Jun 10, 2010
Joining the ranks of several popular musicians and even the President of the United States, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) today launched its own Vimeo Channel, a public feed of video clips featuring scenes from the daily work of the 176-year-old mariner’s service agency. SCI-TV (http://bit.ly/sci-tv) aims to draw attention to the often unobserved workforce of the maritime industry.
With a staff of nearly 50, including chaplains who visit mariners on ships, attorneys who advocate for seafarers’ rights, and educators who help hone the skills of professional captains and pilots, SCI operates a comprehensive support system for the world’s maritime workforce. The need for a specialized service agency stems from the enormity of the industry and the fact that most of the operation occurs away from direct public contact.
By equipping the Institute staff with small Flip video cameras, SCI’s President and Executive Director David M. Rider hopes, “We have a chance to show people our world.” Rider notes that challenges fill the life of a mariner, often cut off from family and friends for months. In fact, several seafarers on SCI-TV speak of nine-month-long contracts. “With little or perhaps no shore leave time, the looming threat of piracy, and the demands of the fast-paced industry,” says Rider, “a mariner meets considerable hazards inherent in his or her career.”
In 2009, the Port of New York and New Jersey handled over 4 million containers (each 20 feet long and 8 feet wide) filled with goods like televisions, clothing, and furniture shipped from other countries. Videos on SCI-TV endeavor to connect the shoreside recipients of shipped goods with the mariners who transport them.
The videos also demonstrate significant work of the Institute with governments and international organizations. One video includes an interview with the US Maritime Administration’s Senior Advisor for Maritime Policy, Orlando Gotay. While some narratives capture SCI’s involvement shaping international maritime law, others simply allow mariners to send greetings to faraway family members.
Each SCI-TV video runs under four minutes, with some only recording a brief one-minute encounter. “With the press of a button,” says Rider, “our staff evangelize on behalf of the world’s mariners, telling their story.” He observes that goods stamped “Made in Another Country” seem to magically arrive on our store shelves and that necessities like coal used to fuel electric plants travel quietly on barges down US rivers. “There are people behind that,” says Rider. “Come meet them.”
You can access SCI-TV from the Institute’s homepage.