When political campaigns end, often so do the candidate’s social media pages.
Gus Pedrotty, a University of New Mexico alumnus and former Albuquerque mayoral candidate, did not want this to be the case. He decided to take the following of young people his campaign developed and do something good to give back.
Pedrotty helped create a new page called Qworks (pronounced "quirks"). It was made with the intention to break down stories, educate the people of Albuquerque and promote civic engagement. Qworks is made up of many current and former UNM students, including the its co-owners Pedrotty, Sara Collins, Joshua Romero and AJ Hedrich. Many of the team members are the same people that worked on Pedrotty’s campaign last year.
Hedrich said the important thing about Qworks is that they are not only providing information, but also providing action steps for people to get involved and participate in their city.
“We find as much information as we can, then we take that information and synthesize it into something that is digestible and easy,” Hedrich said, “And we also tack on what people can do now that they have learned this information.”
One of the ways the Qworks team puts out information — an aspect that Pedrotty said is their backbone — is through what they call 60 Second City videos. Each week, the team picks one topic and publish three 60-second videos throughout the week about it. Past topics for the videos have included recycling, trash and voting.
“These one-minute videos could literally change the notion of what it means to understand how your government is working around you, and to have the means to ask and answer questions relating to it,” Pedrotty said.
He added that if people keep up with the short videos over time, Albuquerque could become one of the most informed electorates regarding city government.
Brandon Grey starred in the recycling video series along fellow UNM student Gabriel Gallegos. Grey said Qworks is a team of young, passionate, collaborative people, and producing the videos with other members of the team was a lot of fun.
“What’s cool about Qworks is it’s a new approach to media and civic engagement, and merging those to create positive change in the city,” Grey said.
According to Pedrotty, they will continue to add new features to Qworks, such as business partnerships, QR codes, and potentially even geocaching or scavenger hunts around the city. The team is also working on planning engaging, topic-centered events for the summer.
“I think one of the real goals of this is just trying to find better ways to talk to each other,” Pedrotty said. “We want to create spaces where people are comfortable talking and engaging, and even admitting their ignorance.”
The owners said anyone can have an idea for a video series and pitch it to the Qworks team. They said they want to get as many people involved as they can.
Members of the Qworks team do research, write scripts, film, edit videos, make graphics and perform a variety of other jobs.
“If you have a skill, we can use it,” Romero said. “We can always use more people.”
Students interested in working with Qworks can reach out to them via their Facebook and Instagram pages @qworks.abq or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Catherine Stringman is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @cathey_stringam.