In March 2019, the Ashcroft HUB announced the creation of a new online community channel, now known as the HUB Online Network (HON). Part website, part YouTube, it will be something unique: a website featuring a host of items, as well as links to videos, many of them custom-made and showing people, places, and events in the area.
Production manager Jessica Clement and videographer/editor Gareth Smart say that work is well underway on the creation of the HON. There are already more than 30 videos on its YouTube channel, showcasing everything from Desert Hills Ranch, Desert Daze, and the recent drag races to the Ashcroft and District Fall Fair and a plea to save the Cache Creek pool. The channel also has a weekly events calendar showing what’s coming up in the area, and has been at recent Ashcroft and Cache Creek council meetings to film the proceedings and put them online for all to see.
Clement says that with the YouTube channel up and running, work is now being done on the website. One of the strategic goals of the HON is “To be an information platform that reflects, communicates, and promotes the cultural, historical, economic, and demographic values of our communities,” and Clement gives a picture of what that will look like.
“There will be blogging, behind the scenes pictures, ‘making of’ features, and extra stuff, and links to everything on the YouTube channel.” She adds that in addition to the video events calendar, the website will also host a community calendar, updated weekly.
Smart says that while their mandated service area is Ashcroft, Cache Creek, the Bonaparte Band, and the Ashcroft Indian Band, they’ll do videos for Clinton, Loon Lake, Spences Bridge, Lytton, and Lillooet. He says that while they often go out and chase stories, people are free to contact the HON if they feel they have something that should be covered.
Clement says that they’ve largely had to go out to people because people don’t know about the HON yet. “As people become more aware it will get better. We’re here for the community, and we want people to come to us.”
Smart notes that the first months have been a trial period, as the team—which includes interviewer/producer/social media coordinator Dana Foster, and until recently videographer Jan Schmitz—found out what they were capable of creating on their own. “We’ve already hit all our goals for the year.”
The network received funding for a year from WorkBC as part of its job creation program, and HUB executive director Vicky Trill has applied for a second year of funding. In addition to the paid staff, two internships have been posted for people who want to get experience and learn how broadcasting works.
“We hope to have people make their own videos, which we can put up on the channel,” says Smart. It’s part of a plan to use the HON as a place where other people, groups, and organizations can link to their own videos, and the HON is happy to help with that.
“You can hire us to do it,” says Clement. “We’re videographers for hire. Instead of going to Kamloops you can come to us and we do the filming, the editing, any special effects.”
Anyone with their own videos, or a video created by someone else, is welcome to bring it to the HON, although Clement cautions that they’re looking for things suitable for the whole family. “It’s a community channel.”
“That’s the beautiful thing about our communities: hopefully no two visions are the same,” adds Smart. “Just because we didn’t think of [the subject] doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.”
He notes that down the road he would like to do movie reviews, and Clement says that the sky’s the limit. “If we can get the funding to continue we can strengthen what we have and become self-sufficient.”
The plan is for the HON to regularly film the council meetings in Cache Creek and Ashcroft and put them on the channel, so that people who can’t get to council meetings, or who are only interested in one or two items on an agenda, can still watch the proceedings.
“It’s important for our communities,” says Clement. “It makes the meetings easier for people to watch, and hopefully that will increase civic engagement.”
Right now the focus for videos is pieces about the area, in order to establish a base. “We’re super excited about this one-of-a-kind project,” says Clement. “We’re excited to have it here and see where we go. We’d like to be recognized regionally, and beyond, producing stuff beyond our communities that highlight our region and Canada. We want people in New Zealand to see our videos and say ‘We have to visit there.’”
To watch the videos that are already online, visit the HON’s YouTube page at HUB Online Network. If you want more information about the HON and/or its videographer services, contact Gareth Smart at (250) 457-3877 or email HON@ashcrofthub.com.