A Portland Media Accessibility Organization Has Launched an All-Local Online Streaming Service

The taped content and livestreams cover everything from activism and faith to art and comedy.

Mural by artist Munta Mpwo at Open Signal (Courtesy of Open Signal)

In case you didn't get the memo, Rebecca Burrell has news for you: Portland is no longer putting birds on things.

"I think, as a city, we're way past the Portlandia stereotype now," says Burrell, director of strategy for Open Signal. "I think people are trying to figure out what Portland is now that we're getting a totally different type of media attention."

If you're trying to understand what Portland is now—or what it could be—go to the Open Signal website and tune to the media arts center's new digital network. There, you'll find taped content and livestreams covering everything from activism and faith to art and comedy.

Launched in 2017, Open Signal evolved from the public access television nonprofit Portland Community Media. Since Open Signal's video production studios have only partially reopened, the new network offers the organization a chance to extend its currently limited reach.

"This new digital network is something that we've been talking about for years," says Daniela Serna, Open Signal's communications manager. "In a way, the pandemic gave us the time [to create it] and the need was super-pressing for it to happen."

The network launched Aug. 22 with a seven-hour fundraiser for the Our Stories, Our Lives Black Media Maker Response Fund. Other offerings include short films from Echo Productions—which has helped underrepresented young filmmakers create everything from cooking videos to a dreamy rumination on nature and injustice—and an upcoming video game designed by Colombia-born Portland artist Laura Camila Medina that Serna cryptically describes as "a walk" through Medina's memory.

What comes next for the network will depend on Portland.

"As an organization," Burrell says, "I would say we have no problem changing plans at the last minute if we feel like there's something else we need to do that's more relevant."

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