated that this video both peruaded Berkeley's mayor and UC Berkeley to relocate the UC's waste facility on the central campus. (1) Berkeley City Council Video Presentation, (2) Video Kickoff on steps of City Hall, (3) Womanvision: Carolyn Erbele Berkeley Video Producer and Activis on UC Berkeley waste facility
• Traffic in Transit (1995) Video presentation West Berkeley (SUDS) area traffic plan. A brief history of the City of Berkeley's Corporation Yard and a proposal for a West Berkeley neighborhood traffic plan for the SUDS (Sacramento-University-Dwight Way-San Pablo area). The 1995 video premiered at a regularly-scheduled Berkeley City Council meeting during the public comment period. This was something that had never been attempted before that night or since. Berkeley City Council Video Presentation
• Sheltering Berkeley Animals (1996) 13:10 TRT This presentation featured Cily Councilmember Dona Spring inspecting the old animal shelter. This policy film was first viewed at the Berkeley City Council June 18, 1996 budget hearing. in support of the Bond issue for a new facility. Berkeley City Council Video Presentation
• Radioactive Berkeley: No Safe Dose (1996) 14:15 TRT This Public Policy film was firstviewed at the Berkeley City Council in December of 1996. Featured speaker Dr. John Gofman M.D, Ph.D. addresses the medical impacts of low-level radiation exposure. The video also expressed a public concern over children visiting the Lawrence Hall of Science to exposure to tritium emissions from the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's Tritium Labeling Facility.Berkeley City Council Video Presentation
• On Berkeley Soil (1996) 13:48 TRT This policy video presentation premiered on the Berkeley City Council agenda in March 1996 during a workshop that included the San Francisco Regional Water Board staff. The video addresses concerns over groundwater deregulation and the State of California's proposed Containment Zone and Brownfields Policies. Berkeley (voted) took the position that Resolution 92-49 gave Regional Boards authority to suspend remediation requirements on a case-by-case basis and suggested that any further loosening of these requirements not be adopted. Berkeley City Council Video Presentation
• Berkeley Public Works: Moving into the Twenty-First Century ( 1997) 12:00 TRT This twelve-minute video that chronicles the growth and development of Berkeley's Public Works Department over the last century including issues of fleet management, the municipal workforce and land use. This public policy video presentation was produced and narriated by L A Wood, then the only citizen member of the City Council Subcommitte on Alternative Fueling Site(s). It wasviewed on it agenda as well asviewed by the Public Works Department with rank and file membership.
• Don't Let Shell Kill Again (1997) 13:10 TRT This public Policy video was edited from two films to support the City of Berkeley’s boycott of companies doing business with Shell Oil Company because of the multinational corporation's impact on Nigeria and for the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa with eight other environmental activists. The video public policy presentation was seen at the City of Berkeley's Regular Council meeting in 1997 and several public showings in our Berkeley community. City voted to boycott those who do business with Nigeria. Note: During the Ken Saro-Wiwa Commemoration Dublin 2007 and before projecting a film "Don't Let Shell Kill Again" on to the outside of the Shell Head Quarters building in Dublin, Ireland, activists heard speeches from Senator David Norris and Sister Majella McCarron. This Dublin event was the premiere showing of "Don't Let Shell Kill Again" in Europe. Berkeley City Council Video Presentation
• Radioactive Berkeley: Pathway to Exposure (1998) 10:00 TRT The public policy video Radioactive Berkeley: Pathway to Exposure was first premiered on the agenda of the Berkeley City Council in 1998 regarding the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory radiation releases in the Berkley hills. . It featured a discussion of numerous members of the public regarding the exposure of children at the Lawrence Hall of Science, on the hillside in Berkeley, CA. Berkeley City Council Video Presentation (coming soon)
• The "Big Game (2007) 27:22 TRT This video chronicles the celebrations, protests, ups and downs of the tree occupation next to the UC Berkeley Memorial Stadium and community efforts to preserve the oak grove. It was produced to support the the ongoing activism of the treesitters. The "Big Game" was so named because it was during the early afternoon of the Cal Stanford annual big game in 2006 that the first trees were occupied. It also reminds us that there are games bigger than football. First viewed at the Landmark California Theatre as part of the Berkeley Video and Film Festival. The "Big Game" was the recipient of the Grand Festival Award for documentary community activism. Honor Earth
Video Policy at the Berkeley City Council
Video commentary comes before council. Is a picture really worth a thousand words?
