In June 2019 (PC) I traveled with a film crew to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with BeatsnBeans, a cultural design project examining the intersections of creativity, coffee culture, and the reimagining of creative spaces, that my partner Seshat created. While in Addis we interviewed Ethiopian expats who were working to develop a creative economy, in a country whose culture doesn't necessarily regard creativity as the bastion of economic stability. We sought out creatives with different disciplines, in different age groups and with unique stories. We completed the doc and began editing, but the pandemic happened and everything hit the back burner. During the time between filming and the completion of the doc, I became an Ambassador with Grant for the Web and reached out to a number of creatives to apply for grant funding including one of the partners that I met in Addis.
Cut to August 5th when we were able to premier the documentary at the Eaton hotel theater with support from Grant for the Web and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. In addition to premiering the doc we also had a great conversation with Metasebia Yoseph from Design Week Addis/Digital Gojo, Kenny Allen of Undken leather goods, and Addis Creates about their work in Ethiopia, the cross sections of creativity and digital currency and what web-monetization and Interledger protocol could mean for their particular practices, content creation, mobile money opportunities and the undergirding of creative projects and spaces in Addis. We also spoke about the unique relationship between DC and the Ethiopian communities that exist in those Sister Cities, the role of the expats in local ecosystems, crypto currencies and their effects in Africa as a whole and Ethiopia specifically, interledger protocol and how it relates to the upsurge in mobile micro payments that are happening in Addis, and the need to uniquely monetize content; strategies in that space, and the outlook from the new Prime minister and the governments commitment to investing in the economic stability of the creative workforce in Ethiopia.
Many thanks to Chris, Erika, Ayesha and Briana for supporting the evening, the Eaton Hotel for signing on as our partner to present the film and my partner/creator of BeatsnBeans and producer Seshat for working with me to continue to spotlight traditionally overlooked communities of creatives. The film will be released later this year once we’ve completed our submissions to film festivals.
photo: Les Talusan