Welcome to the new freespiritmedia.org - A guided tour

 
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In June 2017, I began a new role at Free Spirit Media as the Engagement and Digital Communications Coordinator; a position designed to hone my skills in making all sorts of cute, functional, action-oriented things and spaces. My first order of business was to revamp Free Spirit Media’s website. Our digital landscape is continuously evolving, and we needed a website that could both accommodate and anticipate that innovation - not only as we grow as an organization, but also as our participants grow as immersive and responsive creators. 

Alas, here we are. Let’s begin the tour, shall we?

My approach to web design is the same as my approach to community organizing: build a system that centers its users, not its developers. To hold myself accountable to this, Seven Website Priority Areas were developed:

 

1. YOUTH PRODUCED CONTENT

The best way to show you what Free Spirit Media is all about is to show you what we make. And we make A LOT of stuff.  Youth-produced content is the key driving force behind this platform. While you wait for that Netflix show you binge-watched in two days to get (maybe) renewed, sit back and check out our growing catalogue of feature articles, videos, and podcasts produced by Chicago teens and young adults.

NOTABLE PAGES: MEDIA LIBRARY & IN-DEPTH FEATURES


2. PROFESSIONAL PORTFOLIO

As artists holding marginalized identities, it is important that we constantly celebrate our glow and growth. Here, we want to celebrate the work as well as the creators to call attention to and affirm our place within the media industry.

NOTABLE PAGES: ARTISTS &  STAFF


3. EASE OF USE

If you’re reading this, you are the user! How are things going, so far? Are you finding what you’re looking for, but also finding something new? Is the platform responding the way you expect it to? Does the navigation feel intuitive? That’s what this priority area is all about!

NOTABLE PAGES: PROGRAMSSUGGESTION BOX


4. BRAND

Each of Free Spirit Media’s programs has a unique vibe, but all of our work supports our journey towards a common horizon goal: to transform media and society. This site was designed to celebrate both our multiplicity and our roots.

NOTABLE PAGES: WHO ARE WE?

 
 

5. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re trying to make #FSMfam a thing. So, show up or play along and you just may end up featured on our Free Spirit Media stories page!  

NOTABLE PAGES: ORG NEWS & EVENTS


6. MANAGEMENT & CURRICULUM

With the growing interconnectivity of our world, there are more opportunities than ever before to lead the distribution of your own work. This website is not only a platform, but also a training ground for our artists to actively experiment with and build upon.

NOTABLE PAGES: In-School, HoopsHIGH, FSM News, Real Chi Youth, InPathways, Free Spirit PRO


7. ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Sustaining this work takes a whole community of helping hands. By activating new interactive tools, we aim to make contributing to our programming a simple, transparent, and reciprocal process for our network of supporters.

NOTABLE PAGES: DONATE & SPONSOR

 
 

While the technical development of this website was completed in just one intensive month of web building, four months of interviewing, surveying, countless meetings, and focus groups informed the vision for what this platform needed to do, look like, and accomplish. In that process, which will live on in the continuous iteration that will follow this launch, I remain in awe of the simple yet compelling power of collective input. This platform would not be successful without that shared imagination of my colleagues and collaborators. I hope that my work creating this website sheds light on how technology can be used to build the infrastructure for social change and inspires others to curate their own digital environments as community spaces for critical discourse.

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Check out Bria's full portfolio of art and digital design at briaroyal.com.