Will Harper, Berkeley Voice, April 13, 1995
Anyone who has been to a City Council meeting in recent years has probably seen L A Wood.
Wood, 44, is a southwest Berkeley neighborhood activist with an uncanny knack for having his request-card selected to speak during the council’s public comment period.
Week after week he talks for the allotted three minutes about the things affecting his neighborhood: the noise and pollution from the city’s corporation yard, the lease to the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club, and the importance of street sweeping in maintaining a healthy environment
Now Wood has another weapon in his activist arsenal: video.
With a high-resolution home-video camera Wood has produced three mini-documentaries with his friend Carolyn Erbele: the first on storm water runoff, the second on the dangers posed by UC Berkeley’s proposed toxic waste site in Strawberry Canyon, and the latest a thoughtful 12-minute look at the traffic problems in his south Berkeley neighborhood caused by the dozens of official trucks and cars going in and out of the city’s corporation yard each day.
His most recent work, “Traffic in Transit,” cost $300 to make and took three months to produce. Wood turns the “kill your television” view favored by some activists on its head. Instead of criticizing television as an opiate breeding passivity. Wood sounds a McLuhan-like optimism that television, combined with affordable video tools, invites public participation rather than discourages it.
In fact, he says, video offers a more persuasive medium to present one’s viewpoint than, say, speaking for three minutes at the council’s open-mike.
When Wood was stalled for weeks by the city manager from showing his production on the corporation yard— the manager said the city first wanted to develop a policy on video presentations— to the council he decided to take another approach.
At a February council meeting Wood brought several of his friends along to fill out request-cards to speak during public comment. After the cards were selected. Wood, using his own video equipment, showed his piece on the corporation yard—the first time anyone could recall video being used during public comment at a council meeting.
After the presentation and several runs on Berkeley’s cable public access channel, Wood said there are being changes made at the corporation yard. For example, 40 city gardeners who used to leave the yard each morning and then drive back for lunch before returning to their offsite work, don’t return for lunch now.
Wood added that the council also held off approving an $85,000 expenditure to fix a fuel line at the yard, to study alternative fueling schemes.
“They always say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and undoubtedly the pictures made an impression on us,” said Councilwoman Diane Woolley-Bauer.
For weeks Wood has pressed for an official policy on video presentations at City Council meetings. “If the council really wants public participation they’re going to have to accept video,” Wood said.
Wood also welcomes the addition of televised council meetings. Since October council meetings have been televised on Channel 25, the city’s public access channel. “I think they (the council) fear that with a video record they can’t have it the way they used to have it. They may end up with more participation than they ever wanted.”
Tuesday the council adopted a video presentation policy that limits videos to ten minutes, requires advance scheduling and approval of the city manager and the council, and prohibits private businesses from showing promotional tapes.
Assistant City Manager Phil Kamlarz said the need for a policy became apparent last year after one graphic video presentation on the use of bovine growth hormone (BGH) on dairy cows upset many people, and another by a local courier company amounted to a commercial.
Kamlarz added that the policy would help ensure meetings to proceed in a timely manner.
Amy Resner, the chief of staff for Mayor Shirley Dean, said the policy was a reflection of the times. “The fact we’re in this video age means there are going to be more people wanting to make video presentations.”
Councilwoman Polly Armstrong said the new policy would give council members time to prepare to watch presentations with a discerning-eye.
“I think video technology is so new it’s easy for us to be enamored with it. We’re not accustomed to asking the same questions to someone showing a video as we are with someone speaking to us. Soil’s easy (with video) to get one side of the issue and not notice the other side is missing,” Armstrong said.
“If we didn’t have some pretty tough rules,” she added, “we’d end up with everyone in town with a special interest and a video camera wanting to show us a video.”
Wood said the “new” policy isn’t really new at all. It is essentially the same procedure that was in place last year before the BGH-video made some council members nervous about video presentations, he said.
In the intervening months, Wood said, he was forced to wait for the “new” policy to be crafted. Kamlarz said that no official policy was ever adopted before.
Kamlarz said the policy would go into effect once the city can install equipment to allow a direct feed of video presentations into the cable broadcast for home-viewers. Kamlarz estimated it would take four to six weeks and anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 to make a direct feed possible.