West Philadelphia organizer Rashaad Lambert was one of the participants of the recent Peace N Philly town hall meeting to address the crisis in youth violence. The meeting drew hundreds of teens to Love Park in Center City.
While town hall meetings are a common occurrence, Lambert said the Love Park gathering was unique in that it solicited the participation of youth, incorporated social media through the use of podcasts, Facebook and other cyberspace technology to reach younger audiences as well as those who could not attend personally.
According to Lambert, the town hall meeting, which included concerned residents, organizers and elected officials was aimed at solutions as opposed to just articulating the problem.
“We did a live broadcast on the Peace N Philly town hall meeting. [the organizers] actually enlisted me to me and my team to do video and live audio streaming so we could actually get social media, we packed out love park,” he said. “It was so many people that the people couldn’t even fit.”
With crime in the city continuing to be a major concern for officials and residents, Lambert said the traditional methods of addressing the problem may no longer be sufficient.
“There’s a lot of marches and talking about what should be done and could be done and what hasn’t been done but there’s not a lot of targeting the actual problem and coming up with viable solutions,” he said.
With the help of social media, tweets, and good old-fashioned word of mouth, the town hall meeting may have engaged a segment of the population not typically incorporated in such movements — the 30 and under.
“We enlisted a group of young people and politicians like Jannie Blackwell, the current district attorney [Seth Williams] and a few other politicians who came to actually hear us out so they could take our suggestions back to some of their superiors and colleagues to try to get some of these solutions implemented,” Lambert said.
Lambert said there are quite a few anti-violence programs operating in the city, which are amply funded, but just aren’t working because they rely upon outdated information and ideas.
Podcasting is one way to raise awareness and start dialogue among youth that are not likely to get their news and information from traditional sources, according to Lambert.
“We try to appeal to people our age [under 30]. Our generation is somewhat detached from watching news on television and listening to news on the radio,” he said. “We don’t like to be directly marketed to, we don’t like having commercials thrown in our faces.”
Lambert’s weekly podcasts provide a way for the younger, more tech savvy population to hear about news and current affairs in a format that is less commercial and created with them in mind.
The constraints of regular radio broadcasts, according to Lambert, is one of the reasons he chose podcasting to reach his intended audience.
“To me there are a lot of rules and things that you have to abide by and we wouldn’t be able to accomplish our mission of education because their attention is more focused on entertainment,” he said.
The podcast, founded by Lambert and Eric Blair last November, airs Wednesdays at 11:11 a.m. If interested, listen online at iamnotarapperispit.com/feed/podcast or reach them on twitter: @podcastweds.