Philo Films and Issues
The word “Philo” means loving or liking of, and that idea is at the root of newer nonprofit Philo Films and Issues. They are big thinkers. They are adaptable. They focus on social issues that affect the world. And they are here to help.
According to co-founder Cam Segura, “It was originally explained to me that when Philo stands by itself it means lover of lovers. This is essentially what we are doing, providing pragmatic and innovative support to those passionate entities and community members. We understand without these passionate people to create a collective force we are powerless. This is specifically important when combating social issues.”
Offering several avenues of programming, Philo does everything from pop-up events to monthly newsletters to ongoing research projects. With a team that includes a filmmaker, cinematographer, poet and more, all of whom are bilingual, they educate on media literacy using film, theater and art galleries to create discussion. Their newsletter features makers of all kinds who use art to bring awareness to social issues. Their main program, Philo Phenomena, combines businesses with nonprofits to tackle community issues together, thereby changing the way businesses relate to their community.
For Segura, a Viterbo University alum, it’s about fusing service leadership into personal and professional life. Like so many young adults in college and just starting out in the workforce, he relates to answering the question, “What am I going to do?” For Segura, “I got tired of asking myself that question, so I started doing something.”
He sees a shift in the nation right now that gives power to businesses. While there’s a lot of rigidity required of business models, that also means they have a lot of power to do good. Segura wondered why more businesses weren’t getting involved in social issues. “Maybe the businesses just don’t know,” he thought. “Maybe they don’t know about the issues or how to engage the issues. Maybe they are just completely afraid of touching them. So what if we brought people in to talk to them about it, and then create a way of trying to solve things. If you think about what a business can do socially for people, for employers, and think about instances where they have, such as Google, the shifts in social change—happiness, productivity—everything changes.”
And that’s where Philo Phenomena comes in. “Essentially, we’re trying to bring awareness to social issues that are relevant in our community by partnering nonprofits with businesses in attempt to train that business about the issue,” says Segura. “Then [we] try to convince them that they can collaborate with that nonprofit to create a solution.”
With several nonprofit partners, Philo helps businesses research issues within their company or community and create solutions. “That solution can be anything from putting a money jar at their counter and collecting $10 a week that goes to the nonprofit, or it could be ‘we as a business are going to have our dancers do a skit where we bring awareness to LGBTQ issues through dance.’” Such is the current project La Crosse Dance Centre is doing in partnership with Philo and The Center: 7 Rivers LGBTQ Connection.
Looking ahead to this year, Segura is excited to move forward with more Philo Phenomena projects, like the dance. He has also partnered with ITV, a British independent television network, to repurpose some of their e-waste, getting technology into the hands of those who couldn’t afford it. Philo is also working with the local YWCA Bridges mentoring group to create a pop-up film fundraiser. “We’ll continue to be ambiguous and allow ourselves to fill in niches that need it. We are hands that work and brains that are willing to think, and if you put people like that at a table, we can get stuff done.”
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