By : Jessica Hernandez
7 min read
Thank you Ian for these wonderful pictures!
Last month I attended The Loud Experience, an event hosted by the “cannabis discovery platform” and multimedia company Loudminds TV. Held in an artist studio located in the Financial District, the event offered a space for individuals – whether engaged in the cannabis industry or not – to come together and support the work of LMTV. In addition to providing an occasion for leisure, rest, and enjoyment, the event had two major components. The first was a performance and collective meditation led by DZIDZOR, an educator, curator, and poet. Following the performance was the second element of the night, a screening of the first episode of the Loud Tour, a docu-series produced by LMTV. The debut episode focused on Ross Bradshaw whose cannabis entrepreneurship and advocacy includes founding New Día Cannabis Supply Co., establishing a partnership between New Día and Cookies, and co-founding the not-for-profit organization Equitable Opportunities Now (EON). Not only did the evening offer a way for folks to connect with LMTV and other like-minded individuals, but it also provided an opportunity to recognize Bradshaw and his contributions to the cannabis industry.
Soon to be released, the episode explores Bradshaw’s work with New Día and Cookies and delves into the foundations of his work with cannabis. For example, Bradshaw describes how his involvement in the business has changed over time, transitioning from a role in finance and consulting to establishing New Día, one of the few economic empowerment cannabis retailers in Massachusetts. Bradshaw also discusses the principles that undergird his work which include community, equity, and the growth and advancement of neighborhoods in Worcester. In regard to this last point, Bradshaw notes the importance of working with community members who have been involved in the legacy market, citing how their innovation has shaped retail practices more broadly and how their participation in the commercial market will continue to transform the industry. Yet highlighting these entrepreneurs not only acknowledges their contributions, but also calls attention to the way their very participation has been policed and outlawed; how the State has and continues to inflict harm on certain groups through the criminalization and weaponization of cannabis. In his work, Bradshaw emphasizes collaborating with Black and Latinx communities who have been targeted by these carceral institutions and governing systems that produce disparity – structures that have particularly barred the pathways for employment and business-ownership. For Bradshaw, it is paramount to understand this ongoing history and have it at the forefront of his work.
After watching the episode and seeing Bradshaw discuss his work on radio shows and various publications, it is clear that his major goals include decreasing the barriers and limitations to market entry, creating employment and educational opportunities for the public, and redirecting resources back to local communities and organizations. In many ways, Bradshaw exemplifies the stories and perspectives that LMTV highlights through their stellar design and production.
Founded by Ian Powell in 2012, LMTV is “a Boston-bred, independent, community based lifestyle brand, media company, and multimedia content provider…” At its core, the company educates viewers by sharing knowledge, news, and happenings related to cannabis, thereby raising awareness and increasing access to this information. Through the upcoming docuseries, cannabis reviews, and discussions – many of them available online – LMTV functions as a “public interest service-learning organization that provides transformative justice in advocacy of our Black & Brown communities.” This mission reflects one of Powell’s own aspirations which is “to keep the general public abreast of the latest developments in Cannabis related news…” In addition to content, curated events such as The Loud Experience are sure to advance Powell’s visions for the multimedia company.
Before closing, I want to return to the docuseries once more in order to reflect on DZIDZOR’s guided meditation and its significance. In the episode, Powell describes how strategic narratives about cannabis have been changing. Previously thought of as a “danger,” mainstream discourse is beginning to acknowledge and popularize the healing elements of cannabis. This is a welcome shift to be sure, but one that is likely changing in service of capital and without the repair of violence wielded against our communities who have long since challenged this idea of “danger.”
This takes me back to DZIDZOR’s performance which revealed this shift – this change in how we understand cannabis in relation to other forms of healing such as meditation. Although the performance did not include the use of cannabis, what’s important for me is the mere fact that this meditation was an integral part of the event. DZIDZOR’s gathering was powerful in the way that she called on us to take a moment, let loose, laugh, yell, and breathe. She created a space in which we could shed barriers and move freely, enhancing the feelings of comfort and care I felt at the event. To generate such an experience DZIDZOR drew on repetition, raised soul-searching inquiries, merged them with pop culture (who are you uninterrupted?), and read powerful excerpts from Toni Morrison’s Beloved. This collage-like performance signifies elements of DZIDZOR’s practice – a form that encompasses a “style of call and response.” It’s a form that she notes “has re-imagined poetry and story-telling as a way to include the audience in an experience to challenge, inspire and encourage self beyond traditional forms.”
What did it mean to have this performance in the midst of The Loud Experience? What did it mean that DZIDZOR facilitated this communal healing, unraveling, and undoing? It did the work of changing how we think about the impacts and possibilities of cannabis. This is not only in terms of its healing properties, but its ability to create a collective experience. In fact, it seems that this idea of communality was present throughout the evening – from Powell’s curation of the event, Bradshaw’s episode, to those of us who showed up to support. Perhaps The Loud Experience is just that: the desire to bring folks together over a common interest, one that happens to be cannabis but represents so much more.
Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #154 January 2023
Check out all the art and columns of January's Boston Compass at www.issuu.com/bostoncccompass