chat with a local :: Paula Hersey

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We’re of the mind that the distinction between native Cape Codders and so-called “washashores” is irrelevant, and our chat with Paula Hersey, Director of Outreach and Special Projects at the Cape Cod Community Media Center in Dennis Port is proof positive. Paula is one of the most energetic and positive people we know with a passion for supporting our community through her work, so we wanted to know more …

Are you a Cape native? If not, how did you make your way to the sandbar?

No, but I married one! My formative years were spent in the wilds of the Berkshire Mountains and hill towns of Western Mass. Think Tom Sawyer in the female form (I still have a pair of overalls).  I landed on Cape Cod in the Summer of 1986 via Fort Myers, FL for no particular reason. Came for the summer, stayed for a lifetime.

How long have you been with the Media Center?

April marks four years of falling into my “dream job” – it was serendipitous that I was looking for a new opportunity and a position at the Media Center was available that fit my skill sets to a T. I have built community relationships across the spectrum here on the Cape and in a past college lifetime I studied broadcast journalism. It was hard work, fate and timing all coming together at the right time.

Tell us about the Cape Cod Community Media Center’s mission and role.

Our mission is to build community through media – to give our community the tools and training to tell their stories. Our state-or-the-art TV production facility in Dennis Port provides our five towns (Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, and Chatham) a place to learn and create, that is accessible and affordable. I also oversee special projects like the LoveLocal Fest :: Holiday Edition this past December, the four-hour Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) Telethon, or connecting the community to this amazing facility. Every day is different.

What other experiences have you had from a work perspective? 

As a true Cape Codder, to survive here, you need to ebb and flow with the tides of fortune. In the early years, I spent way too long in a corporate Retail Sales, Marketing and Management career. I was at one time known as the “Toy Lady” at the Cape Cod Mall. That’s right, I was a KayBee toy store training manager for the Northeast Region for over six years. Fortunately, the years I had in retail were beneficial for learning some high-level business skills, including computers. Technology was my next career, web development and design to be specific. My first job as web developer was updating the website of Bob Vila, the handyman! Did you know I was once in a very cool IT startup with the now famous Beth Marcus of Cape Cod Beer?!  I eventually started my own business, Penguin Digital Design (an Internet consulting firm) in 2003 and still consult on occasion for longtime clients and organizations.

What are the services offered by the Media Center? 
The Cape Cod Community Media Center offers the tools, training and distribution for our member productions.  For a small fee, individuals, community groups and businesses can take training to learn media production.  We have one of the largest TV studios in the South Shore where you can learn to produce and host your own show, high end field video and recording equipment like cameras, microphones, tripods and lights.  We just recently redesigned ALL of our training offerings to include Event Coverage camera training, Digital Storytelling for NFP’s, and video editing with the industry standard Adobe Premier.  We also offer the community a Productions Services department, on a sliding scale for 501c3s, that can go on location with a crew of 8-10 and our Studio fly pack for live broadcast of events.  The public is also welcome to have events at our facility and we can record or stream live to our website.

How can locals get involved with the Media Center? 
If you are a resident of one of our five towns, come join us as a member. Community organizations can also join – video is a powerful way to tell a story and digital storytelling is a must do for your mission in 2017.  Businesses have options as well to create content that is relevant to their audience and air a weekly or monthly show.  If you have an idea or a topic you are passionate about, give me a shout and I will help you take advantage to the resources here at the Media Center to help you create your production.  We also now have a new and exciting News Department, so be sure to contact us as a media source. Our News Director, Sarah Colvin, myself and our Membership & Communication Director, Breanna Gustafson, are on a mission to help our community tell their stories- let’s talk!

What are a few interesting projects locals have worked on at the Media Center? 
They can all be interesting to someone! Here are a few that stand out: Cape Cod Senior Navigator, produced by Beth Patkoske and Thirwood Place (some of their footage has been picked up nationally!), Hit & Run History and producer Andrew Giles Buckley had its next production picked up by Rhode Island PBS and our own Production Services crew is streaming select Cape Symphony concerts to hospitals and nursing homes.  Also, many of our staff have their own productions, Live from Center Stage, eSteamers, Live Like a Local and many more- come check us out on Comcast Channel 99 or on the web live stream or VOD capemedia.org

Why is a resource like the Media Center so important to our community? 
In this ever-shrinking local voice in the media, think mergers and acquisitions of our print media, Public Access TV/Media Centers provide the communities they serve with their First Amendment voice.  We are the last bastion of democracy -community news, events and stories.  By providing the tools and training to our residents, a facility that has a multipurpose and is open you everyone and a staff whose professional experience and creative juice empowers our members to produce the best video they can is what makes me go to work every day- come see us anytime for a tour!

How do you “love your local” in your time off?
I love the combination of nature and photography, and now videography.  I can usually be founding hiking around the Cape with my husband and the Hersey Hounds {Paulas super-cute pups}. Our favorite places on the Cape are ones we haven’t discovered or explored yet – 2016 highlights were hiking Race Point and a day out at Head of the Meadow beach. I love the community events –  the off-seasons are full of cool happenings and new experiences at venues too crowded in the summer.  In 2016, we went to the Ag Fair in Truro, the Cape Cod Mini Maker Faire, Vinegrass Music Fest, and the Haunted Harbor of Horrors.

What’s your secret to making it on Cape Cod?
Living on Cape Cod is not easy. It takes perseverance, creativity and a healthy dose of “fly by the seat of your pants” to survive and thrive here.  Want to know the secret?  GET INVOLVED IN YOUR COMMUNITY! Seriously, take that small step to become a volunteer with an organization you have a passion for, apply for a town committee position, or show up at summits and conferences on our environment or economy. Stay curious and learn something new about your community every day – watch your town’s Public Access TV stations; they’re a great place to begin learning about your neighbors, community and region.

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